Malaysia sets up fund for donations to ease national debt

Malaysia's new Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad says the government will set up a trust fund to help the public contribute to easing the country's huge national debt.

Mahathir's alliance won a stunning victory in May 9 national polls, ousting scandal-tainted leader Najib Razak and his long-ruling coalition. Mahathir said Wednesday that many Malaysians were willing to donate to the government to help ease its financial burden.

He thanked the people for their "patriotic" stance.

Mahathir's government says the national debt exceeds 1 trillion ringgit ($250.6 billion), or 80 percent of Malaysia's gross domestic product, after taking into account government guarantees and other payments.

The government has said it will review large-scale infrastructure projects to cut costs. It has reopened a graft probe linked to Najib.