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Speech by Lim Kit Siang at the opening of the DAP Negri Sembilan State Convention held in Port Dickson on Sunday, 25th October 2009 at 10 am: 

End the 50-year New Economic Policy if Najib wants to lay claim to innovation or shift to a new economic model as the NEP had stunted Malaysia’s economic growth and prevented the nation from becoming a high-income country

In his first budget, the 2010 budget, presented to Parliament on Friday, the Prime Minister and Finance Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak claimed that he is laying the foundation for the development of a new economic model to become a high-income economy.

He stressed that the new economic model must be based on innovation, creativity and high-value added activities so that Malaysian can remain relevant in a competitive global economy.

Najib announced that his government “will transform Malaysia through a comprehensive innovation process, comprising innovation in public and private sector governance, societal innovation, urban innovation, rural innovation, corporate innovation, industrial innovation, education innovation, healthcare innovation, transport innovation, social safety net innovation and branding innovation.”

So far, Najib’s most successful innovation in his First Two Hundred Days is “branding innovation”, as never before has a Prime Minister’s slogan, “1Malaysia”, been promoted so blatantly, not only during by-elections but there is even a 1Malaysia Toilet in Terengganu, putting the previous Prime Minister’s slogan of “Islam Hadhari” to shame – all thanks to the tens of millions of ringgit spent on public relations companies, in particular the US-based Apco Worldwide PR firm to promote the new Najib brand at public expense.

As for “innovation” in other important sectors of national life, Najib has got very little to show.

Najib said the focus of his budget will be on the well-being of the rakyat, with particular emphasis on advancing the role of the private sector as the driver of economic growth and developing high-skilled human capital and enhancing the efficiency of the public service.

This is nothing new as it is said in every budget speech in Parliament as far as I can remember, but they have not been able to stop the significant decline of private investment to below 10 per cent of GDP, with total domestic direct investment decreasing from RM72 billion in 1997 to RM56 billion in 2008, while total net foreign direct investment (FDI) plunged from RM19.7 billion to RM3.6 billion.

Najib should end the 50-year New Economic Policy if he wants to lay claim to innovation or shift to a new economic model as the NEP had stunted Malaysia’s economic growth and prevented the nation from becoming a high-income country.

Ad hoc and half-hearted measures tinkering with the NEP will not take an innovation economy very far. Let me just give two examples from Najib’s list of budgetary proposals announced on Friday:

(i) RM10,000 for each approved permit (AP) to open AP holders from 2010, with a portion of this collection to be channeled to the bumiputra development fund in the automotive sector.

If the Najib government believes in accountability, transparency and integrity, all APs should be put up for open tender.

(ii) Award National Scholarships to 30 crème de la crème students strictly on merit for educational studies in world renowned universities.

This is a paltry and most ridiculous figure. In March this year, the then Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Tan Sri Bernard Dompok announced that out of 2,000 Public Services Department scholarship scheme for foreign degrees, 20 per cent or 400 scholarships would be for excellent students, 60 per cent or 1,200 scholarships for bumiputra and non-bumiputra SPM leavers; 10 per cent for 200 scholarships for Sabah and Sarawak bumiputra SPM leavers; the remaining 10 per cent for disabled students who excelled in their studies.

What is another 30 when 400 of the 2,000 PSD scholarships are already meant for “creme da la crème” – or has the Barisan Nasional government again been misleading the people about the award of the 400 PSD scholarships based on “merit”?

*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor



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