PRIME Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad gave a historic and pleasant gift to all Malaysians during a special address to the people on the first anniversary of the Pakatan Harapan government’s rule in Malaysia on Thursday.
After nearly 50 years of the Barisan Nasional government’s New Economic Policy (NEP), the announcement of the new economic model of “shared prosperity” provided a radical breakthrough for fundamentally new socio-economic policies for the next 10 years, or for two socio-economic five-year plans until 2030.
In his special address, Dr Mahathir said the target of this shared prosperity model is to create decent standards of living for all Malaysians. He also sternly warned all Malaysians that our country could become a failed state if the Pakatan coalition did not work together.
Indeed, he sternly advised that his proposed new economic model must be strongly supported and actually embraced by all Malaysians for it to work well for the long-term benefit of all citizens.
He rightly implied that our country’s future will depend on the degree of public acceptance and the implementation of this new economic model.
Hopefully, it will, as Dr Mahathir pointed out, enable us all to continuously experience sustainable and equitable growth at every level of society regardless of race, class or location.
This is surely a breath of fresh air after so many years of distortion in the interpretation and implementation of the NEP by many little Napoleons from the highest to the lowest levels of the previous administration.
The new economic model of shared prosperity, which gives us all new hope, is based on three objectives:
1. Tackling income and wealth disparity;
2. Creating a progressive economy; and
3. Emerging as a leading economy in Asia.
Almost all of us would agree that there is no point in great economic growth if people do not get their fair share of the wealth generated. Where is the hope for our future if, despite our God-given resources, we find that some of our undergraduates are going hungry, many people are living from hand to mouth, and children are suffering from malnutrition?
And what about the serious lack of housing, inadequate healthcare and transport facilities as well as the shocking shortfalls in our sustainable development goals?
The solutions to achieving the objectives of the new model of sharing wealth must, among others, be through the following:
> Raising new wealth taxes;
> Increasing expenditure for the welfare of the poor;
> Enhancing our training and technology levels to raise productivity;
> Providing better salaries and wages to our own people;
> Focusing on meritocracy and competition to better manage the excessive brain drain;
> Treating all Malaysians equally regardless of race or religion; and
> Protecting our environment under the 17 United Nation’s Sustainable Goals.
Public support is crucial in preventing us from getting into the mode of a failed state. We have to be prepared to accept the new model and pray for its success in the next 10 years and beyond.
We must all take this acceptance as a real challenge to make this model work for the benefit of all Malaysians, as this may well be our last reasonable chance to move strongly ahead! Hence, we hope that it will be fully and widely discussed at all levels of our society. People throughout the country, especially in the rural areas and small towns, must be briefed and consulted to win their whole-hearted support for this new model.
As Dr Mahathir concluded in his historic speech on the new economic model for shared wealth, “a great plan will not mean anything if it is not implemented correctly or monitored for its outcome.”
So let us all, as loyal and patriotic Malaysians, give our full support to achieve shared wealth for all citizens.
TAN SRI RAMON NAVARATNAM
Asli Center for Public Policy Studies