Malaysia’s ruling coalition rebuts views of PM’s power consolidation

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad delivers his speech at the 22nd Annual General Meeting of the National Smallholders Farming Association in Ampang October 17, 2019. — Picture by Firdaus Latif. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

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KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 1, 2019, Malay Mail. A reported study suggesting Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was concentrating the government’s economic power in himself was “skewed” and “misleading,” Pakatan Harapan (PH) contended today, Malay Mail reported.

The ruling coalition’s secretariat said the study failed to take into account fundamental differences with the Barisan Nasional (BN) era, which provided the needed context in which to view the changes made since the 14th general election.

The PH secretariat did not expressly name the think tank but was most likely referring to the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) that released its GLC Monitor 2019 containing the assertions this week.

PH acknowledged that control of Khazanah Nasional has moved from the Finance Ministry to the Prime Minister’s Department (PMD) but argued that the sovereign wealth fund was still mostly owned by MoF Inc.

Countering IDEAS that showed the movement of government-linked investment corporations (GLICs) to the PMD, the coalition said the Public Private Partnership Unit (UKAS) and agencies overseeing the various economic corridors were simultaneously transferred to the Finance Ministry and Rural Development Ministry.

The PMD was also a reduced entity compared to BN’s time, with only three ministers and deputies now compared to 10 each before, it said.

It also controlled 40 agencies now versus 92 from before and received just half of the annual allocations under the BN era that peaked at RM15 billion in 2017, PH added.

This was also not including PH’s establishment of the National Centre for Governance Integrity and Anti-Corruption (GIACC) and National Anti-Corruption Plan 2019-2023.

“The PH secretariat urges the public to be careful in evaluating the PH administration, at a time when the media has been given freedom and is no longer under government interference or control.

“The public must be wary of the media outlets still controlled by elements of the previous regime, and not to fall for their propaganda,” it said in a statement.

Aside from the IDEAS study, the PH secretariat also took issue with a front-page report by The Star yesterday that claimed Malaysia was delaying the Johor Baru-Singapore Rail Transit System, which was debunked almost immediately.

It also denounced a Chinese vernacular newspaper’s portrayal of the prime minister as de facto finance minister based on the IDEAS study.

The PH secretariat asserted that these were part of a larger campaign to split support for ruling coalition along racial lines, which is said would intensify heading into the November 16 Tanjung Piai by-election.

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