rescuers are continuing to pull people from the rubble, but many more remain trapped. police in the coastal city of palu are guarding shops against looters as people desperately search for food, fuel and water. tax officials in the us say they're vigorously investigating claims that donald trump helped his family avoid millions of dollars in tax in the 1990s. a report by the new york times accuses the president of participating in "downright fraud" to hide much of the family's fortune. a lawyerfor mr trump denied any wrongdoing by the president. here in the uk, borisjohnson has savaged theresa may's brexit plans, describing them as a "constitutional outrage." now on bbc news, it's hardtalk with zeinab badawi. she talks to malaysia's prime minister mahathir mohamad. and a warning — some people might find opinions expressed
towards the end of the interview offensive. welcome to hardtalk with me, zeinab badawi. my guest today is the oldest head of government in the world. malaysia's prime minister, mahathir mohamad, came back to office in may after a shock election victory against his own former ruling coalition. the country has been mired in allegations of corruption swirling around the previous government, which has dented confidence at home and abroad. first time around, mahathir was prime minister for more than 20 consecutive years until 2003. can he leave his own chequered past behind and lead malaysia to a brighter future? prime minister mahathir mohamad,
welcome to hardtalk. thank you. extraordinary return to power in may for you. after 15 years of retirement, what made you want to return to government? people came to me frequently, groups of people, asking me to please do something about a government which they found not the kind of usual government. it's very oppressive, it's very corrupt. so you've got this big corruption case against the former prime minister, najib razak, in connection with 1mdb, which is the state's sovereign fund. $680 million missing.
he says he was given that by the saudi royal family and that he's done nothing wrong. when there was a case against him when he was prime minister, he was cleared of all charges. you seem to think he's already guilty. well, he said that he got it free from saudi, but nobody gives that amount of money to anybody in the history of the world. how do you know? well, i have never read of anybody getting that kind of money. have you asked the saudis whether they did or not? well, the saudis, if they have given him money when he moved, leaves a trail of documents behind. the money was in the bank and then the bank sends the money over, and how did they get the money in the first place? so, properties connected to him have all been raided, $28.6 million in cash were found, plus 430 designer handbags belonging to his wife.
you said it is obvious that he has stolen money. shouldn't you really leave all this to the courts? well, in the first place, the americans, the department ofjustice made that statement that the money was stolen from 1mdb. they wouldn't have made that statement unless they had proof, real proof, that it was stolen money. but it doesn't necessarily mean that the former prime minister, najib razak, stole it. anyway, should you not allow the courts to carry out the due process of law? enough for us to charge him and it is up to the court to decide whether our evidence is great or his denial is great. alright, but he has denied this, just to make sure you know that. 430 designer handbags, your finance minister lim guan eng says, "realistically, the hopes of recovering 30% "of the money misappropriated, that is all you can hope for." you will not go far by trying
to revivify your economy with the proceeds of 430 designer handbags, are you? no, we are not talking about the handbags alone. we're talking about lots of money, billions of dollars, which has been stolen and is now nowhere to be found. all right. when you were prime minister you said, a couple of years ago, "there was corruption when i was prime minister, "but not on this scale." so, do you accept any of the blame yourself at the state of affairs that malaysia finds itself in now, mired in corruption allegations? if i have to accept the blame, then all governments must accept the blame. because this corruption, it's found everywhere to some degree. there is no country that can boast that it has no corruption at all. but did you perhaps set in motion something we see today? after all, you were ahead of this ruling coalition, which has been in power for more than 60 years.
najib razak was somebody that you thought would be a good prime minister, so you were part of the system? no. the system may be the same, but the men is different. that system has had four, five prime pinisters before him, there is no accusation of corruption on that scale against all those four. but the system can be abused. what he did was to make — he used his authority to steal money. allegedly, as i keep on saying. najib razak says he is not guilty, he's entirely innocent. but in the time that you were prime minister, a book about you by the wall streetjournal‘s barry wayne, claimed that 100 billion ringgit, that's about tens of billions worth in dollars, went missing under your watch.
that is a lot of money. at that time, they didn't prove i took any money. we did lose money because some of our people got involved in trading in currency and they lost money. it wasn't me, i couldn't take the blame for somebody doing, being corrupt. so, you haven't benefited yourself, personally, living a lavish lifestyle or anything like that? they have seen my house, they have seen my lifestyle and they know i don't live lavishly like the last prime minister. so, najib razak was somebody you had approved of, as i said, and some of his predecessors, like abdullah ahmad badawi and anwar ibrahim, of course, who was your deputy prime minister when you were in power. 1998, you pushed him out as deputy prime minister. it is said, because he was pointing to state contracts that were given to some of your cronies. that is what he said at the time. you thought, "hmm, don't want this
man hanging about, really." we saw the case against him, he says trumped up charges of sodomy. do you really think he was guilty of sodomy? well, the courts decided that he was guilty and sentenced him to jail. it wasn't me. what he says about this accusation is his opinion, his explanation. whether it is trumped up or not is up to the court to decide, up to the prosecutors and the defence. but he suffered terribly. he had spent six years at first, in total, the best part of a decade, but six years at first in solitary confinement, denied access to his children, he's a father of six. even when he was released in 2004, when you were no longer prime minister, you continued your tirade against him. you said, "imagine having a gay prime minister, "nobody would be safe" — that is what you said.
that is what i said at that time, but it was necessarily for me to work with him to oust najib as prime minister. so, both of us decide to forget about the past because this is far more important and we focus on that issue and nothing else. so, after he was released now, after a royal pardon, he told the bbc injune that mahathir mohamad told him that he had made a mistake and that he wants the chance to make amends. that's what you told him. that is his opinion. well, that's what he said you told him. i didn't tell him that. you didn't? i didn't tell him. but other people put words into my mouth because they want me to apologise, but i have never made any formal apologies to him. you don't regret what happened to him? well, i regret that he has to go to jail... not seeing his children? i can't take the blame for his jailing because it was decided by the courts.
it was not done by me. but do you feel sorry for him that he went through what he did? welll, i feel sorry for people who have done something and been sentenced to jail by the court. it's interesting, because this is his exact quote, he says, because he has reassured supporters of your transformation, because a lot of people were upset about what happened to him when you were prime minister, he says, "mahathir mohamad has proven his tenacity, "accepted past limitation, apologised and sacrificed "on his time and energy to raise "the dignity of the people and the country. " you've brought wan azizah, anwar ibrahim's wife as your deputy prime minister, so is all this not true that you didn't apologise or express regret? the matters were not discussed. after that, we concentrated on getting rid of najib. all right. so, he says he's also raised with you the fact that you have
brought back some of the old guard into your government and he has said, "look, i'm concerned about this" and that you said to him, "i need these people because i need them to carry out the reforms "that we want to." if he joins the government and becomes the prime minister, that would be an old guard also. because he was with me as deputy prime minister for a very long time. so if i cannot bring back people who have served me, then i think i will have to rely on people with no experience. and these people whojoin me, they have the same opinion about najib‘s government. so they want to join together, form a coalition and contest against najib. so, all right, you're bringing back some of these old faces, as i said. muhyiddin yassin, the home minister, your son mukhriz is the chief minister of the state and daim zainuddin is head of the council of eminent persons, your advisors.
so, these are some of the old faces from your old government. and when you were in power until 2003, the criticisms are that you launched vigorous attacks on the judiciary. you used internal security acts to repress and dissent and go against people who opposed you. so, i mean, should we be nervous? no. why shouldn't i say something against people who are against me, the opposition? and as for my son, he was not allowed to go into politics until i resigned, until i was no longer the prime minister. then only he became the chief minister, not during my time. i don't allow any of my children to go into politics while i was still the prime minister. you make it seem as though, because you were described as one of asia's strongmen and that your rule was sometimes repressive. let me give you an example.
in the south china morning post, lynette 0ng, who's a professor of political science at the university of toronto, says, "i grew up in malaysia during the mahathir mohamad era "when the country was part of the coveted asian tigers club "that boasted strong economic grown, yet much of the prosperity came "at the expense of curbed political expression "and restricted civil liberties. "over a long period, the law and judiciary, "instead of delivering justice, have been used by the government "as a weapon against political opponents and dissidents." that is her opinion. has she done any study about how i have been accused of being a dictator? no. no dictators have ever resigned, i resigned and now i have come back. after more than 20 years in power. yes. that's a long enough time. well, we need time to develop a country. you know, it's not so easy just like flicking your fingers. all right. so, she's talking about
using some of the laws of the state. i'll ask you this then — will you revoke the sedition act and the security 0ffences act which have been used to suppress freedoms? the same laws were in existence before i became prime minister. the first, second and third prime minister used the same laws to detain people, but nothing was said about that. why is it that when i do it, it becomes wrong? i am asking you now because you're sitting in front of me on hardtalk. i put it to you, if i had a chance to talk to them i would ask them that too. i have to give you the background. but will you revoke the sedition act and the security 0ffences act? well, the sedition act is still there. the isa, the international security act, which allows the prime minister of the government to detain people without trial was there when i was there, it has now been repealed. but we now have another law which is even worse to replace that law that was revoked. and that was done by my predecessor.
the concern is that, as amnesty international said, that pa katan hara pan, your alliance of hope as it's known in malay, came to office on a wave of goodwill, amid hope that true progress on human rights was coming to the country. the danger now is that human rights will slowly recede as a priority the longer you are in power. is it receding as a priority? you seem to just bat it away. you know, journalists write things about what they've heard other journalists write. they don't do any investigation. we have abolished the isa but the previous government has enacted a worse law which allows him to detain people even without declaring a state of emergency. so these are the true facts. before journalists write, they invariably read about... this is not journalists. i mean, amnesty international has
recently issued a review of your government's first 100 days in office and in may it reported, for example, that you are a defender of malaysia's retrograde affirmative—action which gives all sorts of benefits and advantages to the ethnic malay people in your country. you're about 32 million people, 60% are ethnic malay people. all sorts of advantages — housing, jobs, so on. why won't you stop this affirmative—action? why should i stop. the thing is, we are trying to correct the disparity of wealth between the malays and others. we have to bring up the malaysians to be as wealthy or as well off as the others. that needs correction because if you allow disparity to go by itself, it becomes bigger and bigger and then there will be tension in the country, there will be even fighting
in the country. but it's creating tensions now with the other ethnicities in malaysia. that's what you say. look at the brain drain of ethnic chinese malays. they've left. about a third of malaysia's 1—million strong diaspora are highly—skilled migrants, many of them ethnic chinese. they're voting with their feet. yeah, because they're finding better jobs elsewhere. they are welcome to go. but many of them are very loyal to malaysia. yesterday i had lunch with them and they are all waving malaysian flags. even though they have been part of the diaspora of malaysians in other countries. so, except that your coalition has got, for example, the chinese—dominated democratic action party as part of your coalition but you can categorically say that affirmative action in favour of the ethnic malays, who you say need it, is not going to result in discrimination against malaysia's
other ethnic communities? no, there's been no discrimination. because if you go to malaysia, you will find that the so—called victims of this policy are now the richest people in malaysia. right, so you talk about the richest people in malaysia, talking about riches in malaysia, the country is in a bit of a bad state. a very high level of debt. 54% of gdp. you've got a huge funding gap, you can't do all the things you want to do. trying to woo international investors and so on. but one very eye—catching policy you have made is to cancel $23—billion—worth of infrastructure products backed by china and also singapore. this has caused some concern amongst international investors that you have done this. you've referred to what you call debt colonialism on the part of the chinese. are you worried about the chinese being a colonial... i didn't accuse the chinese,
i merely said that are other forms of colonialism and one of them was neo—colonialism which was coined by president sukarno. that's what i said, i didn't accuse the chinese of... sukarno of indonesia, former. are you worried about the chinese when you say and a new form of colonialism? is that who you're pointing the finger at? they're still coming, they still want to invest in malaysia. they've seen me, many of them have seen me, even recently, and they don't seem to be in any way angry with me because of what i said regarding colonialism. but do you see them as bringing about a new form of colonialism with their 0ne belt 0ne road infrastructure products around asia? no, not at all, one belt 0ne road is ok. but, you see, some people sell big pieces of land to the chinese where they are going to build a city which is very luxurious.
it is for their people to come and live there, 700,000 of them. that is not foreign direct investment, foreign direct investment is about bringing money, bringing technology, setting up plants in malaysia, employing malaysians. that, we accept. so you don't want chinese people coming to settle in malaysia? no, no country wants other people to come en masse to their country and settle there. look at what's happening in europe now. do you think that's going to affect... they're telling all the syrians to go away because... that's not the matter. donald trump has built a big wall against mexico. is it because you don't want ethnic chinese living in malaysia to upset the balance? it's not chinese. even if it is sudanese, they are welcome. but if you come by the millions, sorry, no entry. you've also refer to the south china seas
in your recent united nations speech and of course there is a big dispute going on there between china and some of its asian neighbours — malaysia, the philippines and so on. are you worried that china is flexing its muscles there? i explained that china has every right to go wherever they want to go but please, don't check on ships or prevent ships from passing through the strait of malacca and the south china sea, that is all we want. and could you see this escalating? it may escalate if people begin to irritate and provoke china. would you be one of those who might provoke china? well, somebody else who is comparable in size and strength. who's that? huh? who is that, the united states you're thinking of? you can guess, i don't have to mention the word. i'm not allowed... so are you saying there could be a conflagration military, one between the us and china over the south china sea because other
countries aren't up to it? our policy is not to have battleships and warships in the south china sea because if people start stationing their warships there, there will be tension and conflict and it may result in a war. 0k. in your un speech, you also talked about the worsening plight of the palestinians, as you described it. while many would agree with you on that particular statement, they wouldn't agree with your stance onjews in the world. the israeli press, for instance, has described you as a proud anti—semite. would you accept that? there are many races in this world, i've said nasty things about them, they never accused me of being anti—this and anti—that. but the israelis are special. you cannot even mention that in the holocaust, it's not 6 million but 4 million
who were victims of the holocaust. that is anti—semitic, why? let me tell you about what you said at a conference in 2010 according to reports in the british press. this is what you said about the jews. "even after their massacre by the nazis, jews survived to be a source of even greater problems to the world." in 1970 in your book, the malay dilemma, you said thejews were not merely hooked—nosed but understand money instinctively. these kinds of things are not acceptable, are they, prime minister? well, lots of people say nasty things about us, that malays are lazy and all kinds of things, but i didn't take it up against them. that is their opinion and i gave my opinion of things. do you stand by those sorts of opinions? if you are going to be truthful, the problem in the middle east began with the creation of the state of israel, that is the whole truth. but i cannot say that,
why is it that you cannot... why say hook—nosed and good with money? it's not necessary, is it? they are hook—nosed. right...well, i'm sure that many people would really find that very offensive. many people call the malays fat—nosed. we did not object, we didn't go to warfor that. right, 0k. um, we're coming to the end of this interview. at 93, mahathir mohamad, with all respect, do you have the energy and vision to take malaysia forward and accomplish the reforms that are needed to set the country on a new path of prosperity? i try, i will try. and i think my last stint as prime minister did not result in people condemning me for not developing the country. they even called the country an asian tiger during that time. now i've been asked to do something, i will try. when will you stop? two years and handover to anwar ibrahim, as has been reported? yes, if that is what the nation
wants, i'll stop, but i made a promise, iwill stick by my promise. two years and then you will step down at 95? yes. prime minister mahathir mohamad, thank you very much indeed for coming on hardtalk, thank you. you're welcome. hello. the rather warm for the time of year and humid air which became established across wales and england during tuesday will extend into scotland and northern ireland during wednesday behind this weather front. behind this weather front, a warm front, the leading edge of milder air. but that's coming with plenty of cloud, and to start wednesday it's a damp, and drizzly,
and cloudy, misty, murky start across many parts, western parts, especially coasts and hills. it will be clear overnight in scotland and eastern england. there will be a chill around first thing, but the cloud will thicken here as we go on through the morning, which leaves us during wednesday with a good deal of cloud around. a few bright and sunny spells here and there, but still, along western coasts and hills, you could see a lot of patchy light rain and drizzle into western scotland and northern ireland. more especially, those outbreaks of rain affecting western and northern parts of scotland, the more substantial bursts of rain possible here at times. still with a noticeable breeze here, but not as windy as it was on tuesday, and particularly where you get to see some occasional sunshine, it will feel quite warm for the time of year, quite humid. and these temperatures are higher in northern ireland and scotland compared with tuesday. now, as we run on through wednesday evening, wednesday night and into thursday morning, there are some breaks in the cloud. now, you might think some
of it is going to drop away, but they won't, really, because remember this quite warm and humid air mass established across the uk. actually, it's quite mild night wednesday night into thursday. the chance for a few fog patches developing the further south you are in england and wales, through a centre of high pressure, where there's really not much breeze at all. again, some moisture in the air, it's humid. and then an approaching weather front on thursday will shake the weather up a bit in scotland and northern ireland once again, as we see some outbreaks of rain moving in. later in the day, that could reach as far south as north—west england and north wales, with a freshening breeze. but for many southern and eastern parts on thursday, once any fog clears away, we get to see some sunny spells, and again temperatures are a good few degrees above normal for the time of year. i want to show you this weather front as we go through thursday into friday. it stalls through the middle part of the uk, and north of that you get the blues moving in. it will feel cooler and fresher across much of scotland. sunny spells, one or two showers. the front may linger through southern scotland, more especially northern england and wales, with cloud and outbreaks of rain, and south of that weather front, you still have the rather warm and humid air.
so for friday, a bigger range of temperatures. this weather front will clear away south—eastwards over the weekend, lingering with some rain for parts of england and wales on saturday. may still be getting some rain into south—east england on sunday, we'll keep you updated on that. once it's gone, though, it brightens up, but it's much cooler for all. this is the briefing. i'm sally bundock. our top story: mounting desperation in indonesia as survivors of the earthquake and tsunami search for food, fuel and water. rescuers continue to pull people from the rubble, but the death toll is now 1,300 and rising. the iranian foreign minister tells the bbc iran hasn't closed the door on talks with president trump, but that the 2015 nuclear deal must be respected. cleaner air ahead? the european parliament is set to vote on stricter emission standards, hoping to reduce c02 by 45% in 2030. and in business briefing,