Guan Eng says prevailed over Dr Mahathir thrice with backing of Cabinet

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, March 6 — Former finance minister Lim Guan Eng today said the Cabinet had backed him on three proposals rejected by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, after the latter claimed the DAP leader could not “do anything” without his approval as the prime minister then.

On Twitter, Lim said ministers obviously should not act without informing the prime minister — due to protocol and respect — but said this did not mean they were completely powerless when the latter disagreed with their proposals.

Ministers could appeal to the Cabinet as a whole for its approval even in cases when the prime minister was not agreeable to their ideas, Lim said.

“This was done by me three times during my tenure as finance minister (2018-2020) in securing Cabinet approval over and above the strident objections of then prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad,” Lim said.

The three instances were the allocation of RM3.8 million to each government lawmaker, the review of government contracts previously awarded directly and without tender, and an 18 per cent reduction in toll rates for the North-South Expressway (PLUS).

On the review of directly awarded contracts, Lim said Dr Mahathir did not believe open tenders would promote transparency and accountability.

The DAP national chairman said he was able to gain near unanimous support for all three proposals, upsetting Dr Mahathir each time.

“On each of the three occasions that Mahathir was overruled by Cabinet, he threatened to sack me for defying him on these three initiatives,” Lim said.

“I was prepared to be axed but continued to pursue these reform initiatives that benefited the people. Mahathir did not carry out his threat. Instead, Mahathir resigned on his own accord in February 2020.”

Lim’s remarks were in response to an interview Dr Mahathir gave to the New Straits Times, titled “Anwar’s govt yet to yield any results, says Dr M” that was published on March 4.

In it, Dr Mahathir claimed DAP had not been able to control him when he was the seventh prime minister as he had been more powerful at the time.

Dr Mahathir went on to say, “Even Guan Eng had to ask for my permission before he wanted to do anything”.

In 2018, Dr Mahathir led Pakatan Harapan to an unexpected victory in the 14th general election, but his government collapsed just two years later when he resigned as the prime minister after he lost control of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia ahead of the Sheraton Move that year.

He went on to form yet another party, Pejuang, whose candidates all lost their deposits in the 15th general election last year, including both Dr Mahathir and his son, Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir.