After the 1Malaysia songs have been composed, sang and composers celebrated and rewarded, it is time for the Najib administration to get down to do some serious work. There is a limit to what a 'feel good' jingle and slogan can do for the society.
Overall, the BN government has yet to show us that it is willing to undertake some serious reforms. Hence, its action does not match the feel-good publicity so far.
On race relations, there is very little change to the overall national development framework and agenda. There is little information on how the government intends to review or revamp the outdated New Economic Policy.
The reluctance of some its leaders to dismantle a policy which was closely associated with abuse, nepotism, racism and corruption is clearly demonstrated when they argued that the NEP objectives are still relevant. Surely this is true but its implementation has left these objectives irrelevant.
Najib had announced some very careful and measured liberalisation measures to unfreeze some service sectors from the rigid race quota but the market did not respond enthusiastically. Evidently, the foreign direct investment continued to plunge and the net investment flow was negative.
Years of policy flip flop and bureaucratic red-tape have created a sense of distrust that this liberalisation policy will be even be carried out by the relevant agencies e.g. EPU, Immigration, FIC, SC and others.
What Prime Minister Najib ought to do is to tell us precisely what is next after the NEP? Is there a life after the NEP? Does the BN government have a post-NEP strategy?
Beside these archaic and outdated policies, the government is faced with another serious task of tackling the economic bottlenecks. It has identified a need to enhance the earning per capita and to reduce the dependency on cost centric economic activities. The government aims to double the GDP per capita by the year 2020. It wants to attract more foreign talents into the country.
However, the Ministry of Human Resource has been quite reluctant to impose a minimum wage policy. Hence, employers continue to squeeze salary scale or use cheap foreign labour. The government did not indicate how it intends to enhance the income per capita of our employees.
Previously, a number of skilled expatriates who applied for a permanent resident status were frustrated by the process if they do not come from a certain social denomination. The government wants to make this process easier to attract foreign talents. This is a good move if it can be successfully implemented.
However, the government did not indicate how it intends to grow its home grown talents or to attract those who are working abroad to come home. Past strategies had failed miserably. Most left the country again because apart from the campaign to attract them home, everything else had remained the same.
What is clear is that both foreign and local talents can only be persuaded to stay if this system practices meritocracy and not favouritism. Is the government prepared to implement a full merit based system?
The same goes for the administration loud call to combat corruption but fall short of introducing a mechanism which could help to provide a comprehensive check-and-balance process to scrutinize all public projects.
Many of us felt the reluctance of the government to investigate serious corruption cases even when these cases have turned into mega controversies for the regime. Outcomes and recommendations of several Royal Commissions of Inquiry were ignored and cases were closed abruptly.
These examples have clearly shown that the government cannot hope to use its smartly designed PR campaign to divert our attention away from these issues anymore.
Until and unless there are more concrete initiatives to combat corruption, to end institutionalised racism, to curb abuse of power, the return the sanctity of separation of power to the constitution and to respect the democratic rights of the people, the 1Malaysia slogan will be remembered as yet another desperate attempt by politicians to preserve their position and power.
Until and unless more Malaysians wake up to the reality that this nation cannot progress on sweet talk and nice sounding slogans alone, this country will continue to fall behind other competitors in the region. Soon, Malaysia may be not even be in the top 3 bracket in the region.