Yes, they are! Those working at The Economist are just parrots of international Press; at worst, its plainly demeaning.
Its special blog for Asia, namely Banyan (not sure whether the writer is based in Kuala Lumpur or Bangkok or Phnom Penh) is good at fabricating facts and figures - typical of any foreign journalists who would find ways to tamper with actualities.
Reading its analysis about Najib's reforms simply indicates how easy it is to undermine a government without the writer having to be there. Not only Malaysia but any policy introduced by the Asia governments are deemed as 'backward' and not parallel to what is being practiced in the US and Europe.
(I remember the internationally-known CNN journo Peter Arnett whom I met in Baghdad in 1983. He only reported from the lobby of El-Rashid Hotel, gathering info from other journalists and military personel).
"Some on the extreme Malay wing of the (Umno) party grumble that all this reform stuff is going too far, but they will go along with it as long as it does not touch on the most profound sources of oppression and grievance in the country, the institutionalised ethnic discrimination that privileges Malays over the country’s other races, mainly Chinese and Indians (here). It is the system of ethnic quotas and divisions that is really holding the country back—if Mr Najib started to take an axe to all that, then absolutely nobody would question his credentials as a radical reformer."
I am not sure what does the writer mean by 'institutionalised ethnic discrimination' but the label comes from the Opposition.
But I am glad that there are Malaysians who are willing to stand up for the country, if not for the government. Some of the comments are not defensive of the government (in some ways) but are logically linger to the true picture of the country.
(1) "I'm not sure why The Economist - specifically, Banyan - keeps trying to imply that bumi Malaysians, or rather Malays, will blindly vote for any party just for financial gains or religious necessity. It's a bit insulting that The Economist thinks that the ethnic Malays are unable to see pass immediate financial gains or religious dogma - i.e. thinking of progressive growth reforms - when it comes to the polls..."
(2) "The reforms that will be implemented by Prime Minister Najib Razak in Malaysia will hopefully serve as an example to the rest of the developing countries in the region, such as Singapore and Indonesia. It seems as though this article was penned a little to early because it is awarding a great deal of optimism for a leader who is described as an "indecisive technocrat."
(3) It seems like Malaysia is going through some major dynamic changes in several sectors of their society. The economy is in a boom due to the cheap, but effective medical procedures that are drawing in "medical tourists", and now the slight power shift from the government to the people on the political scene. With these changes, they will probably draw more attention on the international scene. This may cause some larger powers to invest in this smaller country, causing an even greater boom, which could then create an even greater shift of power to the people. I'm going to keep a watchful eye on Malaysia for this domino effect."
However, there are also some batterings:
(1) "And to those that criticized Singapore have the similar ISA laws, check this, Singapore GDP in 2009 is 182bil while Malaysia is 193bil but Singapore GDP per capita in 2009 is USD$36,537, Malaysia is $7,030, in another word, Singaporean made FIVE times more than Malaysian. While 2 countries start at the same starting line and Singapore has much more disadvantage Lee Kuan Yew make all the right law to protect their country while Mahartir made all the law to protect his own people (excluding most Chinese). Najib is just another dog from Dr Mah kampung whilst he can be more brutal than Dr Mah, just ask Ms Mongolian lady."
(2) "Race based discrimination does more harm than good in every country where it is practiced - Nigeria, Sri Lanka, India, Malaysia, China, USA. Those who benefit from it will never give it up voluntarily. Malaysia will never be able to rid itself of its greatest cancer without bloodshed. This country has no place to go but down. It's better the government just does a population swap with China and India, 7 million Chinese-Malaysians for 7 million Chinese muslim-Uighurs, and 3 million Indian-Malaysian for 3 million muslim-Indians. That way 100% of its all-muslim population can benefit from affirmative action, win-win!"
PS, why hasn't anybody (bloggers, journalists, politicians, others) commented on Najib's statement about 'Bumi quotas'?