Former deputy minister expresses concerns over 12th Malaysia Plan, says more dynamic approach needed

R. Loheswar
·3-min read
DAP’s Liew Chin Tong said if the average growth rates of the last 20 years in GDP per capita for Malaysia and Singapore stayed constant, it would take the country 1,600 years to match Singapore’s level and by that same calculation, Vietnam could overtake us by the end of this century. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim
DAP’s Liew Chin Tong said if the average growth rates of the last 20 years in GDP per capita for Malaysia and Singapore stayed constant, it would take the country 1,600 years to match Singapore’s level and by that same calculation, Vietnam could overtake us by the end of this century. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 26 — DAP’s Liew Chin Tong has expressed his concerns that the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP) is taking a more linear approach rather than a dynamic one to economic development.

The former deputy defence minister said if the average growth rates of the last 20 years in GDP per capita for Malaysia and Singapore stayed constant, it would take the country 1,600 years to match Singapore’s level and by that same calculation, Vietnam could overtake us by the end of this century.

“In contrast, what does an economy with dynamic growth look like? Forty years ago, Shenzhen was a small, unknown fishing village. Between then and now, its GDP per capita grew by 56 times, and its overall GDP overtook Hong Kong’s in 2018.

“If someone had predicted this even 20 years ago, they would have been considered foolhardily sanguinem,” Liew wrote today on his personal blog.

“For multiple reasons, I am of the view that we should aim to achieve parity with Singapore, which means Malaysian GDP per capita would “only” have to grow five-fold.

“If we could double our average annual growth rate of the last 20 years, we could achieve this in fifty years.”

Liew pointed out five challenges he sees the 12MP facing in its implementation.

The first is the issue of corruption which he said the government should not side step. He is of the opinion that there should be clear missions set on how to transform and redefine the role of the state as an essential participant in the economy.

The second challenge is the approach to security. Liew said one of the challenges the Armed Forces faces is that defence procurements do not fit into the five-year plan.

“Most assets would take years to procure and would need to take into consideration maintenance over its entire shelf life often spanning 20 to 30 years.

“I hope the government will examine defence/security needs with a more long-term view,” he said.

The third challenge is the decentralisation and devolution of powers held by the federal government.

“Time to devolve, for instance, health care and transport functions to the states,” he said.

The fourth challenge is the approach to digital social justice where he said that access to the internet must be seen as essential, like clean air, water and roads.

The fifth challenge is the attention to climate change, green infrastructure and green jobs.

Liew said he hoped the 12MP would have very clear commitments to sustainable development goals as well as climate targets and how to reach them.

“Green is not just for the do-gooders. Green infrastructure comes with good jobs for the many,” he said.

The government will table the 12th Malaysia Plan 2021-2025 during the First Meeting, Fourth Session of the 14th Parliament scheduled in March 2021.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Economy) Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) in the Prime Minister’s Department is now in the process of finalising the documents for the 12MP.

Liew said the EPU does not have enough power to decide how to allocate the funds at its disposal.

“EPU’s actual teeth is its powers in deciding on how to allocate the ‘developmental expenditure’.

“While EPU can write beautiful plan documents, not all ministries/departments would adhere to the more conceptual parts of the plan.

“But Malaysia cannot just grow through hardware infrastructure investments. Ideas and policies need to be revamped yet EPU may not have sufficient leverage to push through,” he added.

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