Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Idris Jala Show

I attended this special meeting hosted by the UniRazak Toastmasters Club today. I evaluated Emil Anthony and the General Evaluator, Lum Woon Foong, DTM (Metropolitan Bilingual Toastmasters Club) generously consented to furnish me with feedback on my evaluation. Even Jamila Khan (MAS Melor Toastmasters Club) graciously did the same. I accepted their evaluations in all seriousness and with an open heart. Yes I am determined to win the Division B speech evaluation contest this Saturday – so any opportunity to practise is helpful but more importantly, any evaluations I received for my evaluation are really appreciated.

Idris Jala made an appearance yesterday to unveil ambitious plans (collectively called the ETP) to jumpstart Malaysia’s economy by mobilizing hundreds of billions of dollars of private investment in the next decade.

A government think-tank said it had identified investments worth US$444 billion (RM1.4 trillion) over 10 years, of which 60% would come from the private sector, 32% from government-linked companies and 8% from the government.

Many will be asking if this is a realistic proposition or is it something that Idris Jala conjured up? There’s going to be real magic if we can summon this mega sum of massive investments! After all, in the past 10 years, private companies invested just RM535 billion, according to official data and Malaysia's private investment rate of around 10% of gross domestic product (GDP) is among the lowest in Asia (Webpage, posted September 21, 2010).

Actually I find all of this somewhat confusing. We are inundated with all sorts of grandiose ideas coming out from labs. As it stands, there is now the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP), the Government Transformation Programme (GTP), the 10th Malaysia Plan (10MP), the National Key Result Areas (NKRAs), the National Key Economic Areas (NKEAs), the New Economic Model (NEM), and the Strategic Reform Initiatives (SRIs), leading many of us round and round the mulberry bush!

Methinks the government bureaucrats intentionally created all these big names and fanciful acronyms just to bury us under a seismic swell of bombast. DAP’s Lim Kit Siang today described the ETP as being rich in rhetoric, business-school clich├ęs and lofty speeches, along with unrealistic assumptions about the country’s economic growth prospects. He also pronounced Idris Jala’s ETP presentation to be more confusing than enlightening.

“The concepts embodied in the ETP are beyond the comprehension of the public at large. Each event at which these so-called policies are unveiled lays bare the inability of and impotence of the government to boldly deal with the core and fundamental policy distortions that are responsible for the country becoming trapped in the middle-income group,” said Lim.

If you read the mainstream newspapers, everyone is euphoric and elated over the government’s grand designs. As for me, I am already choking on the pompous ideas and elaborate plans that I am being asked to swallow. What irks me is that this time around, Idris Jala is singing a different tune. Now he is abandoning the call for discreet and disciplined spending, and instead he is asking to spend without a care in the world. Where is the money coming from?

I really don’t know, honest. This is just a crazy version of Malaysia Boleh!

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