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Friday, March 4, 2016

Malaysia regressing full speed under Najib, says Economist

Malaysia will be deprived of the standing it deserves in the world as long as it is governed in the style of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, opined international business journal The Economist.

Umno, it said, has run out of ideas and with the party president's credibility in question, seems incapable of rejuvenating itself.

"Under Najib, the country is regressing at alarming speed. Its politics stinks, its economy is in trouble, and there are worrying signs that the government is not above stirring up ethnic and religious divisions.

"For Malaysians, the precise nature of what happened is not the main point. Najib presented himself as a liberal out to remake the sleazy system of money politics by which the ruling Umno has held power since independence.

"He was to open up a crony economy. And he was to do away with repressive colonial-era laws, such as that for sedition.

"Najib’s credibility was in tatters as he faced inquiries around 1MDB, and he reacted by engineering the retirement of a pesky police chief, replaced an attorney-general and promoted members of an inquisitive parliamentary committee into the cabinet," The Economist said.

The government was wielding the sedition law with new zeal and even blocking news websites and hounding opponents, such as PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim and outlawing electoral reform movement Bersih, it added.

"The more Najib cracks down, the more he alienates those who were once inclined to support him.

"Foreign investors and others should be worried. The government is floundering in its responses to a sharp slowdown in the economy and to a falling currency," the report stated.

'Wretched politics holding nation back'

While cheap oil has hurt Malaysia, its wretched politics will hold it back more in the long run, it opined.

"The government is now using dog-whistle politics to appeal to its ethnic Malay-Muslim base, and is refusing to distance itself sufficiently from Islamists seeking the introduction of harsh syariah punishments.

"Pro-government bigots in the street have told ethnic-Chinese Malaysians to 'go back to China'. This is dangerous. Malaysia has seen race riots before, and could see them again. Nearby Singapore, with its different mix of the same ethnic groups, should also be alarmed.

"Malaysia’s problems run deep. Umno is out of ideas and seems incapable of rejuvenating itself.

"The fractured, rudderless opposition does not have the winning combination to overcome Umno’s gerrymandering and harassment. And the next election is anyway still two years away. Restoring confidence will be tricky.

"But for as long as Malaysia is governed in the style of Najib, ordinary Malaysians will suffer and their country will be deprived of the standing that it surely deserves in the world," the article added.

Apart from this article, The Economist also published two more, which among others detailed the money trail of the RM2.6 billion donation and RM42 million from SRC International transferred into the prime minister’s personal accounts.

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