Malaysia Madani: An end-product of sloganeering or springboard to wealth?

SLOGAN-MONGERING among Malaysian premiers – whether that entails motto, tagline, concept or policy – has its origin in the Bersih, Cekap dan Amanah (Clean, Efficient and Trustworthy) campaign which was rolled out by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in mid-April 1982.

The country’s fourth and longest-serving prime minister (PM) was also instrumental in unveiling the most ‘slogans’ during his first premiership tenure which spanned 22 years (July 1981 to October 2003) after having unveiled few others in the likes of Kepimpinan Melalui Teladan (Leadership by Example), Dasar Pandang ke Timur (Look East Policy), Penerapan Nilai-nilai Islam (Inculcation of Islamic Values Policy) and Wawasan 2020 (Vision 2020).

Dr Mahathir’s successor Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi then popularised his Islam Hadhari (Civilisational Islam) followed by Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s 1Malaysia.

This was followed by Malaysia Baharu (New Malaysia) during Dr Mahathir’s second stint as PM prior to Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s Malaysia Prihatin (Caring Malaysian) and Datuk Seri Ismail’s Sabri’s Keluarga Malaysia (Malaysian Family).

Joining the fray most recently is Malaysia Madani (Civil Malaysia) which itself is a concept that is very much in sync with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s Islamic background, identity and philosophy.

Moreover, the concept has its root in Masyarakat Madani (Civil Society) – a concept espoused by Anwar himself since the 1990s in the quest to balance individual liberties and societal stability.

“Our goal is to change Malaysia into a sustainable, prosperous, creative country, respecting each other and being courteous based on confidence in each other,” the Pakatan Harapan (PH) chairman summed up the thrust of his Arabic-sounding concept in a two-paragraph Facebook post.

“The keyword of this vision is MADANI which is basically a trust between the government and the people on the basis of transparency and cooperation.”

Anwar’s new-found slogan has its fair share of criticism with some netizens stating that it is totally pointless to play with phraseology; what was more important, they opined, was getting down to it.

“Who cares whether it is 1Malaysia, Keluarga Malaysia, Islam Hadhari, Malaysia Madani or whatever? Just do the right thing and stop sloganeering!” a businessman pointed out.

“Anwar’s concept is too complicated. He should just address current pressing matters such as inflation, jobs, healthcare, education and food security.”

An investment analyst ‘rebutted’ the slew of critics, highlighting that this would “cause grief to scores of designers, slogan material makers, producers, middlemen, contractors, video producers, billboard industry and countless more rent seekers”.

But what is certain is that Anwar – like his predecessors – could just fall back on the Rukun Negara (National Principles) to build on the tenets and national aspirations.

“Why pander to the thoughts, whims and constructs of politicians and their think-tankers?” wondered a former senior servant. – Jan 20, 2023

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