Two decades on, Dr M admits to helping tycoons in the 1990s to keep Malaysia afloat

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has finally admitted to helping rich businessmen during the Asian Financial Crisis of the 1990s that also sent Malaysia’s economy into a tailspin.

(MMO) – The prime minister a second time around admitted that he made the decision to help the “tycoons” and their businesses, but in his trademark sardonic style, said it was a strategic move that prevented mass retrenchment that also kept investments and money flowing into the country and the Treasury while the entire region suffered.

“But of course it would have been better if we didn’t help the tycoons and let their businesses fold,” he wrote on his personal blog today.

“By doing that all those under their payroll (both rich and not rich) will be jobless. Exports will decline and there will be no foreign cash inflow into the country.

“And then the government will lose corporate and personal tax income because a large share of it are paid for by the tycoons. Huge sum of government revenue will be lost. Government operations and development will have to stop. No infrastructure developed,” the 94-year-old added.

What prompted his sarcastic post is unclear, but critics have long accused Dr Mahathir of cronyism when he served as prime minister from 1981 to 2003.

They claimed his privatisation push had helped enrich a small pool of elites that shared close ties to the government then under Barisan Nasional, and that Dr Mahathir helped bail out many of their businesses when the economy tanked, even if some were said to be underperforming.

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