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Ninth Malaysia Plan – A RM220 billion “gravy train” for new UMNOputras or a wake-up call that Vision 2020 is “off track” whether in achieving fully developed nation status or accomplishing its nine strategic objectives
Speech (1) on the Ninth Malaysia Plan
The polar opposites of such reactions are probably best captured by the following two responses.
The first was a newspaper comment article on Saturday which hailed the Ninth Malaysia Plan as a historic document finally delivering Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s reform pledge and programme which had been stalled for 30 months.
Describing the Ninth Malaysia Plan as “a blueprint not merely for the next five years, but for the next few decades”, it declared that the Prime Minister “has set in motion reforms that will reverberate for generations to come”.
Most Malaysians however failed to receive or register any reformist impulse from the Ninth Malaysia Plan. There was a lot of hype. But if Malaysians are asked how the Ninth Malaysia Plan will differ from the previous eight or seven five-year plans to make a difference in their lives, I do not think answers would be forthcoming.
But there were many Malaysians who had been hoping against hope that the Prime Minister would deliver his reform pledge and programme in the Ninth Malaysia Plan, as they see it as his last chance to demonstrate his political will and commitment to “walk the talk” to head a clean, incorruptible, accountable, transparent, trustworthy, efficient and professional administration creating a united, just, progressive and prosperous nation. But they saw no light at the end of the tunnel. This is the email of disappointment and despondency of a patriotic Malaysian who wanted so much for the Prime Minister and Malaysia to succeed in the era of challenges of globalization:
“we cry for
malaysia because it is doomed to a fate as a mediocre nation
”pak lah has
decided to take the advice of kris-waving umno youth to extend
“ the song ' I
cry for argentina' was born out of the suffering and misery of the people of
Argentina and its poignancy was felt and reverberated all over the world
The writer of the comment article, entitled “From short-term lucre to long-term wealth”, is the key member of the Prime Minister “kitchen Cabinet” – his son-in-law and UMNO deputy chief, Khairy Jamaluddin, while the email was from 81-year-old elder Malaysian statesman, five-term Member of Parliament and DAP founder Chairman, Dr. Chen Man Hin.
Parliament, if it is to be a meaningful sound-board of the Malaysian nation, must allow the full ventilation of the whole spectrum of diverse views and responses, both positive and negative, to the Ninth Malaysia Plan and the National Mission and it should not foreclose a vibrant debate of dissent just because of the Barisan Nasional hegemony dominating 92 per cent of the parliamentary seats.
In fact, I will like to hear dissent from Barisan Nasional and UMNO MPs, for I believe it exists, to the comment piece by Khairy Jamaluddin, in particular when he said that the Ninth Malaysia Plan “makes a clean break from the errors of the past”, declared the end of “the outmoded thoughts and strategies of the economic bureaucracy” as well as the funeral song for “rentier capitalism that characterized some of the earlier NEP-type programmes”.
One sentence in the article intrigued me and I am sure, many others, when Khairy said: “Through the fiscal discipline of the last few years, the Government has created a war chest to turn its ideas into reality.” What is this “war chest”? Is it for the Government, UMNO or select UMNO individuals? And are we returning to the recent past where the government ceased to see the spheres of state, party and private interests as distinct entities, whether in the expansion of UMNO’s political interests or in the promotion of the corporate or individual interests of select UMNO leaders?
In his speech on Friday presenting the Ninth Malaysia Plan, the Prime Minister spoke about Vision 2020. He said:
“We have no time to lose. Only fifteen years remain between now and the year 2020. These fifteen years must be our most productive years, our best years, so that we may stand tall in the year 2020 and declare that our vision has been realised.” (Para 9)
Malaysians want to see the political will and determination of the Government in implementing this Plan as the first step towards realising the National Mission and ultimately achieving Vision 2020. (Para 96)
The Ninth Malaysia Plan allows us to identify the progress we have made, identify weaknesses and put us on the track to achieve developed nation status by 2020. The National Mission provides a long-term perspective; formulated to produce better performance and enhance the impact from the efforts that have been undertaken to develop the nation. (Para 107)
I fully agree. There is no time to lose if we are to achieve Vision 2020. The vacancy of the Vice Chancellor of University of Malaya which coincided with the presentation of the Ninth Malaysia Plan and National Mission, as a result of the departure of the controversial Billboard UM VC, Prof Datuk Dr. Hashim Yaacob, has presented the government with the first and immediate critical test as to whether it has the political will and determination to “walk the talk” to implement the Ninth Malaysia Plan and the 15-year “National Mission” 2006-2020 to nurture “First Class Mentality” to create towering Malaysians and institutions by appointing a world-class academician as the new Vice Chancellor of University of Malaya.
New Straits Times report on Thursday that Datuk Dr. Sharifah Hapsah Syed Hasan Shahbudin, CEO of National Accreditation Board (LAN) and NCWO President, “will create history this week when she becomes the first woman vice chancellor” had been proved wrong, with the appointment of UM Deputy VC Prof Datuk Dr. Mohd Razali Agus as acting VC for a month while the Higher Education Ministry decides on the new appointment.
The Star has reported that three women were among the candidates for the UM VC post – Dr. Sharifah, Prof Dr. Mahani Zainal Abidin, Higher Education Department deputy director-general (management sector) and Datuk Rafiah Salim, International Centre for Leadership in Finance executive director.
The appointment of a woman VC in a public university will be another major gender breakthrough with the breaking of another glass ceiling for women in Malaysia. However, what is at stake in the appointment of the new UM VC is bigger than the breaking of another glass ceiling for women, as the crux of the issue is whether the government has the political will and determination to implement the 9MP and National Mission announced by the Prime Minister on Friday.
Abdullah had said that ‘the most precious assets of a nation are its people” and described “the development of human capital, the upgrading of the mentality and intellectual capacity of a nation” as one of the biggest challenges under the 9MP.
He said: “If we wish to become a knowledge-based economy, if we wish to be a developed country and maintain that developed status, the development of human capital must be a priority. In the context of globalization, high quality human capital has become a necessity, not merely a luxury.” (Para 43)
Well said, but it is time to “walk the talk”. Is the Higher Education Minister, Datuk Mustapha Mohamad prepared to empanel an independent Search Committee to select a world-class academic - regardless of whether Malay or non-Malay, man or woman – to be the new UM VC to send out a clear and unmistakable message of the government’s political will and determination to “walk the talk” under 9MP to nurture “First Class Mentality” by restoring UM as an university of international repute and standing as in the sixties and seventies?
(to be continued)
Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP
Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission