Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad has sarcastically suggested that Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak sells "a few states" in order to raise funds.
This was after Bank Negara paid some RM2 billion to purchase 22.58 hectares of land from the government for the relocation of its Global Islamic Finance University and the International Research Academy for Islamic Finance.
The Edge Financial Daily reported that the sale would replenish the Minister of Finance Inc's (MOF Inc) coffers after its company. 1MDB. paid around US$600 million (RM2.4 billion) to Abu Dhabi's International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC) as part of a settlement.
"Selling assets is one way for the government to make money. We sold land in Penang and Port Klang recently and made enough money to pay the second instalment of the debt owed to IPIC.
"We still have more land. If we sell a few states we can be really rich. That is one way to achieve Vision 2020.
"More land can be sold and a little of the proceeds distributed as BR1M to achieve a high-income nation. We would then become a developed nation. No need to wait until 2050," Mahathir said in a blog posting.
He said when he was prime minister, Bank Negara expanded several times but news about the central bank having to fork out large sums of money for the exercise was unheard of.
Mahathir, who is also Pakatan Harapan and Bersatu chairperson, sarcastically said Najib was doing a "great job" and that he would be able to sell more land if he stays on for longer.
"Look at Singapore. It is tiny compared to Malaysia. But it has a much higher income per capita than Malaysia.
"Singapore was a part of Malaysia before. It was sold to the British. It is now an independent country.
"We don’t need a big land area. If we sell all our excess land we can see them becoming well developed. We can be very proud of their development," Mahathir said.