PETALING JAYA: Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad did not mince words when he described Tony Pua, who was Lim Guan Eng's political secretary during his term as finance minister, as an 'arrogant' and 'disliked' person.
"When you are not even a minister but just a political secretary – yet going around telling people what to do and threatening them and speaking the way you speak – you are arrogant and people will dislike you.
"Because of this person, a lot of people were against the (Pakatan Harapan) government as they felt that the government was not sympathetic to their cause," Dr Mahathir said at the virtual launching of his book titled "Capturing Hope: The Struggle Continues for a New Malaysia" on Tuesday (Dec 7).
Dr Mahathir was asked to comment on Lim's claim that he had a "faulty' memory and it was unfair to pin blame on Pua based on excerpts from his book.
Pua, although not named by Dr Mahathir in his book, denied that he had threatened the developer of the Exchange 106 skyscraper at the Tun Razak Exchange (TRX) when serving as Lim's aide and that he was singled out because of his efforts to tackle issues left behind by the previous administration under Datuk Najib Tun Razak.
It was said that Dr Mahathir was furious when informed by owner of TRX's developer Mulia Property Development Sdn Bhd, Djoko Tjanda that Pua had "threatened" to take over Mulia's 49% share for only RM1 after Mulia had already invested more than RM1.1 billion in the project.
Pua said Lim had defended his role and had written several times to explain the issues to Dr Mahathir.
Dr Mahathir said that he only cited the TRX project as an example of Pua's behaviour although many other businessmen complained about him.
He said instead of performing his duties as political secretary to Lim, Pua began meddling in the government administration, including policy matters.
"Others also came to tell me that this man – the adviser to the finance minister – was very arrogant.
"If I were to cite them all, it would fill the pages of an entire book," Dr Mahathir said.
He acknowledged that the appointments of political secretaries for ministers began during his tenure.
"Many ministers complained that due to their ministerial work, they did not have time to run their political on-the-ground tasks.
"This was why the political secretary role was introduced – to observe and gauge a minister's popularity among the general public.
"Instead, this political secretary ordered that he was to be briefed on policies, called in officers for meetings and implemented government policies", he added.
Earlier, Dr Mahathir said he decided to pen his experience of the 14th General Election in 2018 and his subsequent appointment as prime minister and the collapse of the Pakatan administration following the Sheraton Move.