Malaysian PM Mahathir lays out priorities for new government

Malaysian PM Mahathir lays out priorities for new government

Mahathir Mohamad press conference
Newly-elected Malaysian Prime Minister and opposition candidate Mahathir Mohamad speaks during a press conference in Kuala Lumpur on May 10, 2018. (Photo: AFP / Roslan RAHMAN)

SELANGOR: Malaysia's newly elected Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said his government will focus on the country's finances and economic management, and pledged to return billions of dollars lost in a graft scandal at state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

"We intend to build up Malaysia’s economy with the help of investors from inside and outside the country," Dr Mahathir said at a press conference in Petaling Jaya shortly after his swearing-in on Thursday evening (May 10). 

“We will try to make the ringgit as steady as possible,” he added, saying there should be no cause for the devaluation of the ringgit.

On the 1MDB scandal, he said: "We believe that we can get most of the 1MDB money back ... we have to increase the confidence of investors in the administration."

Dr Mahathir promised to "set out a good government", saying: "We are particularly keen to ensure the constitution is upheld and the laws of the country are what will guide us in our administration."

The 92-year-old also said he would study Malaysia's controversial fake news law. "We also want to abolish laws that are oppressive and unfair," he added.

When asked about his former political foe-turned-ally, Anwar Ibrahim, Dr Mahathir said he would work on a full pardon for him from the king as soon as possible.

And while Malaysians can enjoy a holiday on Friday, Dr Mahathir said he will be going to work, holding a Pakatan Harapan presidential council meeting to discuss formation of the new Cabinet and taking into consideration the component parties of the alliance.

Dr Mahathir displayed his trademark wit throughout the press conference, which ran for just under 30 minutes. 

"Finally, I've been sworn in as prime minister," he quipped at the start of the news conference.

"The election commission was quite slow", he said, noting that results were announced at 4am, but the king only got the result in written form at 3pm on Thursday afternoon.

The palace earlier issued a statement denying claims that the king, Yang di-Pertuan Agong XV Sultan Muhammad V, delayed the appointment of Dr Mahathir as Prime Minister.