Getting A New Deal For Malaysians: Plenty Of New Parties But No New Ideas – Analysis

There is an emergence of a host of new political parties at a time Malaysia is in crisis. This is been caused by political infighting, party splits, and the pursuit of political power as the end. 

Murray Hunter, Eurasia Review

Getting elected to a state assembly or the federal parliament shouldn’t be an end in itself. The objective should be serving the people and trying to make Malaysia a better place to live. As we saw with the short stint of the so-called reform government, Pakatan Harapan did nothing new, and many MPs seemed to enjoy the trappings of power, rather than serving the people.

Where does public policy actually come from?

The reality is that very little policy actually comes from the governing political parties. Policy has actually changed very little from administration to administration.

Government public policy largely comes from within the Malaysian civil service. Ministries and states have committees and working groups which submit ideas and plans to the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) within the Prime Ministers’ Department (PMO). The EPU is the coordinating body for most of Malaysia’s policy making. In addition, highly paid consultants are employed from time to time, to coordinate and develop specific policy packages, such as the 12th Malaysian Plan.

Although, the directors of the EPU and ministries are highly educated, they live and work within a bubble that has protected them from the hardships caused by the restrictions during the Covid pandemic. Most have not felt the hardships and have tended to become oblivious to growing poverty, unemployment, and food security issues challenging the vibrancy of the nation today.

Consequently, public policy has become insular and inward looking, and desperately requires new ideas. This is what the opposition and new political parties should be doing, advocating new ideas and solutions to the national issues.

Important concerns for Malaysians

Relative poverty has grown over the last two years. Statistics are lagging behind the actualities on the ground. If we calculated the actual relative poverty figure on the basis of what most are advocating as a minimum wage, then the figure would be over 10%.

Rising inflation is widening the wealth gap even further. Malaysia is ranked the 3rd highest nation in terms of income inequality within the wider Asian region. In Malaysia’s race to become a high-technology economy, a low technology, labour intensive informal sector, made up of almost 2 million people and their dependents, have been left behind.

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