The recent financial crisis should humble us to think and contemplate more about the future of our country; as it is becoming more and more apparent that crisis seems to come ashore almost every ten years, and they are coming at a more frequent times as well as amplified each time in terms of its sizes. The political leadership of UMNO and BN are always as arrogant and defiant in their views and approach, with the believe that they are able to overcome whatever that may comes in our way. This is despite the laggard and at times haphazard economic management approach that has been the hallmarks of their leadership over the past five years or so.
At the same time, open debates and engagement about economic issues are clearly avoided, despite many attempts by the opposition to engage them on (such as in the recent parliament debates). The method has always been by trying to throw some “stimulus” package into the economy, and by trying to give a budget that are “people oriented”. In my analysis and opinion – all of these are in truth missing the main points and marks. What is at stake is not just simply petrol prices, a stimulus of few billions (which are peanuts), or further rhetoric: it is about the direction of us as a nation. This is what is missing from all the debates.
A careful observation and looks should make anyone of us who are well intentioned to be extremely worried. We have a global economy that will continue to be in turmoil for many years to come, and probably these turmoils (one after another) are here to stay for good. Yesterday we have oil prices crisis, today we have banking crisis, and now we have plummeting commodity prices, and God knows what tomorrow brings us. Business planning can not be done on long term basis – in fact five year plan is at times too long; and we can forget ten year planning as anything to be certain. I would say, ten planning should be now termed as ten year guesswork.
As a nation, we can’t even define our economic drivers. We can’t say that manufacturing is our forte; neither we can say that commodity is our strength; or we can’t be sure that we already a service oreinted nation. What we have is mix bag of things; while not that bad, it is not too great either. There are few ideas of developing economic corridors as the new source of growth – but most of them are poorly concieved, and do not learn from the two biggest corridor “failures” that we have (and dumped billions into it), namely: Putrajaya and Cyberjaya. Therefore, I can’t understand why do we have to rush for the IDR (Iskandar Development Region) and other corridors, without learning from the two “failed corridors” that we had. Furthermore, as a small nation, should we identify real estate as our economic driver for the future?
At one stage, I used to see the plan for Malaysia to be a K-economy (or knowledge based economy). It took up a bit of interest by many parties, then after that it fizzled away. Then we hear this Halal hub and industry as another driver; after a while, it remains in the hallways of seminars and symposiums. Similarly some excitements were created when we talk about bio-fuels, and after few hundred millions were wasted, the whole industry now is in tether. In a nut shell – the country’s economic direction is pretty much behaving like a headless chicken,
So do we think that the current leadership are up to it, in bringing us a clear path and direction for the future? Are they up to the challenge that may come in the days ahead? If we based on what being said, and what has been accomplihsed in the past, as well based on the track records – I have severe doubts about whether they can meet the challenge.