Dr M saved nation, says Najib

Malaysians can thank ex-PM by making Vision 2020 a reality

(New Straits Times) – IT was an unfounded accusation by some quarters to say that former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had sought aid from the World Bank during the 1997 financial crisis, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

Najib said he knew Dr Mahathir well and the latter would never have handed over Malaysia to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

“I can support Dr Mahathir on this. Mind you, it’s a sin to tell lies,” he said at Dr Mahathir’s 86th birthday celebration last night.

Najib was referring to the opposition’s claims that Dr Mahathir had sought a loan from the World Bank and there were documents to prove it.

He said Dr Mahathir had “saved the nation” during his tenure. “He (Dr Mahathir) has done a lot for this country. If I am to list everything he has done, it will take me right through the night until morning.

“To put it in a nutshell, three significant achievements during his premiership have made Malaysia what it is today.

“One, Vision 2020; two, putting Malaysia on the right track to becoming a developed nation; and three, instilling self-belief in us and giving us the confidence to believe we can do anything (Malaysia Boleh) if we put our minds to it.”

Najib said the best gift Malaysians could give to Dr Mahathir, in return for his contributions, would be to make Vision 2020 a reality.

“That is why we have implemented many programmes, including the ETP (Economic Transformation Programme), to ensure we achieve Vision 2020.”

Still, Najib said the nation had to cross “the bridge (general election)” soon. “We hope to cross this successfully.”

Dr Mahathir said he introduced the slogan “leading by example” and stood by it when he chose to have his by-pass surgery in Malaysia instead of seeking medical treatment abroad.

“I am blessed to have led this nation for 22 years. I have been tasked to lead and once we are entrusted to do this, we have to do it well. Politicians should accept criticisms to be effective leaders.

“With the extra time I have, I hope I can continue contributing to the nation’s development.”

Present were Najib’s wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor and Dr Mahathir’s wife Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali.

Najib later launched the Mahathir Distinguished Internship Programme, which is for postgraduates, young academicians or professionals below 35 years to learn about Dr Mahathir. International applicants are welcomed.

Those interested can call the secretariat of the Malaysian Professors Council at 03-88706308, 88706309 or 887063311.

Successful applicants are expected to work full time at the Perdana Leadership Foundation during their internship.

They will receive a a salary, and housing and transportation allowances.