State-owned investment firm 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) has not contributed to the country’s economic growth despite its “billions”, former minister Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz said in a New Year’s message that included a reminder to Putrajaya to facilitate business instead of getting involved in it.
The former international trade and industry minister in a Facebook post yesterday said the government should not be involved in business but instead facilitate private sector growth.
“Now is the time for serious focus on economic governance… and sanity in the political and social spheres.
“The government should be facilitating business… not to be involved in business. The private sector should be assisted to continue as the key drivers of the economy.
“1MDB, for all the billions, has no input into the economic growth of the country. Every effort must be made to bring back confidence and trust in economic and social governance,” she wrote.
Rafidah also used the phrase “cash is king”, employed by former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in his criticism of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak for preferring to dole out cash through the BR1M programme instead of directly addressing economic problems.
Rafidah said a culture in which “cash is king” should not be allowed to take root as it would only result in “greed, dishonesty, corruption, disregard for rule of law, bribery and corruption”.
She urged the government to focus on managing the economy instead of unproductive politicking, petty nitpicking and divisive behaviour.
“Attempts to bring out the so-called ‘feel good factor’ no longer sit well with many people,” she said.
Rafidah said during her time in government, issues were not whitewashed or taken lightly although the measures implemented were not necessarily popular, such as during the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis.
She said no consultants were appointed then but serious problems were addressed on a daily basis by a group of public sector individuals in touch with private sector groups.
On the still unresolved 1MDB issue and RM2.6 billion political donation, Rafidah said it would continue to be a hot topic within and without Malaysia and would exacerbate the domestic economic situation.
She added that the erosion of confidence and public trust, overzealous control of dissent and differences in opinion, lack of coherence and credibility in government communication with the public pointed to broken parts in the system.
“These need to be addressed and repaired expeditiously.”