Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali dismissed a question about claims that he was the middleman between PAS and Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad by attempting to shift the focus to economic issues.

“Focus on the issue of the economy. Now we are facing some issues with the novel coronavirus (Covid-19).

“It’s still ongoing so let us focus to rebuild the economy, so now we are preparing our stimulus package. Let us concentrate on that,” Azmin said when met by reporters after attending a Chinese New Year open house with Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin in Ampang tonight.

He was asked by a reporter to respond to former senator Ezam Mohd Nor who had claimed earlier today that Azmin had told him that he was acting as a middleman between PAS and Mahathir.

In his speech at the event earlier, Azmin had said something similar and urged everyone to stop politicking in order to support Mahathir in rebuilding the economy in the face of the Covid-19 outbreak.

He said many sectors such as the tourism, aviation and logistics industries have been affected by the outbreak and as such the government plans to release an economic stimulus package soon.

It was reported by Reuters previously that the Malaysian economy recorded the slowest economic growth in a decade – 3.6 percent in the fourth quarter from a year earlier.

The report attributed the slump to lower output of palm oil, crude oil and natural gas, as well as lower exports in the midst of the ongoing Sino-US trade war.

Meanwhile, Zuraida (photo) took a jab at her fellow party member Selayang MP William Leong in responding to his statement earlier today.

Leong had suggested demonstrations could be a possible reaction to what he claimed was Mahathir returning to his “dictatorial” ways.

“It’s okay as it’s a democratic world. Anybody can do anything they like but it’s sad to see that we have become the government and we still want to go around the streets.

“Looks like they still cannot behave like the government of the day,” Zuraida told reporters as she was leaving the event today.

The event was also attended by PKR vice-president Tian Chua and Gerakan president Dominic Lau.

Azmin had earlier welcomed Lau to the event in his speech, though he followed it up by joking that the media will start publishing speculative pieces soon.

It was previously rumoured that Azmin may leave PKR to join Gerakan due to the growing rift within PKR between him and party president Anwar Ibrahim.

Daim against ‘Pakatan Nasional’ idea

Former finance minister Daim Zainuddin has voiced opposition to calls for Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad to join forces with PAS and Umno in the purported “Pakatan Nasional” coalition.

Daim, who serves as Mahathir’s advisor, said voters had already given the present government the mandate and the priority now should be to restore public confidence in the government.

Speaking to Sin Chew Daily, Daim said what the public wanted was for their welfare to be looked after and that the government becomes stable and strong.

He believed that the public currently has low confidence in the government because it doesn’t appear to be a coherent team.

Talk of a “Pakatan Nasional” coalition surfaced soon after it was revealed that Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was canvassing for support among party leaders to work with Mahathir.

Both Mahathir and PKR president Anwar Ibrahim have alluded that such a plot exist, where it was speculated that a group of PAS, Umno and PKR members are signing written pledges to back Mahathir as prime minister for a full term.

Meanwhile, Daim urged the government to stop blaming the previous administration over problems faced currently.

“We have to move forward and continuously develop the country. The government must solve problems that can be solved (now),” he said.

Cabinet ministers, he said, must show performance. He said he had received a lot of complaints that cabinet ministers are now arrogant and disregard the views of the public.

“I know they (the public) are not happy. They think some ministers have become arrogant and do not listen. To them, the same people were much more approachable when they were in the opposition. Why are they like this now?

“They never respond to letters and claim they are too busy. Yes, they have duties to fulfil, cabinet ministers can be busy, but they must not forget they are there to serve the public as they were chosen by the public,” he said.

Meanwhile, Daim also urged the government to step up their public relations efforts to explain the many reforms that are taking place.

This is even more so for ongoing reforms that are taking longer or are more complex.

“Every minister has a press secretary. They need to explain what’s going on to the press. The problem now is poor communication.

“People have told me that they are unhappy (with the lack of communication),” he said.