Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, back in Malaysia after taking a team to the US to try and clinch deals with top companies, must be a painfully disappointed leader.
Many in Malaysia will understand his frustration at being told by business leaders in New York that approvals are being delayed in Malaysia.
What this suggests, in my opinion, is that some of Malaysia’s civil servants – especially the many ‘little Napoleons’ – are ruining the good work of the new government.
It can be painful for any leader of a nation to be told the truth about why businesses are not keen to invest.
Anwar has to take the bull by the horns. Enough is enough.
Many in Malaysia will share their frustrations over the red tape and their dealings with government authorities tasked with ‘approving’ businesses licences and permits.
It is time for Anwar to give those responsible the marching orders – either shape up or ship out.
- Sign up for Aliran's free daily email updates or weekly newsletters or both
- Make a one-off donation to Persatuan Aliran Kesedaran Negara, CIMB a/c 8004240948
- Make a regular pledge or periodic auto-donation to Aliran
- Become an Aliran member
Fear of losing popular support or of having to ‘bow’ to certain politicians who may threaten to withdraw their support for his “unity government” may be hindering progress.
But this balancing act should not be the reason to hold back on improving efficiency, effectiveness and productivity.
In this highly competitive global environment, the government should make life easier for investors who comply with the nation’s labour and environmental regulations.
It is time to marshal the courage to put an end to the hurdles they face.
If we love our nation, then we must have the strength to dispense bitter medicine and purge the government machinery of little Napoleons who hinder progress. Take action against unproductive, unmotivated and lethargic civil servants.
Other developing nations – especially our immediate neighbours – know how essential it is to dealing with investors efficiently.
We need more than mere warnings to shape up. We need to revisit policies and organisational structures.
We need to break away from the long tradition of regarding the civil service as an ethnically dominated vote bank.
Let’s face it. We need to resize the civil service population. Hopefully, the authorities and the various ministries and agencies will then be able to perform better.
If we do not have the will to do this, it means our sense of patriotism and concern for the nation’s future is suspect.
Let’s not be swayed by selfish needs as much as some politicians are. These politicians must learn to put the nation’s success ahead of their own political gameplans.
What surfaced in New York during the PM’s efforts at drawing investors there should serve as a thundering wake-up call for structural and policy reforms in Malaysia.
Are we ready? Are we willing? Will we succeed?
The answers lie with the government’s next actions under Anwar’s leadership.