MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku



10 APRIL 2024

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Dr M: I won't be here in 2020, don't blame me if things go wrong

Pundits say it's not about wit, Dr M put in policies to block unity
KUALA LUMPUR - Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has still a lot to show for when it comes to demonstrating his wit, sarcasm and wry humour when speaking in public these says.

Today, the former prime minister was again in his element when he was invited to speak on “Revisiting Vision 2020” by the Institute of Marketing Malaysia.

Saying that by and large, Malaysians supported Vision 2020, a 30-year plan which he crafted in 1991 to lay the foundations for Malaysia to be a developed nation by 2020, he also said that he would not be around by then to see what happens in 2020.

“To look ahead 30 years is beyond the span of my life… I would not be around to see what happens in 2020 and that’s a good thing because nobody can blame me (if things failed)... I won’t be around for you to blame,” he said amidst laughter from the audience.

When Dr Mahathir did not have some figures, he said he had not sat down to calculate and “bother the remaining part of my functioning brain”.

“You know when you age, some part of the cortex gets slightly inefficient, you don’t want to bother yourself with too many details. Anyway, please go back and calculate (yourselves),” he told the audience who took it in good spirit.

Dr Mahathir said Vision 2020 “is a mere vision… it may be sometimes illusional, it is not real, but we want to make it real, we want to become a developed country by 2020”.

On why he chose 2020, he said: “I chose 20/20 because it means perfect vision if you were to ask any optometrist,” he said, adding that he preferred 20/20 to 6/6 used by the British.

“My vision is not perfect, so I have to wear glasses to correct it. But once I wear glasses, my vision is 20/20. I wear big glasses,” he said.

Dr Mahathir started off his talk by saying that he had forgotten the nine main pillars of Vision 2020 and had to get his secretary to remind him what they were.

But when it came to one of the pillars on establishing a fully moral and ethical society by 2020, he said: “When it comes to the question of morals, of course, it is very important that immoral people should not be allowed to lead this country.” He did not name any name.

Dr Mahathir again showed his dislike for Americans and the weakening dollar, saying that the greenback had become unstable because the United States was a “bankrupt nation” and that the Americans had resorted to “printing an additional US$600 billion (RM1.8 trillion)” recently by issuing Treasury bills.

“They have the capacity to print money. When they lose money on the street, they go back and print money. They can never become poor. We (Malaysia) cannot afford to depend on the printing machine. We have to depend on our (foreign currency) reserves to support our currency,” he said.

Dr Mahathir said he was not sure whether the rise in the country’s foreign reserves to US$100 billion of late from some US$17 billion 13 years ago was due to the increase in Malaysia’s economic performance or that the US dollar had weakened as “I had forgotten to ring up (Tan Sri Dr) Zeti (Aziz), the central bank governor)”.

He said having US$100 billion in international currency reserves, which was equivalent to eight months of retained imports, might be too much.

The reserves, he said, should be pared down to half so that the money could be mobilised for productive use in the country rather than lending it to the US, which might be using the money to produce weapons “in order to kill more people”.

“You know, maybe we can use the money for those mega projects which are well-disliked,” he said in his usual tongue-in-cheek manner.

In between the sarcasm and wry humour, Dr Mahathir also dispensed some brilliant thoughts on how to achieve Vision 2020 like re-focusing on domestic direct investments, changing mindsets for the better, increasing productivity and quality of goods and services, and mastering the English language as it would enable one to have more access to information and knowledge, and be able to operate internationally with relative ease.

“We still have 10 good years left to achieving Vision 2020,” he said. — Bernama

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