New Economic Model
New Economic Model must be consulted, debated and accepted before executed
The much awaited New Economic Model has finally rolled out with much pomp and promise without the strategies and tactics of executing its desired objectives. The civil service which has become more indolence, prejudiced and inefficient after implementing the New Economic Policy will be the executioner of this new model. Malaysian civil service is not known for transparency and efficient implementation. Malaysian private investors are looking overseas for opportunities indicating no confidence in the policy makers. Education policy makers have only produced graduates who are ill equipped for skilled jobs. Civil service has to reflect the Malaysian ethnic breakdown to cater for the needs and successful implementation of policies.
The foundation for any new economic model would be open discussion taking on board all key stakeholders like the various ethnic, genders, interest and professional groups and not just the ruling party politicians and elite groups. No open discussion was held and therefore a lot of secrecy and different interpretations causing anxiety among extremist and privileged groups who may in turn derail the model.
The government was blissfully indifferent to the grouses and complaints of marginalised groups until the political tsunami of March 2008. PM Najib Abdul Razak’s administration wants to respond and stay relevant to the political developments. He started with his NKRAs and KPIs on service sectors which seem to have slowed down. After 2 years from the March 2008, slogans and reform programs have not shown any thing drastically difference. Calls are echoing from different quarters for PM Najib to respond with bold and holistic reforms that will instil confidence in the people. The Reforms must restore the independence of judiciary, MACC and police and delivery process.
Malaysia may have the equipments and infrastructure for education but the quality of decision making, planning and policy implementation is deplorable. I visited an estate Tamil school about 50 km from Kuala Lumpur. The school with a student population of 100 has satellite dish and a small water purification plant and air conditioned computer class. But out of 12 teachers 9 are untrained temporary teachers. The students come from very poor economic background and most of them will be dropouts before they reach form 5. Three of the 80 students are Muslims whose father is a Bangladeshi estate worker. Education upon knowing this fact immediately sent one Ugama teacher who is not interested in teaching any other subjects.
The student’s interaction is limited to estate environment with no exposure to think differently. This estate community has no access to a more open, progressive worldview. The students will grow up and go along the peripheries of progress and development all the way in their life. The headmaster of this school has to take his own initiative to get school bags, stationary, shoes for the poor students. Next to this school is a Chinese school with no Chinese students but have a satellite dish and all the equipments. Here again the non Chinese students come from the same economic background and fair very badly in their studies.
Can our policy makers and implementers think more creatively and transform urban poor into much needed human resources? With the years of experience, training, foreign exposure and with billions spent on training and retraining can our civil service and policy makers fix these simple problems before we undertake new economic models. Can we prevent these school children from dropping out of schools? These poor students from kampong, estate or new villages must be accommodated and their inclinations and talents must be identified and shaped into good citizens of our country. Our policy makers must realise that they cannot create a high income nation out of thin air. Policy makers must reverse the brain drain and treat all ethnics in this country as respected Malaysian citizens.