Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad says he is not satisfied with the performance of his ministers, some of whom were delaying decisions until they had to be transferred to other departments.
No one expects the 93-year-old to hold the post for a prolonged period and he appears to be in a rush to address the rot he observed grow since his first resignation in 2003.
“I’m not satisfied. If possible, I want [tasks] to be settled yesterday, not today,” said the Pakatan Harapan chief yesterday (Friday).
“Due to certain reasons, we are unable to meet 100 per cent of our promises. The damage in the government is far worse as some people delayed implementing the decisions that have been made.
“We found that there are officials who are still loyal to the previous administration and Najib Razak. We appointed officers as ministers are entitled to get their staff. Despite my approval of their appointments, they are still not getting their salaries, purportedly something is wrong with the appointment.
“It is only when the cabinet decided to take action, the salary is paid,” he said.
Mahathir also refuted allegations that the government failed to take action against previous government leaders found to have committed criminal offences.
“We are focusing on major cases which require strong evidence but also smaller cases which involved other leaders in the old administration,” he said.
On Najib’s court case, his former mentor said additional charges would be made against the former prime minister.
Mahathir said investigations in Najib’s case were taking a long time because of the lack of co-operation from potential witnesses.
“Sometimes we don’t get the full co-operation from people who know the facts and sometimes it is difficult to get the documents to back the allegations made,” the veteran premier said.
Mahathir also said political parties which controlled media companies could have their stakes reduced to ensure press freedom.
The majority of Malaysia’s print and broadcast media is controlled by the United Malays National Organisation and other former government parties which lost power in May.
During Mahathir’s first term from 1981 to 2003, the pro-government media backed his policies and vilified opponents but as the opposition leader ahead of the May election, he was subjected to media attacks.
He vowed to establish press freedom and review media regulations. Mahathir said he was looking at reducing the stakes held by political parties in media companies to 10 per cent.
“This is one way to prevent the media from being used by certain quarters for personal reasons,” said Mahathir.
The right-leaning, Malay-language daily Utusan Malaysia was recently declared bankrupt after defaulting on borrowing. Controlled by Umno, the paper had previously relied on state assistance to survive.
The company had allegedly been left in “limbo” after Najib’s defeat, awaiting instructions from the government on the direction of its coverage. Owned by the Umno-backed Media Prima, it was critical of Mahathir’s decision to join the opposition and challenge Najib.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo with Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. Picture credit: Flickr