Speaking at the Asian Leadership Conference, former two-time Prime Minister of Malaysia Mahathir Mohamad publicly alleged that the country has become a “kleptocracy, ruled by thieves”. He also said that if he had known, he would have stayed on longer as Prime Minister.
Wouldn’t have stepped down had he known the future
Mahathir described his decision to step down as Prime Minister the one he was most dissatisfied with in his political career.
However, he was referring to his first handing over of the job in 2003, after serving 22 years as Prime Minister, instead of his more recent resignation in 2020.
And he elaborated a little more, saying that he thought his successors would work to develop the country, but he felt that this did not happen.
“Unfortunately, they made a 180 degree turn. They decided that (being in a) leadership (position) gave them the opportunity to do things that are not right,” Mahathir said, although he did not name any particular Prime Minister that came after him.
He added that if he knew what was going to happen he wouldn’t have stepped down, but no one could know the future.
Asian values are superior: Mahathir
Mahathir had other things to say during his keynote address.
He emphasised the need for wealthier nations to help other countries fight the Covid-19 pandemic, his greatest achievement in overseeing Malaysia’s rapid economic growth, and the superiority of Asian values over Western ones.
He said that unlike Westerners, Asians took more pride in their work and do not view their job merely as a way to make money.
Regret over 2003 isn’t new
Mahathir’s regret over 2003 isn’t new — he’s said the same thing before.
In his February 2021 interview, Mahathir denied having personal problems with his successors, Abdullah Badawi and Najib Razak. He said that he would support them if what they were doing was “right”.
However, he also said that his successors created “unease” among the people and that people should not be blindly loyal to a leader.