KUALA LUMPUR: Putrajaya’s push for economic reforms to attract foreign and domestic direct investments to the country must be needs-based and not neglect the poor and marginalised, incoming PKR president Anwar Ibrahim said today.
Anwar said some people say the opening up of pro-market reforms, at the expense of a large segment of Malays or Bumiputeras, will cause the country’s marginalised to suffer.
“We cannot propel economic growth without making Malaysia thrive with FDI (foreign direct investments).
“Investment policies would warrant an inclusive, clear and transparent policy.
“But this does not mean we should neglect the plight of the poor and marginalised.
“This is not a zero-sum game. It should not be an excessive capitalistic notion, ignoring the plight of the poor and marginalised.
“I do not think in the long term it is sustainable if we choose to take this road,” he said in his special address at the “Malaysia: A New Dawn” conference here today.
Anwar further stressed on the need for affirmative action to be vigorously promoted based on needs, stating that one could not talk about propelling the economy, but condone the sheer atrocities on the poor.
“There must be a clear departure from the policies crafted in the past. It may have been true and relevant in the past, but I do not think in this age we need to pursue a policy which cannot be defended in terms of justice and equity,” he said.
Anwar lamented as to how the elite in the big cities like KL were completely oblivious when it comes to poverty and gross inequality, and this was attributed to “our utter failure to recognise the stark demands in society”.
“The public discourse on economic inequities and social disparities are superficial. There is much sloganeering and parochialism, but what is needed is analysis and dialogue,” he said.
Anwar, who is contesting the Port Dickson by-election, said there was a need to do away with the notion that Malays could not compete with other races, and it was an insult to his race.
He also said one should go to Port Dickson and see for themselves the issue of abject poverty and lack of opportunity that actually transcends race.
“Malays may have more problems, but clearly the issue of poverty and inequality is not a notion affecting a particular race.
“The sooner we acknowledge the better. We need to be more inclusive and dynamic in our views and policies. We must confront inequality at its core,” he added.