I would like to commend Second Finance Minister Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah for his frankness and courage to admit that all's not well with the Malaysian economy. It is a symptom of the local politics.
Politicians and policy makers have largely remained superficial, racist and prefer style over substance.
Despite a long list of slogans, BTN courses and official programmes, the nation is continuing its spiral decline. It does not take long for Malaysia to look behind its back and finds no one else. Recently, an analyst said he would not be surprised to find the country exporting maids in the next 20 years.
Husni said Malaysia's economy has been stagnating for the past decade and is now trailing badly behind its neighbours, calling for "urgent" and wide-ranging reforms.
He added that Malaysia is trapped in a low-value-added, low-wage and low-productivity structure.
While Singapore and Korea's nominal per capita GDP grew within the last three decades by 9 and 12 times respectively, ours grew only by a factor of four.
In a withering assessment, Ahmad Husni said the services sector is underdeveloped, private investment is half the levels before the 1997-98 Asian crisis, and the manufacturing sector is suffering from lack of investment.
There are several worrying signs in the country:
1) Najib administration may have started the ball rolling on NEP liberalisation but his government does not seem to have a comprehensive and convincing post-NEP strategy to address the shortfalls of this policy.
2) Complacency, wastage and incompetency are still the main pillars of the civil sector. Companies, institutions, agencies and departments run by civil workers are not innovative, motivated or service oriented despite endless of courses, programmes and incentives given to them. Most of the government's policy flip-flops are caused by those officers who are not well-versed with public policy initiatives.
3) Low quality and poorly informed policy makers or politicians in the ruling government.
4) Over politicized education system. More students are scoring distinctions but less are capable of critical thinking. Worse, all the government sponsored students are required to attend the controversial BTN courses.
5) Most of us are living and acting like zombies! We do our job without a sense of pride and admiration of our own products and services. We need to put quality, excellence and creativity at the forefront, not just doing the job. Why some companies or government agencies are so unpopular? Its because their people JUST DON'T CARE. Do you?
6) Both corruption and racism must end if Malaysia wants to surge ahead of the rest. It is not easy. It will not be a stroll on the park. Alone, Husni is not enough to change the nation. We need to work together as a society who want to make Malaysia a more competitive economy.
I know Straight Talkers have a lot to complain but can we hear some suggestions from you? What can we do?