Mahathir names 3 ministers; says he prevented Najib from leaving country

Mahathir names 3 ministers; says he prevented Najib from leaving country

mahathir press conference (1)
Newly elected Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad addresses the media in Kuala Lumpur on May 12, 2018. (Photo: AFP/Manan Vatsyayana and Mana Vatsyayana)

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Saturday (May 12) announced his picks for three key positions in his Cabinet.

Lim Guan Eng, a former banker and a qualified chartered accountant, was named as Malaysia's new finance minister. Mahathir also named former deputy prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin as the home or interior minister and Mohamad Sabu, a long-time opposition politician, as the defence minister.

Seven other ministerial positions have not been decided, Mahathir said.

muhyiddin yassin, lim guan eng and mat sabu collage
Malaysia's newly appointed ministers (from left): Lim Guan Eng is finance minister, Muhyiddin Yassin is home minister and Mohammad Sabu or Mat Sabu is defence minister. (Photo: AFP/Facebook/CNA)

When asked why only three out of 10 positions were announced, Mahathir said: "We can't say abracadabra and everything happens, it takes time," adding that several factors such as their qualifications, experience and views of the four parties in the coalition need to be taken into consideration.

He added that the Cabinet will be set up "as soon as possible", with the key positions announced by next week and the full Cabinet in two to three weeks.

When asked if he instructed the Immigration Department to impose a travel ban on former prime minister Najib Razak and his wife, he said yes.

"It is true that I prevented Najib from leaving – he and his wife," Mahathir said.

There is sufficient evidence for an investigation into things done by the former prime minister, he said, adding that the rule of law will apply. 

"There are a lot of complaints against him (Najib), all of which have to be investigated," the new Prime Minister told reporters. "We find that some of the complaints are valid. We have to act quickly because we don't want to be saddled with the problem of (having to seek) extradition from other countries."

Mahathir also said he has replaced the country's attorney general, who had cleared Najib of all wrongdoing in the 1MDB scandal.

"We have placed a number of restrictions on certain people who have been involved in wrongdoing or making wrong decisions," he said. "So at the moment we no longer have an attorney-general."

Mahathir added that he had instructed that a 1MDB report that was classified as an official secret during Najib's term be released.

mahathir press conference
Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohamad speaking at a press conference on May 12, 2018. (Photo: Sumisha Naidu)


The new Malaysian government will review all foreign contracts and projects, including the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail project and those under China’s Belt and Road initiative, Dr Mahathir said.

"With regards to all those contracts, we will review them to see how they favour us. We want to benefit from those contracts," he told reporters.

Mahathir also said a "council of elders" will be appointed to advise the new government on economic and financial matters for the next 100 days. Former finance minister Daim Zainuddin, former central bank governor Zeti Akhthar Aziz and business tycoon Robert Kuok were among those appointed to the council.

Source: CNA/cy/gs