KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has warned investors to "beware" of misinformation spread about the country's economy.
"There has in fact been a concerted campaign to send such misinformation overseas to damage Malaysia's economy for their own selfish political objectives," Mr Najib said at a forum on Tuesday (Jul 25) to attract investment to the Southeast Asian nation.
As he has been doing at high-level events for some months now, Mr Najib dedicated a significant portion of his keynote address at Invest Malaysia 2017 - organized by Bursa Malaysia - to discrediting the opposition and in particular its newly-announced chairman, former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.
"The latest leadership structure that the opposition announced is farcical, sounding like a return-to-work programme for old age political pensioners," he said at one point.
Mr Najib said the opposition has told "barefaced lies" about Malaysia's economic progress.
"There has in fact been a concerted campaign to send such misinformation overseas to damage Malaysia's economy for their own selfish political objectives," he said.
"So if you receive these smears, or if you read it in publications that do not check the facts properly, please beware.
"It is not fair to the Malaysian people and it is not fair to the business community both at home and abroad."
Mr Najib has come under fire from the opposition for alleged corruption and lack of transparency in his administration, with Dr Mahathir and other leaders zooming in on allegations millions were misapproiated from state investment fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), which the Prime Minister had formerly advised.
Investigations linked to 1MDB had been opened in at least six countries including the United States which is seeking to recover assets worth more than a billion dollars.
Mr Najib who is also Finance Minister said Malaysia too had taken action.
"Some of you may be thinking I have not mentioned national companies where there have been issues. At 1MDB it is now clear that there were lapses in governance.
"However rather than bury our heads in the sand we ordered investigations into the company at a scale unprecedented in our nation's history."
Mr Najib also told the conference that the Malaysian government is committed to necessary reforms, including agreeing in principle to the establishment of an Integrity and Governance Unit at all GLCs, and State and Ministry-owned Business entities.
“I say to you now that under this government, we are cracking down on crony capitalism. No more sweetheart deals. No more national follies kept going to stroke the ego of one man. No more treating national companies as though they were personal property. Because it is the people who suffer, and we will not tolerate a few succeeding – and not on their own merits – while the many are denied opportunities, all for the interests of a selfish few,” Mr Najib said.
Mr Najib's speech was quickly followed by a response from opposition leader and Pakatan Harapan President Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.
In a sharply worded statement, the wife of former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim said: "Najib Razak's shameful tirade this morning at the Invest KL 2017 against the Pakatan Harapan leadership reveals his desperation to go to any level to discredit the Federal Opposition.
"Pakatan Harapan is growing in strength from day to day as we prepare to face UMNO-BN at the ballot box in GE14, whereas Najib's administration continues to be mired in financial scandals such as 1MDB."
The opposition leader also called for Mr Najib to face his "old mentor" and Pakatan Harapan Chairman Dr Mahathir in a debate if he had "nothing to hide".