Ex-finance minister says poor education, graft, inequality among ailments Malaysia faces

News site The Malaysian Insight reported that Mr Daim compared Malaysian schools unfavourably against those in Singapore.
News site The Malaysian Insight reported that Mr Daim compared Malaysian schools unfavourably against those in Singapore. PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

KUALA LUMPUR - Former finance minister Daim Zainuddin has advised an opposition-led youth group that a rotting education system, corruption and inequality are among the ailments Malaysia faces today.

According to news site The Malaysian Insight, the influential business magnate who served during former premier Mahathir Mohamad's leadership from 1981 to 2003 was addressing a closed-door session of Malaysia Baru, a pressure group founded by Afif Bahardin, deputy youth chief of Parti Keadilan Rakyat.

Tun Mahathir left ruling party Umno in 2016 and is now an opposition leader in Pakatan Harapan, an opposition pact that includes his party Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, PKR, Democratic Action Party and Parti Amanah Negara. Leaders from Pakatan Harapan were reportedly in the audience.

Quoting an unnamed source who attended the dialogue, TMI reported that Mr Daim compared Malaysian schools unfavourably against those in Singapore, which he said had the best teachers and facilities.

"He was also very concerned with the rot in the education system, as he said kids were growing up not knowing that corruption is wrong," said the participant. "He said we needed to fix the education system as it was an investment in the country."

A former treasurer of Umno, Mr Daim was widely seen as responsible for picking and grooming a new breed of Bumiputera entrepreneurs in the 1980s.

The low-key billionaire reportedly urged the audience to uphold the principles of the Federal Constitution - the foundation of the country's multi-racial society - and reform the country's justice system.

"He basically said he was of Malaysia lama (old Malaysia) and the new Malaysia needed new leaders with a new way of doing things," said dialogue moderator Eekmal Ahmad, as quoted by TMI.

According to an unnamed source, Mr Daim said that Pakatan Harapan stood a fighting chance at Malaysia's next general election, which is widely expected to be held within months.

Mr Eekmal told TMI that Mr Daim also felt that a majority of Malaysians are not benefitting from the country's economic growth.

"The country's growth is not filtering down to the masses, as everyone feels that things are becoming more and more unaffordable," said Mr Eekmal.