Eyeing Christiane Amanpour's interview with PM Dato Sri Najib Tun Razak
COMMITTED: It's all about having a long-term vision for the country, Najib tells CNN
KUALA LUMPUR: DESPITE receiving criticism from conservative groups, Malaysia's efforts to promote moderation and reforms will not be derailed, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
The government, he said, was committed to moderation and his priority was to ensure peace and harmony in the country.
"It's all about having a long-term vision for the country and we are committed to that," he said in an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour on the programme Amanpour aired on Friday.
However, to achieve the country's long-term goals, Najib said there would be "some growing pains along the way".
"And if you want long-term stability, you must make sure that the majority of the people are not marginalised.
"Having said that, we do cater as well, in a very inclusive way, for minorities.
"For example, in my budget speech, I addressed the concerns of Indian Malaysians. We are not racist at all," he said when asked about pressures that he faced in the country, apparently forcing him to make U-turns on reforms that he had introduced.
Amanpour had asked Najib on the government's efforts to reform and to drive moderation in Malaysia, under pressure from conservatives who were trying to undo them.
Najib said with the mandate he had secured from the people in the 13th General Election and in the Umno party election, he was optimistic of being able to continue the reforms and deliver Malaysia as an advanced economy by 2020.
"I believe we will achieve our goals. In every country, there will be people representing the whole breadth of the political spectrum," he said, citing the conservative Tea Party movement wreaking havoc on the political process in the United States.
"But, fortunately, we don't have to go to that extent in Malaysia. We have people who are more conservative in their views and some who are more concerned about the ethnic balance in Malaysia."
Najib rebutted allegations from critics that Barisan Nasional was involved in fraud and vote-rigging during the last general election, saying he had made fundamental changes to the country since he took office in 2009.
"By and large, the allegations were unfounded. They've not been able to prove anything.
"For example, they alleged that we brought in 40,000 from Bangladesh to vote in the last election. And since the last election, they've not been able to produce any evidence of that."
He said Malaysia had climbed to sixth place in the world in the World Bank 2014 Doing Business Report, a leap from 12th last year.
"That speaks volumes of the reforms that we are doing in Malaysia."
On the cancellation of United States President Barack Obama's trip to Malaysia last month because of the US government shutdown, Najib said it was a missed opportunity for Obama to assert his leadership, particularly in the context of his policy pivot towards Asia.
"I know he regrets it. When he called me he said, 'By hook or by crook, I will visit Malaysia next year'. So we're looking forward to receiving (him)."
He spoke on the crisis in Egypt, to which he said national reconciliation was needed to solve the crisis.
"I know what I would have done. I would have waited until the next election, because they (the Muslim Brotherhood) were elected and deserve a chance to perform and to show their worth.
"It's very alarming this conflict between the Sunni and the Shia. It's tearing apart the Muslim world. And it's about time we come to our senses, and realise that moderation is the only path that will ensure peace and stability for the Muslim world and also for the wider world."
He was echoing his statement at the United Nations General Assembly in New York last month where he said the greatest threat to Muslims "comes from within and not the outside world".