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Mahathir ticks off 'over-excited' Zafrul after video mocking 'RM500 billion' investment

The former leader says the zeal with which the minister responded to a misquoted report should instead be directed at attracting investments.

Staff Writers
2 minute read
Tengku Zafrul Aziz in a video responding to a report that misquoted Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
Tengku Zafrul Aziz in a video responding to a report that misquoted Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Dr Mahathir Mohamad today hit out at Tengku Zafrul Aziz over his "over-excited" reaction to a report that had mistakenly quoted the former prime minister as talking about an RM500 billion investment in Langkawi.

Sinar Harian, which published the report, has since amended the article after realising the mistake, correcting the figure to RM500 million.

Mahathir said he wished Zafrul could display the same zeal in attracting investments into the country. 

"If his over-excitement towards an inaccurate report is also applied to finding and bringing investors into Malaysia, I am confident that the country's gloomy economic situation can be overcome.

"Merely making announcements of various proposals and signing off dozens of investment MOUs that are not finalised will not develop the country's economy," the former leader said in a statement.

Zafrul, in a video response to the report by Sinar Harian, said there had never been any investment worth RM500 billion.

Accompanied by the sound of applause, Zafrul mockingly said: "If it is true that there is an investor who is looking to invest RM500 billion in Langkawi alone, it would set a new record for Malaysia."

He said the government was ready to welcome such an investor.

"We will roll out the red carpet from the airport to the hotel for the investor if it is true," he added.

Mahathir also challenged Zafrul to detail confirmed investments in the country since he took over the investment, trade and industry ministry.

"Some people asked if I knew Tengku Zafrul. I said I do not know him personally but have heard stories about him singing in a band during the 14th general election in support of the kleptocratic government," he added, referring to the 2018 elections he led which overthrew Najib Razak's government.

Mahathir said despite this, he decided not to punish Zafrul.

He further recalled that as the finance minister under Muhyiddin Yassin's administration, Zafrul was condemned by Anwar Ibrahim as the "minister who protects banks and not the people".

Zafrul, who has since joined Umno and contested in Kuala Selangor in the November polls, was re-appointed as a senator by Anwar despite being defeated, allowing him to be appointed to the Cabinet.

"But he still became a minister. Perhaps there is something special (about Zafrul) that we have yet to see," quipped the 98-year-old.