Pakatan Harapan (PH) chairman Dr Mahathir Mohamad has insisted that he did not pay any money to meet US president George W Bush at the White House in May 2002 when he was prime minister.
He said he was not like Najib Razak, claiming that the prime minister had announced investments in the US worth billions of dollars to Donald Trump on Sept 12 just for a photo opportunity with the US president.
“I also met the US president but without paying a single cent… I could take as many photos as I wanted,” he said at the launch of Johor PH at Dataran Taman Dahlia in Tampoi, Johor, last night.
Also present were PH deputy president Muhyiddin Yassin and DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang, who is Gelang Patah MP.
On Sept 17, the son of the late Megat Junid Megat Ayub was reported as saying that his father had helped Mahathir seal an appointment with Bush in Washington by paying millions of ringgit for it.
“To my knowledge, it is true that Tan Sri Megat Junid was instructed to set up a meeting between Tun Dr Mahathir and President George W Bush. The initiative to set up the meeting had started in April 2001,” Megat Fairoz Junaidi was quoted as saying by The Star.
“My father had met certain people, including paying the lobbyists, to ensure that the meeting materialised,” he added.
Mahathir has however denied this, saying he did not instruct anyone to lobby for the meeting or pay millions to arrange for it.
Megat Junid was deputy home minister when Mahathir led the home ministry in the 1980s, and became the domestic trade and consumer affairs minister from 1997 to 1999. He passed away of cancer in 2008.
Earlier on Sept 15, Najib criticised Mahathir, who was prime minister of the country from 1981 to 2003, as being a hypocrite, claiming that he had paid RM7 million through a lobbyist to set up the meeting with Bush.
“Dr Mahathir used the late Tan Sri Megat Junid as the main planner. Payment was made through the Batu Arang TNB (Tenaga Nasional Berhad) contract where millions had been paid as he wanted to meet Bush very much,” Najib had claimed.
Mahathir today said the billions that Najib had announced for investment in the US could have been used to build homes for the poor in Malaysia.
Najib had reportedly told Trump that Malaysia Airlines would purchase 25 Boeing 737 jets and eight 787 Dreamliners, with another 25 737s slated for purchase in the near future.
He said the deal would be worth more than US$10 billion (RM41.9 billion) in five years.
He also said in the same meeting that the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) would invest between US$3-4 billion (RM12.57 billion to RM16.76 billion) on US infrastructure development.
This would be in addition to the US$7 billion (RM29.33 billion) the fund had already invested there.-FMT