KUALA LUMPUR, 24 Oct 2008: Datuk Seri Najib Razak is confident that elements in the National Economic Policy (NEP), which ended in 1990 and was replaced by the National Development Policy in 1991, will gradually be removed.
“I’m working towards gradual liberalisation (of the NEP) as and when the bumiputeras feel they are confident. And I’m glad to say that more and more of them are confident about competing now, of doing well globally and of course, domestically.
“In the not too distant future, we will see elements of the NEP being replaced,” the deputy prime minister said in a recorded interview on Bloomberg TV’s programme, Bloomberg Voices, aired here today.
He said this in response to the programme’s anchor, Haslinda Amin, who wanted to know his views on the NEP.
“My position is there should be gradual removal of the elements of the NEP.
“And I believe that the needs and legitimate grievances of every community, of all Malaysians in the country must be addressed. It must be seen that we are serious about solving their problems,” he said in the 30-minute programme.
On his vision for Malaysia as the country’s upcoming leader, Najib said he hoped to take the country to the next level of development with emphasis not just on physical development but also on transforming Malaysia.
“Not only in terms of GDP growth but we want to build a stronger Malaysia, stronger institutions, stronger values and people, and generally manage the greater expectations of Malaysians in terms of a more progressive, matured and sophisticated society,” he added.
Touching on civil liberties, Najib said society had become more sophisticated and concerned about civil liberties, about the nature of democracy and “we have to address that.”
“We can talk about the Internal Security Act, for example. It’s a piece of pre-emptive legislation in the context of combating terrorism, in the context of preventing something ugly from happening, whether it’s an act of terrorism, whether it’s a racial clash or something like that,” he said.
“And at the end of the day, whatever laws you want to apply in this country have to be predicated on strong popular support for the laws, otherwise it will be counterproductive,” Najib said.
On rejuvenating Umno, he said it was a huge challenge but “I think Umno is up to the task. We have to grow through this whole process of understanding where we are today and where we fared badly in the past elections.
“There must be this political will and desire to change within Umno. I don’t think we can expect people to look at us in more favourable terms unless we change, we rectify our weaknesses, we project a better image.
“I’ve come up very openly to say that if we do not change, the people will change us,” he said.
Asked about the spilt in the party, the Umno deputy president said that every time there was a party election there would be people contesting and there would be divergent views.
“But after the contest is over, generally within Umno there is spirit to close ranks. And I hope that will happen and I think it will happen,” he said.
On whether there was a need to get a fresh mandate, Najib said there was no need to hold an election since the current Barisan Nasional government had the mandate to continue for the next five years.
“We intend to continue and intend to deliver and at the end of the period, the people can judge us.”
On his involvement in politics, Najib said he had always been interested in politics, but his late father, Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, did not want him to be in politics.
“He wanted me to be an accountant,” he said, adding that when his father died in office in 1976, he, at 22, had to make a crucial decision.
“I decided to jump into the deep end of the pool. Either I swim or sink. I had to make that choice and I made that choice. And I like to make a very big distinction that I entered politics after my father passed away. There’s a big difference,” he said.
Najib said that after being in the government for more than two decades, he felt that his contribution to educational reforms while holding the post of Education Minister from 1995 to 1999, and the modernisation of the armed forces were a significant part of his contribution to the country.
“I’m quite pleased with what I have achieved so far,” he said, adding that his concept of leadership was performance-based and that he would like to be seen as a transformational leader. — Bernama