By Nor Aini Abdul Rahman, PhD, and Samsul Ariffin Abdul Karim, PhD
Malaysia MADANI (Civil Society) is a policy framework and government slogan introduced by the 10th Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, in January 2023. Known as SCRIPT, it covers:
In essence, SCRIPT encompasses shared trust between the government and the citizens based on transparency and cooperation. It recognises the right of every Malaysian citizen, whatever his or her background, to live in sustainable communities and environments. It highlights care and compassion in all segments of society to promote equality and equal opportunity. It encourages mutual respect as a social and cultural norm to enhance inclusiveness. It seeks to make innovation prevalent in all aspects of national life.
These are the six Malaysian values based on the Prime Minister’s vision for a stronger, better Malaysia. The framework provides a method of developing policies after surviving the pandemic and restricting the country. The main focus of the framework is mainly on good governance, sustainable development and racial harmony in the country.
PM Anwar further explains that Malaysia MADANI is part of a strategic framework that is comprehensive and could respond to changes after the pandemic. He further states that growth and development must be attained through a larger context of the humane economy that prioritises the needs of the people. He further contends that Malaysia must be known as a MADANI nation that is prosperous and fair and rejects any form of cruelty towards any individual or race. Not only that, Malaysia must be a nation that is known for its renewed spirit. Furthermore, besides economic and material development, the Prime Minister stresses that it is also important to develop the country’s humanity.
The Madani Framework
PM Anwar emphasises that the keywords of the government’s vision represent the shared trust between the government and the citizens and are highly based on transparency and cooperation. He further states that the framework is a shared responsibility in raising the dignity of human beings, which should be based on confidence, values, morals, and fair and effective governance. While Malaysians struggle in the economic, technological, and digital fields, they should not leave values and humanity behind as this gives priority to matters of faith and humanity.
PM Anwar contends that the MADANI policy agenda focuses not just on the current problems and requirements of Malaysia but also on the nation’s future needs and potential. The Prime Minister said that in this uncertain world, characterised by complexity, contradiction, and chaos, a comprehensive strategic framework must be developed to guide the country through an era defined as post-normal.
According to the MADANI framework, the government would recognise the right of every Malaysian citizen, whatever his or her background, to live in sustainable communities and environments. It highlights care and compassion in all segments of society to promote equality and equal opportunity. It encourages mutual respect as a social and cultural norm to enhance inclusiveness. It seeks to make innovation prevalent in all aspects of national life. MADANI is about pursuing prosperity within a sustainable and future-oriented transparency and cooperation.
The policy framework further states that the emphasis of the government’s vision is on synthesis, combining established practices with new methods designed to cope with emerging issues and uncertainties. The six drivers of MADANI as well as different aspects of the policy framework are interconnected and integrated, enforcing and enhancing each other. The framework is designed as a reiterative process; there will be changes and constant revisions by inviting involvement and input from all segments of society in achieving reform and progress.
The Madani Framework focuses on seven indicators to be achieved within the next 10 years:
i. Malaysia to be ranked among the top 30 largest economies in the world
ii. Top 12 globally in the Global Competitiveness Index ranking
iii. The percentage of labour share of income to reach 45 per cent of the total income
iv. Increase female labour force participation rate to reach 60 per cent
v. Rank within the top 25 globally in the Human Development Index
vi. Improve Malaysia’s position in the Corruption Perceptions Index to reach top 25
vii. Targeting a deficit of 3 per cent, or lower, towards fiscal sustainability
The Madani Framework As Seen by Other Countries
The framework soon caught attention at international level when it was launched. It was well received by South Korea as it is in line with the Korea-ASEAN Solidary Initiative (KASI) launched by South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol. KASI aims at fostering a more comprehensive partnership between ASEAN member states and South Korea.
South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin states that the initiative launched in late 2022 under the purview of the Korean Indo-Pacific strategy, could further strengthen the relationship with Malaysia as both sides commemorate the 40th Anniversary of the Look East Policy (LEP) this year. KASI aims to strengthen bilateral relations with ASEAN member and strengthen bilateral relationship with Malaysia. The Foreign Minister further states that what South Korea tries to achieve through KASI matches the core values of Malaysia Madani. Both frameworks are based on mutual care, compassion, respect and trust. Both countries will pursue a sustainable and prosperous future by tackling common challenges through Innovation.
Besides South Korea, countries in the Middle East have shown support for the Madani Framework by participating in Islamic forums. Prominent Islamic scholars were invited and they included among others Dr Ali Gomaa, the former grand mufti of Egypt; Habib Umar Bin Hafiz, founder and dean of the Dar al-Mustafa seminary in Tarim, Yemen; Dr Ekrima Sabri, the imam of Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque; Ahmed Mohamed Saad from the United Kingdom; Muhammad Haydara al-Jilani from Gambia; Jamal Farouk Jibreel from Egypt; Mehmet Fadil Ceylani from Turkey; Muhammad Nuruddeen Lemu from Nigeria; Ismail Menk from Zimbabwe; Muhammad Salah and Dr Omar Suleiman from the United States; Wael Ibrahim from Australia; Prof Dr Abdul Somad Batubara from Indonesia and Sayyid Moulay Mohamed Amin Al Hasani and Prof Dr Syeikh Sidi Hamzah Al Kettani from Morocco.
The presence of Islamic scholars in Malaysia showed that PM Anwar is reaching out to broader and various sections of Islamic traditions around the world. Their presence serves as a reminder of Islamic resurgence in the 1980s which also saw Malaysia as one of the economic powerhouses in South-east Asia. Besides, Malaysia is well known for its clear practice of Islam and having made Islam the official religion in the country.
If PM Anwar continues to invite Islamic scholars to the country, Malaysia could be seen as a country which supports various Islamic ideas and will eventually contribute to economic and cultural benefits for the country and possibly lead the Muslim world one day.
The Malaysian MADANI framework looks promising as it focuses on the key elements of a successful economy that considers factors such as competitiveness, ease of doing business and combating corruption. The framework is seen as a clear indication on the country’s aims, broad strategies and enablers to achieve its aim. PM Anwar reassures that the Malaysian economy will cater to every segment of Malaysia’s society. The government will provide assistance and support to those in need, ensuring that everyone can enjoy the benefits of the country’s economic development. PM Anwar stresses that Malaysians are encouraged to not only learn the lessons from the past and act accordingly to meet the current demands. Apart from that, the government needs to adopt a more positive culture and adopt a better approach to progress.
The authors wish to thank Ustaz Hasnul Hakim Muhammad Zain, DUAM Media, for his invaluable insights in preparing this article.
Nor Aini Abdul Rahman is a Senior Consultant at Haffin Media and Consultancy.
Samsul Ariffin Abdul Karim is an Associate Professor with Software Engineering Programme and Deputy Dean Research and Innovation, Faculty of Computing and Informatics, Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS), Malaysia.