By Koon Yew Yin
In a recent Barisan controlled newspaper, the following headline screamed out for attention: “There is continuity in all Malaysia Plans, says Najib”. The Prime Minister further argued that claims that policies in each Malaysia Plan is disconnected from the other are not true, said the Prime Minister.
Yes, we agree – there is continuity. There is continuity in the unwillingness to put a full stop to the NEP policy. There is continuity in the massive corruption that accompanies every Malaysian Plan. This has happened especially since the 1980’s when the practice of giving out large contracts and concessions without competitive open tenders became institutionalized under Dr Mahathir’s version of ‘crony capitalism’. There is continuity in the refusal to practice the system of meritocracy – the only sure way to ensure that we can join the league of modern and developed nations of the world.
Lies, Damn Lies and Malaysian Government Statistics
What has the Prime Minister highlighted by way of the country’s achievements in his presentation of the Plan in Parliament according to the print media. The following are some of his claims:
Economic growth that is supposed to be among the highest in Asia
We enjoy clean water and electricity
Almost all Malaysians can read and write
More than three quarters of households have their own homes
More than one quarter of the labour force has tertiary education
There is almost zero percent poverty rate
Reading the so-called accomplishments listed by the Prime Minister will leave most Malaysians in two minds. Whether to laugh or to cry at how desperate Najib is trying to show what a good job he is doing as the Prime Minister. They will also be wondering what a bad job his team of highly paid consultants must be doing.
Firstly many of the indicators compare our situation in 1970 with the situation today – almost 50 years later. All countries in the world – even the least developed – have enjoyed progress in the selective indicators littering the Plan report. Secondly, the last three of the six indicators above appear unbelievable.
Few people living in the Klang Valley, the most heavily populated part of our country, will believe that only 25 per cent of households are not living in their own houses. I suppose what some ‘ampu bodek’ staff from the Department of Statistics has done – whenever he or she has encountered several households occupying one living space – is to count all of them as owning their own homes, thus boosting the incidence of home ownership!
We have seen how adept at fudging and spinning the Government has been with the 1MDB. I will not be surprised if the same manipulation and selectivity, if not outright lying, characterizes most of the statistics put out in the 11th Plan.
Statistics on our True International Standing
But let’s assume that the Prime Minister and his team are really serious about moving Malaysia ahead during the next five years. Let me provide just one suggestion.
I propose that the 11th Malaysia Plan focuses on critical indicators which show the deep hole that the Barisan Nasional government has dug Malaysia into. This would be more useful to the nation than for consultants to trumpet indicators that permit the rakyat to feel good and think that the BN is doing such a great job.
And the clearest evidence of the deep hole we are in is how we compare with other nations in independent international rankings of education, competitiveness and other key indicators that are purged from the 11 Plan document.
Although I am not an expert on statistics, let me give some examples of the alternative indicators of development that should appear in the 11th Plan and which can show our true standing in the world
OECD Ranking in Science and Mathematics
UNDP Human Development Index Ranking
Extent of Liberalization of Economy as shown by GLC share of share market
Extent of Out Migration of Skilled Malaysians
Extent of Influx of Foreign Labour
Illegal Capital Flight
There are many similar ones banned from the Plan report which other readers can provide.
I have titled the article with the initials ‘SOS’ of the emergency cry for help. Malaysians will also be aware that the initials also stand for “same old stuff” which is the impression one comes away with after ploughing through the Plan document.