Malaysia Needs to End Cronyism: Anwar Ibrahim
Malaysia needs to put an end to cronyism and support market reforms, opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim told CNBC on Monday.
"We have to stop this cronyism, we have to stop this awarding of billions of dollars of projects without tender," Anwar said on CNBC's "The Call."
Anwar's comments come just weeks before general elections in Southeast Asia's third-largest economy on May 5, which is expected to be the toughest test for the ruling coalition that has been in power for 56 years.
The National Front led by Prime Minister Najib Razak, is facing intense pressure to restore the ruling coalition's two-thirds majority that it lost for the first time in 2008.
(Read More: Malaysia's Najib Calls Election, Close Race Expected)
The opposition Peoples' Alliance run by Anwar, meanwhile, already runs five state governments and has pledged to breakdown the long-standing network of patronage between the ethnic Malay party - the United Malays National Organization that is the main party in the ruling coalition - and favored business interests.
The former deputy prime minister Anwar said while the government cannot continue to dig too much into the past, it must give a serious warning that "excesses" must stop.
"Funds stolen, absconded by the billions have to be given back to the state," Anwar said. "This monopoly of Petronas' contracts to the children of former prime ministers et cetera must stop."
Petronas is Malaysia's state oil firm and finances nearly half of Malaysia's budget, according to Reuters. But unlike other oil-rich nations, Malaysia runs large budget deficits
Race-based social and economic policies are viewed to have defined the coalition's rule, favoring ethnic Malays, who account for about half of the population, over a Chinese and Indian minority.
Tensions have been brewing for reform with violent protests last year in April by demonstrators demanding more freedoms in the country.
-By CNBC.com's Rajeshni Naidu-Ghelani; Follow her on Twitter @RajeshniNaidu