‘I myself was not involved in corrupt practices’

Politics

'I myself was not involved in corrupt practices,' Malaysia's Mahathir says

Malaysia’s former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad said he and his family members were not involved  in any “corrupt practices.”

Last month, Malaysia’s Anti-Corruption Commission said Mahathir was among individuals being investigated over a corruption probe that involved his sons, according to Reuters.

Mahathir’s sons — Mirzan and Mokhzani — were in January ordered to declare their assets as part of the investigation.

“During my time, there was corruption. But I myself was not involved in corrupt practices,” Mahathir told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia” on Thursday.

“I made sure that even my family cannot be involved in a government business because I might be accused of nepotism.”

Former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad during a press conference in Putrajaya, Malaysia on Sept. 3, 2020.

Zahim Mohd | NurPhoto | Getty Images

The 98-year-old two-time former premier noted he and his sons would “cooperate fully,” with Malaysia’s anti-corruption agency.

“So far, they have only asked my sons to make the declaration of assets. The investigation does not involve demanding that I declare my assets,” Mahathir said, adding that he was willing to make a declaration if asked by authorities since he has “nothing to hide.”  

Mahathir’s sons have reportedly said their father was the primary target in the corrupt investigation on whether he “abused his position as prime minister.”

Malaysia’s former minister of finance Daim Zainuddin, an ally of Mahathir, has also come under investigation lately over financial dealings, according to local media.

Malaysian central bank says it won't use interest rates as a tool to 'somewhat defend the ringgit'

Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim has vowed to root out corruption but critics have accused him of targeting his former political rivals — accusations he has denied.

The country lost a staggering 277 billion ringgit ($58.77 billion) to corruption from 2018 to 2023, according to a recent government report against corruption. It also highlighted the political ramifications of corruption were “undeniably severe.”

Over 80% of Malaysians expressed a “loss of trust and respect” for politicians and national leaders as a direct consequence of ongoing corruption issues, the report stated. 

The lack of serious leadership, appointment of “dubious characters into key political positions” and lack of political commitment to enforce anti-corruption measures or “punish those who engaged in corrupt practices have undermined the trust and effectiveness of anti-corruption efforts thus far,” it added.

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