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Sunday, December 18, 2016

Team to boost economy failed, says ex-finance minister

Daim Zainuddin wants PM's year-old special committee replaced with a new squad.
PETALING JAYA: Former finance minister Daim Zainuddin has called for a key planning unit set up by the Prime Minister to be replaced, saying it has failed.
Called the Special Economics Committee and set up in August, last year, it was tasked to do immediate and medium-term planning to strengthen the country’s economic fundamentals.
Writing in The Edge newspaper earlier this month, Daim suggested instead setting up an economy management squad to replace the Special Economics Committee.
“This squad must be made of professionals with high technical skills, are efficient and dare to speak the truth. Both the rakyat and investors must be able to trust them,” he added.
He also suggested state institutions be reinstated to ensure the independence of the judiciary and the safety bodies, as well as to guarantee the freedom of expression and differing opinions.
“If we fail to bring about these important changes, that means we have gone off track from the road to prosperity.”
Daim said, as of now, the level of confidence among the people towards the government was at an all-time low and that without their confidence and support, solving national issues would be difficult.
“When meeting the rakyat face-to-face, the most important principle is honesty. You will not be able to solve any of the nation’s issues if there is a deficit in confidence. Problem-solving requires great teamwork between the leaders and those being led,” he said.
“The rakyat in turn will be confident enough to give leaders more space and time to solve their problems,” he said.
According to a report by mStar last February 23, the 2016 Edelman Trust Barometer research findings showed that the general public’s trust towards the government was only at 39%, while for the educated public it was at 34%.
Daim said this “deficit” in trust stemmed from the lack of integrity and moral bravery among the leaders and elite. This was escalated after the people felt as though immediate action had not been taken against those involved in bribery.
“In the bribery case involving the Sabah Water Department, it has been nearly two months since the suspects were released on bail. This is the same case regarding the accusations of bribery within the Youth and Sports Ministry.
“And who can deny the multi-billion ringgit bribery cases and the abuse of power that is happening,” he said, referring to the 1MDB scandal involving Prime Minister Najib Razak.
He said another reason the people were losing confidence in the government was the actions taken by certain leaders who had no “empathy nor logic”.
“While the people are burdened with rising costs of living and the loss of subsidies, as well as budgets for health and education being cut, suddenly we hear about half-a-billion ringgit being spent on renovating a park. This is extremely insensitive and does not make any sense,” he said, referring to the Taman Tugu project, which is likely to cost near RM650 billion under the cooperation of the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) and Khazanah Nasional.
Daim went on to say that any figure showing economic growth in the country did not mean anything if the people themselves could not reap the benefits.
He said the country was still being plagued by joblessness, which was rising every year, especially among skilled workers.
“The unemployment rate this year is the lowest since a decade ago. Even if there are jobs it’s either unskilled or semi-skilled work. This is not how you become a high-income nation,” he said. -FMT

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