Malaysia will fly – as it gets its act right

Sense And Nonsense - By Tan Bah Bah


For whatever it’s worth, I start off this week’s column with this announcement. Fresh from her victory in the Malaysian General Elections on Wednesday, Permatang Pauh MP Nurul Izzah Anwar has reaffirmed her commitment to abolish the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 and to the setting up of a media council in ensuring a free and fair media in Malaysia.

Nurul Izzah, a vice-president of Parti Keadilan Rakyat, one of the partners of the Pakatan Harapan coalition, which toppled the ruling Barisan Nasional, said she had prepared a bill for this purpose way back in 2010 and was seeking to retable a motion on the matter in the Malaysian Parliament soon.

“We are talking about a new era where you celebrate truth and you allow fair criticism to contribute to the development of the country,” she told reporters on Friday.

PKR secretary-general Datuk Saifuddin Nasution Ismail echoed her view, saying the media should be seen as an important element, particularly as a check and balance.

He said: “The Pakatan Harapan is committed to this principle.”

So, right at the top of MP Nurul’s father, PM-in-waiting Anwar Ibrahim’s reformasi agenda would be this liberation of media to allow for freer and more balanced debate. If Dr Mahathir Mohamad is a truly changed person – as I think he is, as he also suffered attempts to silence him in the campaign to oust Najib Razak – he would go along with the move.

Then I would say Malaysia will become a First World country faster than its Asean neighbours, Singapore included, and not just a slogan or book title purveying a slanted image.

What we have seen this week is a major button reset. Malaysians have now given themselves a serious chance to do things better and work out a more productive way to move forward. It is short of a revolution because the important “new players” have been in government and politics for a long time and are not newbies. They are not fresh faces, without experience, needing to be tested like apprentices, like another country to its south.  Even a young politician like Nurul Izzah is battle-tested and has earned her spurs in adversity and genuine unscripted circumstances, having been thrown into politics when her father was twice thrown into jail.  No mollycoddling.

Malaysia will do well.

Here are some of the tasks ahead for Dr Mahathir, Anwar Ibrahim and Lim Guan Eng, secretary-general of the Democratic Action Party.

The new government will have to deal with its financial scandals especially 1MDB.  1Malaysia Development Bhd, set up by Najib Razak in 2009, was meant to turn KL into a financial hub and boost the economy through strategic investments. But it started to attract negative attention in early 2015 after it missed payments for some of the US$11b it owed to banks and bondholders.

Then the Wall Street Journal reported it had seen a paper trail that allegedly traced close to US$700m from the fund to Najib’s personal bank accounts.

Linked to this would be the fate of the Attorney-General – Mohd Apandi Ali – and, probably, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission officers, as hinted by Dr Mahathir more than once after GE14. Both were entangled in the imbroglio.

The “cleaning up” act would certainly involve seeking greater accountability, overhauling the system –  possibly of rampant cronyism – and improving the judiciary system and processes.

For the economy, Pakatan will, as promised, do away with the 6 per cent goods and services tax.  The coalition believes it can run the federal government without revenue from the GST, and instead add another RM6 billion to the country’s coffers through collection from other taxes and cutting down on wastage.

As for the economy itself, Mahathir said a “council of elders” will be appointed to advise the new government on economic and financial matters for the next 100 days. Former Finance Minister Daim Zainuddin, highly respected former Central Bank governor Zeti Akhthar Aziz and business tycoon Robert Kuok are among those appointed to the council.

The new Malaysian government will review all foreign contracts and projects, including the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail project and those under China’s Belt and Road initiative.

Reconciliation with Mahathir gives Anwar the opportunity to represent more than just his reformasi group but also those Malaysians who have been outside.  It should make for a more stable country.

Malaysia will be more than Boleh. Malaysia will Terbang (Fly) under Anwar.

Sense And Nonsense is a weekly series. Tan Bah Bah is a former senior leader writer with The Straits Times. He was also managing editor of a local magazine publishing company.


  1. Time for singaporeans to rethink seriously about our future , most importantly our children future. Will the 4g leaders able to lead as they had said ? Will millions still justified for their salaries? GDP and STI had not been reaching as high as Analysts had predicted. Cost of livings will predicted to be higher , when gst kicks in 2019. CPF will no longer be withdraw when u reach 55. The worst is our HDB will began to depreciate when it reach 30 yrs and beyond, and eventually become zero value once it reach 99 yrs old. All our hard work to contribute during our workings years down to drain- these issues are real and we as people should begin to think seriously.

  2. Dr. M’s second act if executed right — namely, restoring honor, justice and rule of law to his nation, not least bringing the chief villains of 1MDB scandal and Ms. Altantuya’s murder to account — will doubtless immortalize his stature at home. He bids fair to becoming a legend of his country, on a par with what LKY’s stature is in Singapore. Like the patriarchs of old, his obituary may read: the Avenger who rid his nation of rampant moral pestilence, who restored decency and propriety to his fellow countrymen.

    FWIW, here’s my preceding Fb post of foreboding to Mr. Najib and his circle of intimates…

    May 12, 2018
    Karma awaitin’ Mr. Jib and fellow confederates, be very afraid as the reckoning draws near…

    Barely 2 months after being forced into resignation in Feb. this year, former S African Prez Jacob Zuma is now charged with 16 counts of corruption, fraud, racketeering and money laundering.

    Forget about vacationing in Bali… Mr. Najib and company would be better off girding themselves now for what would shape up to be the biggest legal battles of their lives in the days ahead.

    A sidebar: there is a one-in-three chance that one of them (Baginda / Azilah / Sirul) might flip on their former boss over the unexplained, heinous murder of Ms. Altantuya… particularly the above-mentioned last two convicted witnesses — Azilah and/or Sirul would be nothing loath to spill everything in return for a commutation of their death sentence by hanging.

    • Never will happen, with its Malay Boleh supremacy policy. Unless non muslim Chinese are allowed to rule the country on merit based, which is impossible for Islam to accept. Even if chinese is allowed & managed to hold political power, the country will be unrest, required suppression to majority Malays & rigged election, as happen in many countries.

      Go check why all East Asian, China, Taiwan, HK, Macao, Chinese majority Spore all are prosperous, well developed, have Top IQ 105 rating, top in SAT, top in Olympisd Maths, Science, Reading. But all Malay ethnic majority countries, Msia, Indonesia, Philippine, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia are backward & bottom in IQ rating.

  3. watch the entire whole short clip which the later part is NOT only about Anwar – Mahathir but Dr Mahathir’s pre election analysis, as per I said days ago after their GE , indeed WITHOUT the Rural/heartland Malay support Base from old UMNO to switch over (traditional conservative Malay base has to Swing over to opposition too) , PH is impossible to win. Anwar, Wan Azizha ,Nurul, Mahathir they all understand this. hence the cooperation. Mahathir is confident of winning as early as march 2018.

  4. So happy to see energetic young leaders having a strong vision for MSia. As a MSian I felt positive and happy that our country now seems to be heading towards the right direction. However I hate to dampen the nation’s celebratory mood and would like to point to the fact that corruption & inaction had been with us for the past 60yr. So things are not going to change over night (or over the term of one government). I hope the current government will REALLY be different and steer the nation away from our past wrong doings and inefficiencies so that ALL Msians can enjoy the fruit of success. Tun and team. Please dont let the nation down.