Government Transformation Programme: Real deal or farce?

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Photo credit: wazari via flickr.com

Can this government be relied upon to look into the wellbeing of the Rakyat and transform their lives or will it use the GTP to whitewash its own weaknesses, asks Damian Denis.

The Government Transformation Programme (GTP) has been an utter failure if we were to look at the way it has gone over the last few years.

The transformation mooted by Najib has turned the tables against the very rakyat who should have benefited from this programme. Instead, things keep getting worse by the day!

What does it take of this “People First, Performance Now” government to ensure the success of their own GTP? This is their own initiative, and please know that we have moved into the third and final phase of the many programmes launched by Najib and his cohorts in anticipation of Vision 2020.

And where are we now in terms of the seven National Key Result Areas (NKRAs) that Najib and Pemandu have been extolling day in and day out in the mainstream media? I strongly believe the Rakyat – as they are feeling the real pinch – know better than all the data that Pemandu can spin or churn out.

Reducing crime

The best measurement for this NKRA is to answer this question, do you feel safe nowadays?

Most Malaysians will not hesitate to say no! Every now and then, we see or hear in the news how people are getting involved in violent crime i.e. murder, rape, robbery, kidnapping. There are times we may even know the victims themselves.

The statistics may say that our crime rate has fallen by 40% over the last five years, but somehow we feel unsafe walking down our dark busy streets.

What is the cause of all this? I firmly believe that the lawlessness at the top has crawled down and many are adopting the same mindset of taking the easy way out. Meaning that if you are not happy and want something, just grab what you want and get rid of those in your way. This is what our country has become.

Unfortunately, if those responsible for keeping our lives safe want to spend a big part of their resources monitoring social media, then we shall end up with an ever-increasing crime rate and feeling unsafe most of the time.

Whatever the reason for crime in this country, it needs to be addressed holistically and speedily. Let’s not make Malaysia a haven for crime for anyone. There must be a concerted effort to tackle this challenge without fear or favour.

Fighting corruption

This must be one of the best jokes of the year, whichever year you care to pick!

How can this nation fight corruption when their leaders have the gumption to acknowledge and revise their definition of corruption to commission and then to donation? We should have named it grand corruption instead

A national leader which such a tainted reputation is definitely not the best poster boy to tackle this menace in the country.

Many have long lamented that nothing gets done in this country unless things are greased. The root of this sickness can be traced back to the administraton of Dr Mahathir. Corruption has become rampant so much so it has become a way of life of some Malaysians.

Come to think of it, we are no better off than India, Indonesia,the Phillipines or most of the African countries.

In addition, Global Financial Integrity data has shown that Malaysia is among the countries with the largest illicit financial flows in the world – when our national population is just over 30m! Our No.5 ranking just does not make sense when compared to the top four countries – China, Russia, Mexico and India – each with a populations of more than 100m.

Which means that even if we have not yet reached the per capita income level of a developed nation, rest assured we could already World No. 1 for black money per capita. Isn’t this crazy?

Our so-called “drive” against corruption has spewed more and more illicit money over the years, and there is no sign of it stopping in the near term.

Does this NKRA work?

Assuring quality education

Most parents hope their children can receive high quality, affordable education. But will out children have the opportunity to receive that sort of education in this country?

Many are questioning and expressing dissatisfaction as the standard of our schools and universities fall with each passing year. Just a simple English test will tell you where we are heading as a nation.

Does it take much for our government to provide proper education to our young people? We pride ourselves in preparing our youths for a steady job. But the question is what sort of job market are we creating for them when those in power are allowing our education standards to fall by the year?

A huge gap exists in the way we plan for our education on paper and the way we are pursuing this particular KPI to provide quality education for our students. We are great at drawing up plans and formulating visions. But we seem hopeless when it comes to delivering these initiatives and worse, this is at the expense of our children’s future.

Critical thinking is definitely a prized goal nowadays. But our education seems geared towards breeding:

  • a generation of un-thinking Malaysians so that a particular political party can rule in perpetuity
  • ‘yes men and women’ for their prorpective employers including MNCs and GLCs.

During my school days, some of my best teachers were those who studied up to Standard Five or Six only. But their classes were among the most enjoyable and educational. That generation of teachers is hard to come by now.

Come to think of it, we don’t really need high-flying plans on paper to provide a solid education; just competent and dedicated teachers with great pedagogy for our syllabus.

As far as this NKRA is concerned, I share with many others the view that we have not yet even reached half the level we would like to be. How do we move forward if we keep falling backwards?

Raising living standards of low-income households; addressing cost of living

Notice that the programmes under this NKRA target the most vulnerable and poor amongst us – which is what it is supposed to do.

The Malaysian poverty rate currently stands at 3.8% and it is hoped this NKRA would reduce it to 2%. There are some good programmes in this KPI such as raising the incomes of low-income households by providing new work opportunities (1Azam), improving nutrition levels, enhancing healthcare and housing facilities and introducing business opportunities such as  micro sourcing.

The bottom line is, what needs to be accomplished to raise the standard of living of low-income households? If this NKRA hopes to raise the standard of living of this group, then it must first bring down the cost of living in this country.

Considerable discontentment has been brewing for a long time over the rising prices of goods and services in this country. Now, things have taken a turn for the worse and many public complaints seem to be falling on deaf ears.

Some may argue the price hikes are due to annual inflation, but the rising prices appear to have been caused by the very people who gave us the dreaded GST.

On the one hand, this ‘People First’ government talks about raising the standard of living of the poor. On the other, it is raising the cost of goods and services by slashing subsidies and implementing GST. Isn’t this contradictory?

The poor have to fork out more now for their necessities. So, what does this NKRA do for them?

If you really want to know the impact of the rising cost of living (tolls, electricity, fuel, GST), talk to the poor, and they will give you a livid demonstration of how they are faring in the market place, just like you and me.

I hope the data to be produced by Pemandu will not be colourful like in the past, but just the plain truth to inform us where we are in terms of this critical KPI and what the government of the day will DO about it.

Improving rural development

The main tasks of this NKRA are to expand infrastructure such as gravel roads, treated water, and electricity supply and to provide housing to rural folks. The standards are set, and implementation is in progress.

The question we should ask is, as access to the such facilities is opened to the rural population (Orang Asal, the Penan and other indigenious groups in East Malaysia), will the benefits trickle down to the rural and interior folks? Or will this new infrastructure open the floodgates to developers and greedy companies to grab even more and contaminate the land even further?

We know of many instances in Sarawak when the Penans and other rural people were blocked from harvesting the fruit from their own jungle and land just because certain companies had begun to exploit the jungle resources to boost their profits.

This KPI should take into account the needs of the rural people and try to fulfil those needs first without imposing our city mentality of “we know best” about what is good or disastrous for them. The development brought about by this KPI has to be on the rural folks’ terms.

It is about time we city folks take some time out and LISTEN to the rural folks as to what their needs are.

Surely this KPI will achieve its objectives – but under whose terms?

Improving urban public transport

It is quite Klang Valley centric but what it proposes is to bring about a sustainable, integrated public transport system by enhancing the capacity of buses, KTM Komuter, taxis, parking management etc.

But what about the rest of Malaysia? Doesn’t the rest of the country need a fully integrated public transport system as well? Generally, many Malaysians are fed up of getting stuck in traffic jams – but what choice do we have?

Many years ago, the government introduce car-pooling in the Klang Valley. It was a good idea, but somehow it did not take off at all. Similarly, those in Penang island but working on the mainland (and vice-versa) haven’t taken to car-pooling either.

But when the Penang state government introduced park-and-ride bus services between the two areas, which feeds all the way to the industrialised zones, the buses were almost full. The public is willing but are the authorities prepared to invest resources for a strong system that works for all?

The federal and state governments must have the political will to be able to solve this perennial problem for the rakyat.

And what about the ferry services in Penang which is almost in a pathetic state due to certain powers wanting to reduce the already scaled-down service to a skeleton service. This has caused much unhappiness to daily commuters as the current arrangement is apparently aimed at minimising the owner’s losses.

These grievances needs to be dealt with promptly and systematically in the national NKRAs or this government is doomed to be known as a ‘Cronies First, Performance Later’ government.

The biggest question is, can this government be relied upon to look into the wellbeing of the Rakyat and transform their lives or will it use the NKRA to whitewash its own weaknesses?

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