Can Mahathir truly deliver a New Malaysia for all?

opinion May 16, 2018 01:00

By Sin Chew Daily
Asia News Network

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has announced his partial cabinet line-up.

In addition to naming Democratic Action Party (DAP) secretary-general Lim Guan Eng as finance minister, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia president Muhyiddin Yassin as home affairs minister and Amanah president Mohamad Sabu as defence minister, the prime minister also announced the formation of a “Council of Elders” comprising five very experienced financial experts.

Headed by former finance minister Tun Daim Zainuddin, the council includes also Malaysia’s “sugar king” Robert Kuok, former Bank Negara governor Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz, former Petronas president Tan Sri Mohd Hassan Marican and economist Jomo Kwame Sundaram.

The public generally perceive Mahathir’s announcement as a message prioritising economy and internal security and the prime minister has therefore named the chiefs of finance, home affairs and defence ministries first so that they can start their work soonest.

Notably, Malaysia has also seen its first ethnic Chinese finance minister in 44 years. Lim follows Sir Henry Lee Hau Shik (1957-59) and Tan Siew Sin (1959-74).

Meanwhile, Robert Kuok was recently accused by some United Malays National Organisation (Umno) leaders of funding DAP in a bid to topple the Malay regime.

 It was rumoured several years ago that he intended to relocate his core businesses of sugar, flour and palm oil overseas as a consequence of unfair treatment from influential Umno leaders. 

Kuok’s return and his acceptance of Mahathir’s appointment will invariably boost market confidence.

Such positive developments following the electoral victory of Pakatan Harapan have been very encouraging for Chinese Malaysians, who for so many years have yearned for a new government. That said, in no way should we see this as a victory for Chinese Malaysians.

Blinded by joy

We have seen in recent days sarcastic and humiliating social media posts claiming that it was a thumping triumph for Chinese Malaysians.

Overwhelmed and almost blinded by the joy following the stunning victory by Pakatan Harapan (PH) last week, these people ignorantly crossed the line in an attempt to test ethnic and religious sensitivities.

This is extremely dangerous and could potentially accentuate existing social conflicts, putting the racial harmony, mutual understanding and national unity that have begun to surface to great peril.

Fortunately we have also seen a number of foresighted individuals trying very hard to calm the uncontrolled passion by urging PH supporters to refrain from making potentially destructive remarks as, we cherish and treasure a New Malaysia that has come by under difficult circumstances.

We should just wait patiently for the new government to lead us to a clean, efficient, economically vibrant and harmonious country.

Isn’t this the New Malaysia we have been dreaming of these past few years?