Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Pakatan MPs want action, not rhetoric

Pakatan Rakyat (PR) MPs cautiously welcomed Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s New Economic Model (NEM) but said the devil is in the detail and actual implementation.

The prime minister unveiled the NEM that was long on ideas and proposals to raise income levels of all disadvantaged groups but short on detail.

“The only thing that I saw positive was the recognition that there was “rent-seeking” and “patronage” within the current administration. It is an admission that I think we are hearing for the first time, but the question then is how are they going to address such issues?” asked Petaling Jaya Utara Tony Pua.

The DAP national publicity chief and economic strategist said the NEM raised a lot of questions although Najib had said full details will be released with the 10th Malaysian Plan in June.

“How are moves such as allowing EPF to invest more money overseas and Petronas listing two subsidiaries on Bursa Malaysia going to change our economy? It does not make it a new economic model which Najib touted as the new key pillar of change. This (NEM) reads like another budget.

“There were some policies that they (government) want open tenders to develop land but they also put it the caveat that they can have joint venture for such purpose. My biggest question is how are they going to select their joint venture partners?” he said.

Pua said that NEM is a continuation of policies of previous administrations.

“I don’t see great transformation in the NEM but continuity from past policies. The gist of it is there are no specifics. There were some announcements that made me ‘curious’ such as the corporatisation of MIDA which I feel makes no difference.

“You talk about transformation based on needs, open tender, competitiveness and raising and our income to US$15,000 (RM49,000). These are goals that have been stated many times before by PM Datuk Seri Najib Razak or past PMs Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. As such, there is nothing new,” he said.

Pua stressed that there must be major policies changes for NEM to be implemented.

“We are waiting for the policies and we hope it is true. When they talk about by merit and by need, we are looking at organizations like MARA and schemes like ASB and a whole series of policies which are classified strictly by race and not by need which means that as long you are Malays, doesn’t matter if you are a millionaire or poor man on the street, you will get benefits. A policy by need means that this policy must all be restructured and targeted towards the lower middle class and the poorer segment of society. I don’t see them doing that,” he said.

Ipoh Barat MP M. Kulasegaran said the civil service must change before the NEM can be implemented.

“I think the mindset of the civil servants must first change, the government may be aspiring to do that but my worry is that there are so many roadblocks on the way,” the DAP leader told The Malaysian Insider.

Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar questioned why the NEM is being announced in two stages.

“In terms of the announcement against rent seeking, especially for the benefits of all Malaysians, I certainly support it and I am happy because we have been bringing it up since 2006 ...

“But there are frequent delays, and that it is done in stages, opens it to a lot of interpretation that has been politically influenced by several groups. So it is important that if they want to make changes then they must do it decisively. We have yet to see this because so far we have only seen rhetoric ... when you talk about structural reforms then you have to implement structural reforms,” the PKR MP said.

But Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad was dismissive of NEM and said that it was only political propaganda.

“I think when you talk about affirmative action, you must differentiate it from the policy of helping all races because when you are talking about affirmative action, you are zeroing in to a particular community. You cannot have affirmative action for everybody.

“I think Datuk Seri Najib is trying to change the image of Umno and Barisan Nasional where they are trying to be inclusive. This has been his stance and posture since he became prime minister. But in terms of what he has been doing on the ground, it is business as usual. There are no actual practical changes that are happening, they are still playing the race card,” the PAS strategist said.

courtesy of Malaysian Insider

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