Thursday, 12 Mar 2020 05:13 PM MYT
MARCH 12 — This is a critical time for our beloved country Malaysia. Rarely have we faced three major crisis at the same time. They are the political, economic and health threats to our national sustainability and future prospects.
Nevertheless many voters rightly feel badly let down by many political leaders who should have shown higher democratic values and displayed better standards of good governance.
However, despite the feelings of depression and even some sense of hopelessness at this time, the people could be prepared to listen to the new Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin’s appeal — “Come on give us a chance!“ He also pledged “we have promised and we will deliver“.
But the new Government has to Boldly face the Critical political, economic and health challenges we are all facing as a nation.
The question in most minds is whether the Government will meet these challenges boldly and expeditiously?
The Cabinet has already indicated the following measures which are most welcome:
- It is laudable that the Cabinet decided at its first meeting yesterday to form the Economic Action Council (EAC). It is good that it will meet every Monday so that the Cabinet can decide on its recommendations when it meets every following Wednesday. Many of its proposals for quick action are already available from our previous experiences in facing similar challenges. So any delays in action will hopefully be monitored closely by rakyat and criticised constructively.
- It is good that the Bottom 40 per cent of the Income Groups (B40 ) will be given priority in the introduction of new policy counter measures in the economic field. But please do not neglect the Middle 40 per cent (M40) of the income groups. The Middle and especially lower Middle Income Groups should not be forgotten as usual. They will watch the Government closely too!
- The Stimulus Package introduced recently should now be Revised upward. The RM20 Billion allocated previously may not be adequate
We have to recalibrate the Budget, even if the Budget Deficit and Borrowing have to be raised further.
- The establishment of the Covid-19 Fund to help the poor who affected by the Covid-19 Virus, is a great idea that should be strongly supported by the public.
This is the time when the Shared Prosperity Vision should be supported by all Malaysians and friends. It does not matter whether it was initiated by the PH Government. The new PN Government should not reject the many sound policies of the previous Government, merely because PH is now in the opposition.
The people come first and politics should come second and not the other way around, please! Corporates should also rally round the new PN Governments efforts to help the poor victims of the vicious Covid-19 Virus.
- By all means, please cut the salaries of the top political leaders by about 20 per cent to signal that they also care for the poor and are not associated too much with their Money Politics? After all the Ministers in particular enjoy many attractive privileges!
- But most importantly, the new Government should also show that it means business and is serious about its Promise to Deliver and to deliver soon. All the previously promised Reforms in the field of Security, Safety, Human Rights, Environment and a whole range of other outstanding reforms, relating to improving Race and Religious relations and National Unity, have to be addressed with greater urgency.
- If we don’t seize this opportunity to undertake socio economic Structural Changes in our country , we will lose out to other rising economies. Hence some old and outdated principles and practices of the 50 year old New Economic Policy(NEP), have to be seriously reviewed as a matter of priority. As a result, Malaysians at the B40 and M40 levels should not feel alienated.
- The Covid -19 challenge has to be tackled with more intensive education and awareness programs that will optimise the unity of purpose of the United Malaysian people to collectively cooperate more closely, to fight this Covid -19 Virus scourge, like they do in China and some other countries.
- The Civil Service has carried out its duties with great dedication competence and perseverance , despite the huge odds of destructive politicking and the other Virus attacks. The new Government should show much more appreciation to the whole public service that has commendably kept the Government machinery going at high performance, despite the lack of political leadership.
- Finally, the new PN Government should emphasis the promotion of National Unity and Religious and Racial understanding in the longer term.
But for now we must seek more boldly to fight harder, against the wasteful politicking, the economic slowdown and the vicious Covid -19 Virus. May God help us overcome all our challenges -and come through successfully with flying colours.
* Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam is chairman of Asli Center of Public Policy Studies.
** This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.