Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim demanded Goldman Sachs Group Inc. honor its settlement with the government for its role in the 1MDB scandal and vowed to gradually lower the nation’s debt in an interview with Bloomberg Television’s Haslinda Amin.
In the wide-ranging interview, his first with international media since taking office last year, Anwar spoke about his fragile coalition, the role of his family in the government and Malaysia’s desire to balance geopolitical competition between the US and China.
Below is a transcript of the interview with Anwar. Some of the questions and answers on a variety of topics have been edited for length and clarity:
Q: Your political journey has been extraordinary to say the least. You were touted as the future prime minister of the country from as far back as 1997. More than 20 years on how does it feel to finally be premier?
Q: You’ve inherited a nation that’s so divisive. You saw the first hung of parliament, a country tainted by the long standing 1MDB scandal. How do you regain credibility?
It’s not just 1MDB but this corruption is systemic, as I’ve said, which means it cuts across the whole spectrum of particularly the political elite, and therefore you have to set a good example. There are political leaders who are not there for money and avoid all cases of corruption, abuse. People are fed up with the situation and Malaysia shouldn’t be known for its financial scandals or malfeasance. It should be known for its vibrant, multiracial society with a capacity to move forward.
Q: So what can be done in the first 100 days of your government?
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Q: No more corruption you say, and yet here you are tied up with Barisan Nasional whose party chief faces multiple charges. Is there a disconnect there?
Q: Ahmad Zahid Hamidi faces 47 counts of corruption. He is your deputy prime minister.
Q: What if you lose your deputy prime minister? What if Zahid is found guilty and sent to prison?
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There’s not one trace I can find from any of my team now trying to squander through contracts or projects and I’m fine with that. People should judge me from the last two months.
Q: How stable is your government?
Q: Some people are taking issue that your daughter Nurul Izzah is a senior adviser to economic and financial affairs. Your wife is a member of parliament. Is that too much family in the government?
She can deliver. She’s not abusing her position. She’s not using it to try and abscond some funds to give your cronies. That is a sickness and the rotten system we inherited, and she is there together with many other colleagues of mine to try and dismantle that.
Q: Is there is too much competition against China?
Q: Who should bear the bulk of the responsibility for the rising antagonism between the US and China?
Q: On Ukraine, do you see the need for President Zelenskiy to start negotiating earlier rather than later for the greater good of the world?