08 April 2019

Dr.M - I think Najib is a worse leader than Anwar...

As chairman of the new alliance Pakatan Harapan (PH), the 93-year-old physician’s political comeback pulled the rug from under Barisan Nasional (BN) after six decades of power. It ushered in an era of wide-ranging reform and healing that, as Malaysians are starting to realise, will take longer than expected to accomplish. The New Straits Times editors were allotted 40 minutes, but he obliged us extra time...

Question: It is now almost one year since the 14th General Election (GE14). What would you say are some of the major accomplishments of the new Pakatan Harapan (PH) government?

Answer: Number one is keeping the party together. It’s not an easy thing to do because we have different parties to manage and to get them to reach a decision is much more difficult than when I was leading the previous party. That is a very difficult task, but they have stayed together. Maybe other people may not think of it as much of an achievement, but actually it is a big achievement because these parties have never really worked together.

Q: How is it different, this new coalition, from the one you were in previously?

A: The cabinet meeting is illustrative of the fact we are a real coalition of parties of almost equal strength, and each party would want to give its view on all the subjects that we discuss. So cabinet meetings normally take a much longer time than in the previous government. 
Everybody wants to have a say, and sometimes repeatedly, and that means we cannot reach a decision easily, but even then the fact that we can stay together and actually give direction to the government is, to me, an achievement.

Q: Some have said without Tun at the helm, PH would disintegrate. How do you ensure this doesn’t happen?

A: Well, this is a difficult question to answer because I have to sum up whatever it is that they (have) argued (about) and declare that this is the decision that we are making. I cannot sum up unless, of course, they agree with my views and these are sometimes very contrary views. So far, I have been able to lead. We don’t see any substitute yet at the moment, but there have been occasions when I left the cabinet and Wan Azizah was leading and she was able to conduct the meeting, at least for the short period I was away. There was once when I was out of the country, she conducted the meeting. So, in a sense, the structure is expected. Now, who fills in after me, or after Wan Azizah, is something else. Of course, what we say is that Anwar will take over. Anwar has been a deputy prime minister before. He ought to know how to keep the party together.

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Q: But you have said numerous times in the past that Anwar is not fit to be a leader. What has changed between then and now?

A: Well, that was before. Yes, I did say that. But between Najib and Anwar, I think Najib is a worse leader than Anwar. The worst leader. I think that to have Anwar replace a person like Najib is more acceptable than to have Najib carry on, so I decided that I would work Anwar, whatever I may have said about him before, whatever he has said against me before. I thought that our working together was far more important, in order to displace Najib, than for us to quarrel because I knew if we didn’t work together, Najib would be the next prime minister and that would be disastrous for the country.

Q: Do you see Anwar as able to keep PH together?

A: I think he has been leading a considerable part of Pakatan Harapan. In fact, he was the architect of Pakatan Rakyat. Of course, Pakatan Rakyat failed because they were not that cohesive. But after we came together, we were able to work much more closely. The fact remains that he was from Umno, and Umno, of course, was not very liked by the opposition. He left Umno and he was able to bring DAP, Pas even, and his party together, so he has leadership quality.

Q: One of the criticisms we often hear about the new government is that sometimes it is slow in implementing initiatives or unclear in terms of the policy direction. How much of that is due to the inexperience of the new ministers and how much to the legacy issues, the problems left by the previous government?

A: A lot of it is due to what was left by the previous government. The fact is that the previous government was very secretive. We didn’t know what they were doing and we assumed that they had done certain things and we formulated a way to get rid of the wrong decisions made before. But when we took over, we found out the truth about what they had done. For example, when they entered into the contract for ECRL, we did not realise that we cannot terminate the contract. It means we have to pay a huge compensation. And if you don’t terminate, then we will incur huge costs. And the borrowings were very bad in the sense that they were expensive and were from Chinese sources and all payments are made not according to work in progress, but according to time taken.

Periodically we have to pay, without regard for the work that has been done. All these things created a big problem for us because it is difficult to get out of this project. We thought we could just cancel the project, but it was not to be like that because they had entered into an agreement which tied them up very tightly to the other party. So to get out of it, we need not only offer to take over but also to persuade the other party to agree to our case.

So it has taken almost a year, we still cannot get around to determining (an outcome). We have been able to talk about reducing the cost, and this must be substantial, but the amount the other party was prepared to reduce is not sufficient for us. So many things have to be negotiated and at the back of it is the Chinese government. We cannot afford to ill-treat a Chinese company here without incurring the displeasure of the Chinese government. So it has been very tough trying to undo the wrong things that Najib has done.

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The civil service, for example. He has corrupted the civil service to the point where these people took money. We have to get rid of them, but we have to retrain a new set of younger civil servants. They are good, but they are new. They cannot manage in the way the entrenched leaders were able to.

Then we have this problem of the high cost of living, which — despite doing away with GST — did not come down. As you know, when prices go up it is very difficult to bring them down in any circumstances. Now we are trying to bring them down because the high cost of living is something that people are unhappy about.

Then, there is unemployment. When we decided to terminate all the contracts given out by the previous government because they involved wrongdoings, we found that we were not punishing Najib. We were punishing these people, and they included not just the contractor, the sub-contractor. They were not involved in the negotiations or whatever. The workers, the suppliers, all kinds of people get hurt because we stop. It’s not an easy task. If it involves only a few companies, yes, but we have hundreds of contracts that we stopped with the intention of restarting but at the moment we are not able to restart because some of the contracts are too costly. We have to reduce. All these things take time.

It’s not that there is no idea how to go about it, but to negotiate a reduction in price, to renegotiate the terms of the contract, that takes time, especially with the big companies. But the small companies also suffer, because they cannot carry on and therefore they have to lay off workers and all that. The workers get hurt, and we find that instead of punishing Najib, who is going around quite freely, we are punishing other people.

So when we realise that, we need to reverse our decision. If we don’t reverse just because we want to maintain a decision without being accused of flip-flopping, we would do injustice to a lot of people. People say we’ve flip-flopped and all that, but this is based on number one, a lack of information on the extent of Najib’s depredation, and secondly, that when you take action, he’s denying everything but the people who obtained contracts in the last government, these are the people who are hurt, including the workers.

Q: Would you say you have uncovered all the dubious practices of the previous government?

A: We are still finding more. It’s almost endless. It’s not only 1MDB. There is the CRC, the pension funds, there is Tabung Haji, there is Felda. These institutions have been robbed of money and now they are suffering. Badly managed, money stolen and all that. It’s not easy to solve these problems, because the money has disappeared. 

For example, if you say you invest in Petro Saudi, if it is a real investment we can go to Petro Saudi and maybe dismantle the thing and get back our money. But the money is not with Petro Saudi. It has travelled to many different places and we believe, finally, it ended up in his account. But in law, you need to prove that you are the owner. The money that moves from one bank to another is ours, we have to prove that. Without that proof, you can’t go to court.

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Q: When you first became prime minister in 1981, you introduced the slogan ‘Bersih, Cekap dan Amanah’ (Clean, Efficient and Trustworthy). Now you’re back in the government and having to yet again clean up and fight corruption. What happened along the way? Can we ever have a clean government?

A: Corruption is endemic everywhere, and any government would face that problem. The thing is how to reduce corruption. Eliminating it is almost impossible.

During my time, corruption was not so bad that the government could not function. The government could function. Everything could be built and people trusted us.

But when Najib took over, there was extensive corruption involving him! He is the head of government. When the head of government is known to be openly corrupt, then the whole government machinery becomes corrupt. The extent of corruption during Najib’s time is a scandal of enormous proportions.

When we took over, almost immediately that stopped. Our government is not corrupt, but we are getting rid of the corrupt people. We are also taking action in the courts for corruption. So at the moment what we are receiving is information on corruption that happened before, so there are lots more. 

After we took over, incidences of corruption have been very few. For example, a political secretary is accused of taking a watch or something like that. That is nothing compared to the billions that were stolen before. So I would say we have reduced corruption by about 90 per cent. We no longer have people complaining when they go to the office, they ask for money.

Q: So there was a loss of trust in the government before?

A: Yes, a complete loss of trust. You know, I was told of a story while I was still out there (of the government). A lady wanted to do some business. She has some friends in the government and she expected her friend would help her. And she went to her friend, and her friend asked her, ‘How much are you giving upfront?’ Her friend! You see, that’s the extent of corruption during Najib’s time. But now we don’t hear stories like that any more.

Q: Despite these transgressions, there are those who say Najib is innocent until proven guilty in court. What do you have to say to that?

A: Yes, it’s true. But if the court doesn’t hear the case, he will not be proven guilty. And what Najib has done is to wangle so that the trial is delayed. Almost 11 months after we won, his case has just started. If his case is not heard then he cannot be found guilty, and to claim that until he is declared guilty then only you can accuse him? And he is delaying it because he knows he is guilty.

Even today (Wednesday) at the first hearing, he tried to find an excuse, appealing to the higher court, saying that this decision is wrong. All these things are done in order to delay a hearing. If the hearing is delayed, then he can never be described as guilty, until the court says he’s guilty. So that is his strategy. In the meantime, of course, he is going around fishing for support, saying that ‘No. I am not guilty’. The public may say he is not guilty, but until the court says he is guilty or not guilty, he is guilty. Under French law, you are guilty before you are proven not guilty.

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Q: Coming back to the ECRL, how confident are you about the prospect of this project going ahead?

A: It would seem that the project may have to go on, perhaps on a lesser scale and at a lower cost. That is what we’re aiming for, but at the moment we need to have the agreement of the contractor. If we terminate the contract, we have to pay compensation. Huge compensation. If we go on, we don’t have to pay compensation but the cost will be less. So this is still ongoing. It has not been easy for us to persuade the contractor that ‘you have to reduce your cost’, ‘you have to reduce the scale’, all these things. Of course, the contractor entered into this contract hoping to make a lot of money, but we are trying to reduce the amount that he can make. Naturally, he is not very willing to reduce the contract value because he wants to make money.

Q: Have they given us a deadline?

A: We wish to have a deadline, if we can fix (it), but it depends on the other side agreeing. We don’t know what that side is going to do. If we fix the deadline, you come to the deadline, (but) the other side still won’t agree, what are we going to do?

Q: Recently, you had asked the people to be patient, that it would take three years to restore the administrative and financial conditions. On the RM1 trillion debt, are you looking at a specific reduction in three years’ time?

A: We think we should reduce the borrowings by the government and we see some signs of being able to do this. We can reduce the cost of various contracts. We may have to resort to selling government assets because we have to pay the debts. We can’t maintain the debts and just service them. That will take us 30 to 40 years. We have to pay off the debt, to retire the debt, and that means we have to raise money.

Q: How much debt are we targeting to retire in three years?

A: I can’t say very well, but I think if we reach about RM800 billion that will make us quite comfortable. Now it is more than RM1 trillion. When the debt is smaller, the burden of interest is also smaller.

Q: How do you see the ongoing reforms impacting the economy? Because we have projects that are being reviewed, not continuing, the cost of living, the issue of wages? In terms of the economy, what can people expect in the next few years?

A: Faith in the government has been restored. Not fully yet, but restored to the point where people are now coming with proposals to invest in Malaysia. Some of these proposals, of course, involve some government funds. We may not be able to come up with the funds. But many of the proposals are entirely private, that is to say, they will raise the funds, they will build, they will do everything and the government merely has to approve. That is coming, quite a lot. The process is a little slow because we are very careful not to be taken for a ride again. So we already have many, many proposals, which when implemented will reverse the trend in the economy.

But as you can see, this economy is still growing; 4.7 per cent is a big figure for an economy of our size and therefore, when we grow, the size of the base will be bigger and the rate of growth will be smaller. You see, one per cent of $100 would be just $1, but when the growth comes to $1,000, that one per cent becomes smaller by comparison with the base. So that will happen. I am confident. Many people have come to see me, the Japanese have come, the Chinese have come, the Europeans have come. At the airshow (Lima 2019), they were all very positive about Malaysia’s growth. Confidence has returned.

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Q: Do you see these changes being implemented in PH’s first term as the government?

A: We are working on it, but it’s not an overnight change. It’s not possible. As you go along, you meet a lot of problems. You introduce a system, and then find that the system is wrong. You need to make corrections. You can’t say, ‘I have decided this. Right or wrong, you must go ahead’. That is a stupid position to take, just because you want to say, ‘Oh, I don’t flip-flop’. But flip-flop is necessary when you find that what you have done is wrong. But, of course, before you do it, you must study things very carefully, know all the facts, all the background, before you make a decision. That is what we are doing now.

So you find that sometimes we come up very late with a solution. It’s now almost one year, and there are some things which are still not fully resolved. For example, when we stopped contracts given out by the government, we found that the effect was worse than we thought. You are thinking of stopping the contract, but we are creating unemployment. That is the effect of stopping the contract. So when we find that out, we can’t say, ‘Oh, we have decided. No change’. That is bad. You have to tackle this problem.

Q: What are the things that frustrate you, Tun, in the first year of your administration?

A: Well, if I compare with my previous stint as prime minister, the whole machinery of government was in place. People knew what to do. All I needed to do was to come up with some decision and they would carry it out. Now I find that I can make a decision but whether it is carried out the way I want it or not, more often it is not. So I need to keep on going back and finding out what is it that they have done.

In the past, in my previous life, I visited the sites, I asked questions. I required that they all take dated pictures so that I could know what was happening. I make reports, because I believe in micro-management. I think if you make a decision and then leave it to somebody else, they will do something else.

Q: Is there sabotage now in the civil service? Is that what you are saying?

A: There is that reluctance, because the civil service has been working with one party for 60 years, now they are going to work with the opposition party and some of them are reluctant. Many civil servants are very strong Umno supporters and all that. Sometimes you find that the civil servants cannot work with his minister, like the KSU (secretary-general) for example.

On the one hand, the elected minister should not interfere in the promotion or position of the civil servant. On the other hand, if he cannot work with the civil servant, if the civil servant does not follow his instructions or goes the opposite (way), we need to voice our unhappiness and the need for a change. -NST

An hour with Dr M, arguably better than an Avengers' movie

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Ringkasan Isu Tabung Haji, 
Apa Yang Perlu di Fahami...

1) TH sebenarnya telah rugi dari tahun 2015 lagi

2) Bila rugi ( libiliti lebih dari asset), ada satu klausa dalam Akta TH yang tulis TH tak boleh bagi hibah. 

3) Tapi macam mana TH masih boleh bagi hibah sampai 2018? Senang cerita creative accounting atau bahasa kasarnya menipu akaun.

4) Jumlah kerugian dalam masa 4 tahun tersebut ada dalam 4.1 billion

5) PH boleh aje ikut cara Azeez, buat creative accounting tipu kata TH untung lagi tahun ni tapi sampai bila? Kalau kita dah sakit kencing manis, kaki nak dah bengkak sebab banyak makan gula, takkan la nak terus makan gula lagi lepas tu expect boleh berlari masuk marathon? Kalau tak kena potong kaki pun dah kira baik. Jadi nak terus hidup kena lah control diet macam dalam kes TH ni kena come clean

6) Nak restore balik balance sheet ni ada banyak cara, macam apa yang khaznah buat kitchen sinking, declare terus non performing asset bagi tahun tu. Tapi khazanah boleh la buat macam tu sebab dia tak ada tanggung jawab pada pendeposit. Kalau TH buat macam tu alamat nya mengamuk la orang kampung yang tak faham kenapa tahun ni tak ada hibah, tu belum masuk part TH juga bayar subsidi pergi haji.

7) Jadi cara mudah dia keluarkan non performing asset ker pada company lain UJSB (urus harta jemaah). Ni yang kes pembangkang PAS/UMNO duk bising pasal CEO Prokhas Cina Chen Yin Heng, padahal dia tu dah ada kat sana dari tahun 2006 lagi. Ya, zaman Ulama-ulama PAS dan UMNO berpuas hati dengan rompakan tabung haji CEO dia masih lagi Chen Yin Heng.

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😎 Lagi satu, kita anggap la kes TH ni macam darurat. Kalau isteri nak bersalin di hospital kerajaan, doktor wanita semua tak ada, yang ada doktor lelaki bukan islam. Lepas tu ada complication pulak memang nak kena masuk OT asap, takkan la kita nak delay lagi nak tunggu doktor wanita islam? Sanggup tunggu dan perjudikan nyawa isteri sendiri? Ni lah masalah bila berbicara dengan golongan ruwabidhah yang ghuluw

9) Semalam dah keluar berita yang CEO baharu UJSB Izab Shahadi telah di lantik oleh menteri agama untuk membaik pulih non performing asset. Jadi PH mmg prihatin pada masalah TH dan umat islam bukan seperti mana dakwaan pembangkang. 

10) Itu belum masuk kes part yang ulama-ulama PAS TITM, Tantawi, Taki boleh jadi benteng pada penyamun macam Azeez bila kata PAS berpuas hati dengan prestasi TH. Ulama-ulama PAS ini juga ada saham dalam menyebabkan kerugian tabung haji sebab mereka bersubahat sama dengan UMNO dalam merompak duit tabung haji. Bila ulama-ulama PAS berpuas hati, automatik penyokong PAS akan berpuas hati, ya lah siapa berani bantah kata-kata ulama su' kan?

11) Nasib baik ada orang yang berani macam Rafizi yang berani sanggah pendapat ulama su' PAS. Kalau Rafizi senyap tak ada orang akan tahu yang Azeez penipu besar.

12) Ulama-ulama PAS ini juga membisu bila TH beli 30% saham Putrajaya Perdana yang mana milik CINA Jho Low yang mana ada kaitan dengan SRC. Jadi Jho Low ini bukan cina ka? Atau pun Jho Low sudah jadi sebahagian dari keluarga macam MIC? Mungkin PAS sanggup jadi pembela Jho Low di akhirat sebab tu sayang betul PAS dengan Jho Low sampai tak berani nak kritik.

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13) Jadi bila dah dikeluarkan asset sakit tu, libiliti TH kurang dari nilai asset, maknanya hibah boleh di beri walaupun nilai dia kurang. Bila nilai hibah kurang, Ulama PAS dan UMNO perlu bertanggung jawab atas kerosakkan yang mereka buat dulu yang menyebabkan TH dalam keadaan macam ini.

14) Tadi DS Najib boleh pulak sindir kata bila TH nak umum hibah dan golongan ruwaibidhah bersorak memaki-maki kerajaan. Tapi golongan ruwaibidhah ni kalau pakai akal mereka sedikit, mereka tahu, Najib sendiri yang lantik penipu Azeez jadi CEO TH yang menyebabkan TH rugi bertahun-tahun. 

15) Umpamanya TH adalah satu bahtera, tapi nakhoda kapal duduk sibuk jual barang-barang kapal demi laba sendiri. Bila ada anak kapal persoal, datang pulak lebai tolong backup-up perbuatan nakhoda tersebut. Bila nakhoda baharu ganti, kapal tu sepatutnya dah tak boleh berlayar, tapi dia cuba baiki dengan apa yang mampu, boleh la berlayar tapi perlahan. 

16) Yang paling ironis, nakhoda lama dan lebai nya pula yang bising kenapa kapal berlayar perlahan padahal mereke sendiri tahu mereka yang rosakkan bahtera tesebut. Itu lah dia hipokritnya penunggang2 agama pada masa ini.

17) Dan seperti biasa golongan ruwaibidhah akan senyap menyepi walaupun tahu ia adalah kebenaran. Mereka tak mampu berfikir ( sebab ulama sudah berfikir untuk mereka) , lalu apa yang mereka mampu hanyalah memaki-hamun kerana mereka ingat itulah cara berjuang untuk menegakkan Islam ikut acuan parti mereka. - Khairuddin Abu Hassan

Wang RM10 juta untuk beli apartmen di London, kata Mat Hasan
Akhirnya Tok Mat calon UMNO/BN PRK Rantau mengakui membawa keluar wang RM10juta melalui pengurup wang ke london untuk membeli apartment semasa beliau menjadi MB.Tok Mat kata tak salah, kalau tak salah kenapa BNM tarik lesen pengurup wang terbabit?

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