The crux of the matter is the Political Will. In capital letters. The lack of it, that is.
Many of the problems of unity in the country can be solved in ways most politicians know how to. It’s only a matter of whether there is the will to do so. Or it’s more convenient to find ways to circumvent them. It’s the calculations for the votes that is all important to the politicians. Hence, it was said, “Single-stream schooling will be implemented when the rakyat wants it”. Without saying how to determine whether the rakyat wants it now or not. Never mind the fact that Article 152 of the Constitution says Bahasa Malaysia is the National Language. And vernacular schools do not use it as the medium of instruction.
Or they say, “the 30% Bumiputera equity target will be retained”. Without spelling out that the New Economic Policy (NEP) is being continued fully in the New Economic Model (NEM). Or not applying the Sedition Act against those who call for the abolition of the 30% Bumi equity target. The call being made even after the announcement in Parliament that it would be retained. Nothing was done beyond just telling the general public not to raise sensitive issues. It went to the extent of becoming farcical.
We rarely agree with the views expressed by Sakmongkol AK47. But this time we do. On the matter of political will stated in his article reproduced below.
With the political will not there, even the civil servants are said not to be co-operating. Frustrating the wishes of the political masters, as implied in the third article below. And the writer went to town and dug all the shit he could find. And poured it in the Sin Chew article below.
Then an opposition party Member of Parliament with a PhD says he is giving his two cents worth. The last article below is worth precisely that. Writing about patriotism without mentioning the Constitution as a basis of loyalty and love for the country is meaningless. It’s like saying one is loyal and patriotic simply because one utters the words “I love my country” a hundred times. Or that one pays tax. Or flies the flag.
That is the stuff of the average guy. Not someone with a PhD. And an MP who is supposed to provide leadership, guidance and appropriate advice to his supporters. Quoting an environmentalist that patriotism means defending the country against the government. Quoting Voltaire that it is OK to be wrong when perceiving the Government is wrong. Stuff that inspired a revolution – the French Revolution. In the Malaysian context, it’s a lot of political hogwash. And he belongs to the Islamic party, PAS. In cahout with the racist party, DAP. Racist because their so-called Malaysian Malaysia slogan is subversive to the Special Position of the Malays and the Bumiputeras of Sabah and Sarawak. Opposed the New Economic Policy. Calling for equality without acknowledging that in this country equality must take into account the Malay and Bumiputera Special Position which is enshrined in the Constitution.
Does he not notice the section of the citizenry which does not respect Articles 152 and 153 of the Constitution, the Social Contract? Those who alienate themselves by insisting on vernacular schools and disregarding Bahasa Malaysia as the National Language? Those who even dare to ask, seditiously, that the 30% Bumiputera equity target be abolished, making others react by asking that similar action be done to their citizenship? Those who shout to one another in Parliament and one even climbed the table, stood up on the table in full State Legislative Assembly uniform shouting at opponents, leading to the Sultan of Perak publicly drawing their attention to such rowdy behaviour? That these are the reasons for the lack of enthusiasm on Merdaka and National Day among that section of the population?
Let’s discuss these. Readers are invited to read the comments and the replies to them as well. A lot of our thoughts and opinions are stated there. And do join in the discussions. However much or little you may want to say. Welcome.
THURSDAY, 30 SEPTEMBER 2010
Political will, the NEM and ETP.
by Sakmongkol AK47
The people who wrote the NEM say, the heart of the model is the political will of the government. In simpler language, it means the government must be ready to not spare the rod.
So far, it has shown a lot of slacks in this department. The PM as the principal driver, has shown himself to be in a state of perpetual diffidence; he can’t control the UMNO enforcers, he is easily spooked by Perkasa and is seen to be over eager to please non Malay demands. He believes the success of the NEM and ETP depends on the involvement and support of the non bumis.
The sad part is, that’s true. Which group is more economically adaptive and will respond to the ‘incentivize’ plans of the government? Which group has better stock of knowledge workers? Which group is more competitive? The non bumis.
So what do you do to the to-be-marginalized group? Najib has not addressed this issue sufficiently. It is causing him minus marks. Even UMNO people are questioning his Malay credentials. He is more absorbed into showy PR exercises. He is eager to champion his new philosophy of 1 Malaysia where our ethnic and cultural diversity will be strategically leveraged.
But you have to solve the basic economic issues. You can’t write in special positions and such things into economics. You have to devise programs, policies to help them. Policies, and actions help them earn income, not having some provisions written in. so you come up with the nebulous concept of market friendly affirmative action. What is this? If you are already market friendly and driven, you don’t need a special category of market friendly affirmative action.
In other words you are saying, you don’t have any solid policies to help out the 40% base. But you have policies for the top 20%. For the bottom 40% you have market friendly affirmative action. For the top 20%, you actually have projects for them dropping as it were, like manna from heaven.
In this sense, when the NEAC recommends that the government must have solid political will, it is right. It must have the heart of steel to break the logjam of vested interests. It is also right to point out that the opposition will come mainly from people who are beneficiaries of rent seeking activities.
While it is right in this aspect, it is wrong in identifying those people with the vested interests. Perkasa? Miss by a mile.
The main beneficiaries are ganging up in support of the NEM to ensure that remain beneficiaries and stakeholders to the new plan. bankers, big contractors, direct negotiation bidders, the government’s business partners are all there to celebrate the hallelujah-ing the ETP show.
Here is one big contradiction. The NEM and ETP are crafted by technocrats. They say, we must have political will. They also say we must have a process of engagement. Here is the contradiction.
The political will or its lacking are explained by non politicians. Asking 3000 people to come for an exceedingly expensive sandwich party can hardly qualify as a process of engagement and dissemination of the ideas of the NEM. Because it isn’t done by politicians or through political channels, it will not have the power backing. The survival of the NEM, the ETP and whatever catchphrases therein, depend on political backing.
The sponsors and promoters of the NEM and ETP have displayed ignorance in not having these two ‘projects’ communicated by the political machinery..
The majority of the UMNO members, who provide the steel to the heart are not even aware what is the NEM or the ETP. Yet, these will impact on them the most- since they are direct beneficiaries of government big push of strategic policies.
Come on baby, light my fire.
The wheels of the NEM are of course the SRIs- strategic reform initiatives. Phew!
Fire up the private sector so that they will invest in high value added products and services. But of course- the 43-50 billion MRT is a valued added product and service. It is a valuable plan for the sponsors of the plan.
The large property development projects involving government land – that is also a high tech value added investment. That would certainly fire the voracious and nefarious appetites of gatekeepers and vested interest groups.
We want to develop quality workforce. Start with raising entry level qualification of those going into government jobs. We must find people who are paid well and won’t complain as overworked and underpaid. You get paid commensurate with the qualifications you have.
The NEAC extols the creating of competitive domestic economy. Of course again by employing cutting edge methods such as the Swiss challenge method. Hence MMC-Gamuda for example is invited to propose the building of MRT. Others are invited to counter offer and the first proposer has the first right of refusal. Who are the ‘others’?
But here is the clearest indication of lack of political will.
The Council will now seek and incorporate feedback and collaborate with all stakeholders over the next few months to further analyse and detail the policy measures and implementation frameworks.
In other words baby, it is still the age of government knows best. Unfortunately, it’s a government that is not sure of its top down policies.
NEM – Najib’s Economic Policies
As far as economic policies to deal with Malays are concerned, thus far, Najib’s policies are invisible. We don’t see specifics beyond the stylized phrase- market friendly affirmative action.
Tun Razak was a focused man. He was PM. He thought hard about Malay economics. He was connected. In Najib’s case, we get a different picture. He hasn’t got that connection. I don’t know who advises him on economic policies. Maybe it’s the NEAC. Or maybe its McKinsey Consulting group. Maybe its Omar Ong and associates who has earned big money to buy himself a bachelor pad worth RM 15 million. Who knows?
The recent carnival-like show, with PowerPoint shots and copious flow of refreshments and energized emceeing ala Jobs or Tom Peters, bear the hallmarks of typical business school presentations. In that sense, Najib has abdicated thought leadership. he wasn’t there, preferring the economic plans to be crafted by consultants and presented by the most junior minister.
I would have thought, an economic plan of this magnitude must near the personal imprimatur of the PM himself. It should be the PM himself acting as chief coach the other day. But then maybe it’s all part of his strategy- to have the ability to disown aspects of the ETP if they proved to be unpalatable to the public. Belum muktamad.
The new economic model is the alternative approved by Dato Najib to supplant the NEP-like policies. NEP-like policies are policy instruments and not economic theories. We need to recognize these. Tun Razak the architect of the NEP recognized the limitations of unbridled free market economy, with respect to the circumstances by which Malays find themselves in. By circumstances we mean, the overall social, cultural and even political enabling environment that shape the Malay mind and his actions.
These were probably what Tun Razak discovered when he started the NEP. The Malay has the same maximizing postulates but with different emphasis. Let’s say, for convenient sake, the Malay values graceful living more. By that we mean, he will not go overboard so as to sacrifice personal comfort for that extra income. If he can earn sufficient to keep body and soul intact, he will not overextend to make the body satisfied at the expense of the soul’s discomfort.
Let us further say, even though we don’t fault the Malay for having this mindset, we feel its not right and supportive of our desire to build a prosperous country. For that we need a precocious, acquisitive and aggressive spirit. We want to cultivate the willingness to sacrifice personal comfort, adopting a philosophy of wanting to. Wanting more, wanting better, wanting bigger. Always improving on the existing order of things.
How do we re-engineer the conventional Malay mindset? Has the PM applied his mind to address this particular issue? If he doesn’t, he is dangerously close to abandoning Tun Razak’s legacy?
Good policies frustrated by poor implementers
Opinion 2010-10-01 15:22
By LIM SUE GOAN
Translated by SOONG PHUI JEE
The civil service with its 1.29 million staff should be the implementation engine to generate the success of the Government Transformation Plan (GTP), the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) and the 1Malaysia concept. Unfortunately, many civil servants do not seem too enthusiastic or passionate enough, and also lack the essential quality and skills to contribute substantially to these programmes and associate projects.
How could the civil servants help the country to transform into a high-income economy if they have no discipline, sense of moral values on what is right or wrong, professional ethics, and broad worldview?
The case involving syabu worth RM250 million is the best negative example. Four police officers were awarded and promoted for refusing bribes offered by the drug suspects. However, the four officer were later found to have secretly stolen four packs of syabu as a “reward” for themselves.
Based on the principle of natural justice that “the benefit of doubt shall be given to the defendant”, the drug accused Lee Yong Toe was acquitted.
Meanwhile, the police officers accused having been involved in the theft of 40kg of drugs that were meant to be court exhibits were merely let off by having their pay increment and promotion frozen. The light punishment, if it could be called a punishment, is simply outrageous, and reflects a sickening cronyism in the public service.
It is surely a worrying trend that power abuse and corruption are seemingly becoming the general civil service culture.
Several senior civil servants were charged with corruption, but many of them were acquitted due to technicalities or poor investigative evidence, whether genuine or deliberate.
In addition, lengthy procedures and red tapes are involved for actions to be taken against civil servants who have committed wrongdoings. For example, no action has been taken yet against the school principals who have made racist remarks, on the flimsy and ridiculous excuse that the Education Minister has no power to act on them.
If corruption and power abuses have become the habits of the public domain, it is impossible to achieve the National Key Result Area of combating graft.
Management Science has stated that “execution is the discipline of getting things done”. There will be no execution power without discipline and the most important element to promote economic restructuring is execution.
Chief Justice Tun Zaki Azmi has personally observed the lack of discipline among civil servants during an incognito tour. Many civil servants were eating at the cafeteria and court clerks were caught sleeping during office hours, while pots, gas barrels, stoves and sauces were found in conference rooms as some civil servants have actually turned the conference rooms into kitchens! When he sat at the front desk one morning, he found that many court staff members came in late for work.
Zaki described what he saw and heard “crazy”. However, there should be more crazy things out there, including paying RM5,700 for a car jack worth RM50 and the Bureau Tata Negara’s (BTN) refusal to listen to advice.
BTN officers have not learned a lesson from the outbreak of controversy over racist curriculum in December 2009, and the resignation of Datuk Nasir Safar, a former aide to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, over his racist remarks. They just continue blustering. It certainly is an act of indiscipline.
How can a public service team with declining discipline executes major policies?
Moreover, the country is undergoing an unusual period filled with political chaos, people trying to fish in troubled waters, extreme racists clamours and the confrontation between the BN and the Pakatan Malaysia. Therefore, the 1.29 million of civil servants must keep a clear head. If they are unable to distinguish between public and private interests and just follow Malay rights group Perkasa to wallow in the mire, it will only make things worse.
If the civil servants remain unchanged, how are they going to implement the transformation plans? It is indeed a big dilema for the Najib administration.
Sin Chew Daily
September 04, 2010
by Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad, a member of the PAS central working committee and MP of Kuala Selangor.
SEPT 4 — I did not want to write anything on the 53rd Merdeka Day this year. For the more discerning sections of the rakyat, the spate of events that preceded it spoke for themselves. But with the Malaysia Day on September 16 drawing close, it doesn’t benefit anyone to remain under a self-imposed gag-order. This writer is back in his combative, engaging mood to share his two sen’s worth.
Despite the efforts of showcasing the Merdeka Celebration as a “burst of patriotism, a sight to behold and a moment to cherish” by the Barisan Nasional-mainstream media, many would disagree that it was a phenomenon that went beyond the confine of the walls of Stadium Putra in Bukit Jalil. Very sad indeed.
Its absence was even more palpable nationwide and it doesn’t take much convincing to arrive at that conclusion either. But the fundamental question to address is, “Why?”
What has become of the patriotism of the entire citizenry, you may like to ask?
Why are we no longer willing to voluntarily and spontaneously express and exhibit our love for our nation, to support and defend its cause with devotion? Isn’t that the universal definition of a patriot? Has it been become obsolete for now? No! Is it still valid? Yes! But why aren’t we capable of showing all this anymore? Why has it gone stale, if not entirely dead?
The answers to these million ringgit questions lie in the very questions themselves. The state of voluntarism and spontaneity in expressing love and devotion for the nation has a lot to do with one’s conviction.
One’s conviction, in turn, defines one’s attitude and invariably value-judgment. You cannot impose and compel perception, much less conviction, in others. Compulsion is very much against the nature of love and devotion. Compulsion breeds hypocrisy, the anti-thesis of true love and a disease that betrays devotion.
Lest I am misunderstood, let it be clear that I am not demanding that patriotism be revisited but, more importantly, contextualised. It is a timeless moral precept worthy of embodiment. What remains debatable and the bone of contention is how to express and exhibit patriotism specific to one’s political and historical context.
Historically, the challenge of achieving independence from the colonial British had rallied and galvanised the nation from all walks of life and ideological persuasions. Despite their diversity, the founding fathers and their generation strived and heavily sacrificed their all to attain independence in their respective ways. It was perhaps patriotism at its best.
Five decades later, the symbolism has been reduced to waving the Jalur-Gemilang and episodically parading of our youths and uniformed security forces to demonstrate discipline and resolve to defend the country.
Quite evidently, this symbolism of the post-colonial era could no longer hold the nation together, much to the disgust of our leaders. Needless to say, patriotism is surely more than flag-flying at places of business, in house compounds and on motor vehicles.
The nation is now in a severe state of despondency, and embattled with unending crisis. It is in dire need of rejuvenation in its concept and embodiment of patriotism. Not only has it to grapple with the ever challenging global economy and its uncertainties, the systemic rot as a result of subversion of all critical institutions has exacerbated the nation’s decline in competitiveness.
The country, recognised by World Bank as one of the richest nations on earth by way of resource per capita, is languishing in myriad uncertainties and under-performance.
The grim and gloomy outlook seems never-ending. What the rakyat never seemed to understand is why the endemic corruption and leakages continue unabated. And why, despite the many high-sounding mantras of inclusivity and market-friendly approaches of the prime minister, is the nation still beholden to an “affirmative action policy” that eventually only favours a few business elites well-connected to the power-that-be. Why is the divide between the haves and have-nots yawning further post-NEP?
As if that isn’t enough to keep the rakyat in a beleaguered state, the BN-leaders under the premiership of Datuk Seri Najib Razak seem least concerned if the country is torn apart by the spate of race-hate politics that they seem to engender.
We are now mired in racial-hatred and antagonism as never before. Seeing the racial divide widen sickens me and a good many of us, save the racial bigots that strive and thrive in racism.
Going by the spectre of racial-slurs, inflammatory and venomous rhetoric of political leaders and many other prominent people — most unexpectedly from heads of schools — the nation stands numb in thinking of what lies ahead for them and theirs.
As we celebrate this auspicious anniversary, we seemed mired in increasingly rabid and insulting racism, which greatly threatens our already flimsy unity and precarious contrasting diversity.
Perhaps it was never very good anyway in the recent past, but it has surely become a lot worse of late. Never has the rakyat witnessed anything resembling this before, save of course the scourge of May 13, 1969. Without attempting to enumerate the various events, as it pains us further every time it is repeated, you shudder at the thought of what might be the grand finale of it all. God forbid!
The nation, now apparently caught in a transition politics of change and reform, demands that leaders shall no longer turn a deaf ear and a blind eye to the many troubling and turbulent state of the nation.
With this changing landscape of evolving New Politics and a nascent two-party system slowly yet surely being put in place, I now implore that the timeless moral imperative of patriotism be similarly contextualised and revisited as a national dialogue in the public sphere. It has to be crafted to resonate with the changing political context and challenges of an agenda of nation-rebuilding.
The rakyat is ready to be liberated with information and knowledge, to become a well-informed citizenry that will put into practise the knowledge-based politics that will safeguard the interests of the nation. The rakyat shall no longer be beholden to the powers-that-be.
The maxim of the New Politics dictates that it is the rakyat that are the real stake-holders and the actual owners of democracy, as it is in their power to elect and give their mandate to the government of the day. Incidentally that has always been the notion and narrative of representative democracy.
Therefore the rakyat shall not be cowed to abide and support the government when they commit mistakes, and worse still, if they are adamant in abusing their power. Voltaire aptly puts it that “It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong.”
I now invoke and paraphrase the notable quote of Mark Twain’s, a famous writer who said, “Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.”
In the context of our current political scenario, it is perhaps pertinent to put the issue to rest conclusively by paraphrasing Edward Abbey, a writer and environmentalist: “A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government”.
Bluntly, it is points outlined above that I propose as the meaning of patriotism in the context of the New Politics for a renewed Malaysia
Najib and his government mustn’t be in denial nor flip-flop on critical policies that affect the survival of this nation. The rakyat has now become awakened by the power of New Politics driven by the pervasive alternative media. They are relentlessly demonstrating tremendous desire for arresting the many malaises and correcting the many wrongs of the government.
Given the current political-economic backdrop of the nation, it would be foolhardy for Najib’s BN government to expect exuberant patriotism to be spontaneously exhibited by the rakyat. As now it is beneficial for leaders of both sides of the divide to come to grasp with the challenging task of genuine nation-rebuilding and reform.
It pays to listen to the heartbeats of the nation, the rakyat.
* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.