Soi Lek says Economist wrong about Najib’s reforms

(The Malaysian Insider) – Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek today dismissed a report by The Economist characterising Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s reforms as half-baked, saying the prime minister’s political and economic transformation plans were being carried out at good pace. (READ THE ECONOMIST NEWS REPORT HERE).

In his defence, Dr Chua (picture) pointed out that Najib was the first prime minister to “give away power” by pledging to abolish the much-criticised Internal Security Act (ISA).

“Everybody talked about abolishing the ISA but it was Najib who removed the ISA,” he told reporters at SMJK Chong Hwa here this afternoon.

“And that effectively removed his authority to detain people without trial. It’s not easy for a leader to give power away like that.”

Dr Chua said Najib, who heads Umno, has also made the Malay ruling party more democratic by increasing the number of division delegates who can vote in party presidential polls.

Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s acquittal last month, despite talk that Najib would influence the trial judge to convict the former, also showed that the prime minister believed in an independent judiciary, Dr Chua added.

The former health minister, however, conceded that there were still “a lot of weaknesses” in the delivery of Najib’s reforms, noting some resistance to change from within Umno and other Barisan Nasional (BN) component parties.

“Like all political parties, there are also considerations within the party,” he said.

Dr Chua nonetheless took pains to stress that the prime minister had already set out a “clear direction” for a better future and had the political will to realise his ambitious reforms.

The Economist suggested in a report published yesterday that Najib may be courting electoral disaster because he has introduced just enough reforms to alienate his own party but not enough to convince the centre ground.

The influential newsmagazine pointed out in the scathing report that the “well-intentioned” Umno president was at odds with his own party, where the concept of Malay privileges was entrenched at divisional level.