At global forum, PM Anwar touts Islamic economy’s potential to rival ‘unbridled capitalism’

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, May 28 — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim today urged Islamic economic actors to turn Islamic economics and finances into a genuine alternative to an “unbridled capitalist system”, which he panned as being overtly materialistic.

Addressing international delegates at this year’s Global Forum on Islamic Economics and Finances, Anwar said there is an urgent need to transform the Islamic economy into an equitable and inclusive system, as he called for a shift in mindset that looks at the economy merely as a way to maximise profits.

“The time has come to chart a reinvigorated and reformed course within the Islamic economy towards a future defined by greater inclusivity, equality, opportunity, and shared prosperity,” Anwar said in a speech to inaugurate the three-day programme.

“One which no longer accedes to archaic economic orthodoxies, which prioritise growth and material pursuits over the quality of life, while glorifying profit maximisation and treating labour as a commodity rather than with compassion.”

Today's forum is a continuation of the 15th International Conference on Islamic Economics and Finance (ICIEF) held here in February.

The ICIEF is a platform for some of the world's top policymakers to tackle pressing issues affecting Islamic countries but it rarely became the catalyst for reform at a systemic level, which critics of the forum blame on the lack of political will among government leaders.

Anwar said Islamic finance ecosystem needs to evolve, and he called for more focus on finance that is built on moralistic values and equal opportunities.

“The Islamic finance ecosystem needs to evolve progressively, placing greater emphasis on value-based finance, transcending the profit-driven motives or to embrace a higher purpose where wealth is not just accumulated among the few but circulated to uplift communities, and investment carries a balanced promise of prosperity,” he said.

“In light of this, it is imperative that we work together to address common challenges and create opportunities for economic participation and upward mobility,” he added.

Malaysia is one of the world's top sukuk (Islamic bonds) issuers by value and is considered a global leader in the halal industry, estimated to be worth US$838 billion worldwide.