“Malaysia should learn from Singapore,” the Financial Times (FT) said in an op-ed.
“It should show zero tolerance for corruption, starting with Prime Minister Najib Razak, who must clear his name or step down.” It should also manage its populace’s ethnic relations better.
Lee Kuan Yew may have cried fifty years ago at separation, yet half a century later, it is the Malaysians who are crying, FT claims.
For one, Singapore is far more prosperous economically with a per capita gross domestic product of US$56,000, compared with Malaysia’s which stands at US$11,000.
While Singaporeans may still feel something amiss in their country’s brand of “authoritarian-guided development,” FT claims that their difficulties pale in comparison with those of Malaysians who are seeing their country go through its “worst political crisis in years.”
“Malaysia has been undergoing a long-term meltdown in which the political, religious and ethnic compact that has underpinned the country since independence groans under its own rotten contradictions,” the respected economic publication adds.
While the People’s Action Party can no longer claim to be infallible, it is still widely regarded as honest and competent.
“The same cannot be said for Umno,” FT points out, with Najib embroiled in a corruption scandal linked to the debt-laden state investment fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad.
Seeming to cast doubt on Najib’s explanation that the US$680 million which he received in his personal bank accounts was a political donation, FT points to the general sense of distrust which the Malaysian public has in Umno.
“[B]oth countries have potentially combustible ethnic mixes,” it notes, but “Singapore has done better at forging a sense of fairness and national unity, through language, meritocracy and incorruptibility.”
Malaysia’s “positive discrimination, has by contrast created a crony capitalist state,” it claims.
Apart from eradicating widespread corruption, the Malaysian government must strive to forge policies of national unity, not ones of the division based on religion and ethnicity.
“Malaysia must stop the rot, or slip disastrously backwards,” FT warns.