Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has posted FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) on his blog in an unprecedented move to silence questions about his leadership by critics such as former premier Mahathir Mohamad.
The FAQs, while not naming Dr Mahathir, responded to allegations raised by the latter concerning the murder of Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu, debt-ridden state investor 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), the so-called Crooked Bridge to Singapore and cash handouts to poor Malaysians (BR1M).
Here's a summary of the 13 FAQs:
1. Allegations regarding the Altantuya Issue
This case has been investigated, tried and concluded in the Federal Court. It is a nine year-old case without end as it continues to be "recycled" by the Opposition.
I have stated many times that I have nothing to do with this issue, and even sworn an oath on the Quran in a Mosque.
The people must take into account that in politics, many issues keep being played up, and this is one of them. It became hot at a time when I was PM in waiting and the Opposition needed a way to prevent me from advancing.
Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, the former PM, received the full investigation report from the police and has personally confirmed that I am not involved.
2. Claims that the international media has labelled Malaysia as the 'Most Corrupted Country'
I am aware of such comments. However, these headlines are derived from surveys based on perceptions. Most of us rely on more empirical measurements that are used by reliable independent groups. An example is the Transparency International Index. In the index, Malaysia is currently ranked no 50 out of 175 countries, improving 3 spots from the year before.
I find it troubling that someone who used to continually criticise the international media as being biased now suddenly believes and takes their arguments as the truth. Remember this veteran leader once went on record to describe the western media as 'biased' in describing their administration.
Recently Transparency International reiterated that Malaysia's corruption is under control, and the country's growing foreign investment is proof of it. The 2015 Index of Economic Freedom ranked Malaysia as the 31st freest economy among 178 countries, with a score of 70.8 points. It is an increase of 1.2 points since last year, with improvements in freedom from corruption, business freedom, and trade freedom outweighing a decline in labour freedom and the management of government spending.
3. Allegations that BR1M is a bribe
BR1M is a social safety net recommended by the National Fiscal Committee, which comprises of officials from the Economic Planning Unit (EPU), Bank Negara and the Ministry of Finance. They are mostly economics experts, not politicians. Such a social security net is being implemented in many other countries. Some call it "unemployment benefit", which targets the unemployed. However, BR1M targets the low income. Both, in essence, are a form of social security allowance as they target vulnerable groups.
We aim to rationalise our current blanket subsidy to one that targets the needy. Everyone (including the rich and foreigners) benefit from blanket subsidies. By abolishing blanket subsidies, we generate savings that will then be channelled to those in the low-income group. And we will be able to give these deserving groups more than what they would have received as a result of the blanket subsidy scheme. BR1M also compensates the needy for the any additional expenditure that they might incur as a result of GST.
4. Allegations against 1MDB
It is unfair for certain politicians to convict the government in the court of public opinion way before the actual facts are laid down by lawful authorities, namely the Auditor-General and the bi-partisan Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
We are expecting the release of the preliminary report by Auditor General very soon. In the mean time, please do not speculate and form conclusions without the information that will be laid out by the Auditor General, who will provide a detailed report into 1MDB's finances.
We all want detailed answers but it is only proper to let the auditors do their job and tell us clearly what the situation really is. If we pre-empt it, we would be undermining them, as many others have done. This is not the proper procedure.
5. Allegations over the 'Crooked bridge' - Claim: We dare not build a bridge on our own land without approval from Singapore
Our Attorney General's Chambers (AGC) has advised the government regarding the legality of any modification to the Johor causeway under international law. AGC has advised that pipes within the Johor causeway are subject to the Johor-Singapore water agreement (1961, 1962), which outlines that said pipes belong to the Public Utilities Board (PUB) of Singapore, and that any modification of pipes must be approved by PUB.
There is no question of whether we have enough courage to go up against Singapore. The bridge was not built because Malaysia is committed to adhering to all agreements it has signed. Any such bridge, if built in place of the Johor causeway without the express permission from Singapore's PUB, would be in breach of property rights under international law.
We have improved relations with our southern neighbours to a point where we are now engaged in projects and ventures that are a win-win proposition for both countries. To increase the connectivity between Malaysia and Singapore, we are now building a High Speed Rail and even mooting the idea of a friendship bridge that will not breach international law and see us build something that both countries want.
6. Claim: "Najib did worse as Umno President compared to Pak Lah (former PM Abdullah Badawi)"
In the last general elections, Barisan Nasional won 11 state governments compared to 9 in the previous GE. We regained Kedah, maintained Terengganu and solidified our position in Perak. Umno won more seats in GE13 when compared to GE12.
To fully turn around BN, I need time...the impact of the Transformation Programme that is already happening will assure the people that the BN-led government is able to deliver on its promises.
7. Claim: (Najib is) ignoring the Economic Planning Unit (EPU), setting up a new agency to plan the development of the country
I formed Pemandu as a steering body that oversees the transformation programme that covers not only economic aspects under Economic Transformation Programme (ETP), but non-economic aspects under the Government Transformation Programme (GTP), which naturally does not fall under the purview of Economic Planning Unit, which is an economic body.
I put enormous importance in the EPU as they are key to ensuring the success of the ETP. I even appointed one of the most capable CEOs in the country to head the EPU.
8. Claim: The services, expertise and experience of the civil servants are no longer needed
The civil service have always been and forever will be at the centre of the country's administration and operations. The civil service runs the country on a day-to-day basis. They play an integral part in our system. Just because a few individuals and parties are appointed to assist does not mean their experiences are no longer needed.
This is simply an unfair comment that lacks objectivity. Assist Yes, take over NO. There have been numerous programmes implemented to continuously empower civil servants, increase synergy and the quality of delivery to the people, which can be seen in the National Blue Ocean Strategy initiative.
9. Claim: To win back Chinese and Indians, Najib has ignored affirmative action
This is not accurate at all. I have always prioritised the progress of the Bumiputera and under my administration, I have created the Bumiputera Empowerment Program, which is managed by TERAJU to ensure that the Bumiputera Economic Empowerment Agenda becomes a national agenda to be implemented effectively. As of today, TERAJU has provided business opportunities, business financing, development of human capital, private investment and the creation of equity exceeding RM 47.95 billion.
As Prime Minister, I am also very supportive of the Chinese, Indian and all other communities that make our nation great. But it is definitely not at the expense of neglecting the Bumiputera. My primary focus is to increase the economic pie, so there is more to go around for ALL races. As long as I can ensure growth in the economy, there will be social mobility, and all races will be able to move up the economic ladder.
10. Claims that BN will lose at the next General Elections
If we are united, and stop the infighting, we will succeed. If we focus on constructive rather than destructive politics, we will succeed.
A clear plan has already been set in motion. We have started to see the fruits of our efforts. Our GDP has been growing around 5-6 per cent since I took over and we are well on our way to achieving a developed economy by 2020.
We are facing a setback at the moment due to the fall in crude oil price which weakened the value of the Ringgit. These factors are outside our control. Nevertheless, we have been able to persevere due to our strong fundamentals, reserves accumulated in recent years and diversified revenue streams rather than being over-reliant on oil.
Improvements are happening before our very eyes. But I know that many would of course rather look at the bad and continue to harp on never ending rumours, half-truths and spins. They continue to believe that the 'end is nigh' and that the Opposition will win. These are claims that have been made over and over again in the last five decades and yet we are still here.
11. Claim that 1Malaysia is the same as Malaysian Malaysia
The 1Malaysia programme is a call for unity. The most important difference with the "Malaysian Malaysia" concept is that 1Malaysia explicitly accepts the Malaysian Constitution in its entirety, particularly all the provisions listed under article 153. "Malaysian Malaysia" was originally a concept opposed to article 153, and its modern use has been ambiguous at best.
Had 1Malaysia been exactly like Malaysian Malaysia, there would not have been a Majlis Permerkasaan Bumiputera, TERAJU and others. Had 1Malaysia been exactly like Malaysian Malaysia, there would not have been the New Economic Model (NEM), a framework to increase inclusivity in the economy but at the same time empower the Bumiputera community to be more competitive.
12. Claim that crime has increased since the Internal Security Act was abolished
This claim is untrue. Last year alone, the police managed to reduce crime rates in the country by 12.6 per cent. Violent crime in the country has also dropped by 13.4 per cent. The Royal Malaysian police have been working hard to ensure that all Malaysians are safe from all forms of crime and violence.
As a matter of fact, 8,868 individuals were detained and 280 weapons were seized in the recently launched Ops Cantas Khas. When the ISA was first launched, its sole purpose was to fight the communist insurgency and today it has become irrelevant.
To ensure that violent extremism has no place in Malaysia, the government has introduced the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2015, which has been passed by Parliament. This act will combat new challenges, including the rise of the Islamic State militant group and will not be used for political ends. Only those who raise the threat of violent extremism can be detained under this new act.
13. Allegations regarding the government aircraft
It is standard practice across the world for most leaders to use official jets, not for luxury, but for efficiency in carrying out their duties. The aircraft's interior is configured such that meetings and discussions can be held on board and that the work of state can continue even during the flight. Therefore the question does not arise as to whether or not a country should have an official jet.
We must not be taken in by the opposition propaganda that the government was wasting money on a new jet. What they failed to explain was that the jet was purchased to replace a 16-year old aircraft that was becoming a safety hazard. Moreover, it is also the official aircraft used by the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong, providing all the more reason for us not to compromise on safety and security.