The Prime Minister presented a new governance approach for a “civilized Malaysia”. The initiative is founded on Islam. It addresses the country’s inequalities in terms of ethnicity, religion, regions, and other ills. It promises justice for the entire population and fairness in foreign policy. Doubts about its effective application.
Kuala Lumpur () – The “Madani Way”, the political program of the Pakatan Harapan coalition government, headed by Anwar Ibrahim, is taking shape. It has become a norm for new Malaysian prime ministers to launch a slogan summarizing the general policy of their administrations.
Madany Way can be translated as “Civilized Malaysia” and is a local acronym that lists six core values: Sustainability, Prosperity, Innovation, Respect, Trust and Compassion. In Arabic, the word implies the idea of being modern and civilized.
In a recent opinion piece in the New Straits Times, former ambassador Azhari-Karim hailed the initiative as “a ‘leveller’ of all activities of society and government.” The Madani Way has its roots in a 1989 book (“Medinenese Society in the Times of the Prophet”), written by Islamic scholar AkramDi’ya Al Umari. According to Azhari-Karim, there is already “a new consciousness” that can be detected in Malays of all ethnic groups.
Anwar has long advocated this approach. In 1996 he published a book entitled “The Asian Renaissance”, where he devotes a chapter to presenting the concept of Madani. The prime minister speaks of “a humanist economy that opposes the unbridled capitalism that is practiced today.”
Quoted by local media, Datuk Seri MP Dr. Wee Ka Siong explained that he had asked Anwar what the implications of the Madani Way were. The prime minister responded that citizens of all ethnicities, religions, regions and income levels will be treated fairly, especially the poor.
In foreign policy, the Anwar administration will stand between the United States and China, respecting human rights and avoiding conflicts with other countries. He will try to bring more attention to the human aspect in relations with ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Countries), especially with Indonesia and Vietnam, and will strive to increase Malaysia’s credibility in the Islamic world.
However, the Madani Way will be applied first of all to internal reforms, especially the fight against corruption and the consequent social ills that have plagued previous governments.
As with any fledgling government, it remains to be seen whether Anwar and his ministers will actually implement the new policy with meaningful measures for the country. Still, this approach seems to offer hope to a nation that has long suffered from many serious problems: looting, racial mistrust, the exclusion of minorities, and other ills. It is a brave experiment to see if ancient precepts can produce real results in a modernizing country.