Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak has announced a series of targets for the government to meet in the next few years and the ministers responsible for it. Among his targets are:
- Reduce street crimes by 20 percent by end of 2010;
- Enable 80 percent of Malaysian children to get access to pre-school by 2012 from the current 60 percent;
- By 2012, all school kids must master reading, writing and arithmetic by Year 4;
- Kelana Jaya LRT line to get 35 new four-car train sets by 2012 as part of the Government's efforts to increase public transport usage to 25 percent from the present 16 percent
I would like to congratulate the prime minister for being bold enough to announce a series of targets. Visibly missing are his targets on fighting corruption and enhancing the living standard of the lower income group although two ministers were assigned to oversee the areas.
The government should make a necessary arrangement to ensure that the public will be kept updated on the progress of these targets. It would be even better if the government can share with us its implementation plans. For example, it is easy to announce that the government intends to lower street crimes by 20 percent. It is only a percentage.
Numbers can be manipulated but real improvements of the crime prevention mechanism and process can make the public feel safer and more confident of their own safety. The government cannot hope to improve crime prevention and help to reduce crime rates without embarking on a major overhaul of the police force.
The force needs to focus on fighting criminals and not targeting peaceful demonstrators. Senseless detentions and the use of excessive force against peaceful demonstrators did not help to repair the police’s public image.
Having some targets are better than none but I cannot say that I am deeply impressed with the prime minister’s announcement. These targets showed that Malaysia is still playing catch up.
This country must focus on quality and not just quantity. It is timely that the government focuses on the quality of our growth, socio-economic development and living standard.
Another area which must change is our political model. There is so much hatred, hostility, anger and negative vibes in our political discourse. The lack of a meaningful dialogue to forge a common undertaking to address some serious policy and governance issues in the country is reflected through how this nation is being governed.
An important KPI should be addressed at reforming his own party, UMNO. It is pertinent for the prime minister to realize that the race-based formula has outlived its purpose. The vehicle for progress cannot be powered by a 1950’s engine.
It is time for leaders of all race-based parties to accept the reality that this race-based political model has been detrimental to our progress as a multiracial society.
Nevertheless, I would like to assure the prime minister that I will keep both eyes on his targets and will revisit them again once the deadlines are up. Promises must be kept.