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Sunday, October 30, 2011

No two ways about it: If Malaysia is to be competitive, the NEP has to go!

No two ways about it: If M'sia is to be competitive, the NEP has to go!

The main hindrance to competitiveness in the Malaysian business sphere is the government’s own insistence that there should be no competition when it comes to any or all their ventures. We have in place huge monopolies in oil, electricity generation and even television; in which the government holds strategic stakes that basically curtails and dampens any form of competitiveness.

Dismantling these systems is something the BN is not prepared to do. Its own component parties, Umno in particular, hold large stakes in these monopolies.

Prime Minister Najib Razak’s recent call for meritocracy amongst the bumiputera community means allowing the best Malays in the country to emerge through competition amongst themselvesbut not through competition with other races whether in the country or from overseas.

It has nothing to do with abolishing policies that favour the Bumiputera. This itself makes a mockery of his other statement that the economy will continue to be liberalized. It takes two hands to clap and liberalization cannot take place with competition and meritocracy. So as usual, clueless Najib was speaking in a fog of his own making.

Oil and water

Najib’s assertion that the New Economic Policy and meritocracy can co-exist is akin to saying that water and oil can mix. There is just no plausible way for co-existence. For true meritocracy to exist in Malaysia, the NEP has to go.

Najib’s assertion rings hollow and is obviously meant to pacify the non-bumiputera quarters in Malaysia, but without antagonizing the Malay electorate which still depends a lot on the NEP for economic survival.

If Najib is to prove his point, then meritocracy should begin when selecting the nation’s leaders. Cabinet members or those holding key governmental positions need not come from BN or Pakatan Rakyat or any political entity but rather from the pool of Malaysian intellectuals that are the envy of the global world. Would not this also attract more Malaysian intellectuals to come back to assist their motherland?

Key cabinet or ministerial areas such as national defence, finance, education, tourism, agriculture and information can be given to individuals who are authority figures in such fields. There are plenty of competent Malaysian engineers, financial experts, tourism experts, educationists and media consultants who can best serve the ministries and strategic and objectively steer the nations’ policies.

Cabinet may be 'decimated'

But as many know, if meritocracy is practiced in selecting the nation's leaders; many in the Cabinet will be out of a job and the current structure of UMNO would be void and empty. There is just no platform within the BN that supports meritocracy.

To allow meritocracy would mean the death of Malay dominance in the economic sphere of Malaysia. Yet, this is also contributing to the lack of competitiveness Malaysia is facing in the global arena.

Ironically, the companies that are totally geared up to face the global competition are those that have enjoyed the least from NEP, even-though one can argue that these companies enjoyed a direct connection to the Executive when it came to gaining a foothold in Malaysian business. Names like Genting, YTL and Berjaya come to mind.

There is no point speaking of meritocracy while maintaining the NEP, if the Najib establishment is unprepared to practice this at the national leadership level. And even if Najib really wanted a meritocratic system in place to implement the NEP, does he really have the political will to do so?

Especially since, meritocracy itself would mean getting rid of those that have no merit, intelligence or moral integrity, but who are currently sitting in the government. Indeed, meritocracy would mean a lot of BN 'leaders' would have to find new jobs.

Malaysia Chronicle

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