PUTRAJAYA, Dec 31 — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim reiterated tonight his pledge to make economic revival and improving living standards the top priority of his unity government, in a special address delivered at a low-key New Year’s Eve event at the majestic Putra Mosque here where thousands of Muslims gathered to usher in 2023 by asking God’s forgiveness.
Anwar, also the finance minister, said his administration would strive to restore investor confidence in the country that is crucial to draw funding and create high-paying jobs.
The pledge comes amid concern that the PKR president and Pakatan Harapan chairman could be forced to compromise on certain reform promises in an attempt to keep his unity government intact. Anwar, a self-styled reformist, now leads a coalition government comprising rival factions after no single coalition managed to secure a simple majority needed to form a government.
"We are grateful because we have succeeded to guarantee a political climate that is stable after we had wrestled with the (political) zig-zagging that seemed endless," the prime minister said.
"We must take advantage of the strength that we have to generate economic growth that is far more convincing," he added.
"Thus, the main focus of the unity government now is to raise all efforts to ensure there is confidence in this country because of stability, so there is confidence because we have a political and governance system that is much better and free from power abuse and corruption."
Prime minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (centre) performs congregational prayer at a low-key New Year’s Eve event at the majestic Putra Mosque in Putrajaya where thousands of Muslims gathered to usher in 2023 — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Anwar has been criticised over the controversial choices in his Cabinet line-up. One of his deputies, Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, is still on trial for over 40 corruption and criminal charges. Some of Zahid's colleagues in the Malay nationalist party had also faced similar charges although most had been acquitted.
Responding to his detractors, the PKR president said he would not compromise on corruption and that no preferential treatment will be given if any of members of his administration are convicted of graft.
Corruption in the civil service is long seen as the main factor deterring investors. In a New Year’s Eve address that was broadcast live on television, Anwar gave assurance to the business community that his government would be pro-growth.
He suggested this can be achieved by reducing bureaucracy and a zero-tolerance policy for corrupt regulators.
"This is important because we are a trading nation," he said.
"So, what must we do apart from political stability and good governance? We must show that approvals (to set up businesses) can be swift and no more leaders whose aim is to loot wealth and suck on commissions, but instead want to serve god the almighty."