WITH Malaysia expected to achieve herd immunity by end-October this year and move from the Covid-19 pandemic to the endemic phase, the next step is resetting Malaysia in the new normal.
Newly-minted Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob and opposition leaders have pledged to find a “common ground” to tackle the pandemic and boost the economy, as well as seek to ease a long-running political turbulence – a good start moving forward for now.
The prime minister had promised that the Cabinet will be results-oriented based on three principles, namely being sensitive to the needs of the people, being responsible and trustworthy, and restoring the people’s confidence.
The emphasis will be on a high-performance work culture with each ministry required to make short-term and long-term planning and achieve set targets. All ministers have been given 100 days to show the success of their short-term targets.
And while the ministers work on their respective responsibilities to grow the nation, the onus is now on us, the rakyat, to play the same role. After all, one of the principles set by Ismail Sabri is being sensitive to the needs of the people and, for this, the people need to work together to voice out their mounting needs especially in the post-pandemic times. There is no better time and opportunity for resetting the country than in the post-pandemic era.
Datuk Seri Nazir Razak, the youngest son of second prime minister Tun Abdul Razak, has called for a recalibration of the system put in place by his father.
“What we need is a national reset, a holistic overhaul of our democracy, institutions and socio-economy. This would not be the first time. We did it after May 13, 1969, when the Westminster system we inherited crashed in the third general election.
“The authors of the reset believed that the system would work but they knew that it could not last forever; it would have to be improved, there might even need to be another reset. They even set a 20-year time limit in the case of the NEP (New Economic Policy),” said Nazir.
In 1990, the NEP was renamed but was extended and the rest of the system continued substantially the same. The longer it went on, the more the negative side effects overwhelmed the good it was doing, he added.
“Times have changed and we should not replicate exactly what we did in 1970 when everything was driven by Tun Razak as the head of the National Operations Council.
“Today, we would need to have a much more consultative, inclusive and less elitist process. And we should build the agenda into the name of the council – let’s call it the ‘Better Malaysia Assembly’ (BMA),” he said.
Columnist and public policy analyst Dr Lim Teck Ghee recalled that in 1988, a National Economic Consultative Council was established to formulate a post-1990 economic policy to supersede the NEP, the 20-year lifespan of which was ending then.
He said the “out-of-the-box recommendations on how to move Malaysia into a post-NEP era in the economic as well as crucial non-economic and governance sectors made the report a must-read and reference point for potential members of any national council set up to reset the nation’s direction of development”. And recommendations from such a council could have provided the nation with a non-political high-level body to ensure greater accountability in the implementation of government policies.
Malaysia’s new Cabinet was sworn in a day before the nation celebrated its 64th anniversary of independence. And the topmost agenda would be Malaysia’s emergence from the pandemic era into the new normal.
What the nation needs now is a bipartisan government, which is possible if politicians heed the King’s decree for a new political landscape where the people’s interests override selfish interests and political gains.
With the Malaysia Day celebrations coming up this week, what better way to reconcile the different interests of the various communities than through the establishment of such a people’s assembly.
The outcome of such an assembly to complement the government’s policies could potentially be a paradigm shift leading towards a better Malaysia.
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