Reforms by Madani gov’t must be done incrementally like how Rome cannot be built in a day

BY criticising the Madani government that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is not doing anything tangible – but merely an echo chamber as what Muar MP Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman labelled as NATO (no action talk only) – is to say that one is oblivious to the foreign direct investments (FDI) that have begun to stream into Malaysia.

Be it Tesla, Amazon or Geely, all three combined are contributing more than a total of US$50 bil with all the industrial giants must surely be aware of the review of the 12th Industrial Master Plan of Malaysia and the National Energy Strategic Transition 2050.

Reforms are at work with Anwar clearly in command of the importance of reducing the fiscal deficit of Malaysia from 5.6% last year to 5% this year – if not by 2024 – then down to 3.2% by 2025.

Malaysia’s inflation rate, too, has moderated to 2% in August 2023, unchanged from the previous month. Notwithstanding this, efforts are underway to address the high costs of living by executing holistic food security strategic plan.

It was announced in the previous sittings of the Parliament, a specific agency – the Malaysian Food Security Agency (MFSA) – is being considered to oversee the food security by reducing  over-reliance on imports.

All such efforts imply that Anwar who is concurrently the Finance Minister does understand what and how to allocate the most important resources – all of which are scarce – to the key actors and sectors in the country.

These “authoritative allocation of values,” can keep Malaysia afloat amidst the necessity of drastic changes such as the crisis brought about by large rainfall, “the likes of which had time and again caused severe flash floods, even landslides”.

To those who argue that the Printing Presses and Publications and the Sedition Act have not been reformed, one needs to keep in mind that this government is merely less than a year old.

There may or may not be elements from within the unity government that is not in favour of amending these legislations in which case Anwar must exercise extreme caution by placing economic reforms as the wisest first step forward.

Unfair remark

“Authoritative allocation of values” suggests a government that tries to work on the basis of evidence-based results. Entities such as EMIR Research and Ilham Centre of Research are not averse to allowing the government to know whether it has been performing or not.

This is the feedback mechanism that Anwar’s government is adopting aside from listening to feedback from the government machineries.

Datuk Dr Rais Hussin

To say that the government does nothing but talk is not only unfair but reeks of self-interest to pressure the government into doing what the individual and splitter party would like to see. But that is not necessarily what the government formed of 10 coalition parties can agree with, too.

It must re-emphasised that the present Anwar administration has inherited RM1.5 tril of debts. Not forgetting the RM4.5 tril economy loss for the past 26 years since 1996 through corruption and leakages as was written by EMIR Research (as per a report by EMIR Research entitled “Malaysian Monetary Loss to Corruption and Leakages: RM4.5 Tril Over 26 Years”).

There is a need to take stock of what has been inherited, understand ground realities and navigate tactfully so as to enable the Anwar administration to stay on the course of the desired reforms in a pragmatic way to achieve their intended outcomes.

Initial euphoria along drastic and swift changes will only invite negative reactions and pushbacks from the majority Malays, aided and fuelled by opposition politicians who thrive on identity politics of race and religion to survive what is monumentally detrimental to the quest of re-building the nation given the various geo-economic and geo-politics challenges.

After all, Rome is not built in a day – what more a “Rome” with decades of decadence! – Sept 25, 2023


Dr Rais Hussin is the president and CEO of EMIR Research, a think tank focused on strategic policy recommendations based on rigorous research.

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.

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