KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 12 — National leaders must be willing to go if they no longer have the support to continue governing, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today when citing his own decision to step down as prime minister in 2003.
Dr Mahathir said those holding positions of power should learn to gauge if their leadership was no longer wanted and leave before they are forced out, saying that he left the government of his own volition after over two decades in power.
“Nobody pushed me out when I resigned, (I) just thought 22 years was too long.
“But if you don’t perform and people criticise you, please make things easy for the country,” he said during a forum on “The Malaysian Dilemma” organised by the Centre for a Better Tomorrow today.
He expanded on this during a later press conference by saying that such leaders would be able to gauge if it is time to make way by measuring the amount of support they currently command.
“As I said before, a leader is only a leader when he has followers behind him,” Dr Mahathir added.
Earlier in his keynote address at the forum, Dr Mahathir noted the mounting complaints against the current government.
He said Putrajaya was “in denial” about the country’s economy, pointing to the drastic drop in government revenue due to plunging oil prices and depreciating ringgit.
The former prime minister noted that circumstances were sufficient to force Putrajaya to address its Budget for 2015, but added that the measures taken were inadequate.
“I don’t think it was a good revision… they should have cut more expenditures. There are still funds (channelled for) unnecessary things,” he said
One such example is the 1 Malaysia People’s Aid (BR1M) direct cash handouts, which Dr Mahathir has consistently said was a “waste of money”.
He said the idea was apparently aimed at winning support for the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition, but said the programme was unlikely to give the government the desired effect.
Dr Mahathir previously also labelled BR1M as “a form of bribery”.