Be open and professional — Lim Sue Goan
JULY 26 — We talked about the inadequacies of the government’s transformation plans yesterday and let’s discuss the other two factors that determine the success or failure of the plans.
In addition to management and execution, I believe that openness and professionalism are equally crucial. Openness promotes healthy competition while professionalism improves the decision-making ability.
The Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA) exposed bafflement during a recent press conference when it revealed the first half-year’s total industry volume, that it has been alleged to have contravened the Competition Act 2010.
Why can’t the figures be published? Are they worried that people might follow suit and choose to buy foreign cars after knowing that the figures of foreign cars are approaching the figures of domestic cars?
MAA president Datuk Aishah Ahmad also disclosed that the government was still controlling the prices of imported cars and if the prices were found to be approaching or lower than domestic car prices, the government would ask the manufacturers to increase prices before allowing them to enter the market.
The Competition Act should be meant for encouraging fair competition and pushing down prices to benefit consumers, but it seems now to be serving exactly the opposite purpose. It seems like the transformation plans are unable to get rid of the protection policy. That explains the slow pace in opening up to foreign competition under the national automotive policy, resulting in the lack of commitment in foreign investment and foreign car manufacturers choosing to set up plants in other countries.
If the move to open up is not thorough enough, protected enterprises will never be able to make progress, but continue to rely on government subsidies while sacrificing the people’s interests.
Reducing the people’s burden is one of the seven National Key Result Areas (NKRA). High car prices have burdened the people as we have to pay 70 per cent in taxes when we buy locally-made cars of below 1500cc, and 95 per cent when we buy imported cars. Car prices in Malaysia are nearly doubled the prices in foreign countries. The crux of the problem lies in our conservative policy.
To truly transform, the public domain needs professionals who can contribute and with good management skills. However, the government rarely hires outside professionals to fill top positions in its administration and government enterprises.
Please note that the following examples are not directed at anyone. Former Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan was appointed chairman of Petronas; former Chief Justice Tun Zaki Azmi was appointed chairman of a special commission set up to study the remuneration and the civil service; and former Home Ministry secretary-general Tan Sri Mahmood Adam was appointed chairman of the Public Service Commission (PSC). There are many more similar appointments before this.
Retired senior civil servants indeed have their own abilities, but they might lack professional knowledge. For example, only energy experts would know well about the exploitation of crude oil and its market operations. Judges are versed in laws, but they do not necessarily understand the operation and regulations of the public domain.
All governments and enterprises must keep improving to produce quality work and products. Most importantly, they must ensure no talent and resources are wasted.
The government can actually use other ways to recognise the contributions of retired senior government officials or judges, such as appointing former chief justices to lead a judicial reform commission.
Cabinet appointments have been based on political considerations and thus, other important posts should be meritoriously filled to attract talents.
If the government is aware of these weaknesses and corrects them as soon as possible, there is still hope to achieve the goals of the transformation plans. — mysinchew.com
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.