Anwar Ibrahim’s New Madani Concept And Challenges In His 100 Days In Power – Analysis


Prime Minister of Malaysia Anwar Ibrahim has created a foundation of clear policy setting and agenda on critical issues, namely good governance, ethical policymaking and a relentless drive on anti corruption efforts in which all have produced a new euphoria of confidence.

It is meant to send a strong and unyielding message to both the local and external audiences that while he acknowledges Malaysia’s long standing and entrenched crisis with corruption, abuses of power and social injustices, the new leadership under his premiership will mark the beginning of the end of these ingrained dogma and trapping, although the process will take time and will be painstaking.

Political instability over the past several years have further stalled Malaysia’s progress and catching up process with regional peers, where internal systemic and structural weaknesses of the economic fundamentals and national unity have further dampened the sentiments and prospects of growth and investors’ confidence.

For the past several administrations, realities on the ground and stark issues and endemic corruption issues, integrity and governance framework that have plagued the country and stagnated its potential and progress have been ignored and overlooked, for political and regime interests and security.

Under Anwar, a new agenda setting and directional policy mapping are in place to be bold in facing the hard truths without any sugar coating, and to go back to the drawing board in righting the wrongs and in charting a new holistic framework of encompassing impact of policymaking in bringing tangible economic benefits to all economic groups.

Economic transformation, principle laden and value based approach to economic adjustment and social justice, with new reforms based on intellectual transformation, wisdom, civilizational reimagining and in planting the seeds of collective push and vision for far-sighted reforms and changes that will set a new course of vision for the country and the people.

He has, and will face, internal stumbling blocks which are dominated by continuous political maneuvering and chessboard moves which would also touch on race,religion and royalty card, and will be facing continuous huge challenges in bridging the various development gaps and imbalances among the geographical regions, societal groups, ethnic groups and religious and racial divide.

The recent elections this decade projected true realities and gaps that will need urgent addressing. Malaysia collectively must confront and wisely and strategically address the gaps that would threaten to slow its progress and to limit its true potential in the future. These critical gaps include racial understanding and acceptance gap, regional East-West-North gap on the Peninsula, the East-West Malaysia gap, the demographic gap, gender gap, – ideological and political gap, education and knowledge gap, rich-poor gap, and technological literacy gap.For Malaysia to succeed and progress in an integrated, cohesive, inclusive and collective manner, a much higher concerted movement and political will are needed to have the audacity to break past barriers and dogmas, to one which is truly transcending in nature in the clarion call for a national purpose. 

‘Malaysia Madani’ blueprint and concept spells a new chapter for a nation where success has to be shared equally and equality of progress with reality based development and a changed parameter assessment. It represents a bold new intent to elevate Malaysia’s standing, profile and image and is different from previous leadership slogans and mantra – in that it is not tied to populist approach or with higher political returns.

The Madani concept is intended to create a new culture, mindset and basic common sense with a value-based approach in creating a new push for Malaysia’s reform agenda. The focus has to be on fair, equitable and people-led economic growth, expansion and distribution of wealth in a proportionate and sustainable economic development tools and factors. A holistic and true meaning of growth and impact on social mobility, justice and fair recognition of the rights of all citizens will be needed, with cultivation of reform agenda of good governance, accountability, responsibility, and integrity with values and compassion in a people-led approach.

An all-out war and affront on corruption, leakages, wastages and abuse of power and funds will need the onboarding of all, including friends and foes. This will remain a thorny front for Anwar’s ambition, and will need all his goodwill and political skills harnessed over the decades to heal the rift and the divide without risking his base and the wider moderate audience.

Madani in Foreign Policy

Externally, he will face greater turbulence and challenges, especially in getting the right method and strategy in facing both the US and China.

He will also need to find the right mix of support and capacity in bolstering security and defensive measures with the right deterrence capacity in facing renewed threats in the region, especially from China. In doing so, he will need Western hard power support, but will have to mitigate and balance the overtures to avoid upsetting China.

In the sphere of Malaysia’s foreign policy, no significant and major shift for now, as the overwhelming majority focus to be on domestic reform, political strength and stability and economic growth.

Extra attention is projected to be on growing regional powers, especially on Vietnam and Indonesia, as Malaysia tries to leverage on their spillover effects and also for enhancing mutual returns and benefits although it is also cognisant of the competition and economic rivalry, and underlying security wariness and historical suspicions of intentions

The Madani concept would be elevated and be made into one of the essential ASEAN influence seeking mechanisms within ASEAN framework in bringing the fundamental concept of value based growth and people-centred approach in building national and regional resilience and sustainable policymaking.

Malaysia will also enhance its current credentials and leadership in the Muslim world and the developing world through the Madani platform in promoting shared ideals and a people and value first approach in giving more clarity and depth in these voices and influence by the Muslim world and Global South.

Relations with the West

The Madani concept will also be the central pillar in future foreign policy dealing with the West and in facing the US-China rivalry, where Malaysia will continue to adhere to the pillar of respect, kindness and sustainability in creating the basis and framework of centrality, neutrality and the genuine desire to build strong and reciprocal relations with all nations in averting risks of conflicts and in promoting dialogue, diplomacy and goodwill.

With the West, the Madani mantra is ever more relevant, and will be the main framework of combining and integrating with the Western values an Western creation of an idealistic and philosophical approach based on values, principles, and norms of human rights and dignity.

Malaysia will reiterate its stance on these ideals and values, on respecting human rights and in trying to elevate Malaysia’s new image and brand appeal as a reformed and a newly reborn state that will espouse the principle of justice, social responsibility, democratic ideals, freedom of choice and human rights sanctity.

The importance of respect and creating goodwill will be projected, in setting the regional and global agenda of diplomacy and conflict prevention mechanisms through the injection of the Madani concept in instilling a culture of respect, confidence and kindness in treating other countries and other citizens from other countries.

Relations With ASEAN

The Madani concept will also be banked upon in setting a new path and era of further integrated ties with ASEAN and regional players. This will include creating ties based on the Madani pillars of:

Respect – Malaysia will be keen to enhance the current level of ties to one that is even more trusted and based on mutual respect on one another’s strength, culture, values and unique traits that will enrich mutual returns.

Confidence – Inject new streams of spillover effects to other critical sectors, apart from enhanced economic cooperation. People-to-people ties, education, scientific and technological cooperation, and joint elevation of food security and energy security will spur new mutual trust and confidence in one another as a crucial and trusted partner.

Kindness and wellbeing – Promote value based approach to the bilateral ties, and increase mutual platforms for putting the economic and social wellbeing of the people of the region in reducing inequality, absolute poverty and in working together to promote greater social mobility and more equal and fair distribution of wealth which are important to long term economic sustainability. Greater people to people and cultural exchanges will be made to enhance societal understanding and appreciation.

Malaysia sees the region as increasingly interconnected, and that any individual foreign policy of one country will have inevitable knock on and ripple effects on other regional members, especially in defence and security policies and economic and trade agenda

Malaysia will need high impact, future driven and high quality economic drivers of growth, particularly on digital economy, green energy, knowledge based economic growth, high technological advancement, futuristic and sustainable resource security, food security, resilient supply chain and empowering the SMEs as the main economic growth engine.

This also includes the need to firstly build on a platform and foundation of greater socio-economic linkages in a healthy and respectful way, based on greater cohesion and people to people appreciation and bonding that will pave the way for better economic cooperation and spill over effects to other sectors,particularly education and tourism .

Issue of environmental concerns, climate change, migrant workers and efforts to draw talents and expertise, all remain crucial factors in Malaysia’s foreign policy agenda that make up the second tier and low politics spectrum, with the hope that it will also provide a multiplier effect on other sectors of cooperation.

Malaysia also hoped to capitalise on renewed credentials and strength of neighbouring countries particularly Indonesia and Vietnam, in being the next regional and global engines of economic growth and being home to future investments of top industrial and technological giants, including Apple and other semiconductor companies.

Although spirit of competition is still high, and internal sentiments in Malaysia have been calling out for greater reforms in Malaysia’s core economic vision and fundamentals to avoid falling deeper behind Indonesia and Vietnam, Malaysia still view both as important and equal partners in having a healthy economic interdependence and source of positive flow of investment and talents that will have mutually inclusive returns and win win economic benefits.

In the defence and security front, having a renewed and stronger affiliation with one another creates better and more forceful defensive and deterrent capacity, as all share common risks and threats.It is crucial in strengthening of joint geopolitical clout and advantage by capitalising on shared strength and higher impact of joint and common objectives and purposes.

Hence, it will be in the best interests to solidify these areas, to promote greater trust, interdependence, transparency, integrity and value based approach in strengthening regional partnership based on principles, rules, values and good governance in line with his credentials and motto, and will want to capitalise on historical legacies and advantages of the region in forging greater cooperation and understanding through common culture,practices, and past rich ties.

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