Don’t fear the consequences of change

Anwar Ibrahim
Mar 12, 2013


The present Umno-BN government of Najib Abdul Razak is living on borrowed time. It doesn’t want to admit it but its legitimacy is now totally in question because constitutionally, its full term has expired.

The people’s patience is tested to the limit here by the audacity of a government that goes on ruling without a mandate.

A number of bogus analysts and self-appointed doomsday prophets, especially those driven by very personal agendas, have warned that Malaysia will descend into political and economic chaos in the event of a Pakatan Rakyat victory.

On the other hand, the more genuine and independent observers have expressed greater optimism. For instance, the original ‘Dr Doom’, Prof Roubini, says that our economy will stay robust even with a change in government.

We know that a mandate for change is not limited to the political sphere though it is true that without that mandate, economic management itself will be off to a false start.

When Indonesia made that break from military autocracy to constitutional democracy, much of the focus of the free world was on how its economy would weather the transition.

And in their case, transition would stretch for years and indeed the fruits of that initial process of political upheaval are for all to see.

In the case of the Arab Spring, the major worry remains the lack of clearly defined policies that would set the road map to economic recovery and growth.

They are still finding their way and it won’t be an easy way but that is no excuse for rejecting freedom and democracy.

Certainly, political stability is a key factor, and I might just emphasise the most crucial factor in setting the direction and objectives of economic management.

False logic

But let me stress that this is not to be confused with the argument that, because political stability is so crucial, therefore there should be no change in government.

This is false logic because the test of political stability is in fact the ability of a nation to experience a change of government peacefully through the ballot box.

In this regard, no matter what the Umno-BN propaganda says, we, the Pakatan Rakyat, believe in this peaceful process and we are confident that the people are matured and ready for this change.

Now, the question that needs to be answered first is what are the likely economic consequences of a peaceful political transition?

I think the obvious response is that number one, the status quo may be maintained i.e. nothing exciting, the same policies are intact and no one wants to rock the boat.

The economy may worsen or remain stagnant, or it may improve marginally but lacking in lustre.

Or number two, things could head south i.e. go downhill. The new government has no clue how to run the economy and throws caution to the wind.

They try to outdo the previous government’s fiscal irresponsibility and take the country down to even greater depths of deficit.

Or finally, a third scenario is possible: the new government seizes the day and carries out the economic policies and reforms it has laid out in its election manifesto.

If things are done properly and with full commitment to achieve broad-based and sustainable growth, we may well see economic transformation.

This is the road we will take.

In other words, a mere change of government will not lead to chaos in the economy. Certain conditions precedent must be met of course.

There must be due democratic process and, to my mind, this is best translated as good governance and the rule of law.

Ending rent seeking

No doubt the question of policy clarity takes precedence. Economic management must be based on sound policies – not knee jerk reactions.

There must also be continuity but this is subject to a major caveat: only bona fide, above board undertakings, ventures and enterprises will be continued.

Rent seeking and other crony driven schemes will meet their Maker sooner than later.

We know that the Najib administration has been taking our economy down the deficit path. And now, as the elections draw nearer, with the kind of money that would have been doled out we would inherit an economy which would be in even greater deficit.

So, efforts must be geared towards arresting this trend with the longer term objective of finally turning it around.

There will be no continuity of the Umno-BN model which has prevented Malaysia from attaining to higher-income status. What we have lost over the years in terms of “strategic advantage” we must strive to gain back.

We are a nation blessed with resourceful people. We must not allow this to drain away. In this process, it is of the greatest importance that there is good governance.

We can talk till the cows come home or till our faces turn dark blue or pay millions to consultants to come up with dazzling charts and models about transformation but, without good governance, that will just be public relations and empty rhetoric.

Failure in governance would include corruption in high office, lack of transparency in government dealings, and breakdown of accountability.

There must be meaningful structural reforms that will change the dynamics of how we want the nation’s economic pie to expand.

Investments in new sectors must be encouraged but allowing this to be monopolised by the elite few is a definite ‘no’.

In other words, we will encourage fair competition and the spreading of the economic pie.

We have nothing against big corporations but the priority is job creation and how these corporations fare in the overall scheme of social justice which indeed will be inseparable from the principles of economic management.

Another crucial area of concern is the balance between state-dominated ventures and private investment.

We have enough examples of private ventures particularly those in providing basic utilities which act more like oppressors of the people.

Because they are protected by Putrajaya they are not responsive to the people’s call for better service, let alone for more reasonable rates.

Crucial stage

In the international arena, our competitiveness must surely be another key area of focus for economic management not just in the transition period but for long-term sustainable growth.

The list is indeed long as to what we can do and what we must do at this crucial stage of our nation’s destiny.

Suffice it to say that in these deliberations, we are not just looking at pie charts, numbers and data, important as they are, but at the fundamental issues of governance.

In all these, we must remain steadfast in being guided by the safeguards and best practices of a vibrant constitutional democracy.

Economic management is not a game of one-upmanship but a duty of the highest calling to be discharged by those of the highest integrity for the well-being of the nation and the welfare of the people.


These remarks were made by opposition leader ANWAR IBRAHIM at the opening of the forum titled, ‘Economic Management during Political Transition’ held on March 12, 2013 in Kuala Lumpur.

  1. #1 by chengho on Wednesday, 13 March 2013 - 7:57 am

    this guy ( Bro Anwar) u cannot believe him , diff talk to diff audience ; from Abim to Umno/BN and now to Pakatan , are u sure , he is not a sailor that will jump ship .
    MCA/BN for Malaysia

  2. #2 by Bigjoe on Wednesday, 13 March 2013 - 9:12 am

    The fact is Anwar and the people he put together ESPECIALLY the younger leaders deserve to take over the Malay leadership now and the future. Lined up against the line-up in UMNO/BN, its not even a choice.

    While the rainbow coalition that is put together inevitably spins dreams that won’t be realized, the fact of the matter is for us Malaysian and Malays in pariticular, if we can’t do the major change proposed by PR, then we deserve little, we are already headed for inevitable doom sooner or later – there will be no Malaysia in the future, it will be something but it won’t be Malaysia..

  3. #3 by Winston on Wednesday, 13 March 2013 - 9:59 am

    It’s very obvious that the criminals in the ruling party haVE been driven to a frenzy by the impending change that will sweep this country with the coming GE.
    In fact, there should be nothing fearful when the electorate decides to change the government.
    Those in power will only be fearful if they are steep in shit up to their eyebrows.
    Other than that, there’s nothing to fear!
    Such things are as natural as day and night!!
    Why should the whole country be held for ransom by a motley crew of crooks and conmen?
    It’s time for them to face their comeuppance in the coming GE!
    JUST DO IT!!!!

  4. #4 by lauksnatlks on Wednesday, 13 March 2013 - 11:01 am

    It is time for change. Time for a new business model of accountability, transparency, competitiveness not rent seekers, cronyism, connections and favoritism. Malaysians has been patiently waiting for this day to dawn. The BN/UMNO business model is broken and cannot be repaired. Make sure this is the upper most when u walk to the poll station come GE13. ABU ABU….

  5. #5 by monsterball on Wednesday, 13 March 2013 - 11:44 am

    Najib said it again…he needs time to see all the good seeds he sowed…bear fruits…thus 13th GE can wait….no need to hurry.
    A compulsive liar…a coward. He has so many labels…showing Malaysians know a book.
    Bala keep accusing him….in many road shows arranged….and all packed with people..listening…attentively.
    Najib’s silence does not mean Bala is lying.

  6. #6 by monsterball on Wednesday, 13 March 2013 - 11:49 am

    Chengho does not know versatility.
    That is why…he is a dish washer in USA.

  7. #7 by boh-liao on Wednesday, 13 March 2013 - 12:02 pm

    D only CONSTANT is CHANGE, continuing change, inevitable change

  8. #8 by lee tai king (previously dagen) on Wednesday, 13 March 2013 - 2:48 pm

    Fear change? Chengho has nothing to fear. He is far away from ground zero. But do we have anything to fear? No. Not at all. On the contrary we hv much to cheer after GE13 when umno is finally booted out.

    Cant say the same of umnoputras, though. They are the ones who are really fearful of defeat. They do not want to lose their millions – for some hundreds of millions and even billions. Some of them would lose their liberty for they would be locked away in prison for their crimes.

  9. #9 by Noble House on Thursday, 14 March 2013 - 3:35 am

    Quite to the contrary, I should believe Malaysian have more to fear if they is no change in our political landscape. What that is happening before our eyes is too real to ignore. With the kind of politicians now dominating our political landscape, our country’s future does not really look good. We have been independent for almost 56 years now, yet our human resources and the quality of public service rendered by our public officials has not improved but has even deteriorated through the years. Obviously, the primary reasons for such deterioration can be found in both the system and the people running the system. Nevertheless, the real change in our political landscape can only be achieved if we will not vote for the same old politicians and members of dynasties who consider public office as a “proprietary or contractual right”.

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