Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Anifah: I listen and welcome feedback including from biased commentators

Secara Rawak

I serve as a Minister in a Government that listens and welcomes feedback. For this reason, I seek views from people from all walks of life – from my constituents in Kimanis, to foreigners, to businesses, and even from biased commentators. Dato’ Dennis Ignatius falls in the last category.

I read his rant contained in his latest blog entitled “GE14: Last Chance for Change” dated 21 March 2018. It is in the same vein as his previous blogs. Full of wild but unsubstantiated accusations, based on anger but devoid of facts, opinions masquerading as facts.

Let me take a few examples quoting directly from his blog. “They (the government) have been extraordinarily incompetent and reckless fiscally, forcing our nation into levels of debt that were unheard of before”. I want to point out that our fiscal deficit has been reduced by more than half from 6.7 percent in 2009 to 3 percent in 2017.

“And while Kuala Lumpur has more millionaires than Abu Dhabi, 90 percent of rural, mostly Malay households, have zero savings”. That Kuala Lumpur has more millionaires than Abu Dhabi is not surprising. Our economy is doing extraordinarily well, and Malaysia’s population is 31 million compared to the UAE’s 1.4 million (of the total population of 9.2 million, 7.8 million are foreigners). As for the 90 percent figure, this hardly makes sense.

Any worker in Malaysia would have at least either an EPF account or a pension. Furthermore, the government is also trying to improve financial education.

“The majority of young workers cannot earn enough to live decently”. I wonder where he received this information. I also question his use of terms such as “majority” and “live decently”. We all recognise that unless one is blessed with wealthy parents, all young workers face challenging situations, but for many young Malaysians, our quiet heroes, they continue with the business of life, improving themselves and our country.

I could go on, but in all honesty, I have a job to do. Spending too much time on blogs such as these distracts the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from its important job of defending the nation’s interest. Were I to spend too much time on it, I would not do justice to the very many hardworking, creative and patriotic people at Wisma Putra whom I have known and cherished in all the years I have had the honour to serve as “FM” – Foreign Minister.

Let me tell you Dato’ Dennis – your untoward criticisms of the government, your constant griping and whining of the good old days (viewed through rose-tinted glasses), are not at all well received by officers at Wisma Putra. They are proud of Wisma Putra’s achievements, as I am of all of them.

They are proud of the investments flowing into the country, which are due to high level visits, especially the Prime Minister’s. I want to point out that between 2011 and 2017, RM1.8 trillion worth of investments were recorded, surpassing the initial National Transformation Programme (NTP) Roadmap’s target of RM1.4 trillion.

They are proud that under Malaysia’s chairmanship, the ASEAN Community was established in 2015 and that ASEAN continues to play a pivotal role in the region despite very many strategic challenges.

They are proud that, unlike the past, Malaysia’s relations with our neighbours and the major powers are an at all time high, enabling us to derive economic benefits and to play a more active and constructive role in strategic affairs.

They are proud that despite having already served as non-permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, Malaysia garnered 187 out of 194 votes in the elections in 2014, guaranteeing our membership in 2015 – 2016. This is proof and validation of the high esteem that the entire international community holds for our country.

Dato’ Dennis tries to present his arguments as a call to idealism. In fact, to the contrary, it is a call to naiveté. On Tun Dr Mahathir’s u-turns, he argues that there “is every indication that he will honour his commitment to ‘reformasi’; it is his last hurrah and he wants to get it right”. This is incredible in its naiveté and shallowness. There is nothing to show that this is the case; Tun Dr Mahathir only wants to give the indication that the wrongs of the past were not his doings – he was merely following advice. He has given no indication that he would change. Is this the attitude of a reformed man, committed to “reformasi”?

Dato’ Dennis also argues that “in any case, Anwar, Mat Sabu and Lim Kit Siang will be there to ensure that no one hijacks the reform agenda”. All this means is that were the opposition to win, all their time and energies will be dedicated to check one another, guaranteeing instability and chaos for five years. This would certainly happen, since there is nothing in Tun Dr Mahathir’s career to suggest that when in power, he will do anything except what he wants.

If Dato’ Dennis was still in service and this analysis is included in his political report, that report would be thrown immediately into the garbage can; his judgement, credibility and objectivity would also be questioned.

I agree with Dato’ Dennis on one thing though – the opposition faces an uphill task. But it is due to their own incompetence in managing the states under their control, the shambles and chaos in the opposition coalition, as well as the Rakyat’s support for the government, knowing full well the government’s competence, good international standing and commitment to improving the welfare of all Malaysians, including naysayers and prophets of doom such as Dato’ Dennis Ignatius.

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Malaysia

26 March 2018
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Malaysia

Datuk Sri Anifah Aman is the Minister of Foreign Affairs


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