PM Ismail Sabri should reply to the devastating indictment of the 12th Malaysia Plan by Ramesh Chander and Lim Teck Ghee, two Malaysians who had distinguished themselves in their services with World Bank, when winding-up the parliamentary debate on the 12th Malaysia Plan on Thursday

Two Malaysians, Ramesh Chander and Lim Teck Ghee, who had distinguished themselves in their services with the World Bank, have jointly made a devastating indictment of the 12th Malaysia Plan describing it as “Three Steps Backwards”.

Ramesh was formerly Chief Statistician of Malaysia while Teck Ghee was formerly senior official of the United Nations and the World Bank.

They believed that the 12th Malaysia Plan, if implemented as currently presented, is likely to be a “self-inflicted wound” that will “adversely alter the trajectory of the country’s socio-economic growth and heighten the likelihood of Malaysia becoming further entrapped as a middle income economy, with a clear risk of going backwards in Malaysia’s development and prosperity”.

This will contradict and negative the 12th Malaysia Plan’s claim that its “three themes, four policy enablers and 14 game changers” represent “new and innovative ideas to shift mindsets and fundamentally change the approach to national development”.

Both Ramesh and Teck Ghee called attention to “key longstanding stalled issues that necessitate rethinking and an entirely different set of policy initiatives if the Plan is to meet its goals of a high income country with inclusive and sustainable growth”, namely corporate and bumiputera equity, GLC (government-linked companies) reforms to dismantle rent-seeking, patronage and misuse of public funds to restore them as competitive entities and a revitalisation programme for the private sector, especially the small and medium sized enterprises.

It is clear that Ramesh and Teck Ghee finalized their study of the 12th Malaysia Plan before the release of the so-called Pandora papers.

The revelation in the Pandora papers confirms in part the nature of capital flight and is highly relevant in explaining why Bumiputera ownership of Malaysian corporate equity had stagnated or fallen.

It would indicate that the elites who acquired the reserved shares sell the shares. They then remit the proceeds to foreign destinations. This would imply that the 30 percent target will never ever be achieved. The target is thus of little value. The time has come to have a new measurement based on total assets (foreign and domestic) owned by the different groups.

Another aspect of relevance is that the system in place results in a loss of tax revenue since unremitted earnings are not taxed. This factor justifies a recalibration of the tax system.

For a start a study ought to be launched. A Parliamentary Consultative Committee should be established to study the implications of continuing with such flawed policies with the task to make recommendations to achieve a just and more egalitarian society.

It is pertinent that both Ramesh and Teck Ghee regarded the proposal to require existing non-bumiputera freight forwarders to divest 51 per cent of equity as tantamount to a robbery and classic “UMNO-ism”.

The Prime Minister, Ismail Sabri, should reply to the devasting indictment of the 12th Malaysia Plan by Chander Ramesh and Lim Teck Ghee in his winding up of the 12th Malaysia Plan debate on Thursday.

Lim Kit Siang MP for Iskandar Puteri