PETALING JAYA: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad admitted taking the lease on a plot of land in Langkawi, but insisted he did not get it for free or with a discount.
"Looks like there is someone hurling accusations that I received all sorts of things from the government before I retired as prime minister," he said.
"This person also attached proof of the land lease in Langkawi. A lease means that I still have to pay for it and it was not a gift. It wasn't as though I got it for free, I didn't even get a discount," added Dr Mahathir in a blog post on Tuesday (Nov 30).
"I admit I leased the land. Leased, I did not ask. Leased with payment made. I did not get it for free.
"I also bought two plots of land in Langkawi after retirement. There is nothing that I got for free as a gift from the Federal Government or state.
"On the contrary, the lease was increased multiple times until I handed the plot back to the Langkawi Development Authority (Lada)," said the Langkawi MP.
Dr Mahathir said he believes that former premier Datuk Seri Najib Razak was trying to divert attention from the case of having to "reject" his own request for a luxury property from the government.
He challenged the authorities to investigate and charge him in court if he had committed any offences.
"Eighteen years have passed since I retired from the government during my first stint as prime minister. When I became prime minister the second time, my pension was stopped and that only resumed once I resigned.
"I do not need to clear anything. If the authorities want clarity over the leases go ahead," said Dr Mahathir.
On Nov 18, a shouting match erupted in Parliament after Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz confirmed that the government was considering rewarding Najib with a piece of land and home worth RM100mil.
Dr Mahathir claimed that it was made known to him that RM60mil was for the purchase of a piece of land and RM40mil was to build a house on it.
Najib later rejected the plot of land and house in Kuala Lumpur gifted by the Federal Government.
He said the land and house were gifted to him as a former premier, but had caused public unease due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
In a Facebook post Tuesday (Nov 30), Najib retorted by saying Dr Mahathir had admitted he received 34 acres of coastal government land in Langkawi on a 60-year lease.
“The lease cost is RM7.80 per acre per month or RM3,200.”
Najib claimed that when Dr Mahathir got the cheap land offer from Lada in 2014, he was its adviser.
“His son was the Kedah MB and also the land exco member. Land affairs fall under the jurisdiction of the state government,” he said.
Najib, however, added that it was true that Dr Mahathir handed back the land in 2017.
“Mahathir said the rent for the piece of land had been increased many times over and that was why he gave it back.
“At that time, he had resigned as Lada adviser in 2016 and his son also lost his post of Kedah MB for the first time in 2016.
“But in the post, he did not mention the land allocated for logging given to his son as I had revealed.”
Najib also said Dr Mahathir did not reply over the Putrajaya land purchased from the government.
“How big was it and how much was paid?” he asked.