Dr M shows he means business

Prime minister says actions are taken pending investigation over complaints of abuse of power and corruption

By P PREM KUMAR / Pic By BERNAMA

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad immediately laid the ground for action, to deliver his election promise of eradicating graft in the government on the first working day since winning the election.

He said Attorney General (AG) Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali, who had absolved former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak of being implicated in the 1Malaysia Development Bhd case, has been asked to take leave while Treasury Secretary General Tan Sri Dr Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah has been relieved of his duties.

The first working day after the election also saw a number of prominent resignations, including that of the head of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and the chairman of the Federal Land Development Authority.

Speaking from his base at the Perdana Leadership Foundation in Putrajaya, Dr Mahathir said these actions were taken pending investigation over complaints of abuse of power and corruption against government officials under the previous administration.

“There have been many complaints on the AG, but no formal report. So, we will wait for the report, but in the meantime he can go on leave,” he told a packed press conference yesterday.

He said Solicitor General Datuk Engku Nor Faizah Engku Atek will take over Mohamed Apandi’s responsibility until further notice.

“The Pardons Board meeting to discuss the release of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim tomorrow will also be attended by the solicitor general on behalf of the AG,” said Dr Mahathir yesterday.

Yesterday morning, Dr Mahathir chaired a meeting with secretaries general of all ministries in his office. After the meeting, Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Dr Ali Hamsa announced that Mohd Irwan’s contract has been shortened to June 14 and immediately transferred to the Public Service Department, and that he has been relieved of his duties.

Meanwhile, Dr Mahathir also said the government will review all policies of the previous Barisan Nasional government, including the National Transformation 2050 and the National Blue Ocean Strategy.

He said the policies will be re-looked for cost viabilities and effectiveness.

The 2018 budget, drafted and presented by the previous government, will also be re-looked, to ensure its focus areas and priorities are in line with the current government.

“I have instructed the Finance Ministry to look closely at the budget, and study where we can reduce government expenditure, especially those spent on running the administration,” he said.

Dr Mahathir said the new government has decided on a smaller administration of not more than 25 ministries and some secretaries general may have to be dropped.

“There are many ministers in the Prime Minister’s Department, we will not have that many,” he said.

He said since the number of ministries would be reduced, civil servants on the government’s payroll would be reassigned to various agencies, including to the private sector.

“We will not sack any civil servants, but find ways to keep them employed, including to move them to different agencies and to the private sector,” he said.

Dr Mahathir said the core Cabinet which comprised 10 key ministries will be announced by this week, while the remaining ministries will be announced later.

He said component parties of the Pakatan Harapan coalition will submit names to him for consideration as Cabinet ministers, but ultimately, he will decide on their positions and ministries.

Dr Mahathir said PKR president and Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail met him yesterday to give him 10 names, although he only asked for an initial three.

He said the priority will be given for three names to be part of the core Cabinet that will be made up of 10 people, including himself.

He said Amanah president Mohamad Sabu had also sent a letter suggesting three names for ministerial positions.

“Our stand is that the parties will give us the names. (Then) I will decide which ministry they will be in charge of.

“Maybe I will meet the party chiefs one more time,” he added.

On the visit by Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, Dr Mahathir said he was very honoured as the royal was the first head of government to meet the new prime minister after the May 9 general election.