What Anwar finds disconcerting about globalisation


Globalisation is a familiar concept for Asians, but what Malaysian ruling party leader Anwar Ibrahim finds disconcerting about it is the growing sense of lethargy and the dehumanisation in society it has created today.

"There is a deficit in democracy. There is a trend towards dehumanisation of men and women," Datuk Seri Anwar told a dialogue at the Milken Institute Asia Summit yesterday.

"There is a lack of concern other than normal pious platitude and rhetoric on inequality and grinding poverty," he added.

Mr Anwar said society had a responsibility to address the greater inequality resulting from advancements in technology.

"I am not suggesting that we should do away with them, but I am just merely stating the fact that unless we the elites - the business elite, the political elite - grasp these stark realities and address them, we will never succeed," he said.

Mr Anwar also noted that there is a problem of "growing fascism and jingoism" in the West and in Malaysia. "But I believe that reason will prevail... I survived because I trust in the wisdom of the masses."

At the dialogue at the Four Seasons Hotel, moderated by Bloomberg Television's Ms Haslinda Amin, the Malaysian politician reiterated a point that he made previously - for Malaysia to succeed, it has to attract the best minds, regardless of race.

"Politics is not just about power. It is about integrity, about legacy, about defending the rights of your people," he said.

Companies have a role to play in governance too, he stressed, citing the current haze. "Once it is established, either by the Indonesian authorities or Malaysia or Singapore, that these companies are involved, then they should be hauled up and be accountable," he said.


"If the burning has happened, then at least provide enough resources to help ease the problem, and not leave it entirely to the governments. And government also cannot be in a state of denial.

"(It cannot) blame God, you know, for the forest fires. But you have been blaming God for the last two decades. God cannot be that cruel.

"Millions are suffering and you can't just say, 'We have to study and make necessary measures so they don't recur the next year.' "

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 20, 2019, with the headline 'What Anwar finds disconcerting about globalisation'. Print Edition | Subscribe