GEORGE TOWN, Jan 23 — Development would be hollow if it came without social justice or recognition of Malaysia’s multiculturalism, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
Narrow religious views and unhealthy rivalry among the country’s racial communities would also foment dangerous intolerance and extremism, he warned.
On racism, Anwar pointed out that people do not get a say about the colour of their skin or religion into which they were born.
“We do not choose to be Malay, Chinese, Indian, Sabahan or Kadazan, so, we have to accept this as a strength to unite all of us,” he said in his speech at the Penang chief minister’s Chinese New Year Open House event here.
He said Malaysians must be bold in rejecting racial discrimination and corruption in order for the country to rise and achieve success.
“If we succeed in doing this, I am confident that Malaysia will achieve excellence like never before,” he said.
He commended Penang for focusing on its economic growth while simultaneously emphasising social justice, especially for the poor and B40.
“This is what I’ve stressed on before this, distribution of wealth must be balanced where more needs to be done for the lower income group and the B40, and this is balanced and fair development which is long being done by Penang,” he said.
The PM added that the care and compassion shown by the state government in Penang has made a difference, saying it embodied the values of fairness and unity.
Penang would not be where it is today had it not prioritised cultivating a clean and just environment without corruption, he explained.
Consequently, Anwar said he did not want Kuala Lumpur to be known only for its architectural monuments such as the Twin Towers.
“I want it to be known for its variety of shops, warong, hawker centres that are clean and nice, this is so that the people can live well,” he said.
He said this is the basic understanding of a “Madani” society.
However, he added that the country’s economic development would fail if corruption and abuse of power in the system were not curtailed.
He said there is an understanding that commission and “charity” in elections is allowed and not corruption.
“This understanding is clearly detrimental to the country and the people because donation for charity is okay but donation for votes in the general election is corruption,” he said.
Anwar said he is confident that Malaysia will rise to become a developed nation in this region in future.
“The condition is that we have to stop political leaders, civil servants or enforcement bodies from the habit of robbing the nation’s riches,” he said.
He said he will no longer tolerate those who use “contract” and “projects” as opportunities to seek wealth that do not belong to them.