Najib takes on critics: There's more freedom in Malaysia now

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Malaysian prime minister hits back at critics

KUALA LUMPUR Opposition politicians have hurt Malaysia's image by making "false claims" to the US media that include claims that Malaysia is in danger of sliding into a dictatorship.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said this in his blog.

The post appeared on the eve of his arrival in the US yesterday, Bernama reported.

He said in the post that the very fact that the opposition could be so vociferous and speak so openly is proof of increased freedom in Malaysia.

But casting aspersions about the country for political gain is a different matter, said Mr Najib.

"Falsely running down Malaysia... does not show pride in what we have achieved. Nor does it demonstrate love of our country," he said in the piece "Malaysia's record of democracy and free speech is strong".

Mr Najib also said reforms, including repealing the Internal Security Act, were major steps that required courage.

"But we went forward with them because removing these outdated and repressive pieces of legislation was the right thing to do," he said.

Mr Najib also alluded to former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad who is now part of the opposition.

He said that under a certain ruler, demonstrations would never have been allowed, unlike now. The reason for this is that the right to peaceful protest is now legal, he said.


Last Friday, Mr Najib also said Malaysia will be the 24th biggest economic powerhouse in the world by 2050, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers report.

He said several factors determine the country's economic performance, reported the New Straits Times.

These include the gross domestic product (GDP) growth and foreign investors' confidence in the country's economy.

"Malaysia's GDP in the first quarter (exceeded) economists' forecast at 5.6 per cent and again in the second quarter at 5.8 per cent. This was far higher than last year's 4 per cent.

"These achievements have benefited the people immensely, paving the way for the government to build better infrastructure and services such as hospitals and clinics, as well as provide for the less fortunate, among others," said Mr Najib.

On the importance of ensuring the country remains steadfast on its route to a better economy, he said it was crucial for growth to be maintained.

"A country's economic growth does not happen in a day or short-term. It takes a long time with thorough planning and strategic thinking.

"However, this could be gone in a split second. So it is important that we avoid getting involved with parties that seek to destroy what we have built all these years," he added.

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