Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Nurturing the spirit of Asian Renaissance

“Reformasi, Reformasi….” these are the rousing battle cries at the ceramahs given by Anwar Ibrahim since the March/08 election and at the Permatang Pauh by-election campaigns, they are more jam-packed and impassioned than its emergence 10 years ago.
Anwar has the distinctive quality with the mettle to lead and the vision to move Malaysia forward, the landslide victory at Permatang Pauh had emphatically endorsed his grand plan on track to form the next government. His momentous Malaysian Economic Agenda can bring sweeping reform by embracing economic empowerment and social justice, a blueprint germinated from his book “The Asian Renaissance” he authored when he was Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister.
When in government Anwar never compromised his idealism to uphold social justice, to formulate policies to reduce poverty and to promote economic growth. But Anwar's interest went beyond economic achievements. He fought for government to be more tolerance towards political dissidents, the cultivation of openness, civil society, freedom and democracy and to accept religious diversity in Malaysia. "The quest for growth must always be balanced by a profound concern for social justice and equity." is the keystone of The Asian Renaissance. These principles and ideals have assumed greater significance in masterminding the MEA as a platform to reform Malaysia to a more vibrant, robust, competitive and humane economy.
Anwar also stressed in The Asian Renaissance that freedom and democracy must coexist concurrently with social order: “Foremost is the preservation of social order, without which there will be chaos. Freedom, under the circumstances, will be illusory. In a truly democratic regime, order is to be achieved through the exercise of authority with accountability, not merely by the coercive power of the state.”
The linchpin of the MEA is committed to transparency and efficiency in governments, and the upliftment of the poor in the society, the Malay, Chinese, Indians and other races. It is to build a more equitable society for all irrespective of race and religion. Under Anwar’s Prime Ministership the MEA will replace the anachronistic NEP which has out-lived its purpose since its creation 40 years ago to remedy the socio-economic inequality of the poor Malays. For too long the NEP has been hijacked by the cronies within the ruling BN regimes at the expense of the needy.
The resounding victory at Permatang Pauh has given Anwar’s opposition alliance Pakatan Rakyat a strong mandate to fulfil his agenda for an alternative government that is more competent to promote economic growth via productivity gain, and to reduce poverty in all segments of society. He envisioned this core belief in the Asian Renaissance for a humane economy: “Underpinning a humane economy is a philosophy of development guided by ethical and social concerns and founded upon the principles of justice and virtue.... the key to sustainable economic growth is still productivity…”. He already reminded the Pakatan Rakyat controlled state governments to keep their promises and to remain united, effective and strong to implement a more competitive, merit based policies. Only this can attract more foreign direct investments to grow the economy, subsequently to provide better services to the people especially the poor.
He has promised to reduce the fuel costs and to hold the national petroleum company Petronas answerable to parliament if Pakatan Rakyat were to form the next government, his opponents went on frenzied attacks accused him of economic vandalism. But Anwar has firm belief in fiscal restraint, as articulated in his Asian Renaissance: “In a humane economy, there is optimum utilization of scarce resources, discipline in fiscal management, promotion of a clear social agenda…”. He would exercise fiscal discipline to manage the economy responsibly.
Anwar is a rare man of ideal and conviction. Internationally he is a very rare character who can bridge the gap between West and Islam, he is widely recognised for his stance on good macroeconomic polices in banking regulation, corporate governance, the independence of judiciary, freedom and democracy, competency, accountability, transparency in governments.
At the home front, he is the only leader with moral courage committed to reform to serve the people first by empowering economic growth and social justice. When he was DPM his efforts were recognized with the following commendations:

- The AsiaMoney nominated Anwar as Finance Minister of the year in 1996
- The Time magazine in 1997 hailed Anwar as one of the new breed of Asian leaders.
- The Newsweek named Anwar Asian of the Year in 1998

Anwar would have easily taken over the role of PM long ago if he were submissive and acquiesced to his former boss’s insolence, but that would have made him as fail as the rest of the ruling regime. Anwar never compromised his principle, he put the welfare of the people ahead of his own aspiration. Thomas Jefferson words: “Leave no authority existing not responsible to the people.” stand firm and contending to Anwar.
The battle cries for Reformasi are clamouring for Anwar to form the government and to nurture the The Asian Renaissance to fruition to bring a new era for a just, progressive and prosperous Malaysia.

By: Daniel Lim

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