Perhaps one day, i’ll write a book about positive thinking. It’s in my nature to grab everyone by the scuff of their collars and proclaim the importance of the Glass Half Full (TM) approach to life.
So when i see the Economic Transformation Program (ETP) i can’t help but think about the good it’ll do for our nation. The focus on the private sector as the force behind the ETP, for once the Government taking a back seat. The billions of dollars that the ETP will flush into the country’s economy. The millions of jobs this will create. How the ETP will integrate with the NEM, fusing spirits of transparency and meritocracy, as we forge the steel that will carry the nation to 2020 and the mecca of developed nation status.
It’s a beautiful dream, and just like any dream, probably just a little too ambitious. There are systemic problems with the country, our education system being just one of the critical pillars with a heck of a lot of cracks in it. Unless we find a way to fix those problems in the next 10 years, i’m afraid that all we’re doing now is building a house of cards that will come crashing down at the first sign of weakness, at the first gust of wind.
A country needs to be built with sterner stuff.
Having said that, i remain optimistic, as i think should we all. Zeffri Yusof, in his regular column, called for a coming together of the nation’s elements in support of the ETP.
To Pakatan Rakyat (PR), now would be the time to demonstrate genuine intent. Instead of riling against everything perceived to be of BN-origin, step up to the plate and take the high road. Quit being naysayers and be at the forefront of ETP constructive public feedback, or run the risk of the private sector not taking you seriously as contenders. Newsflash: Even if PR wins the next general election, does it make any sense to dismantle what Pemandu has done?
Zeffri is like me. An optimist. And i think he identified, correctly, the bogeyman of progress: cynicism.
Mohd Ariff, popularly known as Sakmongkol 47, very aptly represents the bogeymen’s case:
But Idris Jala and his co-drivers have succeeded in enthralling the PM and his economics-challenged leaders with grandiose plans involving billion ringgit MRT, beautifying the KL city, cleaning up the river, constructing a bullet train linking Lim Guan Eng’s Country, through Putrajaya, to Lee Kuan Yew’s Singapore. It’s all the property bubble, baby, which sooner or later will burst.
Its a good argument, no doubt. Is the ETP just another property-fueled bubble that is another disaster waiting to happen? If these projects are undertaken in the same manner of the past, then they are doomed to failure. That’s a guarantee.
Perhaps things will be different this time with the private sector taking the lead, and the Government only playing a supporting role. But supporting role or no, i think the Government needs to ensure a leading role in ensuring a transparent and accountable implementation of all the projects. Otherwise, the ETP will just be another wet sieve from which money for the nation ends up in the pockets of the few.
Shall this be the acid test of the Najib administration? The last chance before GE13 to show the nation that he’s going to get something right? I agree with Sakmongkol — he needs to communicate better. Take a stand, be bold, and do the right thing. Hire better speech writers. The people need to hear from him — what is he committed to deliver, what he promises to do. A failed leader isn’t one that makes promises and doesn’t deliver. He is one that doesn’t make any promises at all.
It’s never too late to do a good thing. Whether or not the ETP will have the type of impact on the result of GE13 in favour of BN remains to be seen; to succeed it needs to put “real money into the pockets of real people“, one of the 3 challenges i laid down for the BN a few weeks ago. Whatever happens, we will be watching. Very, very closely.