Najib, redeem thyself


The Umno President must address the crucial issues

Scott Ng, Free Malaysia Today

So we’ve got a taste of what our Prime Minister has become capable of after about five years at the helm. A lot of bluster and rhetoric, a marked shift towards the right in deference to Mahathir Mohamed, and very little policy to speak of.

In fact, one would not be remiss to say that aside from the stunning backtracking on his promise to repeal the Sedition Act, there was zero policy in his speech at the Umno general assembly yesterday. Let’s remind ourselves that mainstream newspapers used to refer to the Umno presidential address as his Policy Speech. Or do they still do so?

Najib answered none of the pressing concerns that hang over the head of the Malay community, and a failure to do so will only whittle away at what remains of his already tenuous support. So, Prime Minister, here’s the cheat sheet on exactly what you need to address in your closing speech at the Umno general assembly to redeem yourself.

The Economy

Much has been written about the failing state of the Malaysian economy, and things are only set to get worse next year with the implementation of the GST and the removal of fuel subsidies on RON95. Despite the rosy outlook of a short rise in inflation put out by government think tanks, the reality is that this move pushes Malaysia dangerously close to stagflation, similar to what has happened to Japan.

Najib would do well to tell us what safety nets have been put in place to prevent the poverty level from rising, as the Malay population makes up the majority of Malaysians earning below RM2,000 a month, barely enough to survive in major cities like Kuala Lumpur, where RM50 a day hardly covers three meals, parking and fuel costs.

The Education System

Enough about vernacular education. What Najib should address is our national education system, which has been bludgeoned by brickbats for the past couple of years, what with the constant flip-flopping over whether Maths and Science should be taught in English and what not. The concern now is how we can improve the broken education system to finally produce employable graduates.

We’ve written before on how the Malaysian government was beginning to mimic elements of the Nordic education systems, which encourage individual growth to produce creative graduates with soft skills like communication and leadership. Perhaps it is time to look closer into that system and see what in it can mend what we have.