A CREAKY school system, corruption and inequality are among what ail the country, said former finance minister Daim Zainuddin to a youth group in a closed-door session yesterday.
The former minister also urged participants, who included influential figures in Pakatan Harapan, to uphold the principles of the federal constitution and reform the country’s justice system.
The session with pressure group Malaysia Baru, an entity founded by PKR deputy Youth chief Afif Bahardin, was an opportunity for a young generation of leaders to learn from a veteran who served at the highest level of the government.
Daim was finance minister under the administration of Dr Mahathir Mohamad from 1984 to 1991 and from 1999 to 2001.
Those who attended yesterday’s event included officers from the Selangor menteri besar’s office, a state exco from Penang and members of think-tanks.
Yesterday’s closed-door session came as PH gears up for a general election next year where it aims to capture more states from the Barisan Nasional, and if possible, Putrajaya.
Sources in the invitation-only dialogue session told The Malaysian Insight that the former Umno leader also drew a comparison between his generation and its ideals and the values of the current generation.
“He basically said he was of Malaysia lama (old Malaysia) and the new Malaysia needed new leaders with a new way of doing things,” said Eekmal Ahmad, who was the moderator.
Malaysia Baru aims to give youth leaders a voice in nation-building.
Another participant said Daim stressed that future leaders must uphold the constitution as it outlined all the rights of Malaysians and was the foundation of its multiracial society.
“He was also very concerned with the rot in the education system, as he said kids were growing up not knowing that corruption is wrong,” said the participant on condition of anonymity.
“He said we needed to fix the education system as it was an investment in the country.”
Daim gave the example of Singapore whose schools had the best teachers and facilities compared with Malaysian schools.
Another audience member said many of Daim’s prescriptions are already part of the PH’s reform agenda.
These included a clear separation of power between the different arms of the country’s institutions – the judiciary, legislative and the executive.
“The police chief, for instance, should be answerable to parliament and be chosen from a committee just like judges.”
Eekmal said Daim also felt that a majority of Malaysians are not benefitting from the country’s growth.
“The country’s growth is not filtering down to the masses, as everyone feels that things are becoming more and more unaffordable.”
Although the next general election will be tough, PH still had a fighting chance, Daim said, according to another source.
“It’s because the old myth that Malays have to vote for Umno to survive has been debunked. This is because Selangor has been ruled by a non-Umno party for two terms and the Malays are still able to thrive.”