Transcript of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's press conference in Kepala Batas (Thursday, Oct 26) during which he answered questions about his two-hour meeting with Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad on Sunday (Oct 22) at Sri Perdana, Putrajaya.
Q: Will you reply to him (Tun Mahathir) in detail?
A: I will have to prepare the replies for the many issues raised. Actually in our meeting, I gave him the opportunity to raise issues which he was not happy about. There were times while he was talking that I really wanted to intercede and argue with him but if I did that, I would have taken time and Tun would not have been able to say everything. Then people will say that I disturbed him when he wanted to. So I just listened to him.
He took one-and-a-half hours and we had agreed to meet for two hours. He stopped himself and I never told him to stop. When he paused for a while, I took it that he had finished so I spoke about some of the issues he raised.
Firstly, about police state, I said it was not right at all.
Secondly, he said Umno was now controlled and no one could give their views and dared to speak. I said it was not true. Umno members were now more relaxed under my leadership because they feel relieved about whatever is being done. I did say more, but this is just in brief of what I said to him.
He also said I try to prevent him from going here and there. I told him I have never done that. When I was deputy president in the party, by right I would have been able to go anywhere, but I faced restrictions, maybe he was not aware at that time and this was done by those who wanted to make him feel good. That they succeeded in preventing Pak Lah. This has happened to others and to me. I didn't elaborate further, I just touched on this a bit.
Then he raised the issue about my son and son-in-law, calling here and there. He said my son Kamal who had no facilities obtained a charcoal contract ... that he had no ships, he had ships, 180 of them, the ships belonged to a company taken over by Scomi, and they were supposed to build 80 ship frames, bus frames and van frames. The company had a workshop but I did not say more to him. He also mentioned my son getting projects, so I told him his son/s (anak dia) got even more bigger projects that what Scomi got.
The atmosphere was cordial and amicable and before I could finish Tun reminded me that it was two hours already, so it ended. Most of the issues raised were actually what he had raised before in the newspapers.
Many people were hoping for an amicable solution but he has instead stepped up attacks against you.
I felt sad about it. He told me all he wanted to say. I have to take time to respond but he repeated (the attacks) again this time with stronger doses of venom.
What are you going to do now?
Allahmuallam (only God knows). He wants to continue doing what he has been doing all this time.
The Sultan of Johor has issued a statement in support of you and criticised Tun M, asking him to behave like a pensioner.
The Sultan's statement reflects the feelings of the majority of people.
What did the people convey to you during the Hari Raya?
They said "Please continue Pak Lah, you still have time. We support you as we understand you just took over two years ago." Ninth Malaysia Plan was just launched seven months ago, not two years ago like Tun said, it's not true.
What is your view on the two ministers who went to Tun M's Hari Raya open house.
It is bound to happen, but we don't restrict others from going to this or that person's house. That is not right as it is against the spirit of Hari Raya.
About postponing the Umno elections.
That decision was taken. The elections is my prerogative, up to me to decide when I want to have it. Maybe I want to have it next year.
Will there be a second meeting between you and Tun?
Let's see ... maybe yes, maybe not ... Allahmuallam.
When will you be giving the full explanation to Tun?
I will take some time.
Are you going to give him a letter?
Let's see how. For me, I truly understand my (general election) manifesto pledges and I understand and know that I have to fulfil them. I also know that many of the 9MP projects have started but will take time to bear fruit. I am confident that whatever projects we have undertaken, the results will be visible by mid-2007. It will provide business opportunities and jobs to businesses, contractors, sub-contractors and suppliers, etc. We have also allocated projects to many Class F contractors at the constituencies. (Works Minister Datuk Seri S.) Samy Vellu has also fast tracked the technical drawings for some of the projects; otherwise we cannot tender out these projects fast. We decided in the cabinet that tenders should be given out fast, I have explained this many times.
Even PFIs (private financial initiatives) are not BLTs (build, lease, transfers). For the monorail, I would prefer it to be PFI. The company which is building can forward their suggestions and look for their own financing, feasibility and viability and profitable or not. (It's) Up to the companies they have to run it themselves. Even decide on the charges. In my opinion, there are people who want to build and run it, why would the government want to get involved?
This project can be handled by the private sector. Many other projects we cannot do this. Even concession might not work. One monorail system is good enough for Penang, there can be a monopoly. You can run it yourself. If the people think this is good, let them do it. We have asked companies to come forward with their suggestions, we have offered to them, let's see their response. Some PFIs are BLTs. EPF has formed a company to carry out the project to build for the police. Police budget doesn't allow us to do everything. EPF has the financial resources to carry it out. EPF will build and police will pay rental to EPF and when EPF has made its profits, the buildings will be transferred to the police. So, they don't have to wait for government allocation. Via this method, we can build police stations and homes for them. There are no risks involved and they get better returns, it is a win-win situation. -- Regina William