Ex-Malaysian PM Najib Accuses Dr Mahathir Of Issuing “Misleading Statements” On 1MDB
It’s been roughly two weeks since the results of the 9 May election were released.
In that time, Dr Mahathir Mohamad has certainly proved himself a great fit for the job he formerly occupied; once again taking on the mantle of Malaysian Prime Minister.
But while Dr Mahathir has been nicely settled into his appointments as Prime and Finance Minister, Mr Najib Razak may still be getting used to not-being-PM-ship.
Although he has publicly conceded the top spot to Dr Mahathir, a few stray rays of the spotlight continue to fall on Mr Najib.
This is probably due to the continued 1MDB investigations against him.
In a Facebook post late Wednesday (23 May) night, he penned a written takedown of his detractors and the policies implemented by the new establishment.
He has called statements made by the new government “alarming and confusing” and telling “half the story”, among other claims.
Mr Najib’s post can be found below. We summarise it and attempt to find out if he’s telling the truth.
Mr Najib was kind enough to number his points from one to ten, so we don’t have to spend time counting.
In point numero uno, Mr Najib says:
Words said and allegations made while in the opposition carries a very different weight now that you are in power and holding the positions of the Finance Minister or the Prime Minister.
Clearly a pointed jab at Dr Mahathir, who was in the opposition before winning at the elections and becoming the majority.
Lim Guan Eng bears the distinction of being the first Finance Minister of Chinese ethnicity in 44 years.
On to point two. Mr Najib says:
Coming out to say that our country’s government debt to GDP is now 65%, which is a big jump from the official 50.9% figure and saying that our debt is now RM1 trillion without giving any details of what you mean will just unsettle the financial markets, alarm the credit rating agencies and investors confidence in our institutions such as our Bank Negara Malaysia. [emphasis ours]
Mr Najib was of course referring to Dr Mahathir’s cited reason for the salary cut of all Ministers, as well as the removal of the Goods and Services Tax (GST).
Dr Mahathir delivered a speech on Wednesday (23 May), announcing the wide-reaching salary cut. He cited a desire to reduce the government’s debt, which was about 65% of the nation’s GDP.
The debt had apparently exceeded the RM 1 trillion mark, which is certainly alarming.
However, the actual number, according to Mr Najib at least, is 50.9%. Which is below the deposed Barisan Nasional government’s self-imposed ceiling of 55%.
Dr Mahathir blamed the large discrepancy in both side’s narratives on “abuses“, which has left behind “issues that have never had to deal with…before”.
In the next few points, Mr Najib refutes the figures proffered by the Pakatan Harapan coalition government, and said that such “alarming and confusing” statements have resulted in the country’s national stock exchange (KSLE) dropping.
These losses measure in “tens of billions of ringgit” of lost market value.
Mr Najib’s statement about dropped stock prices is correct, at least. A cursory look at how the index performed from 23-24 May shows that the deepest drop in share price occurred between 12-3 pm. A precise 2.21% drop.
Confidence status: affected
Mr Najib opines that Dr Mahathir and his establishment are shaking the confidence in the country’s institutions daily.
They have also cast “doubts on the credibility” of the state’s institutions and rocked public confidence, said Mr Najib.
Another unintended side effect of Dr Mahathir’s honesty is possibly Malaysia’s credit rating being affected.
Credit ratings are reflections of the risk level of investing in a country and are good at-glance indicators of a country’s financial situation.
Malaysia currently stands at an A- rating. Singapore is three tiers up, at AAA.
There have been fears that Malaysia’s credit rating might be affected after revelations of the size of the country’s debt.
Borrowing costs are also adversely affected by a downgrade, Mr Najib accurately claims.
Don’t play the blame game
While you may want to slander and put all the blame on me to give a perception of a dire financial position to justify why you cannot deliver on your manifesto promises and to massively cut the civil service, you must remember that the country and our people comes first.
Well, it seems pretty obvious that Mr Najib does not believe that the fault for Malaysia’s financial position lies squarely on his shoulders.
He says that Dr Mahathir can “issue misleading statements on 1MDB or tell half the story”, but “the time to play politics is over”.
As the elections are over, Dr Mahathir’s words may indeed cause huge repercussions in the country, as evidenced by fluctuating stock prices ever since the debt announcement.
However, amidst all the revelations that are only just coming to light, one thing remains clear — all this happened under Mr Najib’s watch.
The remaining question’s about the amount of blame, not its presence.
As Mr Najib put it in his Facebook post: It is no longer just about votes anymore.
It’s about damage control.
Featured image from Najib Razak on Facebook.