KUALA LUMPUR: Politicians harp on racial and religious issues to distract the people from corruption, which is the country's real problem, says Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
The Prime Minister said leaders tried to appeal to voters, including to the Malays, by painting the illusion that their positions and power base were being challenged by other races.
"They can harp on the issue of race and religion but to me it's completely irrelevant. It's an attempt by political leaders to hijack and distract the people from the central issues of governance in this country.
"They want to appeal to the races, including to the Malays that their positions and power base are being challenged.
"But my answer to that question is this: It's not being challenged by the Malay, Chinese, Indian or the Sabah and Sarawak businessmen.
"The Malay survival is being threatened by a corrupt system, a greedy group of leaders who have been stealing from this country.
"We will have to continue to work together to ensure we save the country from endemic corruption," he said in his speech at the Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (ACCCIM) Chinese New Year 2023 reception at the Wisma Chinese Chamber here on Saturday (Jan 28).
Also present was Anwar's wife and Bandar Tun Razak MP Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, Transport Minister Anthony Loke, Local Government Development Minister Nga Kor Ming, other MPs and members of the unity government.
Anwar highlighted the practice of corruption in deals and contracts by the previous administrations, saying that there were huge commissions and bribes in the processes.
He said he trusted the relevant authorities to act against these corrupt practices for the survival of the country.
"We are not talking about the political survival of any individual, party or government but we are talking about the survival of this country from corruption," he said.
Anwar, who is also Finance Minister, added that Budget 2023, which will be retabled on Feb 24, would focus on big issues such as clear economic policies, helping businesses, environment and food security.
He said that these issues were also touched by the ACCCIM in the memorandum that they had submitted to him.
Earlier, Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (ACCCIM) president Tan Sri Low Kian Chuan in his speech said that they have submitted a comprehensive policy report titled "Build A Better Malaysia", covering political institutions, socio and economic reforms to the prime minister.
Low also proposed several priorities to facilitate better economic growth, boost higher investment and ease cost of doing business.
"First, the country should undertake institutional reforms in key areas.
"Institutional problems create uncertainty, unnecessary red tape, and bureaucratic burdens, hindering the process of setting up and running businesses in Malaysia," he said.
Low also proposed the government to focus on less politicking and more focus on the country's development and the people's welfare.
"Progressive and moderate policies should be implemented, while conducive business environment and investment climate should be enhanced," said Low.
He added that better stakeholders’ engagement would also smoothen the implementation of policy change to avoid flip-flops and remove uncertainty for businesses and investors.