This is my second writing on MEB. After re-reading the long speech by Najib, I concluded that it is long on description of what a nice place we can get to, but how exactly we could get there remains vague. (Same like Wawasan 2020).
A man or a woman in the street would wonder:
1) would there be more employment opportunities for me and my children?
2) would there be better paid jobs and more advancement opportunities?
3) would there be education, training and re-training facilities available to equip us to handle the new skill sets required ? We have to think about the present and future set of workers in Malaysia.
Mind you, we have not even settle the debate of minimum wage yet.
An investor, local or foreign, might ask questions like:
1) would I have competent, motivated, productive and intelligent workforce to strive for my business that can justify higher pay?
2) how does the government scores in terms of bureaucracy, efficient, clean and business friendliness against other choices? ( if the DPM’s reaction to PERC report is anything to go by….)
3) would my family and investments be safe in this country? (cue: think crime rates and religious terrorism)
4) would I have excellent facilities and infrastructure to cater to my business? (our broad band still lags behind Singapore's)
I do not see anything succinct and to the point where I can get some concrete answers. I wonder what tax payers have paid NEAC for after almost a year into Najib’s era.
In a nut shell, the Najib administration (not surprised given the caliber of certain ministers and their tradition of Tingkatan Lima answers and MPs who specializes in sexist remarks) has no concrete idea and inviting public consultation is a clever political hedge.
This is not a bad approach if it came within 100 days of his honey moon period (Performance NOW) but its belated introduction makes his administration looks clueless after passage of Perak power grab, Teoh Beng Hock’s heroic death and on-going sorry looking inquest, religious terrorism, aborted attempt to implement GST and set limits on fuel subisidies etc.
As I wrote earlier (before Najib became the PM), we need to attract the right business and investment into Malaysia and have the right Malaysian human resource to handle the skills required of it.
In order to cultivate a capable work force, our present work force needs retraining and re-tooling and our education system has to be revamped. Najib spoke of this revamping but no details have been forthcoming. Mere lip service or what?
The performance of our Education Minister with “Malay-first Malaysian second mentality” plainly has not been inspiring up to point of writing. The slipping university rankings and crack down on freedom of thought by our undergraduates is a worrying indicator of the state of Malaysia's incubators.
The word “merit” has only resurface twice in his speech
“12. Sistem pendidikan kita perlu dikaji semula secara berterusan dan ditambah baik untuk melahirkan tenaga kerja masa depan, dengan komitmen kepada program berasaskan merit. Ini akan mendorong kecemerlangan dan memupuk graduan berbakat yang cemerlang dari segi pemikiran kreatif dan strategik serta kemahiran keusahawanan dan kepimpinan yang akan memacu kejayaan pada dekad mendatang.”
Tell me something I do not know.
And the next instance “merit” was being described as one of the principle of affirmative action.
Najib spoke of attracting talented and capable Malaysians would have left our shores to return without addressing the key reasons why they have left – whether Don’t Talk Shit agree or not - it is because these highly intelligent people feel that they are not being fairly and do not feel that they have sufficient chance to earn what they think they deserve, achieve self-actualisation and a place where they feel safe.
The access to residency in Malaysia needs to cater to diverse needs of various talents. Han Jian who coached Malaysia to Thomas Cup 1992 victory was denied Malaysian citizenship, I was told. Spouses of expats should be allowed to work with dependent pass so that they could bring in their own expertise and more willing to relocate to Malaysia. Back in 2004 I had a nightmare running from KL to Putrajaya back and forth just to renew an employment permit for an American engineer working in my country.
Whatever specific steps Najib spoke of, invoke some disappointment in me, given the imbalance of economic development in Malaysia and relatively unfair distribution of income and opportunities.
80. Bagi mempromosikan pelaburan ekonomi ke tahap yang lebih tinggi, beberapa lot tanah di Jalan Stonor, Jalan Ampang, Jalan Lidcol, Kuala Lumpur, telah dikenal pasti untuk ditender dan dibangunkan oleh sektor swasta. Aset ini, jika tidak dibangunkan, adalah satu pembaziran dan meningkatkan kos penyelenggaraan kepada Kerajaan.
Jalan Stonor (near KLCC) is already well developed thank you. What about folks in Seremban, Ipoh, Kuantan, Raub, Taiping, Tawau etc? Why focus on an already very developed locality? Fine, if KL is the hub, what about Plaza Rakyat? The investors there have been cheated of huge sums since the 1990’s and given the STAR Station there, it makes more sense to address a “pembaziran” there.
I wrote elsewhere that DAP’s alternate budget advocates letting the respective state governments, with their intimate understanding of local conditions, be given the power to chart the development of their state’s economy. Najib’s MEB still bears the shade of Malayan Union where all significant power is centralized in Putrajaya. A big daddy won't to very efficient and detailed in tending to 13 children...time to let them have more say.
82. Selain itu, Petronas telah pun mengenal pasti dua subsidiari yang mempunyai prestasi baik akan disenaraikan pada tahun ini. Matlamat inisiatif ini adalah untuk mengurangkan penglibatan Kerajaan sama ada secara langsung atau tidak langsung dalam aktiviti perniagaan yang akan menjadi lebih cekap sekiranya dijalankan oleh sektor swasta dan memberi isyarat jelas komitmen menggalakkan persaingan dalam ekonomi, mengambil risiko dan merangsang pertumbuhan ekonomi jangka panjang yang akan memberi manfaat kepada semua warga Malaysia
Nice words but the first impression I have is, well more money goes into the government coffers from an IPO and some Malaysians who have spare money to invest in Bursa Malaysia could have an additional counter in their portfolio. What about the rest?
An alternative is let Petronas accounts be tabled scrutinized and debated in Parliament, and dividends from Petronas to be paid into a trust fund for healthcare, social safety net and education purposes. Cue: the way Norway government looks after their citizens. The Federal Government should retain its moral obligation to manage this strategic natural resource for the rakyat; and not let part of it goes into free market.
Since Najib say the government needs to let go and let the private sector lead the way, if I have to choose a strategic project to divest, I would say Proton. Nothing new, we have seen attempted strategic alliance with foreign car giants collapse so perhaps this is the chance to relook at that. The national car project should be subject to this treatment so that citizens can get a viable national car at competitive price and not having to pay for an AP.
As for the consultation process, it still remains to be seen how opinions are gathered and evaluated. In fact consultation is not even the beginning of the end or end of the beginning. After all, Najib has to balance the political considerations and hidden scenes within UMNO in addition to the real challenge faced by Malaysia in this borderless era. Timing wise, if Najib is going to hold a snap GE, the feedback from the consultation process could be a rich source of information for a GE manifesto.
Remember Su Qiu (it literally means inform and appeal)? Before GE of 1999, it was submitted to the Mahathir administration without any negative feedback but of course subsequent events after the GE was most disappointing, consider that many of what was raise then, was not inconsistent with some part of the nice things in MEB.