Mahathir Using Economic Council to Edge Anwar Out in favour of Azmin Ali?

February 16, 2019

By: Yusoff Rawther

Image result for azmin ali and mahathir

A glance at the newly-announced lineup of Malaysia’s Economic Action Council (EAC) poses more questions than answers. It was formed to respond and take action in addressing economic issues. Objectives include stimulating economic growth, ensuring fair distribution of wealth and improving the well-being of the people as well as focusing on issues related to cost of living, labor, poverty and home ownership.

What is its relevance? It sounds eerily like a cabinet within a cabinet, and at a transitionary period, it looks like a redundant idea that will prove to be merely a political tool.

In less than a year since assuming the premiership, the 93-year-old Mahathir Mohammad has flip-flopped on various issues, most obviously his firmly stated assurance in May 2018 that the victorious Pakatan Harapan coalition would not be accepting turncoats from the losing United Malays National Organization.

Yet, along with the announcement of the creation of the economic action body,  Mahathir happened to embrace seven former UMNO MPs into his own Parti Pribumi Bersatu, an act of betrayal to the people of Malaysia. UMNO was thoroughly discredited as a party corrupt to its very roots – by MPs who were kept loyal to the previous premier, the disgraced Najib Razak, by outright bribes.

Anwar Ibrahim has been unceremoniously left out from the EAC, an indication that Mahathir is once again vying to divert as much power and attention towards the lesser known and underperforming Minister of Economic Affairs, Mohamad Azmin Ali, the former chief minister of Selangor and an ambitious pretender for the leadership of the coalition.

Aside from the fact that the council’s existence shows failure on behalf of the prime minister to appoint qualified people to the cabinet, if we are to accept the premise that the council should exist, the right thing to do is to invite the premier-in-waiting to be a member in a move to demonstrate your confidence in your designated successor to the voters as well as giving Anwar a role to play in contributing to the agenda set forth in the EAC’s charter. Malaysians should beware lest Mahathir smuggles old failings into the mix whilst our attention is held elsewhere.

The political heavy lifting was done by Anwar, who from his prison cell pulled a lax opposition and the complaining class into the fight alongside his supporters to create the conditions for change. Conditions that proved vital in the overthrow of the Barisan Nasional regime.

It is evident that something more than elections are necessary to create a genuine new dispensation of sustainable democratic good governance.

 Creating the EAC and sidelining the PM-in-waiting is not a good indicator of that. Authoritarian rule is not just about figureheads. They use power th to maintain themselves is institutionalized and embedded in deep structures of privilege that corruptly deliver a nation’s bounty into the hands of a chosen few.

If Anwar Ibrahim is the icon for democracy, then Mahathir is the icon and spokesperson of the embedded structures of inequity.

As the principal architect of genuine reform,  to sweep aside the structures of authoritarian control and the inequity they beget, Anwar’s reform agenda seeks to eliminate  corruption, cronyism and nepotism, the elements of a bygone era.

It is the diligence and energy Anwar applies to promoting an alternate vision of good governance, one and of a free and competitive Malaysian economy and harmonious, multiracial society that  made him an important voice not only in Malaysia but around the world. Anwar has spent his career speaking for and articulating an alternative agenda of politics.

As a Deputy Prime Minister during the Asian Financial Crisis I988, Anwar came very close to dismantling the Mahathirist version of crony capitalism when he decided to implement an IMF style austerity program, suspend big-bulge infrastructure investment, and force big businessmen to take care of their own debts.

Anwarnomics promises to do away with state-backed racism. It promises to be inclusive, rules-based and competition-driven with a large, well-funded social safety net and he has reiterated time and again the need for uncompromising reforms.

Here are some of the things he has advocated for, long before the formation of the EAC:

Malaysia’s economic policies should be inclusive and to dismantle obsolete policies such as the New Economic Policy. Positive.

  • discrimination policies must be based on freedom, justice, and equity.
  • A sustainable economy is not one that is mainly driven by consumer spending fueled by high level household debt. “We cannot build a better life for our people if they need two to three jobs just to make ends meet. That is bad economics… even worst social policy.”
  • Affirmative actions taken must be based on needs.
  • It is important to enhance investment, trading and economic ties with China and India which are the engine of growth for global economy.
  • Social protection and poverty eradication remain central to the effort to ensure a better life for all.
  • Greater transparency and public participation is key in ensuring efficiency of social programs, to identify dubious programs, reduce duplication and waste of resources.
  • Economic policies to lure foreign direct investment must not neglect any region or community in the country. It is not a zero-sum game. If we choose to embark on pro-market reforms, it should not be an excessive capitalistic notion ignoring the plight of poor and marginalized.

Given the facts, it is only fair to question Mahathir’s  motives  in creating the EAC while failing to include the next Prime minister.

Malaysia is rich in resources and possibilities. Change will require more than just elections, it requires dismantling the institutional structures of inequity, most of all it will depend upon building the strength and capacity of civil society, the plethora of organizations and associations by which ordinary people hold their governments to account.

9 thoughts on “Mahathir Using Economic Council to Edge Anwar Out in favour of Azmin Ali?

  1. Fact Anwar got himself in situation he cannot keep his underling in line, speaks badly of his leadership and management skills. I find nothing particularly talented about Azmin – a professional operator that lacks real visionary ideas and talent for real change – something Mahathir likes as he himself feels threatened by real Liberal change.

    We need leaders with real ideas and makers, LKY calls it govt entrepreneurship. Its time to tell marginal changers they are not good enough and pave clear path to definitive real change.

    • /// Visionary idea in privatizing returns, nationalizing debt and risk, NEAC should be able to do well in that. ///

      katasayang – yup. I wouldn’t call it privatization. More like piratization. Privatizing of profits for his cronies, and nationalizing of losses for the taxpayers to bear.

  2. Yusoff Rawther. Such an interesting last name. Well said. Let’s start from scratch. If DSAI would say outright that it is about time for Melayu to stand up straight to honour the 15 years sunset clause of special rights spelt out explicitly in the Reid Commission, no nonstop Emergency special Jedi Council is needed. After all, all this kind of council talk is just another small group creation to enrich the core of the core. Else, there is no emergency but just a gradual layu .. welayu to oblivion. The day after Tun Dr, there would be none. Tun Dr just has to come to his senses. There is no one here to rob Melayu from their opportunities to be successful, except for the kiasuism within Melayu. Stand up straight Melayu and Malaysia would be strong. Commit to remove the special rights and you would be free. Stop this siege mentality for your own sake.

  3. Given the current situation (and the foreseen future), talent and capabilities, it’s best to let Azmin be the next PM. I do not see other candidates, including Anwar, as a better candidate to be next PM of the country. Tun should make this very clear with his colleagues and the rakyat and start getting the people to clean the path to make the transition for Azmin Ali to take over as the country’s next PM with the least disagreement, protest or harassment. At the meantime, send Anwar somewhere far away so that he would not be able to meddle with Tun’s new plan.

    We Malaysians want a better Malaysia and the present government knows it and it also knows what to do about it. So, give to us then.

  4. 1. Economic Councils in whatever guise ain’t something new – they have been around since our caveman ancestors mulled the strategy and implications of the next hunt. In fact, compared to the previous ECs’ that we’ve had – this 16 member council is negatively obese. Why? Because of a lot of deadwood, including the attending Economists – who are way behind the curve and flurs who can’t tell their rear end from their front. There will only be One ring that will rule them all. So it’s no surprise Brader ain’t included. His ideas aren’t exactly Rent-seeking Mainstream.

    2. To many of the blokes who revere Octo and his sidekick Tonto (i.e AA) – remember Brader has been promised the Premiership before GE-14, and he will achieve it by Hook or by Crook. It’s better than AA stealing it through his crookedness in connivance with his Machiavellian master.

    3. Brader reads Octo well enough to know that he’s not to be trusted. Even now, Octo’s propaganda machine is working quietly to scupper the orderly transfer. Remember, a majority of PKR will stand by Brader if the push becomes a shove. Amanah and DAP will keep their word. Warisan will swing to Brader, since Octo has broken their understanding about PPBM penetrating Sabah. Shafie doen’t like being ‘buggered’, okay?

    4. Only those who are outright racist or perhaps crypto-Bumi-supremacists will prefer AA over Brader. AA, to me has no redeeming qualities and graces – except being outwardly loyal to Brader, at least til now. He ain’t no Reformer, Transformer nor even a Performer, except in rent-seeking and playing footsie.

    5. To be honest, Mukhriz will make a superb understudy as DPM under Brader.

    Any questions?

  5. Too many unknowns sold by unknown groups that do not want to accept the known knows which are now going through the the known courts. Until the courts can put away these knows knowns , these known knowns are going to make it difficult for known PM to remove the known knowns and get on with the task of going forward. We all should help this known PM

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