London • Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has admitted that his government is short of money as it is saddled with debts of over RM1 trillion inherited from the previous government.
He said much of the government’s money will be diverted into paying loans.
“To solve the debt problem is our priority,” he said, adding that failure to do so places the country at the risk of slipping into bankruptcy.
At a meeting over high tea with Malaysians residing in the UK on Sunday, Dr Mahathir thanked Malaysians and the Malaysia diaspora abroad who voluntarily contributed to the Tabung Harapan Negara trust fund that was set up to reduce the country’s debts.
“They decided to voluntarily collect money to help the government. Of course, the amount is not much, (but) the gesture is much welcomed, a gesture of loyalty of Malaysians to their country,” he said.
Responding to a question from a guest about an arms deal, Dr Mahathir stressed that the government will allocate more expenditure for education instead of defence, even though the country is in dire need of new “toys” (weapons).
“We will survive even with outdated aircraft. We will spend more money on education,” he said.
Dr Mahathir said as soon as “the government has money”, Malaysia will send more students abroad, as well as bring back Malaysian talents from abroad.
Advising Malaysian graduates and talents abroad to return home, Dr Mahathir said, however, that currently there are not enough jobs for them in Malaysia.
He said the government’s efforts to attract more investments so that more jobs can be created have received a good response, but they have not taken off yet.
Dr Mahathir also welcomed Malaysian companies operating overseas to relocate their companies to Malaysia.
He said the Entrepreneur Development Ministry will help to identify new businesses for those with little capital. He also said that Malaysia has the capacity to grow fast under a friendly government. — Bernama