Anwar will ‘accelerate privatizations’?


Anwar needs to clarify a Wall Street Journal report that says he wants to “accelerate privatizations” if elected. What exactly does he want to privatise?

Excepts from the Wall Street Journal report:

If elected, Mr. Anwar said he will accelerate privatizations and do more to enable free markets to operate more efficiently, such as improving transparency in the bidding for government contracts.


“The overall principle is that we want the government-linked companies to sell off their noncore and noncompetitive assets,” Mr. Najib said in an interview two weeks ago. “We are always looking out for how to add value to the country.”

Mr. Anwar, though, criticized the way Mr. Najib’s government pursued these privatizations, saying that without open, public tenders, key companies remain controlled by a well-connected few.

Privatization “looks good, but look again at the procedures,” said Mr. Anwar. “The issue is not about privatization, it is blatant corruption.”

While it is important to do away with corruption and cronyism, the issue is also about privatisation (and other neoliberal policies), and not just how privatisation is done. Many Malaysians have had enough of the BN’s neoliberal approach that has seen essential or strategic sectors being privatised and higher tariffs imposed on the public. This neoliberal approach has also contributed to widening income inequalities.

Soon after he was released from jail in 2004, I asked Anwar whether he would pursue neoliberal policies if he won power eventually. His response was something along the lines of crossing the bridge when we come to it. But with a watershed general election approaching, Malaysians need to make an informed choice so that they know what to expect if the Pakatan is elected to federal power. It is fine to highlight the scandalous NFC ‘cows and condos’ fiasco, but Malaysians also need to know what kind of broad and specific economic policies the Pakatan will introduce in key areas such as health care, transport, housing, education and food production. Not as exciting as ‘cows and condos’ but no less important.

Would a Pakatan federal government go down the neoliberal route with the wholesale privatisation of state assets? Would a Pakatan federal government, for instance, support the privatisation of KTM services (which should be seen as a strategic public service to promote public transport) or the privatisation of Penang port? Would it support the de facto privatisation of higher education and health care (albeit indirectly through the promotion of private ‘medical tourism’, HMOs and the like)? Would it hive off timber concessions, and strategic urban land banks (without providing for public amenities, public education, public health care and recreational parks) to private developers?

It is true that the BN government has engaged in businesses that it should never have been involved in, in the first place. Think of Proton, which has drained so much of our resources. To dispose of such GLCs is fine.

But there should be a clear distinction between profitable and loss-making non-core sectors and between non-strategic and strategic sectors of the economy.

Privatisation of strategic sectors like water, health care, higher education, ports and public transport should be avoided.

Profitable assets like GLC highway concessionaires could be used to subsidise the strategic public transport sector including KTM, Rapid KL and light rail operators. Similarly, the lucrative Penang Bridge tolls could be used to subsidise the ferries, Rapid Penang buses and other public transport in the state. Only loss-making non-core or non-strategic sectors that are not of public interest should be privatised if they can’t be turned around.

Thus, Anwar needs to clarify his statement and explain precisely what he means (assuming the WSJ reported his intention accurately) by wanting to “accelerate privatizations”. In this respect, how different is he from the ‘Father of Malaysian Privatisation’, Mahathir Mohamad?

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The low and middle income groups are already finding it hard to cope with increasing prices of consumer goods and services. Further privatisation will only make the situation worse for us.



Profitable privatised ventures are used to fund political patronage system (u know who lah).
Non-profitable ventures are left to bleed (eg public transport/housings) until favourable deals struck btwn gomen & private companies.
So we need to have transparent dealings minus patronage system.


Profitable Privatization + Gomen Blessing = You Scratch My Back Now, I Massage Yours Later With $$$$$$$$ = Win-Win Rain or Shine!
Err…never mind the kau peh kau boh!


They may leave umno, but they can’t never take away umno mentality. ROFL.
When did Anwar going to learn that , Free Market is NEVER EQUAL to Malaysia version of privatisation.


Penang housing is one sore thumb sticking out of ostrich holes. Like one commercial ad (of one local bank) this sore thumb irks the poor and middle income Penangites to bang one’s head against a hopeless ‘brick and mortar wall’ of gaya-raya cosmopolitan in the making of Penang.
Who knows there may be more sore thumbs complementing in orchestra with 20 years old ostrich holes in the post-Gelak-Gelakan era.

Penang Privatization of the ‘kau peh kau boh’, an antithesis of the facts of life in Penang!



fair question for Pakatan to answer.

i guess ellesse will feel anil is not as pathetic now. ha2

Andrew I

You’d be surprised. The only way not to be considered pathetic is to sing praises about BN ad nauseam.


its his or her right.

what i am trying to pitch is anil’s consistency on sustained development and his pro-people policies. hey we may not agree with him always but we can always tabled our facts. not to label him as pathetic when his articles are spot-on (in that case against BN profligate spending)

warrick singh

Check and balance essiential as technically all money belongs to the rakyat whether we like it or not !

The nitty gritty can always be fine tuned and the key fundamentals of any enterprise are – accountability/cash flow ie effective application of taxes/income collected on behalf of the people.

The politicians have chosen to serve the people for whatever their motivations maybe and in the final analysis the rakyat is SUPREME !!