Pakatan Rakyat’s policy statement on New Economic Model (Part 3d)

The inherent lack of transparency

The market greeted government’s move to dispose its assets and develops some parcels of lands to spur economic activities with some excitement. One of the first projects announced was the development of government lands in Sungai Buloh for a gross development value of RM5 billion to be jointly developed by government and EPF.

Unfortunately, the positive response was short-lived as news soon circulated that MRCB was expected to be appointed as the contractor for the project; prompting allegations of insider trading.

Whatever optimism there was with regards to the planned disposal of government assets died instantaneously and marred the unveiling of NEM.

The basic issue of transparency did not receive adequate attention and priority in NEM when it is one of the biggest ills of our economy.

While NEM claims to promote openness to spur competition, it was rather muted on issues that are considered sensitive to the ruling elite – that of corruption, transparency and accountability.

This major contradiction will become a major impediment in the implementation of NEM; as the public and market will remain sceptical of the seriousness of economic reforms to be carried out by Barisan Nasional – when one of the prerequisites of such reforms i.e. transparency is glaringly ignored.

Discrimination by race and political affiliation

NEM dwells considerably on efforts to provide assistance to the bottom 40% of our society in what it calls a “need-based” affirmative action.

While the shift from race-based assistance to an approach based on needs is welcomed, Barisan Nasional is also notorious with another kind of discrimination that has been practised over the past decades i.e. affiliation-based discrimination.

The discrimination against non-Barisan Nasional supporters is so rampant over the years that such discrimination; especially in relation to disbursement of government financial assistance to the needy groups has been accepted as a norm.

A good example of such a flagrant abuse of public fund to discriminate non-Barisan Nasional supporters is the administration of Tekun Nasional, a RM700 million fund intended to provide soft loans to needy groups to start an enterprise.

Applicants are required to fill up a form which contains a special section for endorsement of wakil rakyat (Section G). It has been documented that Tekun Nasional only accepts forms endorsed by Barisan Nasional’s wakil rakyat which automatically excludes non-Barisan Nasional supporters.

Since 2000, the RM700 million that Barisan Nasional claimed to have disbursed goes mostly to Barisan Nasional supporters and this act of discrimination has become an ill that most Malaysians simply live with.

Unless there is a complete overhaul of the distribution and administration system to disburse the assistance to the needy 40% of our society, an additional financial allocation over and above the existing funds allocated to Tekun Nasional will create more Umno local warlords who do not think twice to discriminate non-Barisan Nasional supporters.

In this environment and administrative set up, instead of alleviating the standard of living of the society’s poor, the allocation will breed more corruption and skew the financial resources to only certain sections of the society.

It is thus not surprising that in spite of massive financial allocations over the years, we have missed our poverty eradication target year after year.

What is needed urgently goes beyond numerical allocation of financial resources. Malaysia urgently needs to eliminate discrimination in whatever forms – including discrimination based on political affiliation.

Until this is achieved, Barisan Nasional’s promise in NEM to focus on the bottom 40% of the society will ring hollow as the effort will be sabotaged by its own local warlords.

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  1. #1 by chengho on Wednesday, 21 April 2010 - 6:47 am

    GLC and Khazanah

  2. #2 by DCLXVI on Thursday, 22 April 2010 - 2:28 pm

    chengho :
    GLC and Khazanah

    Cronies and rent-seekers

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