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Friday, October 29, 2010

Malaysia towards a failed state and bankrupt nation by 2019


Lim Kit Siang

On Monday, the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak launched the Economic Transformation Programme. It was also the start of a week which saw the Government Transformation Programme suffering a triple blow.


The first blow was Monday’s tabling in Parliament of the 2009 Auditor-General’s Reports which continues to be annual tale of horrors of waste, mismanagement, misuse of public funds and corruption – as highlighted by headlines like:

* Federal government debt hits five-year high;
* KTMB mired in RM1.45 billion debt;
* Only 18.2% of pupils bring free eBooks to school;
* Stimulus funds used for chandeliers, home theatre, government audit shows;
* PTPTN to face whopping RM46 bil deficit;
* PTPTN okayed RM23 mil to students who didn’t apply;
* Million-ringgit scanner stuck in KLIA, under-utilisation woes;
* ‘Sandwich kosong’ for school kids, sardines missing.

The Auditor-General’s Reports, which were completed in June/July this year, were deliberately held back when they should have been tabled on the first day of the budget meeting of Parliament on Oct. 11, clearly to avoid the “annual horror stories” from stealing the thunder from Najib’s 2011 Budget speech on Oct. 15 and his Umno Presidential Address on Oct. 21 – testimony that the Barisan Nasional government is not fully serious and committed to GTP and even Najib’s “People First Performance First” mantra.

The second blow was yesterday when the 2010 Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perception Index (CPI) was released – highlighting the failure of the key National Key Results Area (NKRA) in fighting corruption which targeted to increase the CPI score from the new low of 4.5 in 2009 to 4.9 by 2010. In actual fact, Malaysia’s CPI score in 2010 sunk to the lowest in 16 years.

In the nine years from 1995 to 2003, Tun Dr. Mahathir as Prime Minister saw Malaysia’s TI CPI score stuck in the narrow groove between 4.8 in 2000 to 5.32 in 1996 while the CPI ranking fell 14 places from No. 23 in 1995 to No. 37 in 2003.

In the five-year premiership of Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Malaysia’s TI CPI ranking fell 10 places from 37 in 2003 to 47 placing in 2008, while CPI score stuck between 5.0 to 5.1.

In his 18 months as Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak presided over the worst single-year plunge in TI CPI ranking and score, i.e. a nine-placing fall from No. 47 in 2008 to No. 56 in 2009, with the score plunging to the lowest ever of 4.5 last year. For 2010, Malaysia’s ranking is still at the worst spot of No. 56 hile the CPI score fell further to 4.4

Abdullah’s National Integrity Plan, launched in 2004 with the five-year target to improve Malaysia’s TI CPI from 37th place in 2003 to at least 30th position in 2008 and the 5.2 CPI score for Malaysia in 2003 to at least 6.5 by 2008 was an utter failure but Najib’s 18 months have seen both Malaysia’s TI CPI rank and score plumbed to new depths despite all the fanfare and hulaballoo of GTP, NKRAs and national transformation.

The third blow to Najib’s GTP is today’s release of 2010 Legatum Prosperity Index ranking Malaysia 43rd out of 110 countries, behind Singapore – 17, Japan – 18, Hong Kong – 20, Taiwan – 22, South Korea – 27 though ahead of Thailand – 52, China – 58, Vietnam – 61, Philippines – 64 and Indonesia – 70.

The Legatum Prosperity Index sub-index on “safety and security” ranking Malaysia as No. 52 out of 110 warrants serious attention as it impacts on our international competitiveness as well as another NKRA on keeping crime low.

Based on this sub-index, the publication The Diplomat recently published a photo essay on “The Safest Places in the Asia-Pacific”. The ten safest nations named are firstly Singapore followed by New Zealand, Taiwan, Japan, Australia, Hong Kong, South Korea, Mongolia, Vietnam and Kazakhstan.

The exclusion of Malaysia from this list is a national shame. What has the Prime Minister and the Home Minister got to say?

Both before and after the 2011 Budget presentation on Oct. 15, there have been more world-wide indices adversely affecting Malaysia’s international competitiveness, for example:

* Lowest press freedom index in nine years last week when Malaysia plunged 10 places to 141 in the 2010 World Press Freedom Index – outranked for the first time by Singapore since the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) began releasing its ranking in 2002.

* World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2010-2011 which saw Malaysia falling two places from No. 24 to 26 – despite the warning of the GTP Roadmap in January this year of the nation’s competitiveness “slipping significantly from the top 21 most competitive nations in the world three years ago to our current standing of 24”.

* Malaysian universities falling out of the league of World’s Top 200 universities, whether Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2010-11 or the QS World University Rankings 2010 or Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s 2010 ranking of top 500 universities for the eighth year in a row.

These are not the signs of a country prepared to take a quantum leap to escape the decades-old middle-income trap to achieve inclusive, sustainable high-income developed status in 2020 but those of a country heading towards a failed state or a bankrupt nation in 2019 as warned by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Idris Jala.

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