A Bit About Us
We are an independent research initiative led by Datuk Dr. Anis Yusal Yusoff in collaboration with Dato' Sri Nazir Razak. Datuk Dr Anis is currently the Principal Research Fellow at the Institute of Ethnic Studies (KITA), UKM and formerly the Deputy Director General of the National Centre for Governance, Integrity and Anti-Corruption (GIACC). Dato' Sri Nazir Razak is the former Chairman and CEO of CIMB Group.
Since its' commencement in September 2020, the initiative conducted a series of roundtable discussions and interviews attended by diverse groups of people made up of politicians, legislators, academicians, members of the private sector, regulators, civil society and members of media across all age groups and gender.
What is the outcome?
From these discussions and recommendations the initiative aims to develop actionable and implementable plans on the ground.
Why This Initiative?
The trigger for this initiative broadly started with two questions:
1. Based on events of the past few years since GE14, is Malaysia a nation in crisis or are parts of the system in crisis needing reform? If so which parts?
2. Is democracy itself in crisis and if the one being subscribed in Malaysia is still relevant? If so how do we reform this?
As we move into an unprecedented 2020 that brought our mortalities to the fore, we are also witnessing millions of people around the world demanding a change in how governments are run. This is not about challenging political ideologies, but rather confronting the whole concept of government and loss of faith in the institutions that make them. From the USA to Chile, from Hong Kong to Myanmar, from Europe to South Asia – from developed to developing democracies, governments in these regions are all facing sceptical and contemptuous voters who are openly questioning the viability and sustainability of political elite structures and the institutions that have thus far defined democracy in these countries and regions.
We are not spared here in Malaysia either as we witness rising public cynicism of public officials, public institutions and its governance. One only has to scan through social media and blogs to gauge sentiments of Malaysians, young and old, near and far.
Malaysia has seen many reform programmes by governments of the day, all of which was done with good intentions. Yet the central question remains if these reforms are being done without addressing the ‘elephant in the room’ questions and side-lining the obvious that affects the sustainability of our prosperity and constitutional democratic model. Could this be the reason why we keep returning to where we began each time, and reason why public are perpetually sceptical about government reforms agendas? Should we be rethinking our democratic model and its relevance for these times?
What Are Our Research Areas?
1. Is Malaysia in crisis? Is Democracy itself in crisis?
The question is to lay the foundations to the role of democratic institutions in Malaysia and if they are relevant as they are, have they functioned per Constitution and good governance or that temporary conciliatory platforms are required in the interim to making the reforms required in institutions. Where are reforms required, if any and in which areas? The question will also examine if our leadership is in crisis? Also examined would be Malaysians’ understanding of the constitution and political literacy? How does this compare with legislators’? What are the repercussions of these levels of literacy?
2. Democratic model of Malaysia, exploring the federal, state and local government fabric and evolution
The question will discuss the relationship between federal, state and local governments relationship. It will examine the current dynamics of this synergy post GE14 as well as how it bodes in a postmodern era of democracy. It will also discuss what constitutes Malaysia as a nation, what it takes to strengthen her democratic institutions. The question will also examine what events of March 2020 (which saw a change in government) and events of September 2020 (which is seeing another potential change) showing us on our democracy? Is our electoral system encouraging democracy or suppressing voters and citizenship rights?
3. Building a Malaysia for all
This question will review aspects of culture and tradition that lead to feudalism in the leadership styles of Malaysia both in the public and private sectors and the mechanisms required in dismantling this culture. How has race-based policies in Malaysia in the last 6 decades moulded the leadership styles in Malaysia’s public and private sectors? Are there advantages of evolving a race based polity into a universal non race and religion based polity and how will democracy institutions change in the face of a non race-based polity?
4. Political governance and the public sector
This question will focus on the public sector and its service delivery culture, political governance will be examined from perspective of separation of powers, oversights and also the systems of patronage, and the alternatives available. It will examine the evolving role of parliament and are we seeing a tug of war between feudalistic cultures of wanting to maintain the past versus a democratic model of the present wanting good governance in Malaysia?
5. Redefining regulators, rebuilding oversights
Who audits the auditors? This question will examine who keeps regulators in check. If government and businesses are too intertwined? It will explore further if an ‘independent referee’ is required to oversee institutions, and if there are such institutions how they can be empowered will also be examined.
6. Governance, government linked businesses & statutory bodies
This question will examine the roles and fiduciary duties of boards and senior management in these entities and their effectiveness within the existing statutes under which many of the GLCs and GLICs have been enacted.
7. The missing fourth pillar of reform; media and civil society
This question will examine the role of media and civil societies as independent referees and pillars in a democracy, their allegiances to their pay masters and their independence in reporting. The same is for civil societies.
8. Defining Malaysia’s succession planning and human capital conundrum
This question will explore the selection process of senior positions in public sector and government owned entities. This question will also explore part of education is lacking that has and is contributing to the ails of Malaysia? How can this be reformed? Where and why has the succession planning models failed at the political and public sector? What are key traits that Malaysians want from leaders in public and private sector?
9. Deliberative democracy and the consultative council
This question will deliberate the role of how enhance our democratic governance. Is a national consultative council, led by independent entities outside of democracy model a viable alternative or supplement to existing democracy structures? Are there other refereeing models which can be considered to strengthen the governance of our branches of democracy?