Dr Mahathir Has Been Malaysia’s Prime Minister For 4 Days, But He’s Already Done A Lot
It’s official. Dr Mahathir is the new Malaysian Prime Minister.
In his first 4 days in office, he’s been busy putting his plan for Malaysia’s future in motion.
The flurry of action harkens back to USA President Donald Trump’s first week in office, who signed 90 executive orders in his first 100 days in office.
Here are 10 of the things the world’s busiest 92-year-old has done.
1. Secured a royal pardon for Anwar
Dr Mahathir has made good on one of the core tenets of his campaign; securing a royal pardon and release for political prisoner Anwar Ibrahim.
All of this will happen on 15 May — that’s tomorrow.
On Friday (11 May), Dr Mahathir announced that Mr Anwar would be released from custody and granted a full royal pardon.
Dr Mahathir, of course, was responsible for Mr Anwar’s first stint in prison, when he saw the up-and-coming designated successor to his seat being too powerful.
Now he’s helping to get him out of jail for a wrongful sodomy charge.
We have truly gone full circle.
2. Placed Najib/Rosmah on a travel blacklist
On Saturday (12 May) morning, the Malaysian immigration department confirmed that Mr Najib had been placed under a travel ban.
This is perhaps in reference to Dr Mahathir’s promise to look into allegations that Mr Najib misappropriated billions of dollars from the 1MDB fund.
A video has been making rounds on Facebook, ostensibly of mounds of cash, jewellery and designer handbags seized from Mr Najib and Mdm Rosmah.
Of course, we are unable to verify the authenticity of the allegations, though the video does make for a shocking watch.
3. Will try to recover IMDB funds
Speaking of 1MDB…
There are no plans to drop the 1MDB thing anytime soon.
Dr Mahathir has already laid out plans to anoint a finance ministry adviser.
This lucky guy (or gal) will be given stewardship of efforts to recover billions – strictly not an exaggeration – of misappropriated dollars from 1MDB.
4. Called for GST to be abolished
One thing we’ve always shared with our continental neighbours has been mutual distaste for our respective governments’ mandated Goods and Services Tax (GST).
If Dr Mahathir has his way, GST in his country could go the way of the dinosaurs.
His reasoning? That Malaysia has sufficient revenue to abolish the universally-unpopular taxation method.
Singapore had an overall budget surplus of S$9.6b for FY17. Just putting it out there.
5. Established a “council of elders”
Dr Mahathir has also been hard at work putting together a special team called the
Avengers “council of elders“.
Their purpose is to advise the government on economic and financial concerns during the transitional period.
The “council of elders” is comprised of:
- Ex-finance minister Daim Zainuddin
- Ex-central bank governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz
- Ex-national oil firm Petronas CEO Hassan Merican
- Renowned billionaire Robert Kuok Hock Nien
- Economist K.S. Jomo
You might know Robert Kuok from previous run-ins with Mr Najib’s government. Back then, Mr Najib’s associates accused him of funding the opposition.
6. Revamp Anti-Fake News law
Dr Mahathir also wants to take another gander at Malaysia’s anti-fake news laws.
Before you get your hopes up — it’s here to stay.
According to Dr Mahathir, it’s a matter of tweaking it, rather than removing it.
He intends to give the term “proper” definition, so that both media and public can be clear on what is fake.
The Anti-Fake News 2018 bill was introduced by Mr Najib’s regime just last month.
Even though we support freedom of press and freedom of speech, there are limits.
7. Relook SG-KL rail plans
In his manifesto, Dr Mahathir also dropped hints that he would be taking another look at previously agreed-upon projects.
One of these undertakings is the SG-KL High Speed Rail.
The HSR deal was agreed on in December 2016, but the Pakatan Harapan victory has cast doubt over the future of this project.
At least there’s precedent for this. Dr Mahathir has previously come out in criticism for the HSR, citing the debt that Malaysia would have to take on.
We have to know whether we really need this HSR or not.
What does this mean for future travel between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur? We’ll just have to wait and see.
8. Relook China one-belt initiative
Yep. China’s Belt and Road Initiative falls under the umbrella of “let’s look at this again” too.
Dr Mahathir indicated that the BRI was not exempt from review and scrutiny from the new administration.
He’s gone on record as saying that he had no problem with the Initiative, but expressed disdain for the prospect of Chinese warships being in the area,
A report published by the Economist Intelligence Unit puts Malaysia as the fourth-largest recipient of China’s overseas investment arm.
9. Appointed new ministers in his “small cabinet”
Dr Mahathir has also been putting his mind towards remoulding his cabinet.
All three ministers named to his “small cabinet” are leaders of the coalition of parties that make up team Pakatan Harapan.
They are: Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng, Defense Minister Mohamad Sabu and Minister of Home Affairs Muhyiddin Yassin.
Representation of each component party is particularly important, with reports of cracks in unity already filtering through.
10. Facing internal dissent (calmed it with Anwar?)
A clear sign that Dr Mahathir and Mr Anwar are one step closer to burying the hatchet.
The unlikely alliance that the Pakatan Harapan was seems to be showing some cracks.
Apparently, the two have differences over Cabinet positions.
However, instead of ordering the arrest of each other, the pair met in Mr Anwar’s hospital room.
The atmosphere in said hospital room was reportedly frosty, according to an unnamed source.
But Anwar mentioned in an official statement that Dr M’s government “remains strong and stable”.
All the best Dr M
One thing’s for sure, Dr Mahathir’s definitely keeping busy with his renewed stint as Malaysia’s Prime Minister.
We hope that his vigour carries him through the rest of his endeavours during his term ahead.
Featured image from Dr Mahathir Mohamad.