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NEWS UPDATES 28 June 2010

Malaysian PM faces uphill task

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Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak has set lofty targets to transform the government and the economy.

But all eyes are now on implementation, reports Channel News Asia.

It was a time of political and economic uncertainty when the 56-year-old politician took the helm as Malaysia's sixth prime minister last April.

Malaysia was mired in its first recession in a decade and religious-racial tensions were on the rise in the predominantly Muslim country.

And a year earlier, the Barisan Nasional ruling coalition had suffered its worst election defeat in history.

Mr. Najib wasted no time; he laid out '1Malaysia' as the guiding principle of his administration to strengthen national unity and regain voters' support.

He also rolled out a series of bold plans to clean up the government, and transform Malaysia into a developed nation by 2020.

"I am quite pleased in setting the strategic direction for Malaysia. Now we have to focus on the implementation, which can be the bane of most plans if we don't implement expeditiously and effectively, some of the initiatives are very challenging initiatives," said PM Najib.

Mr. Najib faces resistance especially from Malay rights groups in his attempt to revamp the decades-old affirmative action policy that has long been a source of concern for investors.

"I do not promise to do away with it. I promise a new approach, with the whole notion of having a fair and balanced society. Practically all Malaysians accept that - (it's) more market friendly, more merit based, more transparent, and based on needs," said the Malaysian PM.

Another challenge for Mr. Najib is weaning Malaysians off years of subsidies.

"You cannot expect a legacy, after so many years of subsidy, to be resolved in one or two years. It's impossible. But what is important is that we move in the right direction. We communicate with the public, that's there's a buy-in," he said.

Meanwhile plans are under way he said to regain voters' support for his ruling Barisan Nasional coalition.


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