More concern over economy than corruption, analysts say on govt’s anti-graft drive

They say it would be better for Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim to focus on issues like the cost of living and ringgit value.

(Malaysia Now) – Analysts are predicting a lack of traction for the government’s anti-corruption drive, saying the people are more concerned about the economy and cost of living amid the ringgit’s drop in value against the US dollar.

“The people want to know what Anwar will do to restore the economy,” political observer Azizi Safar said, referring to Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim who is also the finance minister.

“They also want to know what he will do to bring down the cost of living and the price of daily necessities. For them, this is the more important issue.”

Anwar, whose government has been seen as cracking down on corruption since taking over late last year, said on June 12 that those who steal will be put in jail regardless of party or status.

“The nation is rich, but there have been huge losses, so what we need to do is stop this plundering of the people’s wealth.

“It doesn’t matter if (you) wear religious headgear, a coat or anything else. Whether (you are) a Tan Sri or Tun or from any party for that matter, if you steal money, we will shove you into my (old) cell in Sungai Buloh (prison). It’s still vacant,” he said.

Several members of the opposition have also entered the cross hairs, including former prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin who was charged with corruption earlier this year.

On the ground, however, concerns have been raised about the cost of living and the performance of the ringgit, which fell to RM4.60 against the US dollar on June 20 and has been on a downward trend since January.

Reports meanwhile said that foreign investors had sold their shares for nine weeks in a row.

Azizi, the former executive secretary of Penang Barisan Nasional, said the government had yet to implement a targeted subsidy programme despite promising to resolve the matter within two weeks.

“Anwar’s talk of fighting corruption is being seen as the political rhetoric of an election campaign that never ends,” he said.

Analyst Azmil Tayeb meanwhile said there had been no significant changes in terms of the economy.

“Anwar should be bringing up the government’s economic achievements in his tours so that the people know what his administration has done,” he said.