All we want is for the government, as Daim says, “to be far to everybody and to take care of their welfare” in the new Malaysia, writes Ramon Navaratnam.
I refer to Daim Zainuddin`s exclusive interview with Bernama on 10 June, when he announced, as chairman of the Council of the five Eminent Persons, that in economic and financial management, the government should “ensure justice for everybody”.
This is indeed a welcome breakthrough in the new government`s economic policies. Interestingly, this was indeed the original philosophy stated in the New Economic Policy (NEP) in 1970.
Unfortunately, this fair and reasonable thinking got distorted and derailed later due to abuse and cronyism. Then income inequality set in and seeped right through the whole economic and financial system.
This unhealthy trend was then aggravated by corruption, expenditure wastage, inefficiencies and the politicisation of finance and economic management, as we now see from the red files revealed by the “Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng.
The NEP aimed to eradicate poverty regardless of race, but it also created many wealthy politically aligned business cronies and widened the gap between the rich and the poor.
Although the NEP in all fairness did reduce overall poverty substantially, its poor implementation left too many Malaysians of all races in financial dire straits, making it difficult for them to make ends meet and put food on the table.
The NEP itself provided more protection in trade and industry and caused less competition, higher inflation and wider corruption. Hence income disparities worsened and the people and voters showed their resentment and rejection at the polls in the 2018 general election.
Economic breakthrough at last
Daim and the Council of Eminent Persons have now finally made a breakthrough in economic and financial management. They must be commended for addressing the punitive problem of income inequality regardless of race and religion.
We have to now move more strongly towards income-based economic and financial policies – and phase out of race-based economic policies.
The poor of all races and religions must be shown the same compassion and care according to justice and our religious and moral values. All the poor Malaysians in the peninsula, Sabah and Sarawak must be helped as a matter of priority now, as Malaysians First!
In fact this Ketuanan and race-based policies were seen by most Malaysians to be lacking in compassion, unfair, and unMalaysian by all true Malaysians for a long time over. That is why the Pakatan Harapan won so dramatically and deservedly just one month ago.
As Daim rightly stressed, once Iinequalities are addressed, everybody will be happy”. Yes, we are pleased with this breakthrough in introducing new policies and new planning in the new government. We hope the pace of change gathers more momentum, but in cautious and prudent ways.
We all hope that Daim and the Council of Eminent Persons will carry on with their fresh thinking and planning and better implementation, so that the new Malaysia will continue to move forward for the benefit of all Malaysians, especially the less fortunate.
Like many, I also hope that the Council of Eminent Persons will continue to serve us all Malaysians as a national advisory and monitoring council – even after the first 100 days.
All we want is for the government, as Daim says, “to be far to everybody and to take care of their welfare” in the new Malaysia.