The most damaging practice is that our political leaders have been using race and religion to stir up support to maintain their political grip and to encourage their respective racial supporters to demand for various unreasonable economic rights and concessions. The political leaders have been indulging in “Divide and Hope to Prosper” at the expense of good governance, efficiency, productivity and above all, our ability to compete against other countries. These same political leaders are being hypocritical when they urge Malaysians to unite. True unity will never happen in this sort of divisive political and economic systems.
John Lo, Sabah
1. BN and PR, in their separate ways, have recognized that the current Malaysian economic model has not worked for a long time. Such recognition has been reflected in BN’s New Economic Model and PR’s Orange Book. Testimony to the seriousness of erosion of Malaysia’s competitiveness over the last 20 years is that North Asian countries, which were much worse off and have not been blessed by the Almighty with natural resources, are way ahead in almost every economic endeavour.
2. Some of the reasons that have made the current Malaysian model out of date are:
2.1. It has become the victim of its own success. Malaysia has greatly expanded its number of educated and middle class who have become more demanding in transparency and accountability which our political leaders have failed to do. They still have the political perception that Malaysia is a one large kampong!
2.2. It has failed to prepare Malaysians to compete effectively in the globalized world, the main cause of which is corruption and cronyism. This is further worsened by the pervasive and economically damaging feudal system that many political leaders have been using to maintain their political power base.
2.3. Malaysian’s “rich and powerful” economic leaders, with very few exceptions, are the products of preferment and/or cronyism/corruption.
2.4. In comparison with countries which have done better, Malaysia has devoted insufficient effort to enhance human capacity. Hence our productivity has been trailing behind these countries very badly.
2.5. Malaysia is probably the only country in the world whose majority are granted quotas and “economic rights” in most economic spheres. This policy has weakened the competitiveness of the whole country. In the fiercely competitive globalized world, Malaysia must come to terms that there are no so such privileges for Malaysia. Instead, we have to compete like any other country, often with the level of the playing field against us!
3. The most damaging practice is that our political leaders have been using race and religion to stir up support to maintain their political grip and to encourage their respective racial supporters to demand for various unreasonable economic rights and concessions. The political leaders have been indulging in “Divide and Hope to Prosper” at the expense of good governance, efficiency, productivity and above all, our ability to compete against other countries. These same political leaders are being hypocritical when they urge Malaysians to unite. True unity will never happen in this sort of divisive political and economic systems.
4. We know the system of “Divide and Hope to Prosper” has failed. Malaysians should consider adopting the attitude of “Unity in Prosperity”. This will entail the followings:
4.1. As the political leaders have failed to achieve true unity for Malaysians, we should not leave them to tell us how to achieve “Unity in Prosperity”. We should tell them what we want and how to do it.
4.2. First and foremost, Malaysians should have a healthy dosage of skepticism for current system and must be united to enforce serious “checks and balances” on our political leaders. The best way to do this to encourage the growth of the “two party system”.
4.3. Preferably, the two parties should have different/distinctive political/economic ideologies [not based on religion or race] so that there is a clear choice for Malaysians.
4.4. Dismantling of the feudal system should be given urgent attention by giving political leaders a tight leash:
4.4.1. All Cabinet Ministers and members of Parliament should be compelled to make public declaration of their asset, income and business interest annually. Any excuse not to compile is simply an admission of guilt of ill-gotten wealth.
4.4.2. There must be transparency and accountability in decision making by all ministers and throughout the system of government so that there is absolutely no room for any one of them becoming a feudal warlord or rent seeker.
4.4.3. The office of the Prime Minister can be held by an individual for a maximum of 2 terms only. He/she cannot hold this office again to prevent “the Putin game”.
4.5. To ensure that the Cabinet Ministers cannot hold excessive power or abuse their authorities, Parliament should appoint and supervise the Attorney-General, Head of Anti Corruption Commission, Governor of Bank Negara and their Boards/Committees.
4.6. Judicial Independence is an absolute necessity so that there is effective check and balance in 3 branches of Government.
5. We must also be united in demanding the political leaders to instill economic patrioticism among all Malaysians especially the “artificially manufactured business barons” and politicians. They have built up a very comfortable financial “buddy buddy” relationship of “you scratch my back and I scratch yours”, all these are at the expense of all Malaysians. They have done so much economic plundering that the Malaysian economy has been seriously damaged. Believe it or read it “in between the lines” in the preamble of the New Economic Model. The simple fact of life is that as Malaysians, we can no longer afford to let these “business robber barons” continue with their easy source of profit. They must be made to work as hard as any average Malaysians to be rich and not by corruption or “special political connections”. This enmeshment of political and big business interests, which has been recognized in the respective economic models of BN and PR, is clearly not sustainable and if not addressed with great urgency, will cause the collapse of the Malaysian economy in the near future. This model has provided Malaysians a temporary economic “good feel” for sometime simply because most of the major economic sectors have been kept going, directly or indirectly, by using billions and billions of revenue from petroleum, like power generation, transportation and highway construction. The most outstanding example is the PETRONAS Twin Towers. Without money from petroleum, 1 tower would have been a challenge – what more 2 highest towers in the world at the same time! The current economic model has not been built on the truly competitive potential of all Malaysians but has been kept going by our political leaders by widespread and indiscriminate subsidies [read: mismanagement] from our natural resources, especially oil and gas. What are we going to do after 2017 when Malaysia becomes a net importer?
6. As far as I can see, it is up to the “middle class”, educated, youths and urban Malaysians of all races who can see that it is to their economic benefits to achieve “UNITY IN PROSPERITY” by sharpening and up grading our competitiveness. These groups will be the beacons of Malaysia’s economic future as they can see what is happening to this country in comparison to other countries that have overtaken us. By and large, the rural folks will continue to be susceptible to political manipulations as they have been in the past.
7. The Almighty has been very kind to bless this lovely country with so many natural resources. If we Malaysians can unite and make the right kind of demands on the political leaders [and refuse to let either BN or PR lead us by the nose!] so that every Malaysian man, woman, son and daughter will enjoy equal opportunity, be at liberty to pursue their economic dreams and to be accorded assistance for those in need. Malaysia will be a great nation and envy to the world when we can achieve “UNITY IN PROSPERITY”