Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad says he still can’t believe that he has become the Prime Minister again, adding that this time around, it will not be so easy to helm the country.
At a dinner with about 250 Malaysians here last night, Dr Mahathir said besides the change in Government and the need to institute changes, such as reducing bureaucracy and removing restrictions, the administration had to deal with the country’s fiscal debt of RM1 trillion.
“Of course, we can sell land to help settle the debt. But if we keep doing that, we won’t have a Malaysia,” he said, adding that more excesses by the previous administration were being discovered on a daily basis.
“We are still finding more money that has been shuttered or hidden away,” he added.
Dr Mahathir said the new Government was committed towards transparency and eliminating corruption.
He also said that he was touched by the donations contributed by Malaysians for the Tabung Harapan to help pay the national debt.
To a question from the audience, Dr Mahathir said when he first introduced the Look East Policy in 1982, many people thought that it was “nonsense”.
“It’s not about working or studying in Japan, but acquiring the work ethics. I hope you will try to emulate these,” he added.
He also wished Malaysians would learn to be humble like the Japanese when they failed to achieve their best work or when their product’s quality was poor.
Dr Mahathir also thanked Malaysians who had voted for him despite the odds.
He said no one had thought that Pakatan Harapan could win the general election.
“Without you, I would have never won the general election. The opinion was that we were bound to lose but it turned out that we won,” he added.
The 93-year-old leader was later mobbed by those eager to meet him for selfies, causing him to take some time to leave the hall.
Earlier, Dr Mahathir held a meeting with Toyo University chairman Shinji Fukukawa and Nomura Holdings president and group CEO Koji Nagai.
He is scheduled to deliver a keynote address at the 24th International Conference on the Future of Asia today.
Dr Mahathir is on a three-day working visit to the Japanese capital.
This is his first trip abroad after taking office as Malaysia’s seventh Prime Minister last month.