Mahathir's remarks on Malaysia debt, 1MDB tell 'half the story': Najib Razak

Mahathir's remarks on Malaysia debt, 1MDB tell 'half the story': Najib Razak

najib razak, mahathir mohamad
Former premier Najib Razak (left) and current Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad (right). (Photos: AFP) 

KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng's "alarming and confusing" remarks about Malaysia's debts and 1MDB liabilities "tell half the story" and had caused the stock market to fall, said former premier Najib Razak.

"Words said and allegations made while in the opposition carries a very different weight now that you are in power and holding the positions of the Finance Minister or the Prime Minister," Mr Najib wrote in a late-night Facebook post on Wednesday (May 23).

At a press conference after chairing his first Cabinet meeting, Dr Mahathir said that the government's debt of RM1 trillion (US$250 billion) was 65 per cent of the gross domestic product. 

This is "a big jump" from the official 50.9 per cent figure, Mr Najib wrote.  

"Without giving any details of what you mean will just unsettle the financial markets, alarm the credit rating agencies and investors' confidence in our institutions such as our Bank Negara Malaysia."

Mr Najib said that as a result of these statements, the Bursa Malaysia index had fallen and caused "tens of billions of ringgit" in market value to be wiped out in a day. 

"Surely this fall would affect our funds such as EPF (Employee's Provident Fund) and PNB (National Equity Corporation) and could lower the dividend rates for its members for the year," he wrote.

Dr Mahathir's statement that Malaysians should not worry about a possible downgrade of the country's credit ratings will further rock the confidence in institutions, Mr Najib said, adding that "a downgrade will result in higher debt financing costs of RM10 billion per year" and may cause capital outflows and the ringgit to weaken.

"While you may want to slander and put all the blame on me to give a perception of a dire financial position to justify why you cannot deliver on your manifesto promises and to massively cut the civil service, you must remember that the country and our people comes first," he wrote in the post. 

"You can also issue misleading statements on 1MDB or tell half the story about it to blame me but the time to play politics is over.

"Words spoken while in such positions of power result in actual losses to the country and the people, as was proven today in the stock market. It is no longer just about votes anymore," Mr Najib said.

An ongoing probe into alleged corruption in the previous government and the siphoning of massive amounts of money from 1MDB has seen Mr Najib and his wife barred from leaving the country. His home and several properties linked to him have also been searched and cash, jewellery and luxury items estimated to be worth millions of dollars seized.

The country's anti-graft agency will finish taking a statement from Mr Najib, who ruled the country for almost a decade, on Thursday.

He has consistently denied any wrongdoing at 1MDB.

Newly appointed Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said on Wednesday that he has asked for PricewaterhouseCoopers to be appointed for a review and audit of 1MDB.

Source: CNA/Reuters/na(cy)