Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Malaysia's Economic Stagnation, A Symptom of Its Politics

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?


Anonymous said...

The root cause is the NEP. It breeds corruption and racist politicians who back it to the hilt to reap the economic benefits.

We are well on our way to exporting maids, that's for sure.

Anonymous said...

Goverment servants that can't perform/lazy,sack them regardless of race.Those that have the ability to perform in whatever sector must be given the chance to move up.
Competition can improve ability.

Gemini said...

Look at the performance of our government servants! Most of the time, they just "buat-buat sibuk" only.
Slogans are being displayed at every corner of the government offices, but do they serve the purpose?

rightan said...

even if we overhaul the whole system tomorrow,abolish NEP,quota,open tender...ect, we still need one generation to make thing right bocoz we have been culturally embedded with all sorts of bad habits over the past 30 yrs.can we do it?

marcus63 said...

once a while, someone in umno will come out with some smart quotes, and then the umno propaganda machinery, ie the press and the rtms, will go into full blast and trumpet how only umno knows what ails the country and umno is the only party that can cure all. sure, there are some smart people in umno, but almost all carry a baggage that prevent them from doing the right thing. you dont join umno to save the country. you join umno to eat the cake.
kkp, you also cannot save the country with an efficient civil service. the usa and most of europe also have a "lazy" government machinery. however, they have equal rights and freedom of expression. and in the case of the usa, they have a very powerful document called the bill of rights, which guarantees anyone who is a citizen/resident, no matter color of their skin, equality. it is no accident that the usa produce so many inventors and innovations, because what you create and make, you are rewarded.
however, in malaysia, if you invent something, or come out with a great development idea, umno will steal it from you. so do you wonder why malaysia has made no significant inventions, and even a malaysian who invented the thumb drive prefers to do it in taiwan?
so what do i suggest? give zaid and his team time to draft up malaysia's version of a bill of rights, and make this into a checks and balance system such as exist in uk a 2-party system. when political abuse stops, the economy will grow.

Anonymous said...

The present government is caught between a rock and a hard place with regard to the economy. Malaysia is suffering from the Dutch disease aka the resource curse.

Formerly, Malaysia was the top global producer of tin, rubber and palm oil. Both tin and rubber is history, leaving palm oil only. Our petroleum resource is fast depleting.

FDI is bypassing us for China, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore etc.

We have no surplus for a rainy day and there is no world class company exporting made in Malaysia products.

Unless and until radical progressive changes are made in our economic, educational and social policies with the political will to see it through, the consequences are dire.

Anonymous said...

Uncle Khoo,
You missed out on one major reason :- our judiciary and MACC which are puppets of the executive.
With such gomen arms behaving like Zimbabwe copycats, no right minded FDI will want to invest their $ here.
Better be safe than sorry!

Anonymous said...

Unccle koo, one more reason, the minorities r too big and demand everything at expense of majority

Citizen said...

The only solution is change the government in GE13!Let the alternative govt some few years to rule to see results.Afterall, we have endured BN for more than 50years, so why not a chance to the alternative govt?

clearwater said...

What can we do? We can analyze and criticize endlessly but in a top down administration, only the decision maker counts. Each of us have only one vote, exercisable once every 5 years and we need to make that vote count. We really need a 2 party/coalition system to keep politicians reasonably honest, or it will soon be a 3rd world Malaysia.

Khoo Kay Peng said...

Boy 9.57am, since u called me uncle,

Yes, the minorities are too big. These UMNO puteras are taking everything and demanding for everything at the expense of the majority normal people. I hope you will not grow up to be associated with such a group.

Be a good boy and help the poor and oppressed. God bless u!

Anonymous said...

What policys..?
Wasn't our budget set oredy for 2010..??

So fast they see that it won't work, that's why they wanna change..??

Mmm.... Slap the right, then slap the left face...!!!!!

All they can ever do is....
"It's our rights. It's all mine..! Don't question our rights..!!!"

Don't they work hard for the money..????

Anonymous said...

1) The opposition parties should consolidate their powers and strength and come together as an effective alternative party.

They must also look into their weaknesses and turn them into their advantage and strength.

Call for united forums on important and urgent issues regarding Human rights; Economy; Corruptions; Nepotism and Cronyism; Demoracy; Local government; National resources and energy; our National Education Policy; Judiciary; and the coming 13GE, etc, etc, etc.

2) Voters must exercise their rights to vote and vote intelligently.

3) NGOs should voice their non partisan views of the present government and advise your members accordingly.

4) Religious bodies could also advise the members to maintain a discerning attitude towards any untoward actions of the government and pray for peace and harmony in the nation.

my 2cents worth of suggestions.

Anonymous said...

Malaysia have actually lost considerabl grounds a decade ago.The Government of the day and even the think tanks failed to realise or choose to ignore.Export of skills & professionals and Import of unskilled workers!The failures of massive projects headed by the Government!The absence of an excellent education system and educationist from primary to tertiary!The latter is the backbone of any modern society.
Malaysia is not short of governing policies,processes,campaigns,slogans,etc.It is the people who executes and manages.As even the ex-PM admits,which he is to be blamed too, that the norm is to hire someone less capable in the Government Service.You can imagine the domino effect fro the top to the bottom!Even if BN is voted out, does the opposition PKR have a solid team to take over? I have my doubts.

Anonymous said...

Dear Khoo,

If u're really interested in some serious suggestions, pls get a copy of iCapital newsletters dated 19/11/09 and 26/11/09 which reproduced articles written more than 10 years ago.
The former issue contains 2 detailed proposals for our Government to improve the country's economy while the latter issue contains worrying trends and issues for the Govt to take note of and to act on. Both articles highlighted the fact that if the Govt wants to improve the country's economy, it needs to focus on 3 major areas - Productivity, Efficiency and Productivity (PEC). The 2 proposals and the trends and issues were originally written between 1994 and 1999 (yes, that's between 10-15 years ago, a few years even before the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis) by the author, Tan Teng Boo of Capital Dynamics, a well-known and successful investment fund manager.

Anonymous said...

can someone find one who can realyy really perform their work right in all government sectors and/or GLC companies? i fully doubt it...... perhaps, the next generation, it means another 50 years....

Anonymous said...

Those blindly supported BN in the past elections were partly to blame. They know the BN with so many corrupted, racist and incompetent leaders yet they still voted for them to be their goverment!

Anonymous said...

I am wondering why Husni is talking so frankly. Every time when one of these creature talks like this, something funny will happen. So let us watch.

Anonymous said...

In order to solve this problem, the first thing we got to do is to vote out BN in next GE, so all youngmen and youngwomen ,please register yourself as a voter first, otherwise, all remain as empty talk only!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

lleekh said...

Kudos to the Minister. The first step is an acknowledgement of the problem. Wonderful and refreshing to read that here is somebody with eyes wide open. Wonder if the mamak 2nd finance minister is aware? I assume that there are officials in the Ministry who has alerted the Minister of the dire straits we are in. If the PM were to follow suit, then something can be done. But if they are still in denial and say like the BTM Chief then we are all bungkus!