Racial extremism bad for economy, warns ex-diplomat

Lawrence Yong
Nov 7, 2013

Malaysia will lose its competitive economic edge if its politics continue to cater to racial and religious extremes, a former senior diplomat warned today.

Razali Ismail, who was a diplomat for 35 years before retiring in 1998, warned that although polemics – the practise of one-sided political arguments – was inescapable in multi-racial, multi-religious Malaysia, it must not translate into a welfare state.

“If you just want to be a backwater country somewhere, that’s a different story.

“But we are in a strategic position (for economic growth) …all the differences between us have to be worked out,” Razali said at the Prime Lecture on Culture 2013, where he was invited to speak on “polemical politics” by the Tourism and Culture Ministry.

To emphasise his point, Razali cited that Malaysia’s rivals, such as Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia, already woke up to global realities and are well on their way to fortifying their own economies to attract foreign investments.

During his years as a diplomat, including as ambasadors to several European counctries, he saw almost all countries he served in as seeing Malaysia as a stable country.

However, Razali added, his international friends have of late started to question the divisive goings-on in the country.

“They are confused, their confidence has been shaken… As public servants, there is no way out but to do the right thing.”

In his speech to a room full of about a 100 high-level ministry officers, the former president of the UN General Assembly said that he sensed a high degree of sensitivity and resistance to change, especially among young bumiputeras.

“Any suggested changes by the prime minister in line with the New Economic Model (NEM) apparently has been met by some bumiputera with a inertia…

“We should not let populist polemics lead us to squander possibilities by attaching our fates to a debilitating culture of welfare dependency,” he said.

Gov’t must also tackle corruption

Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak introduced the race-free NEM in 2010 and ended the pro-bumiputera New Economic Policy (NEP), which was initiated by his father Tun Abdul Razak after the racial riots of May 13, 1969.

Recently, Najib appeared to be skewing the economy back towards bumiputeras-enriching policies with his Bumiputera Economic Enhancement (BEE) measures.

Meanwhile, Razali further urged the government to tackle corruption in all forms.

Razali, who is also chairperson of the Global Movement of Moderates, said he recently met with young activists and came out feeling concerned.

“The younger generation are beginning to lose faith and confidence in public institutions,” he said.

He cited that while political masters had sound ideas and good policies, the implementation part of the process was often poor.

“There are all these questions. The question of accountability comes out regularly… you say you want to stop corruption, but how are you going to do it?”

Razali, 74, has served as Malaysian ambassador to Poland, Germany, Czechoslavakia, Hungary, and he was High Commissioner to India before becoming Malaysia’s permanent representative to the UN.

He was the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Myanmar from 2000 to 2005, and was also a former president of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Malaysia.

  1. #1 by Noble House on Friday, 8 November 2013 - 5:23 am

    PM Najib is known for his ‘Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’ personality. He is known to waive according to where the pendulum swings that follows him into a dark place in his life – a place at which he arrives through a combination of bad decisions and forces beyond his control. When he finally hits the bottom, the people would have chosen to judge him or write him off.

    What impression is Malaysia giving the world when, in a CNN interview with Christiane Amanpour, Najib said that one ‘must not marginalize the majority’?

  2. #2 by undertaker888 on Friday, 8 November 2013 - 8:10 am

    ///…..in a CNN interview with Christiane Amanpour, Najib said that one ‘must not marginalize the majority’?////

    In other words, in order not to shame himself, he is saying, “We need crutches forever.”

  3. #3 by Winston on Friday, 8 November 2013 - 8:49 am

    Everybody knows what’s wrong with the government of this country.
    It doesn’t take rocket science to know that!
    The fact remains that the scumbags want to continue their grip on the country in order to enrich themselves and at the same time afford the space for them to do whatever they want and put them beyond the reach of the law!
    And the only way they know how is to pander to the racial and religious beliefs of the majority race.
    That’s what they think.
    But even the majority race is forsaking them; witness the last GE where the opposition won more than the government of the popular vote.
    The only way anything can change is to kick them out of Putrajaya!
    Nothing less will do!!

  4. #4 by worldpress on Friday, 8 November 2013 - 9:32 am

    They are there to work find way to corrupt and steal even no money

    Their admin must end sooner the better in order to save the country

  5. #5 by Di Shi Jiu on Friday, 8 November 2013 - 9:34 am

    The simple fact is that UMNO/BN must continue to exploit race and religion. There is really no other way for them to rob Malaysia and Malaysians.

    It is only when our attention is distracted by race and religion that the plundering of the nation’s wealth can occur.

  6. #6 by tak tahan on Friday, 8 November 2013 - 11:46 am

    Pas and PKR muslim MPs should be more actively on the ground to counter this race and religion exploitation to rural dwellers.

  7. #7 by lee tai king (previously dagen) on Friday, 8 November 2013 - 5:57 pm

    Racialism is the cornerstone of umno’s survival.

    We all know that well.

    So dont expect umno to change.


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