Malaysia’s Mahathir denies corruption, says most of his money ‘now gone’

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Malaysia’s erstwhile Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has denied engaging successful corruption, saying he earned his money from his net during his decades-long governmental profession and astir of it is “now gone”.

In an exclusive question and reply pinchJazeera, Mahathir, who is nether investigation by nan country’s anticorruption agency, deed retired astatine existent Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim complete remarks that implied that he had utilized his clip successful agency to enrich himself and his family.

“I americium funny arsenic I person not seen this money and don’t cognize wherever they are. If I had taken nan money, show nan tribunal really you [Anwar] reason that I had taken nan money,” said Mahathir, 98, who is pursuing a 150 cardinal ringgit ($32m) defamation action against his protégé-turned-rival.

Mahathir, who led Malaysia from 1981 to 2003 and again from 2018 to 2020, said he was consenting to spell to Switzerland pinch Anwar to look for banks wherever he could person stashed distant his money.

“If we tin find specified a bank, I will retreat 100 percent of nan money and springiness it to nan Malays,” Mahathir said.

Mahathir besides accused Anwar of targeting his 2 eldest sons, Mirzan Mahathir and Mokhzani Mahathir.

Anwar, who served arsenic Mahathir’s lawman during nan 1990s, has denied targeting governmental rivals and said he does not intervene successful nan ineligible process.

“As he [Anwar] stated, he had files, boxes, documents which shows I person taken money. Well show, if you person nan boxes, show them. But until now, he has not shown [the boxes]. Instead, he has tried to bypass [that] and now, he is going aft my children Mokhzani and Mirzan,” Mahathir said.

anwarMalaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim served arsenic Mahathir’s lawman during nan 1990s [Franck Robichon/pool via AFP]

In January, nan Malaysia Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) ordered Mirzan Mahathir and Mokhzani Mahathir to state their assets arsenic portion of inquiries prompted by nan Pandora and Panama Papers leaks.

The anticorruption agency successful April confirmed that it was investigating Mahathir arsenic portion of nan probe.

Mahathir said he does not use from his sons’ business activities.

“They don’t springiness maine money from their business,” he said.

Malaysia’s long-serving leader said he forbade his sons from doing business successful nan state while he was successful agency arsenic he did not want to beryllium accused of nepotism.

“Mokhzani only succeeded successful business aft I stepped down. During nan clip I was premier minister, he was not well-known for being a successful businessman. He was employed by petroleum companies arsenic he was trained successful that field,” Mahathir said.

Addressing nan root of his wealth, Mahathir said that he earned a monthly net of 8,000 ringgit ($1,700) erstwhile he first became premier minister, rising to 20,000 ringgit ($4,240) by nan clip he stepped down successful 2020.

“For me, that was a awesome sum… a very large sum of money,” said Mahathir, adding that he was paid 2,000 ringgit ($420) a period erstwhile he started retired arsenic a aesculapian expert successful backstage believe successful nan 1950s.

Mahathir said that he was besides provided pinch benefits, including a location and a car, which helped him to walk small while successful office.

“They paid for my electricity, h2o bill… authorities gives maine transportation, cars and drivers. I don’t person to salary anything,” Mahathir said.

“Even flying, nan planes were astatine my disposal. So what I needed successful position of doing my activity arsenic a premier curate were each provided for by nan authorities and nan net I got. I saved it for complete 29 years – from being a curate of acquisition to retiring arsenic a premier minister.”

In 2018, Mahathir declared assets worthy 32.35 cardinal ringgit ($6.9m).

Mahathir said that erstwhile he first stepped down arsenic premier curate successful 2003, he rejected an connection from nan authorities for a free portion of onshore successful Putrajaya, a metropolis astir 25km (15.5 miles) southbound of Kuala Lumpur.

“I said no, I don’t return free land. So I bought nan land. I paid 1 cardinal ringgit [$212,000] for 5 acres [2 hectares] of land. It is connected grounds that I did not return a azygous cent from nan government,” Mahathir said.

MACCThe Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission successful April confirmed that it was investigating erstwhile Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad [Reuters]

Mahathir said he spent astir of his money coming retired of status successful a bid to region then-Prime Minister Najib Razak from powerfulness arsenic nan multibillion dollar 1MDB financial ungraded unfolded.

The elder statesman contested nan 2018 wide elections nether nan banner of nan Malaysian United Indigenous Party, which he founded aft leaving his longtime governmental conveyance UMNO, nan largest statement successful nan then-governing Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition.

At nan property of 92, Mahathir went connected to lead nan guidance Pakatan Harapan conjugation to a stunning triumph complete BN, which had governed nan Southeast Asian state without interruption since its independency from nan United Kingdom successful 1957.

Mahathir resigned successful 2020 amid soul tensions wrong his PH government.

In 2022, Anwar was elected premier curate pursuing 2 short-lived premierships nether nan banner of Perikatan Nasional (PN).

“Unfortunately, erstwhile I was retired of nan authorities and I was progressive successful politics, I don’t person immoderate different root of money isolated from my own… I spent astir of nan money connected politics,” he said.

“My statement had nary money. People don’t donate to nan guidance party.”

On Najib, who is seeking to service nan remainder of a six-year situation condemnation nether location apprehension aft being convicted for his domiciled successful nan 1MDB scandal, Mahathir said nan erstwhile premier curate should not person typical treatment.

“Staying astatine location intends you are free. You don’t travel retired of your house, but you are free. When you bargain billions and you are very well-treated, it is simply a bad illustration for early leaders,” Mahathir said.

In February, Malaysia’s pardons committee halved Najib’s jailhouse condemnation to six years and reduced his 210 cardinal ringgit ($60m) good to 50 cardinal ringgit ($10.7m).

“They are going to trim nan condemnation until it becomes meaningless,” Mahathir said.

“When you springiness this benignant of concession, pardon, trim nan condemnation by half and you talk astir location arrest, you are not punishing. You are treating this man who has stolen billions of dollars differently.”

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