There should be a ten-year plan to undo the deviations and injustices of the NEP and the curse of corruption which are the major causes for Malaysia losing out to other countries in the past half-a-century

The 23-month Covid-19 Pandemic should be a wake-up call to Malaysians that in the last half-a-century, Malaysia had been failing to live up to our potential whether in talents or resources, and one nation after another is overtaking Malaysia whether in terms of international competitiveness, good governance, the fight against corruption or providing an effective and successful government.

We must pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and stop regressing and work to fulfil our promise to be a world-class great nation.

This is not going to be achieved in a year or two, not even in a decade or two, but let all Malaysians have common vision to achieve the objective of a world-class great nation by before Malaysia’s Centennial in 2057 – in 36 years’ time.

The proposal by Nazir Razak and 57 other prominent Malaysians, including former Deputy Prime Minister Musa Hitam, former Johore Mentri Besar Ghani Othman, outstanding personalities like Ambiga Sreeenevasan, Andrew Sheng and Sheriff Kassim, for a national re-set of national policies and institutions cannot have come at a more appropriate time and their proposal for a Better Malaysia must be given serious consideration by all Malaysians.

They proposed the formation of a deliberative platform under the auspices of the Conference of Rulers “to deliberate and recommend systemic reforms towards a better Malaysia: one that is politically more democratic and stable; economically more dynamic and conditioned to face pressing challenges such the 4th Industrial Revolution and climate change; and socially more just and aligned with our original aspirations of becoming a nation of Malaysians”.

As admitted by them, the reforms of the nation in the early 70s, including the introduction of the New Economic Policy, were to cater to the needs of the nation at that time.

They said:

“But these reforms were not designed to last indefinitely, and in the case of the New Economic Policy (NEP), a 20-year term limit was set. This national reset took place over 50 years ago, and even though so much has changed for Malaysia and Malaysians, the system remains substantially in place.

“In its early years, the new system was largely successful, bringing much needed political stability, accelerating economic growth, reducing poverty and rebalancing wealth between communities.

“But the system also had negative side effects, namely heightened corruption, the hardening of identity politics and concentration of power, which grew in prominence as the system was prolonged. These negative side effects feed on each other and are at the heart of Malaysia’s systemic dysfunctions today.

“Furthermore, the system grew resistant to reforms: the Abdullah Badawi, Najib and second Mahathir administrations all began with promises of substantial reforms, but failed to achieve material change. In many instances, piecemeal reform proposals were quickly given racial or religious overtones by vested interests and effectively resisted.”

The time has come for a major reset of national policies and institutions.

There should be a ten-year plan to undo the deviations and injustices of the NEP and the curse of corruption which are the major causes for Malaysia losing out to other countries in the past half-a-century.

Malaysians should be shocked and upset that Malaysia is heading towards a worse report for Malaysia in the next Transparency International 2021 Corruption Perception Index but this is not the case. Instead, we seem to be creating the conditions for the person who turned Malaysia into a kleptocracy to return as the 10th Prime Minister of Malaysia.

We must inculcate among Malaysians the mindset of “Malaysian First”, whether they are Malays, Chinese, Indians, Kadazans, Ibans or whether they are Muslims, Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Sikkhists or Taoists.

This is in fact embodied in the five Rukun Negara principles, which must be given new life as we cannot have Cabinet Ministers who do not subscribe to these basic nation-building polices in Malaysia’s plural society.

In fact, an appropriate occasion for the reaffirmation of the Rukun Negara principles is on Sunday, which is the last day of Prime Minister Ismail Sabri’s First 100 Days. I hope he would declare that his “Keluarga Malaysia” concept is fully founded on the five Rukun Negara principles.

(Speech by DAP MP for Iskandar Puteri Lim Kit Siang at a dialogue at Iskandar Puteri DAP service centre on Friday, November 26, 2021 at 8 pm)

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