Najib’s reform initiatives is lacking in will but plenty in wish
Prime Minister Datuk Najib Tun Razak’s ambitious RMK10’s plan to remove investment obstacles to attract more FDI are scoffed and belittled by his own party men and Malay ultra groups. But he has not given up and is going ahead with public consultations. The mere thought of reform and liberalization sends shivers to Malay extremist being so used to clutches and special aids. So far the reforms penalize the poor with subsidy cuts but remain indifferent to cut unnecessary wastages and leakages incurred to appease the cronies. Foreign investors and general public seem to resign to the fact that his proposed changes may not be realized.
Our past FDI favorite destination status seems to fade away and those sleepy, war torn countries around us are moving ahead. Our productivity decline, human resource incompetency and lack of talent pool, poor quality of education and bureaucratic delays have pulled back the investment growth to minimal. A survey last week by the World Economic Forum showed Malaysia slipped two places in its global competitiveness rankings to 26th spot out of 139 countries while neighboring Indonesia surged 10 places to 44th spot. The quality of Malaysia’s institutions, ranked 17th by the WEF five years ago, has plunged to 42nd place since then.
Under the RMK10 per capital income is targeted to reach RM38845 by 2015 from the current figure RM23841. For this target to be achieved the economy must grow at an unrealistic rate of 10%. Besides are the systems and required skills and talents in place? Most of all are the resolve and political will strong enough to bulldoze the resistance and obstacles of extremist within the ruling coalition? The voice of Perkasa seems to be louder than UMNO. Prime Minister wants to accommodate the demands of Perkasa and expect the non Malays to understand this and remain faithfully. The non Malays have suffered tremendously by giving in to the demands of ultra Malays.
The prime minister expects the FDIs and SMEs to play a big role in the economic growth but are they included in the development plans. RMK10 shows the generous and non negotiated awarding of development projects to GLCs and crony companies. There is no room for MNIs, SMEs and even non Malay listed companies. Yet the slogan 1malaysia is mentioned all over the RMK10 along with NEP and special privileges to Malays. If the prime minister is really sincere in 1Malaysia why is he flip flopping and back pedaling on Perkasa and other racist?
Even if the Prime Minister gets the NGO support will the 1.2 million civil servants accept the dismantling of privileges and economic clutches? Their support and acceptance of equality and the real 1malaysia is crucial to the success of RMK10. These unresolved issues have to be settled for RMK10 to be successful. Malaysians are looking forward for an all inclusive economic plan. Can prime minister deliver one?