101 East

Interview: Najib Razak

Can the Malaysian prime minister win back supporters with a bold new economic policy?

It has been a year since Najib Razak took over as prime minister of Malaysia.

Now, in what he claims will be revolutionary change, Razak has announced a new economic model.

It is the first time the ruling Barisan National government has attempted to reduce the preferential treatment majority Malays currently receive at the expense of the minority Chinese and Indian communities.

It is a bold move but one the prime minister says the country must take, if it is to attract much-needed foreign investment. 

But cynics argue that the major policy shift comes as Razak faces political challenges at home, in particular the continued rise of opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim.

Despite Ibrahim currently being on trial for the crime of sodomy, his popularity seems undiminished.

Will Malaysia’s prime minister be able to win back the support of voters who abandoned the government at the 2008 general election? Can he address the economic privileges Malays enjoy and still maintain support within his own party? And can he enforce this bold policy move and still maintain harmonious race relations in the country?

This episode of 101 East aired from Friday, April 2.