INTERVIEW | Dr Mahathir Mohamad was unable to hold back his laughter when quizzed on Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s pledge to help strengthen the United States economy.
“Hah, this is the first time that a Third World country wants to support the richest country in the world to develop its infrastructure.
“The US can help itself, it doesn’t need our help. But this is Najib’s principle of ‘cash is king’,” Mahathir told Malaysiakini in an interview today.
The former prime minister accused Najib of taking the Malaysian people’s money and giving it to US President Donald Trump to secure his support.
“But Trump did not say anything about Najib being the best prime minister,” he added.
Najib had made the remark about strengthening the US economy during his meeting with Trump at the White House on Tuesday.
Among the deals the two leaders agreed on was that the Malaysian aviation industry would purchase between US$10 billion and US$20 billion worth of US-made passenger planes and aircraft engines.
Najib also announced that the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) would increase its US investments by between US$3 billion and US$4 billion.
Sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional Bhd would also expand its presence in the US.
However, Mahathir rubbished Najib’s announcements as “bad” investments.
‘The US has enough money’
“It’s bad because the US has enough money. If they don’t have enough money, they can do quantitative easing to increase their money supply,” he said.
On the other hand, he said Malaysia did not have sufficient funds, citing cuts to public scholarships and the implementation of the goods and services tax in order to sustain the government’s coffers.
According to Mahathir, Malaysia did not benefit from the Najib-Trump meeting in any way.
“Malaysia nothing, we get nothing. But the purpose of the meeting wasn’t about Malaysia, it was for Najib to apple polish (Trump),” he added.
Mahathir himself had spoken about the US economy when visiting then-US president Ronald Reagan at the White House in 1984.
He too wished for the US economy to be stronger, but by its own virtue.
“I’m particularly happy to note the encouraging signs of economic recovery in the US, which we consider significant, if not crucial, in assuring a healthy global economy.
“In fact, if you were to ask me what is it I would want the US to do with regard to economic policy, my honest and simple response is for the US economy to get ahead and regain its strength, for the healthier and more vibrant the US economy becomes, the better it will be, not only for the United States and Malaysia but all the developing countries in the world,” Mahathir had said in a joint statement with Reagan at the White House East Room.