PETALING JAYA: A new sociopolitical agreement, not just institutional reforms, is needed to rebuild the country, said former CIMB Group chairman Datuk Seri Nazir Razak (pic).
While he commended the Pakatan Harapan government’s commitment to institutional reforms, he said a systemic, holistic overhaul is needed.
“There is no doubt that the government’s reforms will significantly reduce corruption and strengthen checks and balances. I think that would get us to a most welcomed ‘Better Malaysia’. But not what I would describe as a ‘New Malaysia’,” he said.
He said this during a speech at the Projek Amanat Negara event held by the United Kingdom and Eire (Ireland) Council of Malaysian Students at University of Nottingham in Britain on Saturday.
Citing the setting up of the National Consultative Council (NCC) in 1970 after the May 13, 1969, riots, he said Malaysia had refreshed its sociopolitical compact before.
He said the NCC had then come up with various recommendations, such as the New Economic Policy and the Rukunegara, which “set the foundations of the new Malaysia that rose from the ashes of race riots”.
“Then in 1970 they boldly recalibrated the compact and the system according to the needs of Malaysia then.
“In my humble view, another recalibration is overdue for the needs of Malaysia today,” he added.
The NCC had been set up by Malaysia’s second prime minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, also Nazir’s father.
Nazir related a personal account in which he and his wife hosted a roundtable discussion at University of Oxford in 2016 with 25 Malaysian leaders and thinkers about the future of the country.
The leaders included former deputy prime minister Tun Musa Hitam, Pemandu CEO Datuk Seri Idris Jala, Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai of Star Media Group, The Edge Media Group chairman Datuk Tong Kooi Ong, AirAsia Group CEO Tan Sri Tony Fernandes, Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4) executive director Cynthia Gabriel, social activist Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir, economist Jomo Sundaram, Dr Maszlee Malik who went on to become Education Minister, and Wan Saiful Wan Jan who was with the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (Ideas) at the time.
“We felt that what Malaysia needed was a fresh sociopolitical compact (agreement) upon which we could rebuild and realign our institutions, politics and socioeconomic strategies,” said Nazir.
A new NCC, he said, should be set up under the Council of Rulers to submit recommendations to Parliament.
This new council should look into recasting Malaysia’s political structure to reflect its multicultural society, he added.
“We could, for instance, consider requiring electoral constituencies be either sufficiently multiracial or part of group representation constituencies in order to mitigate racist politics and ensure sufficient minority representation.
“The new NCC could also propose updating the Constitution to unambiguously enshrine and define bumiputra privileges, for a time or forever, and the position of Islam,” he said, adding that this would make the Malays more secure about their position.