Dr M: Govt to sell assets to help pay off debts

PETALING JAYA: The government is looking at raising funds by selling some of its assets to help get the country’s financial situation back on track, says the Prime Minister.

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said one way to do so was to sell non-essential properties locally and abroad that can fetch good prices.

“We will sell them for whatever value they may have. Normally, the amount is not very big, but still, the accumulated amount will be big, ” he said in an interview with local radio station BFM on the Breakfast Grille show on Tuesday (Sept 17).

Asked on further details of the properties that can be sold, Dr Mahathir said he was unable to do so, as there are ongoing negotiation processes to find the “right price”.

The premier also said he did not think that the properties that could be sold would include those in Johor’s Iskandar region.

“I don’t think so, because the properties in Johor have already been sold and the money has been paid not to us, but to the person who sold the land so that is not what we are looking for, ” he added.

Dr Mahathir said that the Pakatan Harapan government is trying to recover money that has been lost due to 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), adding that his administration inherited a huge debt left by the previous one.

Apart from selling off assets, Dr Mahathir also said that Putrajaya has postponed the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail Link and cancelled other projects that “were not immediately necessary” at the moment.

The Prime Minister also said that mending the financial and economic gap between races; urban and rural areas; as well as states are also the priority of the government.

He said the issue of uneven and unfair distribution of wealth in the nation needs to be corrected, or it could lead to violence.

“Well, we noticed that the distribution of wealth in this country is not even and not even fair.

“For example, between urban and rural, there is a great disparity. We need to make a correction on that.

“Between states, some states are very rich, some states are very poor. That also we need to make corrections.

“We have problems with performance of some ethnic groups, for example, the bumiputra, including the bumiputra in Sabah and Sarawak.

“They are rather poor in comparison with the people of other races living elsewhere.

“All these things have been looked at, and we feel that we need to redistribute wealth in a fair way because if there is great disparity, then there will be antagonism and that antagonism may increase over time to a point where it may break out into some violence, ” he said when asked details on Pakatan’s Shared Prosperity Vision policy.

Dr Mahathir said that in the past, affirmative action was a method used to ensure distribution of wealth, and such actions had benefited some people.

However, problems arise when such opportunities are given to people who are unable to manage them, he said.

“If it is because they don’t have the opportunity or capital, we can make corrections but the ability of the people concerned is not the same.

“Some of them, culture-wise, they are really not suitable for going into business, for example, ” he added.

Asked on how to overcome the issue, Dr Mahathir said one way is to train Malaysians, especially students in management, to avoid mistakes.

He said that the issues are also due to education and culture.

“It is an educational issue because, in schools, we don’t train people on how to manage things.

“Now we have to focus on financing, management and things like that, so when they leave school, they will know something on how to do business.

“The other thing is cultural. Cultural refers to value system. If your value system is not suitable for certain kinds of activities, you are going to fail.

“For example, if you are laid back, obviously you are not going to be as successful as activists, people who want to do work, people who are keen to work hard, ” he said.

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