We need to hear you, PM Najib tells silent majority

KUALA LUMPUR - Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has urged the silent majority of Malaysians who support his move to reform the economy to stand up and express loudly and clearly their solidarity with the government.

In his speech at the National Economic Summit and Dialogue, the Prime Minister spoke about being "lonely at the top" as he weighed the risks and possible impact of subsidy reductions and a Goods and Services Tax (GST) on the people.

Towards the end of his speech Najib diverted from his prepared text and referred to a comment made by the chairman of the Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute Tan Sri Michael Yeoh.

Yeoh in his welcoming address earlier had expressed his belief that the government's efforts to reform the economy had the support of Malaysia's silent majority.

"I thank you for your support. Tan Sri Michael Yeoh had alluded to the silent majority who support the government but please don't be too silent, we need to hear your voices loud and clear at times," said Najib, drawing applause from the audience of business leaders.

After his speech, Najib took part in a dialogue session where he touched on the challenges of managing the economy.

To a question on the polit ical risks of rationalising subsidies, the prime minister said more needed to be done to better communicate the rationale behind the government's policy to the people, especially on social media.

Asked about measures to help micro and small-to-medium scale enterprises deal with rising costs, Najib said the government was looking at ways to help them raise their productivity.

He said Germany was a good example of a country that had an agency to help small businesses undertake research and development or improve their business processes.

"We are looking at whether we can set up a similar institution which smaller businesses can turn to for help in raising their productivity," he said.