Leadership and policies matter, not strong mandate, says Daim

Anwar’s policies, red tape cause of Malays lagging in business, says Daim

Getting a strong mandate is not the prerequisite for a good government, what is more important is the leadership and the policies, said Malaysia's former economic czar Tun Daim Zainuddin (pic).

Daim cited examples such as British Prime Minister David Cameron, who does not have a strong mandate.

In the 2010 general election, Cameron's Conservative party won 306 seats in a hung parliament. He eventually formed a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats.

It is the first coalition government in the United Kingdom since World War 2 while Cameron became the youngest British prime minister since the Earl of Liverpool more than 200 years ago.

Daim said former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard also did not have a strong mandate when her Labour party had a hung result in the 2010 general election.

"But it did not stop Gillard from forming a minority government with the support of other political MPs," Daim told business news portal Kinibiz in an exclusive interview.

"In the end, it is not about the mandate, it is about leadership and your policies," Daim added.

Daim served as Malaysia's finance minister on two occasions, from 1984 to 1991, and from 1999 to 2001.

Daim said leadership and policies were more important than a strong mandate as, in Malaysia, people wanted peace and stability.

"if there are agent provocateurs out there, they must be nipped in the bud. There are sufficient laws to handle this."

"But any delays or procrastination will result in people taking advantage," Daim told Kinibiz.

He described PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as a weak leader who has never been able to solve any problem.

Daim said the "Kajang move" was rubbish and a complete waste of public funds.

"Apparently, Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim has reportedly said that he is not going to resign," Daim told Kinibiz.

"Anwar has not even been elected in Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), but yet he wields so much power and influence."

"He decides what to do and the rest of the party leaders, who are elected to their positions, keep quiet," Daim said.

He said Anwar was someone who wanted to be in the limelight all the time, irrespective of whether it was for good or bad news.

"Whether the media praises or criticises Anwar, it is also news for him. He is happy as long as he is in the news," Daim said.

On Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, Daim said the grassroots and the rakyat were united in wanting the same thing from Putrajaya, which was strong leadership.

"Based on the feedback which I have personally received, many people feel that Najib, as the country's premier, is not strong or decisive enough."

Trying to get support by raising and highlighting religious issues is silly. We have always lived in peace and the question of religion has never arisen.

He said Malaysia was a multi-racial, multi-cultural and multi-religious country, so there were many sensitivities in the country.

"As a leader, you must know how to handle that and you need a good team to advise you on how to handle these issues as you cannot do it alone," Daim told Kinibiz.

"You also need a strong Cabinet and people who understand Malaysia's history, who can anticipate problems instead of merely reacting to it."

"Good planning will indicate to the rakyat which direction you are going to take and if people think it is a good direction to take, they will support it."

Daim was critical of Putrajaya's weakness in dealing with inflation and the agent provocateurs who were seeking to foment religious and racial discord in Malaysia.

"For the first time in history, both locals and foreigners are looking seriously at the political situation in Malaysia," Daim told Kinibiz.

"Everyone wants to know what is happening in Malaysia. If you see foreigners writing about Malaysia, it means they are beginning to doubt the country's stability."

"What everyone wants is a strong leadership but at the moment, the perception among many is that there isn't one," Daim told Kinibiz.

Daim said contrary to interpretation, he was a strong supporter of the government. However, misconceptions arose when he criticised Putrajaya.

"The rakyat wants to see, they want to feel comfortable with Putrajaya. But I feel that the majority of the rakyat feels that something is not right somewhere."

However, Daim said, it was for Putrajaya to make the assessment, not him. He said there were many areas where Putrajaya had shown weakness.

"The rakyat want to know why Putrajaya chose to make most of their inflation-inducing announcements towards the end of last year."

"December is a critical month for many Malaysians because they need money for their children's school necessities and those type of things."

Therefore, Daim said, the consequences and planning of making those price hike announcements towards the end of the year had not been well-thought.

Daim also wondered why the "Allah" issue was being played up considering it had never been a problem in Sabah and Sarawak.

"Why would you suddenly bring this issue to peninsular Malaysia and make it a big problem?" Daim said.

He also dismissed claims that Islam was under siege in Malaysia, saying that it was the politicians who liked to highlight religious issues.

"Trying to get support by raising and highlighting religious issues is silly. We have always lived in peace and the question of religion has never arisen." – February 25, 2014.