Sunday, January 19, 2020

Mahathir: Understand Malaysia’s fiscal woes

Aug 21. 2018
Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad speaks during a joint press conference with China's Premier Li Keqiang (not pictured) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on August 20, 2018./AFP
Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad speaks during a joint press conference with China's Premier Li Keqiang (not pictured) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on August 20, 2018./AFP
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By The Star
Asia News Network
Kuala Lumpur

TUN Dr Mahathir Mohamad has appealed to China for its understanding on Malaysia’s fiscal woes, as uncertainty hovers over the China-backed infrastructure projects back home.

The Prime Minister, who is on a five-day visit to China, also hoped Beijing could lend a helping hand to solve the problems plaguing Putrajaya.

“We hope to get China to understand the problem faced by Malaysia today and believe it would look sympathetically towards the problem we need to resolve.

“And perhaps help us resolve some of our internal fiscal problems,” he said.

While Dr Mahathir had stopped short of specifying the problem, the Pakatan Harapan government had said that the country’s debt is now above RM1 trillion.

The new administration was also critical of the “lopsided” deals with China and moved to suspend projects with Chinese investment, such as the East Coast Rail Link, the Multi-Product Pipeline and the Trans-Sabah Gas Pipeline.

During this visit, Dr Mahathir had stressed that Malaysia was not against any Chinese firms and that he welcomed Chinese businessmen to invest in Malaysia.

At the press conference, Dr Mahathir said Malaysia had much to gain from China and believes that Chinese investment could bring down the unemployment rate in the country.

“Malaysia has a policy of being friendly to every country in the world irrespective of its ideology. This is because we need to have a market for our produce,” he said while expressing hope that Malaysia would become a South-East Asian hub for new technology being developed in China.

“China has great entrepreneurs with innovative ideas in doing business that Malaysians can learn from.

“China has got a lot that will be beneficial to us. It is a big and rich market created by very dynamic people,” he said.

Asked about his views on the trade war between China and the United States, Dr Mahathir said Malaysia would support free and fair trade.

He said he did not want to see this trade war becoming a new form of colonialism.

Dr Mahathir’s trip, which ends today, is his first official visit to China since his return to helm the country.

Ministers joining him on the trip are Foreign Affairs Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok, International Trade and Industry Minister Ignatius Darell Leiking, Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Salahuddin Ayub, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Liew Vui Keong and Entrepreneurial Development Minister Mohd Redzuan Md Yusof.

Meanwhile, Dr Mahathir also had a closed-door meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping yesterday evening at the Diaoyutai State Guest House.

Accompanied by his wife Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali, he later attended a dinner hosted by Xi and his wife Peng Liyuan.

Bernama reported that Dr Mahathir gave the assurance to Xi that there would be no changes in policy towards under the new Malaysian government.

He told Xi that he was impressed with the level of development achieved by China.

“We see China as a model for development,” he said.

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