Msia Lim Guan Eng

PUTRAJAYA: Lim Guan Eng said it was absolutely fine to go down in history as the most “unpopular” Malaysian finance minister, “as this process of cutting down, cleaning up and turning around the nation is for our children.”

In an exclusive interview with the Bernama news agency published on Monday (Jun 11), the former Member of Parliament and Penang Chief Minister reflected on how his job had changed.

“From Penang to Putrajaya, from a sea of black ink, as we have much more money to spend (in Penang) to a sea of red ink (in Putrajaya),” he said.

The Penang state government was acknowledged in the Auditor-General’s report as the best financially managed state as it had doubled its asset reserves to RM1.83 billion (US$459 million) and reduced its debts significantly to RM65 million – an achievement that seems more remarkable against the backdrop of the staggering RM1 trillion worth of national debt and liabilities.

Regarding his job at the federal level now, Lim sees it as about cutting down excesses. “So, I am going to be a very, very unpopular finance minister,” he said. “I have no money to give, I am cutting down.”

Emphasising the magnitude of the financial fiasco created by the previous government through state investment fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), Lim said: “1MDB’s last tranche of the RM5 billion 30-year bond, guaranteed by the Federal government, is due in the year 2039.”