THE Malaysian government has been urged to investigate former premier Mahathir Mohamad’s “donations” for the construction of President Robert Mugabe’s lavish Borrowdale home. This follows
disclosures Mugabe made in an interview this week.
According to media reports from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysian parliamentary opposition leader Lim Kit Siang said authorities should probe Mugabe’s statement – which he described as “shocking” – that Mahathir donated timber for the construction of the mansion.
“I call on the (Malaysian) government to issue a ministerial statement as we want to know whether we have secretly and unlawfully funded the 25-bedroom mansion,” Lim said on Tuesday.
“(There is) no moral and political reason for us to do that. We know Mugabe is a good friend of Mahathir, but there was no parliamentary approval to fund this corrupt regime.”
In an interview with Sky News on Monday, Mugabe said his mansion was not financed out of public coffers, but from donations from the Malaysian and Chinese governments.
“We have had assistance of course, some countries have donated, they have got some timber from Malaysia thanks to my good friend, former prime minister Mahathir,” Mugabe said. “The Chinese also have donated tiles and so on.”
Mugabe said if there were materials which were not available here, he would import them. Asked where he was getting the scarce foreign currency to import the materials, he said “from the bank”.
Mahathir was close to Mugabe but new Malaysian Prime Minister Ahmad Badawi has reportedly sought to distance himself from the Zimbabwean leader despite attempts by Harare to present him as an ally.
Mugabe visited Malaysia in January during his annual break and managed to see Ahmad for a short courtesy call.
Lim, who is an Ipoh Timor MP, said there should be a thorough probe of the financing of Mugabe’s house.
He also said that if it was true Malaysia had funded Mugabe’s house, it would be “unprecedented” for a government to fund another government leader’s mansion.
Deputy Foreign minister Joseph Salang Gandum told Malaysiakini, an online daily publication, that he was unaware of Mugabe’s statement on Malaysian donations.
“I will check on it. But I don’t think the government would have funded the mansion (although) we do assist (the Zimbabwean government) in other aspects such as human resources,” he said. “But it is quite impossible (that we have funded) a mansion.”
Asked whether an investigation would be instituted, he said: “Let us check first.”
Meanwhile, corruption watchdog Kuala Lumpur Society for Transparency and Integrity said the government owed the public an explanation.
“If true, the government must explain why it funded such a luxury for a political head reputed to be a dictator,” said deputy president Param Cumaraswamy, formerly UN rapporteur on the independence of the judiciary.