NEAC chairman Amirsham Aziz does not have to look so far e.g. Taiwan, South Korea and Eastern Europe to find out what is wrong with the Malaysian economy.
It might be more productive and effective for Amirsham and his team to study the peril and consequences of Mahathirism.
The Malaysian economy over the last few decades has been dictated and influenced by Mahathirism, a mix of socio-political economic model introduced by the nation's longest serving PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
Mahathirism is a unique blend of social and political interests which were used to define the major economic policies.
The New Economic Policy was subtlely transformed into a main policy which was used as a symbol of the Malay/UMNO political and social dominance. The nexus has made it very difficult for any administration after Mahathir to try to change or repeal the economic policy without facing a major repercussion or protest from the community.
Hence, the economic liberalisation step undertaken by Prime Minister Najib Razak was limited in scope and impact. Only sectors and sub-sectors which do not have a high participation of bumiputeras were liberalised.
Ironically, a renowned US ivy league has found his economic liberalisation effort so significant and interesting until it merits a comprehensive study. It was reported that the Harvard Business School in Boston will undertake a case study on Najib’s "courageous and bold initiatives to tackle the financial crisis."
There is another irony. This announcement did not come from the university spokesman but from the Harvard Business School Alumni Club of Malaysia president G. Gnanalingam.
By now, it should be clear that Najib's economic liberalisation programme is neither 'courageous' nor 'innovative'. There was no follow up on any further liberalisation. If any, Malaysia is only playing catching up compared to more liberal economies in the region such as Hong Kong, Vietnam, Singapore, Thailand and even Indonesia.
There are still restrictions to foreign ownership, land transaction, equity ownership, public procurement, licensing and others. There is little change in the bureaucracy which hampers any reform effort.
Najib's stimulus package of RM60 billion created limited ripples. Until today, only a fraction or 20 percent of the amount has been used. Since the extra budget is spread over 3 years, it will not generate a significant growth for the local economy.
Najib still does not have an answer to restructure the economy which is overly dependent on low cost and low skilled foreign labour. His NEAC chief has identified this as a core concern. Najib has asked for a strategy to be identified to attract local talents back to the country.
Again, the brain gain programme was implemented in the past and the outcome was dismal. What is the real problem? Low wages? Lack of opportunities?
All critical indicators and rankings e.g. education quality, competitiveness, desirability and others have shown a steady decline vis-a-vis other countries. If we have not regressed, it means that other nations have progressed.
On the education, despite having served in the portfolio the prime minister still does not have a solid solution to reverse our decline. It was recently decided that the teaching of both Maths and Science subjects in English will be reversed in 2012. Nothing was mentioned about the quality of curriculum and teachers.
Do we need to take a trip down to South Korea or Taiwan to understand why we cannot produce innovators and entrepreneurs? Lessons are aplenty by just looking at our own education system.
We can go on and on about the things which Najib could have done better in the recent months of his administration. However, the premier should take a serious note about his own inadequacy.
It is becoming clear now that he is suffering from a 30-year fatigue in politics. His brain has refused to function or the only method he knows and understands is the only socio-economic model he is familiar with - the Mahathirism.
Najib needs to be awaken from his slumber that he has been governing merely through slogans - 1Malaysia, 1This and 1That - and the people are no longer as ignorant and naive as during the early years of Mahathirism.
Whether he realises it or not, he is trying to emulate Mahathir by trying to use symbolic projects e.g. 1Malaysia F1 Team, 1Malaysia Unit Trust Fund and others to convince the people that he is running the economy and the country well.
Najib should not run away from addressing more serious concerns about the economy e.g. corruption (e.g. PKFZ and others), civil service inefficiency, mediocre economic growth, development wastage, poor broadband connectivity, poor education system and deteriorating race relations and the emergence of extreme conservatism in the country.
Politically, Najib's method strikes an uncanny resemblance of his mentor. It appears that he does not hesitate to use the public institutions and other legal coercive forces to his advantage.
The renewal of IGP Musa Hassan tenure for another year is yet another reminder to Najib's exponents that he does not need a viable reason to decide. The nomination of a tainted ex-strongman Is Samad to stand in the current Bagan Pisang by-election should erase any doubt that Najib is not a loyal student of Mahathirism.
Again, why study Najibronomics? There is nothing really new about Najibronomics. It is really Mahathirism in a new name.
Mahathirism had made the NEP and other policies e.g. tertiary admission, scholarships and grants and others so intertwined with the racial politics of UMNO that any total policy revamp is not only difficult but impossible.
Hence, I would like to advice Amirsham to stop his acting. Of course, his appointment as the new NEAC chairman (with a minister status) is no free lunch. Reports will have to be produced, working groups will have to be formed, more appointments will have to be made and the budget will have to be spend to show that his team is doing its job.
But does he seriously believe that his 'work' is going to help change anything?
10 years, 20 years down the road, Malaysia will still be dependent on oil and gas and other natural resources.
Our intellectual pool will continue to lose its substance. These ministers, politicians and advisers will continue to talk about Taiwan, South Korea and maybe Vietnam, Indonesia and Cambodia too.
Nothing is going to change until and unless more Malaysians wake up and realise that to change we must do it with our hands.
Yes, vote out incompetency. Vote out racism. Vote out Mahathirism. Fly back to vote. Register to vote.
If we cannot make a small sacrifice, stop bitching about how bad this country is.