Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who turned 93 today, said his birthday wish was for the Press to help the government fight corruption.
The Prime Minister shared his birthday wish with the media when asked what he desired most on his special day.
“I wish the press will help us to overcome corruption. Thanks,” he said.
To a question if he had done enough to ensure his administration would be corruption free, the prime minister replied with a tongue-in-cheek manner that he would only know if anyone had broken the law.
Dr Mahathir also said his government and members of parliament of the government must set the best example in the fight against corruption.
“Otherwise, it will be difficult for them to advise others not to practice corruption and to say no to corruption.”
Dr Mahathir said the government would be going all out to fight corruption, citing various examples including strengthening the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and making sure no one including the prime minister and the deputy prime minister would be above the law.
On matters concerning reducing graft among public officials, Dr Mahathir said he was aware that the government paid salary at the lower scale and joked that he would consider slashing the salary of those in the private sector too.
His response immediately sparked a nervous laugh from the media working in the private sector, who responded with a loud “no”.
The prime minister then related how some government-linked company bosses were taking home up to RM7 million annually.
Saying he could not understand how so much money was being paid for their salaries, Dr Mahathir related how he used to earn only RM20,000 per month when he was prime minister previously.
However, he said the amount was more than enough for him as all other expenses were paid by the government.
“I did not even touch my salary back then as everything was paid for,” he said.
On his take about corruption now compared with the time he took office in the 80s, Dr Mahathir said the government machinery then was as clean as it could be.
“When we took over the government (after the 14th general election, many things have been done to fight corruption,” he added.