Tun M: Malaysia suffering from financial destruction

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia is suffering from financial destruction, said Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who is working on reducing the national debt to about RM800 billion from the current RM1 trillion.

Mahathir told the Voice of America that he is working with Pakatan Harapan to mitigate the financial damage inflicted on the country. The premier said he believes he has found ways to wipe out 20% of the national debt.

"I am dealing with a country that has been actually destroyed. Its finances have been destroyed. The system of government has been ignored and not used and a new system, or rather an authoritarian system has been introduced," Mahathir said.

The alleged corruption has hit the country particularly hard because much of the missing money was borrowed, he told the US broadcaster.

"The previous government has accumulated huge amounts of borrowings from other countries, from foreign banks, and even from local sources, so the first thing that we need to do of course is to ensure that we are able to service the loans, at least, and to try to reduce the principle that has been borrowed," he said.

Mahathir said he has his work cut out in his return to top political office after 15 years. His first 20 years in office were "fairly easy" compared to what is confronting him now.

"Well my first 20 years as prime minister was fairly easy. I inherited a system that is already there. All I had to do is to introduce new ideas so that we can expedite the growth and development of Malaysia," the 92-year-old Mahathir said in an exclusive interview.