The Lord Sheikh and Lady Sheikh of Cornhill
The Right Honourable Baroness Warsi
Senior Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Minister for Faith and Communities
The Right Honourable Hugo Swire
Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Tan Sri Michael Yeoh
Co-Founder and CEO of the Asian Strategy & Leadership Institute (ASLI)
Honourable Members of the House of Lords
Ladies and Gentlemen,
- I am delighted once again to meet with the Friends of BN in the United Kingdom, and to welcome our distinguished guests from the Houses of Parliament and beyond.
- Let me start by thanking all of you for your support; not just over the past few months, but in the two years since this group was established. Countless business relationships – and many personal friendships – have been established under the banner of the Friends of Barisan Nasional UK. Long may it continue.
- This has been a momentous year for Malaysia. Against unprecedented international scrutiny, our people headed to the polls for the 13th General Election since independence.
- Despite glitches with indelible ink, the election was peaceful; and despite extraordinary claims to the contrary, it was also free and fair. Across the political divide, Malaysians showed that their belief in democracy outshines their commitment to any one party or creed.
- The election reflected the will of the people, expressed through a record turnout in a first-past-the-post system. Yet some felt the result did not reflect their wishes.
- The protests which followed the election took place without violence or confrontation. The police responded professionally, with a human touch. The rally organisers did not always follow proper procedures, which is regrettable. It would be better if they could find a way to express their opinions in line with the rule of law, rather than ramping up tension. But on the whole, the protests were a peaceful and orderly. That is a tribute to the growing strength of Malaysia’s democracy.
- Now, however, it is time to accept the result and move on. We have heard – I have heard – the message from Malaysian voters. Barisan Nasional secured a majority, but we could have done better. Many did not understand everything we have done over the last four years – all of the reforms implemented – or everything we intend to do over the next term – our positive vision for Malaysia. It is time for us to work harder than ever to win back those voters who felt they could not support us this time around.
- Where possible, my Government will choose a bipartisan approach. We will be fair, just and inclusive. And we will work for the common good of the nation.
- As Prime Minister, my ambition is to ensure our growth is inclusive and sustainable; to deliver on the promises we have made and to democratize our society. With a fresh mandate from the people, we will be more focused and more relentless in our efforts to transform our economy and our country: to deliver greater growth, more opportunity, and better governance.
- Malaysia is already one of the best places in the world to do business; our economy is strong and growing, and we are attracting greater foreign investment than ever before. Our challenge is to build on this success
- We shall continue to liberalise key sectors, especially services. We will do more to attract, retain and promote talent, so that Malaysian businesses – and Malaysian workers – prosper in a fiercely competitive global economy. We will focus on those whose potential has not yet been fully realised: young people, women, and foreign talent.
- We will also make the changes needed to secure Malaysia’s economic future: building a knowledge-based, services-led economy that escapes the ‘middle income trap’. Stimulating domestic demand, rationalizing subsidies, and keeping our deficit in check. And investing in the people and the industries which will power long-term growth.
- This economic prescription is matched with political reform, for Malaysia’s success depends on an open society as well as an open economy. So I have already taken steps to strengthen human rights; repealing outdated legislation, including the Internal Security Act and the Emergency Ordinances, and relaxing some media laws. And to strengthen people’s confidence in Malaysia’s democracy, I have set up a new bipartisan parliamentary committee to oversee the Election Commission.
- I believe we have taken important steps forward. But I know this process of democratization is not yet complete. Malaysia is opening up, economically and politically. I am determined that all citizens will have the chance to share in this success.
- Once again, I wish to commend and thank the Friends of BN for your continuous support and help. We appreciate your efforts, and I hope you will continue to play a role as our Goodwill Ambassadors in the United Kingdom. And to our British friends: I hope you will come and visit us and see our transformation for yourselves.
Thank you very much.