I BELIEVE that most concerned Malaysians will agree with the clarion call to have another system by Nasir Razak, in his talk to the Chevening Alumni recently.
He has called for three major reforms: to referee political competition, to have a clear separation of business, government and politics and to introduce electoral reforms.
Yet, I am sure these reforms are not exhaustive. We can add many more, including the revision and even preferably the replacement of the outdated New Economic Policy (NEP).
The NEP was introduced by Nasir’s illustrious late father Abdul Razak Hussein just after the tragic May 1969 riots.
It was then the right policy and could have benefitted our beloved nation much more than it did.
I served under Razak and we understood and found the NEP to be necessary and fair to all at that time.
Poverty was to be eradicated, regardless of race and the restructuring of the economy was planned to be equitable to all.
Yet, sadly, the NEP was later distorted in its implementation. Although poverty was reduced considerably, there were still serious pockets of dire poverty in many parts of rural Malaysia, especially in Sabah, Sarawak, Kelantan and Terengganu.
Now, other rural and even many urban areas in our country have Malaysians surviving from hand to mouth.
There have been also considerable financial abuses in the process of restructuring. This has led to so much cronyism, corruption and money politics and the callous wastage of public funds, as indicated by several auditor-general’s reports and the press.
The dreadful Covid-19 virus has exposed this poverty, and economic and financial mismanagement even more so today.
Budget 2021 has highlighted the growing budget deficits and rising debt, and has appeared to be somewhat racial in its thrust.
This is most unfortunate. The question in people’s minds is: how long can we go on like this?
Another system: reforms
Polarisation according to race and religion has increased. National unity has declined and there is general despair in the country, particularly over the ugly politicking taking place and frogging becoming the national political past time.
So, we need to reform the NEP and replace it with another system, in order to bring back more hope and confidence in the future and greater national unity.
Thus, we need to follow up with Nasir’s proposal to establish a second national consultative council, as soon as possible.
The proposals of this SNCC should not be confined to mainly economic policies but cover all aspects on our future development as a Malaysia Baru.
Malaysia Baru will have to outline our future aspirations. Do we want to be a Malaysia for all Malaysians or only for Malays and those who believe in ketuananship?
Should we not provide equal opportunities for All Malaysians, based on their basic needs and not on race and religion? The Malays will still benefit most from a fair policy.
In fact, these very policies were envisaged by the late Razak and it will be a great tribute to his memory if his able and faithful son Nasir continues with the high standards that his father set for us all, as Malaysians first.
With the Budget 2021 presentation over and the 12th Malaysia Plan in sight, and after 50 years of the NEP, it is timely that a second national consultative council be established to provide valuable inputs into the new five-year plan.
The government would have to hold wide consultations to prepare a new plan that has wide consensus, and not be confined to a small group of experts who may not be able to strike the right balance for optimum socio-economic growth and fair income distribution for all Malaysians. – November 23, 2020.
* Ramon Navaratnam is the asli chairman, Centre of Public Policy Studies.
* This is the opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insight.