Malaysia

Pua: Reform failure behind economic ranking slip

Malaysia will fall short of its developed nation goal if Najib (right) did not pay more than lip service to reforms, said Pua. — file picMalaysia will fall short of its developed nation goal if Najib (right) did not pay more than lip service to reforms, said Pua. — file picKUALA LUMPUR, May 21 — The Najib administration’s failure to implement economic reforms was to blame for Malaysia’s recent six-place drop on a global competitiveness scale, DAP’s Tony Pua said today.

The DAP publicity chief also disputed International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed’s claim that the results were largely due to the perception of the business community.

“Both the prime minister and minister of international trade and industry must recognise that it is the government’s failure to implement the necessary reforms as well as its repeated U-turns in policy-making which have caused the stark drop in global competitiveness rankings,” said Pua in a statement today.

The Petaling Jaya Utara MP said the business community and the public had realised that “real change” was not forthcoming, despite hearing “transformation” rhetoric from Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s administration for more than two years.

“Critical reforms have been quietly shelved,” said Pua, adding that politically-connected businesses were going about their deals as usual.

“Very simply, no amount of fancy PR consultants will be able to change that ‘perception’ if the government fails to deliver on its promises of change and transformation... the failure of Datuk Seri Najib Razak to recognise this will only result in further loss of competitiveness and ultimately the failure to break out of our middle income trap to achieve the much coveted ‘high-income status’,” he added.

Malaysia fell six slots, from 10th to 16th, in the closely-watched Institute of Management Development (IMD) 2011 World Competitive Rankings.

Malaysia is now only two places above the spot it occupied two years ago after dropping the most in ranking out of the top 20 countries.

Pua also said it was “shocking” that Malaysia slid in the “government efficiency” and “business efficiency” categories from ninth to 17th and fourth to 14th respectively.

“What is worse is for the minister of international trade and industry to justify the drastic drop in rankings due to the fact that these two categories are measured on ‘perception’ and hence insinuating that they are not accurate!” he remarked.

The DAP lawmaker pointed out that Mustapa was quick to praise Malaysia when the country reached the ninth and fourth ranks in those categories last year.

“Why didn’t the minister qualify his ‘joy’ by saying that the improvements were just ‘perception’ and not based on ‘real or hard data’ last year?” asked Pua.

He said the public has seen through Najib’s “glossy ‘transformation’ programmes” like the New Economic Model (NEM), Government Transformation Programme (GTP), Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) and 10th Malaysia Plan (10MP).

The NEM is part of the Najib administration’s plan to push Malaysia towards becoming a high-income nation by 2020, and is complemented by other broad initiatives such as the GTP, ETP and National Key Results Areas (NKRA). These are in addition to the five-year Malaysia Plans and the annual Budget.

The first part of the NEM was published last March and it recommended major structural changes to the economy and for affirmative action to be more market-friendly.

But after Malay rights groups led by Perkasa railed against the NEM, Najib was forced to backtrack and describe the recommendations as a “trial balloon”.

The bold recommendations set out in the first part of the NEM to boost competitiveness by reducing quotas were largely absent in the second part.

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