By Chandran Nair

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia--After days of fervid anticipation, Malaysia now has a brand-new Prime Minister at the reins of Government and one who has earned the credibility to lead.

Now, it is time for the hard work to begin and all fair-minded Malaysians wish him the best.

Anwar Ibrahim, who waited 24 years to secure the role of Prime Minister, faces a mammoth task.

In his maiden press conference as PM, he highlighted three focus areas of his administration – cultivating good governance, fighting corruption, and building a Malaysia for all Malaysians.

These are not lofty goals. They are underpinned by an acute diagnosis of our institutions' challenges today. They need urgent repair.

Weak governance engenders weak institutions that are susceptible to corruption and rent-seeking. It is a vicious cycle.

These behaviours, when institutionalised, create administrative systems prone to bureaucratic corruption which then unfairly discriminate against different segments of a multicultural Malaysia.

The cure to this is good, effective, and strong governance.

The first item on the Prime Minister’s agenda should be to plug the massive leakages of financial resources from the government’s coffers.

Start with a firm undertaking to ensure that all government contracts are tendered in a competitive market, and none shall be awarded by anyone in power based on political favours or patronage. There should be zero tolerance for breaking this rule.

A just, clean administrative system is what we all want as Malaysians.

It requires political capital to moot. The civil service is more than capable of putting in place such a system, but operationalizing it will take time as this form of rent-seeking is currently baked into the system. 

Even a 50 percent reduction in the first five years will save the country billions.  

So now that the nation has the opportunity to change, it must be taken. A very hard line must be taken to protect the money of the citizens.

A new report published by GIFT - Now Everyone Prospers (NEP): The Best of Both Worlds - dives into the root causes of this mismanagement, which has to date been a major barrier to the nation’s development.

You may also find the link to the full report here.