Nazir: Transform or risk Middle East-style upheaval

By Aidila Razak
Sep 10, 11 | Malaysiakini

The time for opaque deals and unflinching public support is over for Asian governments, and failing to realize this could lead the region down the path of the Middle East.

Saying this at the Malaysia-China Trade Investment International Conference 2011 in Serdang today, CIMB chief executive Nazir Abdul Razak said this is because today the world demands transparency from governments.

“Faced with such an awesome game-changer, governments, especially in the East find that they can no longer operate under the hierarchal paradigms of the past, where decisions are made behind closed doors and executed with unquestioning public support.

“Governments here will have to adopt greater openness, more debate and increased transparency,” he said.

Nazir, who Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s (right) brother, added that failing to do so would not only threaten a government’s hold on power, but a Middle-east style upheaval could also bring Asian economies to their knees.

“Such transitions will have to be managed carefully to avoid the kind of upheavals that bring at least massive temporary, if not permanent, economic hardships.

“At the extreme, political upheavals could derail the Asian century,” he said.

Conversely, he said, Western government are finding that the systems placed to provide checks and balance are stopping them from being “quickfooted” in the face of the economic crisis.

Additionally, political opponents in the West have become “more Machiavellian”, proving that they would prefer their country fail than support an leader from an opposing political party.

“East is meeting West as it were, and I hope that where they meet, politicians place country ahead of self, long-term ahead of short-term interest,” he said.

Nationalism exploited for political interest

One of the areas, which the top CEO believes could fall prey to political self-interest is Asean cooperation.

“Nationalism is such an easy sentiment to exploit, and increasingly as Asean Economic Cooperation gets closer, it will become more pronounced.

“Indeed, across Asia I fear that politicians will put self versus national and regional interests in the very ways that are undermining efforts to revive economies in the West,” he said.

For instance, he said, Indonesia’s Capital Investment-Coordinating Board yesterday suggested that products of foreign investors exported to Indonesia from Asean countries be taxed.

The suggestion came over disappointment that Blackberry smart phone maker RIM chose to set up its factory in Penang , not Indonesia.

“To me, this is a sign that Asean leaders have not agreed on AEC in substance. It is easy for prime ministers to hold hands and talk about a great future.

“But down the line will people believe it? Will government agencies allow it?” he said drawing thunderous applause from the audience of over 1,000 people.

He added that failing to realise the need to cooperate as a region will only mean that Asean will be “ignored and marginalised” despite representing a collective market of 600 million people.

  1. #1 by boh-liao on Sunday, 11 September 2011 - 3:27 pm

    Nazir must EXPOSE d corrupt practices n corruption under NR, RM, n UmnoB/BN
    Nazir: “Not that I loved NR less, but that I loved M’sia more”

  2. #2 by Jeffrey on Sunday, 11 September 2011 - 4:24 pm

    ASEAN may have 600 million market but to cooperate it’s not easy: the divisive elements outweigh uniting elements. The EU for eg is supranational entity. It is a more legalistic entity. They have European Court & common Euro currency. This requires a surrender of part of national sovereignty to a larger sovereignty of EU. It’s easier there as there are shared norms & cultural heritage (Judeo-Christian), greater complementarily of economies as well as less differences of levels o economic development between them. ASEAN’s peoples, on the hand, are comparatively more heterogeneous in terms of ethnicity, religion, culture, and political systems, both within the individual countries themselves and between countries of the region sensitive differences is that in religion and population. Level of economic development and culture (feudal patronage corruption) not the same between (say) S’pore & rest; economies also competitive seeking profit by exporting with nations other than the ASEAN states…

  3. #3 by Jeffrey on Sunday, 11 September 2011 - 4:27 pm

    ASEAN already said principle of non-interference & respect for each member nation’s self-interest is upheld! This means National interest is first. On complaint about Indonesia’s taxing products of foreign investors exported to Indonesia from Asean countries, Indonesia can also complain Malaysia does not respect her Labor Laws! All in, the divisive elements more than unifying ones in ASEAN. In terms of value from Religion Thailand is Buddhist, Malaysia and Indonesia, Islam with M’sia very strict, Singapore, secular Confucianism, and Catholicism take much part in Philippines! Phillippines complain Malaysia sympathetic to Mindanao Muslim rebels & thailand, that their Southern insurgents took safe harbor across the border! There is also no external security threat – hence ASEAN has not military Alliance compared with (say) EC’s NATO! How to have alliance when Israel is bad word here & S’pore army is trained by Israelis? The biggest threat were hedge funds in 1997 and then again they attacked Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia than S’pore and even that responses amongst those attacked were different: Indonesia went to IMF, Malaysia self remedy by ring fencing & de-internationalising RM.

  4. #4 by Jeffrey on Sunday, 11 September 2011 - 4:46 pm

    Nasir must also understand – that countries including ASEAN countries run according to dictates/policies of their top political decision makers who in turn have to consider how their voters in their constitutency feel support or reject. All are humans so countries behave as humans dictated by self interest until an external threat so strong & prevailing force them to unite (also for reasons of slf interest).

    That being the case for humans and by extension their leaders & country to go beyond mere self interest to larger principles of proper governance, transparency, accountability, justice and fairness, ethics and other principel sin the realm of aspiration – without hypocrisy- these values mut be internalised and held dear by the human players themselves, and not just to look good and for image. Again a necessary condition is level of education, and also the type of education whether it liberalises the mind to touch base with higher universal principles or to stultify it (besides of course the economic condition, since surely one can’t take care of the brain if the stomach is gnawing with hunger). Are we (ASEAN) as a whole and country individually at that stage of mental and economic development?

  5. #5 by cskok8 on Sunday, 11 September 2011 - 5:07 pm

    Please go tell your brother.

  6. #6 by Bigjoe on Sunday, 11 September 2011 - 5:11 pm

    I have news for him. IT IS ALREADY TOO LATE. Najib wasted away the last opportunity. We will have our Arab Spring and our own Tahrir Square and we will be lucky to have our version of it.

  7. #7 by lee wee tak_ on Sunday, 11 September 2011 - 10:54 pm

    talk as much as he wants but did he mention anything specific? what changes exactly he wants? just like his brother, plenty of impressive speech world wide but when assessing the actual delivery, what tangible achievement can Malaysians taste and feel?

  8. #8 by yhsiew on Sunday, 11 September 2011 - 11:01 pm

    No need for Middle East style upheaval, the Spratly Islands dispute is good enough to bring Asian economies to their knees.

  9. #9 by Cinapek on Sunday, 11 September 2011 - 11:05 pm

    Nazir said:

    “Governments here will have to adopt greater openness, more debate and increased transparency,”

    Did you manage to give your big brother this advice when the family met together over Hari Raya? Oh, I forgot, Big Bro and Flom sneaked off to Perth.

    Never mind. Be sure to tell him the next time you see him what you have preached to the Malaysia-China Trade Investment International Conference 2011. Stuff such as transparency from governments and politicians (read UMNO/BN) that will put self versus national and regional interests. Avoid dinner table discussions about FLOM’s Birkin handbag and RM24m diamond ring and focus on those noble ideas that you have. It is not productive.

  10. #10 by waterfrontcoolie on Sunday, 11 September 2011 - 11:22 pm

    As things are, it is unlikely that ASEAN will reach the stage of UE even by the end of this century. The level of developments is too wide; though Malaysia did stand a chance to atch Singapore in her progress if sanity had prevailed. But Of course insanity ran the policies; hence the little DOT was left to reach the sky on her own; and we are lfet to compete with Thailand a while ago, now it certainly looks like both Vietnam and Indonesia are catching up. Remember, Rafidah used to champion the liberalization of the car industry, now we are left trying very hard to delay the liberalization of that sector! Wether we want it or not, by and by Thailand would grab the roel of distributing a good portion of China’s export to the Asean region because of her connections by rails to China. Thailand is playing centre-forward in the development of the ADB’s Greater Mekong Sub-region Development; and eventually the ASEAN Region. Whetther we want it or not, the Chinese trains will zoom through Thailand aand distort the current logistics flow of cargo from and to China; especially her Western-central region. On the issue of RIM Research, of course Indonesia may threaten, but their demands for those brands of phones still too far to shake those companies!

  11. #11 by monsterball on Monday, 12 September 2011 - 1:25 am

    Some UMNO b crooks are feeling the heat and advising their own kind to be careful and avoid bloodshed like in Middle East.
    Latest advise…..from Najib’s brother.
    All are holding onto their money with sleepless nights.

  12. #12 by dagen on Monday, 12 September 2011 - 9:30 am

    Transform, nazir boy? Yeah. Transformation always starts from the top. You’re right boy. Chop of jibby jib, then. No umno. That would be better. Yea!

    But honestly, being the bro of jibby jib, his words are capable of bearing forked meanings. He could be fretting over the fact that ketuanan umnoputra and the inalienable rights thereunder are not acknowledged or accepted outside malaysia, esp in SEA. Otherwise, indonesia would have no reason to complain when they lost the blackberry investment to penang.

    Setting up an economic co-operation ala EU style would not be easy. Umno would be better of if ibrahim bin perkasa is tasked to display the raised arteries around his neck to the lesser leaders and policians in the rest of SEA and to cow them all into submission – starting of course with singapore. Lee junior and the rest ought to be taught the relationship between not doing so and anti-umno, anti-islam jenis-umno, anti-agung, communism, terrorism, etc etc.

    … the content of nazir’s dream as intercepted by dagen with a fish net in dagen’s dream.

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