To The Editor
25 St James’s Street
London SW1A 1HG
Your coverage of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak’s lurch to illiberalism (11 April 2015) gave the impression that the lurch centres around repressive laws only. It is actually more comprehensive than that.
In the earlier years of his premiership, Mr Najib promised not just to abolish or reform repressive laws. He also envisioned a diverse yet united “1Malaysia”, a liberalised new economic model, and waging war against corruption.
But after six years at the helm, not only are we seeing a return of the repressive elements in laws that Mr Najib promised to do away with. Economically we see an increase of discriminatory ethnic-based economic policies and a state-owned enterprise that Mr Najib himself chairs is demanding protection from free trade pacts such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.
We have also seen further institutionalisation of ethnic politics and ethnic-based economic policies into government agencies, as well as Mr Najib’s deafening silence over the growth of racially divisive actions by those related to his party. And although no one is accusing him of outright corruption, there are still many unanswered questions regarding the governance of the debt-ridden state-owned enterprise 1MDB.
Mr Najib ascended to the top office with glorious promises to transform Malaysia. But he forgot to transform his own party, and now his biggest hurdle is that his party is not with him. Therefore when outing Mr Najib, we should look beyond his illiberal legislative moves. We should also look at his inability to deliver the political, social and economic transformation that he once promised.
For many years I have been excited by Mr Najib’s words. Now many people are telling me that he has delivered nothing but only words.
WAN SAIFUL WAN JAN
Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs