Mr Anwar spoke to Prof Syed Farid Al-Attas during meeting with Malaysian diaspora in Singapore. (Photo: Anwar Ibrahim's Facebook page)

SINGAPORE — Malaysia Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim stressed the need to allow effective and active participation in civil society instead of having political or religious leaders use media as a “propaganda weapon” and not allowing critical responses from their followers or people.

Speaking at a meeting with the Malaysian diaspora at the Malaysian High Commission while on his official visit to Singapore yesterday (30 Jan), Mr Anwar Ibrahim was explaining the “MADANI society concept” which was launched by him two weeks ago, when Prof Syed Farid Al-Attas, Professor of Sociology at the National University of Singapore asked him to clarify further on the new concept.

Prof Syed Farid questioned if the people’s participation in civil society is part of the new government’s “MADANI” initiative and how Mr Anwar proposed to empower the people to tackle a variety of issues, including bribery.

In reply, Mr Anwar explained that the concept starts with “empowering”, including empowering the country’s economy and related democratic accountability.

“During election campaign, we call it(democratic accountability) institutional reform, return power to people… because the rakyat’s issues we dealing with either mechanism of party politic or civil society.”

“But (MADANI) need enlightenment, if people bribed by the propaganda… they will not be able to think independently. Even in Islam religion, it will develop if there is enlightenment and critical thinking.”

“The problem is when you listen to the political or religious leaders, it just commands, not allowing for critical response. The media just become the “propaganda weapon” with incensive propaganda,” said Mr Anwar.

Mr Anwar further explained that there is a need to allow for effective and active people’s participation in civil society.

However, he said economic empowerment is still a fundamental aspect, with a correct understanding of sustainability and the overall scope of economic development.

Anwar introduced “MADANI” in hope to restore Malaysia’s dignity and glory

Mr Anwar launched the “Malaysia MADANI” framework on 19 January, which is the Malay acronym for SCRIPT, which stands for sustainability, care and compassion, respect, innovation, prosperity, and trust.

The newly minted Malaysian Prime Minister is eager to restore Malaysia’s dignity and glory in the global arena through the new concept.

Based on the concept of MADANI, Anwar’s unity government planned to restructure the country’s economy based on three main strategies, namely eradicate poverty, restructure and restore the economy, as well as generate the economy.

In the aspect of driving the country’s growth, Anwar insisted that the humanitarian aspect should always be taken into account because it is one of the important elements in developing the country.

“I have high confidence that Malaysia will be able to rise again on the world stage…we don’t want Malaysia to be polluted with scandals, problems and conflicts.”

It is believed that the concept will serve as a guide for all ministers and their respective ministries to achieve the key performance indicators (KPI) set.

Anwar’s third overseas official visit

Mr Anwar and his delegates visited Singapore yesterday for an official one-day visit. This is his third overseas official visit after he was sworn in as Malaysia’s 10th Prime Minister on 24 November.

He also witnessed the signing of three agreements between Singapore and Malaysia.

Mr Gan Kim Yong, Singapore’s Minister for Trade and Industry and Malaysia’s Minister of International Trade and Industry Tengku Zafrul Aziz, signed the two frameworks of cooperation for digital and green economy. 

The third agreement is a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in the field of personal data protection, cyber security and digital economy, inked by Minister for Communications and Information Josephine Teo and Malaysia’s Minister of Communications and Digital Fahmi Fadzil.

Anwar urges Singapore to examine the reclamations carried out in the Batu Puteh

Additionally, Mr Anwar urged Singapore to examine the reclamations carried out in the Batu Puteh area to ensure they were not affecting the environment and the country’s borders with Malaysia.

According to Bernama, Mr Anwar was asked whether there were any reclamations carried out by Singapore during the ten years that the matter was under judicial review.

“That must be finalised. I have Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s agreement to hear our arguments in the near future,” he said.

Mr Anwar added that the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) decision has placed the Batu Puteh area under Singapore’s jurisdiction, so for Singapore, the reclamation was in accordance with the valid decision.

He said Malaysia “has already missed that opportunity”, when asked by the media to confirm if Malaysia no longer planned to appeal the ICJ decision.

“We have to accept the ICJ’s decision but in terms of the interpretation and definition of the agreement, we are currently discussing, as to what extent the reclamation (by Singapore) can be done, “he further stressed that the negotiation should be held in a peaceful manner.

Other issues discussed between both countries also included water supply, congestion at the Johor Causeway, and food security.

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