"He's a man with a mission, driven by the need to get things done in the shortest possible time," the New York Times quoted Lim Guan Eng as saying about Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, adding that the 92-year-old Prime Minister of Malaysia is "moving at a frenetic pace"
In a piece published on 14 June by Hannah Beech and Richard C. Paddock, the article says that Tun Dr Mahathir, since taking over Putrajaya after the historic 9 May General Election, has kept to a schedule that would be punishing even for a leader half his age
Here's an unedited excerpt from the New York Times article:
This week, he made his first foreign trip, to Japan, to court investors who could counter China’s hold on the Malaysian economy. After returning late Tuesday, he woke up before dawn to pray. He has been fasting for the holy month of Ramadan.
Mr. Mahathir's mental agility appears uncompromised, and his judgments are as pointed as ever. He has shown little patience for President Trump, who welcomed Mr. Najib to the White House last year and once called him his "favourite prime minister."
"I have no plans to go and see him," Mr. Mahathir said of Mr. Trump, whom he called "volatile." "I don’t know how I can deal with a person who is so much like a chameleon."
According to the NYT article, when Tun Dr Mahathir and his aides first entered Putrajaya last month they found an alarming sight:
"Oversize garbage bags filled with shredded documents, a snowstorm of loose papers on the floor, even half-consumed food left by former occupants in a hurry to get out.
"At the Finance Ministry down the street, Lim Guan Eng, Malaysia’s new finance minister, found computers in which even the highest-ranking bureaucrats were locked out of certain accounts. In some cases, vital files were accessible only to a single person: Najib Razak, the nation’s scandal-tainted former prime minister, who had also served as finance minister," said the article, adding that "even without piecing together a single shredded document, Tun Dr Mahathir has discovered that the country is in far worse financial shape than he and his allies had feared."
The new Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng, meanwhile, told the New York Times, that he "is having nightmares practically every day, wondering what land mines will I tread on the following day"
Lim Guan Eng told the New York Times that the administration of Najib Razak was "just robbing the country blind", adding that had the Pakatan Harapan coalition not scored its surprise victory in the elections last month, Malaysia "would have become a basket case. We would be at a terminal stage."
The Finance Minister, while speaking about his new boss, Tun Dr Mahathir, said that the man that's leading Malaysia is no longer the man many knew.
"I think it's Mahathir version 2.0. I think it's very different from the version 1.0 we saw when he first became prime minister. He's more reformist."
"Coaxing the nation back to health depends on Mr. Mahathir, whose former detractors contend that he is a changed man," the NYT piece said, adding that his first tenure as prime minister "was marked as much by his authoritarian impulses as his success in shepherding Malaysia’s transformation into an upper-middle-income country"