Guan Eng: Dr M threatened to sack me as finance minister when I defied him 3 times

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Lim claims Mahathir threatened to sack him three times when he defied him as the finance minister.

Former Malaysian finance minister Lim Guan Eng has said that Cabinet ministers can appeal to the Cabinet as a whole even if the prime minister disagrees with their proposals. Lim stated that ministers should not act without informing the prime minister, but this did not mean they were completely powerless when the latter disagreed with their ideas.

Lim, who was the finance minister from 2018 to 2020, said he went to the Cabinet to seek such approval three times, all of which Mahathir strongly objected to.

“I managed to secure Cabinet approval from almost every minister for all three initiatives, earning the ire of the prime minister,” he said.

“On each of the three occasions that Mahathir was overruled by the Cabinet, he threatened to sack me for defying him.

“I was prepared to be axed but continued to pursue these reform initiatives that benefited the people.”

The three instances were the allocation of RM3.8 million to each government lawmaker, the review of government contracts previously awarded directly and without tender, and an 18 percent reduction in toll rates for the North-South Expressway.

Lim said he was able to gain near unanimous support for all three proposals, upsetting Mahathir each time.

Lim’s remarks were in response to an interview former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad gave to the New Straits Times, where he claimed DAP had not been able to control him when he was the seventh prime minister as he had been more powerful at the time.

“Even Guan Eng had to ask for my permission before he wanted to do anything,” Mahathir said.