Policy paralysis renders 11th Malaysia plan nought

The 11th Malaysia Plan announced by the prime minister was high in objectives, vision and political rhetoric but low in action plans and implementation strategies. It is common knowledge that the Achilles’ heel of the Umno-led government is implementation. The much promoted and published goal of reaching high-income status has finally reached its final lap. The vision 2020 high-income status goal was envisaged and mooted by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in the early 1990s during the 6th Malaysia Plan. Since then, every Malaysia Plan was implemented to take the country closer to high-income status and finally reach it by 2020. To achieve high-income status, quality education, skills training and entrepreneurial development have to be the cornerstone of the economic policy.

Every year, the Education Ministry is allotted the highest budget (21% in 2015) to enhance education quality, competence and skills. The Education Ministry introduced a number of blueprints to achieve these objectives. But the latest OECD report places Malaysia 52nd out of 76 countries in terms of our students’ ability to grasp basic skills. While our Singapore tops the list on this score. The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), which evaluates levels of literacy amongst 15-year-olds in mathematics, science and reading skills, as well as critical problem-solving skills—as opposed to memorisation—placed Malaysia 55th out of 74 countries. Despite the high expenditure on education, the achievements are disappointing and a letdown.

Education Minister Tan Sri Muhiddin Yassin himself got a shock at the international achievements of Malaysian students when compared to our neighbouring countries. Education has been deliberately allowed to be hijacked by racists and bigots by the UMNO government far too long. Besides public education institutions are centres of segregation and perverted ideologies. After all the hype about smart and cluster schools, only 6% of non-Malay students are in national schools (sekolah kebangsaan) compared to 12% of non-Chinese students in national-type Chinese schools.

Malaysia was ranked 64th out of 187 countries surveyed under the Human Development Index (HDI) last year, according to the 2013 Human Development Report (HDR) of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). All the slogan chanting and politically expedient proclamations of developing human resources have not taken Malaysians to a state of high productivity. Besides 1.5 million Skilled Malaysians who are not appreciated in their own country are developing other countries.

The addiction on cheap legal and illegal foreign workers has made Malaysia the heaven for human trafficking and smuggling. Nepotism and corruption amongst the enforcement agencies have made the country famous worldwide for the wrong reasons worldwide. All effort to upskill and automation are half hearted and ended with failure but money spent. Local university graduates are less employable compared to foreign university graduates.

According to a National Economic Advisory Council survey of household income in 2008, 80% of Malaysian households made below RM2957 a month. Putrajaya has to pay BR1M money of RM950 per year to support this group. Therefore, reaching high- income status within the next five years is uphill task, given the high unskilled foreign workers presence. The increasing economic slowdown internationally and political risk locally does not help either.

Malaysia has to reverse the outflow of skilled labour and halt the inflow of cheap migrant labour if it wants to achieve high-income status and reduce income inequality. Malaysia has to treat its own citizens equally irrespective of their racial background if it were to progress as a high income nation. All the scandals, wastages and abuse of power shows that divide and rule will ruin this country.

Explore posts in the same categories: From the desk of Senator S Ramakrishnan

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