It’s payback time, Dr M tells Malaysians working abroad

By P PREM KUMAR / Pic By BERNAMA

Malaysians who left the country to work abroad should come back to make Malaysia a developed nation, said Prime Minister (PM) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

“If one got the opportunities to study abroad because of the country, and employment overseas because of the country, then it’s now payback time,” he told some 500 Malaysians living in China in a gathering yesterday.

Dr Mahathir noted that salary packages in Malaysia might be less attractive, if compared to those offered in developed countries.

“If you study outside the country, especially in developed countries, it is normal that you are attracted to the lifestyle there. “But a good Malaysian will come back and make the country as great as the developed countries they studied in,” the PM said, greeted by rousing cheers from the audience.

Dr Mahathir said even if Malaysian salaries might not be as attractive, cost and standard of living in the country is far better than the developed economies.

“If you don’t believe, buy a can of drink in Malaysia and for the same money try buying it in London,” he added.

Meanwhile, Dr Mahathir said the Pakatan Harapan government will implement strategies and machineries for Malaysia to achieve developed-economy status by 2025.

He said the developed-economy status would not be achieved by 2020 — as targeted by the previous government — due to poor financial health and rampant corruption in the country.

He said the new government will introduce recovery policies and strategies to reboot the Malaysian economy, once known as the “Tiger of Asia”.

“We were once known by ‘Tiger of Asia’ and with that, we should have reached developed-economy status by now. However, we became a kleptocracy. “We will put in place all policies, strategies and government machineries to make Malaysia a developed nation… unfortunately not by 2020, maybe by 2025.

“But maybe with the help of all of you, we can achieve it before that,” he said.

Some 500 Malaysians who are residing in Malaysia joined Dr Mahathir and his wife, Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali, for the dinner that was held in conjunction with the PM’s working visit to the republic beginning last Friday.

About 14,000 Malaysians are reported to be living in China — mostly businessmen, professionals and students. From the total, some 2,000 are living in capital Beijing.

During the dinner, Dr Mahathir received a cheque of 2.98 million yuan (RM1.79 million) for the Tabung Harapan Malaysia, which was collected by Malaysians who are living in China.