In the fifth ‘Middle Malaysia’ podcast, media consultant Oon Yeoh speaks to Wan Saiful Wan Jan, CEO of Ideas (Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs), a libertarian think-tank which focuses on four key principles:
i) rule of law
ii) limited government intervention
iii) free market economy
iv) individual liberty
Wan Saiful takes a look at Malaysia today from these four perspectives. In terms of rule of law, he agrees that confidence in the authorities and judiciary is at a low and says that for certain institutional changes to happen, it would require a change of government although, as he quickly adds, “that is not enough.”
As for limited government, he says this is something that used to be the case during Tunku Abdul Rahman’s time but all that changed when Abdul Razak took over and the government started getting its hands involved in all sorts of things, including business. He decries the populist policies that both BN and Pakatan Rakyat tend to favour.
As a proponent of free markets, he is against the idea of government-linked companies. He thinks the government should get out of business and leave that to real entrepreneurs.
As for the NEP, he adopts a remarkably brutal stand. He thinks it should be done away with – because the “unintended consequences” of this four-decade long policy has been too high a price to pay.
He regards Prime Minister Najib Razak as a reformist who is fighting a battle within his own party and he believes Perkasa has managed to undermine the PM’s economic transformation programmes. As a result, the outlook for Najib personally, is dim even if he leads BN to electoral victory.
Lastly, on individual liberty, he remarks on the irony of those who want little government intervention in their lives but yet espouse socialistic economic ideas. He notes how both BN and Pakatan tend to embrace socialistic policies when it comes to economics and concludes: “We still have a lot of work to do”.
Without doubt, Wan Saiful, is a different kind of thinker. In this podcast, he shares his insightful and sometimes surprising views about the current political and economic situation in the country.