PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysia's Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng has explained that his actions in revealing the financial scandals from the previous administration were done on the instruction of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.
"All the exposé of scandals related to 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) and other scandals were done on the instruction of the Prime Minister," he said in a statement on Tuesday (June 19).
Lim was responding to Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) adviser Anwar Ibrahim's suggestion that he asked other ministers or the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to expose scandals because as Finance Minister, his comments are deemed "sensitive".
Anwar had made the remarks in an interview with Astro Awani, calling on Lim, who is also secretary-general of the Democratic Action Party (DAP), to be mindful of his public remarks on the scandals, as his words now carried the weight of the Finance Ministry and were being watched closely by investors.
The PKR and the DAP are part of the four-party Pakatan Harapan coalition led by Dr Mahathir that took office following the May election.
“I did meet and inform Lim Guan Eng that the position of finance minister is of greater status," Anwar said in the interview, according to the Malaysiakini website. “Every statement (of his) will become the reference point for investors,” he was quoted as saying.
Lim, in response, said he has met Anwar several times to explain issues related to the economy and the financial scandals.
"I am not in a position to instruct other ministers to reveal scandals of the previous government which happened in the Finance Ministry which I am in charge of," Lim said.
"The rakyat (people) has the right to know the financial position of the country and its economy. The people do not want the Government to hide. When I met with Anwar, he has agreed on the issue. My ministry will continue to reveal all financial scandals in the (first) 100 days, as instructed by the Prime Minister," he added.
Lim added that he appreciated Anwar's input and welcomed all opinions on the matter.
"All of these views will be accepted openly," he said.
Lim also said the Finance Ministry has outlined an alternative plan to handle the country's RM1 trillion debt through postponing projects and implementing austerity measures.
He added that he has met various investors, local and foreign fund managers to explain the country's financial policies.
"These prudent initiatives are taken to ensure the budget deficit remains at 2.8 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP)," he said.
Lim's father and DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang on Wednesday defended his son, saying it was not wrong for newly minted ministers to expose the wrongdoings of the previous administration.
“There is a need to build a ‘new Malaysia’ and a need to undo all the wrongs of the past,” he told a press conference. “As a matter of principle, I think we should bring to the public's attention all the wrongs, scandals and corrupt practices of the past,” he said.
The elder Lim added that ministers who are aware of past wrongs should expose them to avoid being questioned later about why they failed to do so.