Anwar Ibrahim’s’ acceptance of free market economics is like the present crop of UMNO leaders belief in the UMNO system or UMNOism. Just because it has worked for so long does not put down deep roots and acceptance of it because it works is dangerous. What is more important is to have the inner resources to become stronger. In the case of UMNO, it is high time for UMNO to have an ideology. If the only reason for accepting free market or in the case of UMNO, its longevity, is short-run pragmatism, sooner or later when political storm clouds and tsunami gather , everything crumbles. It has already happened to UMNO and its leaders stood high dudgeon.
So what is free market economics or for want of a readily recognisable term, capitalism? I must warn however, this short essay is not meant to an exhaustive discourse on free market economics. The subject has been extensively written by technical writers of different persuasions from time to time.
Of course the father of free market economics was Adam Smith, the Scottish preacher. Actually, he was a moralist first before he was an economist, and this fact seemed to escape many. According to smith, any present prosperity is not the result of willful planning and outcome of deliberate involvement of a supra body. Rather, it is the outcome of a natural propensity of all humans to truck, barter and exchange one thing for another. This natural propensity is an application of self interest. Everyone wants to better his lot. This propensity is the underlying principal of all economic endeavors. Because it facilitates and encourages trade between two people who are unrelated at all. Thus in this system, everyone must be able to offer something of value to another so that through exchange, everyone is better off than he was before. Like Adam Smith says 300 years ago, it is not from the benevolence of the butcher, brewer or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. In the 20th century, another greatly admired economist, Milton Friedman said- there is no such thing as a free lunch. Politically this means that everyone undertakes a personal responsibility to better his lot. He must be able to offer something of value to get value back. Unless you are an invalid or are really incapable of being productive, the government steps in. but it must never be the business of government to care for us from cradle to grave. That strategy would have utterly grave consequence, the chief of which is that it robs the individual of his personal responsibility.
The formulation of the principle of self interest never ceases to make many people uneasy. It could easily lead to the conclusion that the only way to satisfy human wants in the market is through selfishness. Now, everyone hates the idea of selfishness. It is morally reprehensible to ignore the plight of those wretched of the earth. But capitalism does not intend sidelining the poor and the really unfortunate. Adam Smith himself, as we have said, is a moralist first before he is an economist. The perfection of human nature he said comes from the feeling much for others and little for ourselves—to restraint our selfish, and to indulge our benevolent affections.
What is the basic idea behind Smith’s moral preaching? The idea is that while be say we believe that market economics is the better and reliable way of creating wealth, we are certainly not saying that there is no place for altruism. But what we are saying really is that under such a system, everyone must shoulder a personal responsibility to be an active participant in the economy. The abandoning of personal responsibility or in cruder way, being lazy should not be rewarded. Unless you are really sick and old, invalid and debilitated, market economics call for active personal responsibility. In my short stint as a wakil rakyat, I never ceased to be appalled at some perception by many people, that the government is responsible for them. All they need to do is to fornicate and reproduce and send their children to school. The government according to them takes over as soon as their children go to school- providing everything free. My question is, where is your personal responsibility? Anwar Ibrahim wants many like this to be on his side so that he can manipulate them. I am telling you, leadership has no place for ambivalent people.
Margaret Thatcher who once likened Anwar Ibrahim as a good football team captain has an equally apt description of people like brother Anwar. Anwar Ibrahim wants total power. On this kind of people, she said, we must go on to assume anyone who claims, privilege, special powers and rights on the basis that he or she can be relied to be altruistic rather than selfish, must be viewed with extreme suspicion. Anwar Ibrahim is not a selfish person- right? RIGHT?
 Margaret Thatcher, Statecraft- strategies for a changing world. Pp414