Tun M assures new government will be business-friendly, wants to bring back 1MDB money

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PETALING JAYA (May 11): Newly sworn-in Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad says the new government he helms will be business-friendly, and expresses hope that the stock market will continue to remain active after it reopens on Monday (May 14) following the two-day public holidays yesterday and today (Friday).

At a press conference after his swearing-in ceremony yesterday, the Pakatan Harapan (PH) chairman also said there is no cause for the ringgit to devalue after the coalition's takeover of Putrajaya.

"We will try to make the ringgit as steady as possible. Business people should be assured that the new government is business-friendly, and [that] we intend to build Malaysia with private corporations. We would like to see a very active stock market, so they (business community) can now push up the stock prices," he said.

"We will have to do a lot of work tomorrow, and we will focus on the finances of this country and the economy's management. As you know the country's debt is very high and there are some hidden figures; saying that we owe RM1 trillion is not exaggerated. So we will try to bring down our debts. We think we can achieve this because we have the kind of people to increase the confidence of investors in this administration," he said.

His administration will also try to retrieve assets being held by overseas authorities in their investigation into 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB), in order to help in paying down national debts.

Meanwhile, he said it is crucial to stabilise petrol prices at the pump in Malaysia, as the weekly fluctuations in oil prices have been very disturbing to petrol dealers.

He also shared that certain business owners had quietly helped the coalition's fight when it was running out of funds. Incidentally, he said there were those who have helped or seen to have had a close relationship with him being investigated by the Inland Revenue Board or Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

As such, the new government will look into these cases to find out whether these business owners have been over charged for tax matters, he said. "If they have been over charged or charged for taxes they didn't incur, we will try to return the money to them," he said.

In terms of policies, Dr Mahathir said the new government will look into some laws, such as the one regarding Anti-Fake News, and the role of the National Security Council, which he claimed have been used to "frighten" the people, and evaluate whether they should be abolished or not.

Asked about the maximum time he would spend as Prime Minister, Dr Mahathir said PH will try to get a full royal pardon for the coalition's designated Prime Minister in-waiting Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim so that the latter could be involved in politics again.

"I will stay as long as my experience is needed in the new government. I have 22 years of experience as Prime Minister. When I [was] first sworn in as Prime Minister in 1981, there was a recession — obviously it was not because of me — but we managed it quite well. And then we had the currency crisis, where we recovered faster than the others," he said.

As to the fate of incumbent heads of department in government institutions, Mahathir said "certain heads must fall".

"Yes, certain heads must fall. We find that some people were aiding and abetting a Prime Minister which the world condemns as a kleptocrat," Dr Mahathir said during a packed news conference in a hotel here.