Addressing more than 100 journalists during a dialogue session in Singapore on Tuesday, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak defended the country's recently unveiled New Economic Model. The plan, aimed at steering Malaysia towards becoming a high-income economy, has received criticism in some sectors for eroding its deeply entrenched affirmative action policy towards the bumiputra. Groups such as Perkasa have emerged who vehemently oppose this overhaul.
The reforms come after the Barisan Nasional suffered a rude awakening at the last general elections in 2008. While seemingly confident in dealing with the predicted backlash, Najib admits that this controversial move has put him 'on the line', with the risk of being ousted from UMNO. This is especially so with the recent elimination of a complex quota system which protected the interests of the party president.
Citing that the new approach to Malaysia's affirmative action is for it to be more "market-friendly, transparent, merit-based, and needs-based", Najib believes that the new model is an appropriate response to the evident changes the public wanted.
Mr Najib and Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong are expected to meet for a retreat in Singapore next month to discuss how to further strengthen bilateral relations.
Najib: People Support Reforms [The Straits Times, 7 Apr 2010]
Malaysian PM Najib Defends Country's New Economic Model [ChannelNewsAsia, 7 Apr 2010]