02 August 2017
As Malaysians cheer Kuala Lumpur’s shiny new 21-billion-ringgit (HK$38 billion) metro link, Prime Minister Najib Razak seems to be doing his best to extract political mileage.
But his championing of the project as a success of the government’s ‘Malay first’ policy could prove disquieting for the Chinese investors and firms whose infrastructure projects are seen as crucial to Malaysia’s fragile economy.
In his speech at the launch event on July 17, Najib said the bumiputra policy was successfully implemented in the MRT project because “only those properly qualified were given the opportunity”.
“We did not give to our cronies,” the 64-year-old leader said, quipping that he was told the new network was superior to the metro systems in Hong Kong, London and New York and “at par with Singapore”.
Rashaad Ali, a Malaysian politics expert, said “Najib’s statements are to be expected as he shores up support for his Malay core voter base”.
“He is essentially trying to indicate that he takes care of and prioritises Malay interests, using the megaproject of the MRT as an example. Rhetoric from other ministers also indicates the same line of thinking, whereby the people, especially Malays, should be grateful to their government,” said Rashaad, a research analyst at Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies.
IDSS / Online / Print
Last updated on 11/08/2017