Keynote address by Anwar Ibrahim on 20th May 2008 at the CLSA Corporate Access Forum in Singapore, a high-profile gathering of corporate decision makers of the regionÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s most interesting companies and investment bodies.
Ladies and Gentleman.
On the eighth of March, with fortitude and conviction the people of Malaysia sent a clear message to the powers that be they would not continue to tolerate a corrupt and incompetent government. With resoluteness hitherto unseen they voted the Barisan Nasional out of office in four states and terminated their stranglehold two-third majority in Parliament. In the final toll, the Pakatan Rakyat, that is, the PeopleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Alliance, now controls five states accounting for about 60% of the nationÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s GDP. Additionally, the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur is almost entirely represented by Pakatan representatives in Parliament.Ã‚Â After being in power for five decades, the Barisan Nasional meanwhile is still in comatose under this knock out defeat while its dominant and dominating anchor party UMNO is in utter turmoil.
In this defining moment of MalaysiaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s history, the courage and singularity of purpose of the people has been extraordinary. Having suffered the slings and arrows of an outrageous regime that had become very cozy with the culture of corruption, wastage and misuse of power, the people marched headlong into the battlefield and took the bull by the horns.
To my mind, the eighth of March, 2008 is the metaphor for the birth of a new era where the mill stone of race and religion which had been our burden to bear for the last fifty years has finally been shattered. With one stroke of the mighty pen, notwithstanding the overwhelming forces of electoral fraud and collusion of the organs of state, the people transformed the political landscape of the nation.
This will be a new chapter indeed for Malaysia indeed as it was for Indonesia not too long ago when the waves of reformasi swept the country taking it out of dictatorship to democracy. In a way, it was also for Myanmar though tragically the iron hand of military oppression proved far stronger than the earnest cries for justice and liberty.
A New Economic Agenda has been crafted borne of a long-term strategic vision to develop Malaysia into a prosperous and dynamic society competitive not just in the region, but in the world. We are not talking about knee-jerk reactions or strategies calculated to gain political mileage. This Agenda is a comprehensive program that we earnestly believe is sustainable in the long run.
According to a recent survey, young Malaysians are now open to more multi-racial socio-economic policies as opposed to race-based ones. The general consensus is that affirmative action should be given to the poor and the marginalized regardless of race or religion. Notions of social dominance and racial superiority find no resonance among the people except for those diehards still bigoted over ancient and archaic forms of political ideology.Ã‚Â (more…)