Tue, 06 Aug 2013 20:00:00 GMT | By The Malaysian Insider

If I listened to Mahathir, Malaysia would be bankrupt, says Abdullah

This frank assessment was offered by Abdullah in a book covering his years as the prime minister of Malaysia.


If Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had succumbed to the pressure applied by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to spend without a care and continue with some of his pet mega-projects, Malaysia would be bankrupt by now.

This frank assessment was offered by Abdullah in a book covering his years as the prime minister of Malaysia.

Titled, "Awakening: The Abdullah Badawi Years In Malaysia", it was scheduled to come out earlier but there were some concerns in Putrajaya that the fifth prime minister’s comments and observations could spark a war of words between Abdullah and Mahathir and split Umno before the May 5 general election.

Putrajaya need not have worried. Abdullah lobbed a few barbs here and there, and threw a few zingers in the direction of his chief critic but did not reveal state secrets or offer juicy and humiliating anecdotes about the country’s longest-serving PM.

And he could have, he said. Referring to the constant attacks against him by Mahathir and other critics when he was in office, he recalled that some people asked why he did not clarify in detail the role of his young advisers, his son’s involvement in business and the influence of son-in-law Khairy Jamaluddin.

“Perhaps I should have been more vehement in defending and explaining these issues. I could have retaliated by exposing Mahathir. But what good would have come out of this for the government and party?” he said.

He noted that Mahathir is very set in his ways and believed that his is the only way. And this fact is why Abdullah believes he has been on the receiving end of vitriol from mid-2006 till today.

After all the layers of biting comments from Mahathir are peeled away, it boiled down to just one thing: Mahathir’s inability to accept any other view except his own.

For example, Abdullah remembered that he went to see Mahathir and explain that he had to postpone several projects, including the double-tracking rail system that the latter had initiated because of the bulging budget deficit.

“He, however, disagreed with me as he felt the government should continue to spend. But how do we do it when the deficit was at such critical levels? It would be highly irresponsible for me to continue spending.

“So we had no choice but to reduce the deficit by postponing some of the mega-projects like double tracking and this made Mahathir furious. I suppose he viewed them as his pet projects.

“Can you imagine, if I had succumbed to Mahathir’s continued pressure to spend when the deficit was already so high, how could Malaysia have weathered the oil and financial crisis which subsequently came in 2008?

“The deficit which we brought down to 3.2 percent crept up again due to subsidies for oil and essentials and hovered again at the 5 percent level. If we had not been prudent then, continued to spend, I can tell you we would be bankrupt by now."

In the book, edited by Bridget Welsh and James Chin, Abdullah also said that when he left office in 2009, he was determined not to be like Mahathir. He wanted Datuk Seri Najib Razak to establish himself as the prime minister.

“That is why I have remained silent all this time. I believe that once you retire, you are retired. You should not interfere with your successor. If there is anything you are unhappy with, you can always offer your views privately. Why bring it up in public and make life difficult for him?

Abdullah earned the biggest mandate from the electorate in 2004 but squandered the historic opportunity to reform the country and carry through many of his election pledges. As a result, in 2008 he led Barisan Nasional to a poor showing, losing its customary two-thirds control of Parliament.

In the book, he accepted blame for not meeting the expectations of the voters but said that Mahathir could not walk away from the 2008 results unscathed.

“When we did well in 2004, he said such a strong mandate was not good for the country. When we did not do so well in 2008, he heaped all the blame on me.

"He is doing it even today… Mahathir cannot deny that he contributed to the erosion of Barisan Nasional’s support in the 2008 elections through his open and unwarranted criticisms and attacks, calling my administration, which included a majority of people from his own Cabinet, as a ‘half-past six government’ and accusing us of corruption and all sorts of things,” said Abdullah.

17Comments
Aug 6, 2013 7:23PM
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Mr Badawi, you got balls. The mandate given to you in 2004 is the real stuff and you have the opportunity to reform. But too bad the don is there to interfere and bring you down.

Even though you were gutless back then, but better late than never. I mean to be fair since your balls were still microscopic back then

 

Hence, the biggest sandiwara of all time, goes to Mahathir

 

He cried about retiring and now talk $h|t about other people including those who were once under him.

Aug 6, 2013 7:27PM
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if Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi would have done it -then the country would be bankrupt and a new government would have formed then a new era and a new medicine for an 50 years illness....otherwise the illness is still there.......

Aug 6, 2013 8:39PM
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      Many believe in the magic of the multiplier effect. So borrowing more from abroad to spend is their brilliant strategy. They think it's simple to repay and service loans using the profits from projects generated from the loans. That's okay while credit rating is still A plus and all things considered go smoothly. Build, build by all means, but only when affordable, not with the need of further bridging loans...   
     Many nations shared this formula but due to corruption, incompetency, negative e****mic  trends and political instability, they ended up having to be given resuscitation or bale-outs.
     Being able to lend is more astute than being able to borrow.
    
     
Aug 6, 2013 9:01PM
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Silence is golden until the volcano cannot hold on any longer and erupted.
AB dealt with the 'present' situation progressing gradually towards the future but there's nosy barbs to deal with.
DrM was the PAST, making his PRESENCE felt, and rushing for his 2020 FUTURE with no regards for others but self ego.
A thinker from AB will let the members decide whether it's UM-NO or UM-GO. 
Aug 7, 2013 1:25AM
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Good for you, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi ! It's better to tell the truth now then never. At least the people get to know the truth then to misunderstand your administration. You will gain back the RESPECT from telling the truth to the rakyat of Malaysia.

 

Well done, all the best to you! 

Aug 6, 2013 11:58PM
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Mr Gentleman PM i respect your style quietly but effectively ,though unfortunate you didn't secures a 2/3 majority 2008.You are a responsible stateman despite the blame you never hit back like some politicians good to claim credit and push the blames when something failed. God  Bless You Tun.

Prudent and modest on portocol-thank you.

Aug 7, 2013 12:53AM
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The following statement brings down the respect that I had on him:
“Perhaps I should have been more vehement in defending and explaining these issues. I could have retaliated by exposing Mahathir. But what good would have come out of this for the government and party?” he said.
I shouldn't have chosen a leader who had placed the government of the day and the ruling party under his lead above the national interest, justice and the truth.
Sad......
Aug 7, 2013 10:54AM
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What was wrong with my previous comment that this site had remove it ???
Aug 8, 2013 8:52PM
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It’s absurd to even think that after one had passed the ball to another, one can just sit still and stay silent when the one that received the ball went on making blunders after blunders. An effective team member will not just sit still and observed by the sideline knowing that the team success is threatened. Such a team member will go all the way to act for the good of the team even if he is only an ordinary member of any team may it be UMNO.

Aug 6, 2013 9:24PM
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Pak Lah should look himself in the mirror where during his period, UMNO and BN lost 5 states to PR. Mahathir would have caused Malaysia a bankrupt but it did not happen during Mahathir's 22 years period, but Pak Lah had caused more damage to what Mahathir has built nationwide. Who built Putra Jaya, Cyberjaya, Petronas, Proton, F1 Circuit, MSC, Perodua, etc....? What Pak Lah has built? Biotech gimmick...? How many of us had benefited it? Any developed states in the world emerged without  tremendous physical projects...? Pls name them. No wonder Pak Lah was compelled to resign as PM, otherwise UMNO and BN would lose more states and eventually become opposition...
Aug 6, 2013 9:22PM
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Pak Lah should look himself in the mirror where during his period, UMNO and BN lost 5 states to PR. Mahathir would have caused Malaysia a bankrupt but it did not happen during Mahathir's 22 years period, but had caused more damage to what Mahathir has built nationwide. Who built Putra Jaya, Cyberjaya, Petronas, Proton, F1 Circuit, MSC, Perodua, etc....? What Pak Lah has built? Biotech gimmick...? How many of us has benefited it. Any developed states in the world emerge without  tremendous physical projects...? Pls name them. No wonder Pak Lah was compelled to resign as PM, otherwise UMNO and BN would lose more states and eventually become opposition...
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