Our special correspondent takes a critical look at Najib’s Government Transformation Programme (GTP) and the National Key Result Areas (NKRA) and finds echoes of the Ninth Malaysia Plan. But the real problem lies with the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and related activities.
First, Leslie Lau in the Malaysian Insider; now Baradan K in The Star. It’s coming to seem like a concerted takedown of the Pakatan Rakyat and a celebration of Najib’s GTP and the NKRAs, not even subjecting the latter to any serious examination.
So let’s try and do a quick once-over — admittedly not having been to Sunway, since not resident in KL/Klang Valley, and there’s nothing substantial on the GTP website.
Regarding the NKRA — hey, if anyone’s been paying any attention, it is a re-packaged Ninth Malaysia Plan, which itself was a pretty nicely done-up package, now done up even better by some clever PR types.
So, what was wrong with the 9MP, that we now need the NKRA and everyone seems to be falling over themselves to laud them? Echoes of a time past — remember the 1980s, Look Ea st, etc. which everyone dumped on, then it got re-packaged as Vision 2020, and suddenly everyone – other than the usual suspects – was falling over themselves,. Until we woke up, and realised it was a lot of smoke and mirrors.
Anyway, back to the 9MP. Recall the five thrusts — they are now, more or less, five of the six NKRA.
What’s the addition? The one on corruption. Okay, great. But what – no public disclosure of assets by those in public office? Great, too, if funds are to be provided to political parties, but how about getting rid of the discrimination of allocations between ruling party and opposition party parliamentarians? Isn’t that at the root of all the corruption around — the discrimination between elected representatives of the people, the corruption of the political system itself? And this is a KPI that is immediately achievable – no need to wait a couple of years. And what’s this about getting into the top 25 per cent of the Transparency International ranking? Heck, we were there a few years ago. How about trying to be in the top 10 per cent, or top 20 countries?
Now, let’s look at some others — 100 high-performing schools (HPS) (what’s with all these acronyms, anyway!) by 2012? There are over 9,000 schools in the country. And if it’s going to take two years to get 100 HPS, then at that rate it will take us 180 years to get all the schools to be high performing! So, okay, let’s say this is part of the learning curve, and performance will improve after that — to, let’s say, 400 HPS every two years. Even then, it would still take over 40 years to get all the schools there. Knowing the state of the education system, this is like condemning the vast majority of our children to mediocrity and worse for more than a generation to come. Curious that they apparently got Michael Barber to attend their labs — and Michael Barber was responsible for the school reform under Blair, which was supposedly a success. And no, they didn’t target 100 HPS in two years but sought to raise the performance of all schools. But maybe that’s not the idea here — maybe the product of an elite English public school just wants to get a few elite schools going, the rest be damned? Affordable and quality education for all?
How about raising the standard of living of the poor and low income? Now who could object to that. But from what Shahrizat says, it looks like it’s going to be welfare — cash payments. That’s fine if it to those unable to work or if its assistance with school expenditure or food supplements for young children, etc. as stop gap while the capacity of the poor to raise their income levels is developed. Otherwise, it looks more like a political ploy to create dependency, hence voting support. That is supposed to be a poverty eradication programme?
And rural infrastructure? Did anyone catch the statement by Shafie Apdal about finding ways to speed up land acquisition? Now, if I were in rural Sarawak, with all the problems I’m already having with land, I’d be worried, very worried, that under guise of acquiring land for a public purpose, I’m going to lose my land to more plantation and other interests — possibly as part of public-private partnership in which the private party gets land in payment for building the roads and infrastructure! Which, incidentally, has already happened, as with the Lanang, or is it, the Durin bridge in Sibu, partly paid for with Penan land.
But really, what’s wrong with what’s being celebrated by Leslie Lau and Baradan Kuppusamy? No, it’s not the KRAs themselves — that’s on a par with the Pakatan’s programme, the kind of thing that anyone with any familiarity with the country could come up with, though one might need some expensive PR type to package it pretty. It is with the KPIs and the activities. Instead of engaging the people directly, we essentially had the same people who have presided over the decline of the country these past years coming up with ideas on how to improve it. Now, if they knew all along, why didn’t they just do it? Instead, we now have a big show of consulting the people — in the Klang Valley only, it seems — when the people should have been consulted as to the targets and the activities in a wide-ranging discussion. This is, with due apologies to sensitivities, a case of packaging old wine in new bottles, nicely packaged, no doubt. But don’t be surprised if, at the first real taste, the reaction is to spit it out.
Now, Pakatan, if it’s serious, should engage the people to establish concrete actions against the general programme. As for Baradan’s scorning of Pakatan as seeking power — hey, what’s he purpose of any political party if not to seek to be the government?
Incidentally, since the CEO of Pemandu was formerly CEO of Malaysia Airlines, it might interest some people to know what happened in Amsterdam, an important European hub. In that realisation of KRAs, Malaysia Airlines severed its contract with KLM to share their excellent business/first class lounge, instead contracting with some other party in a shared lounge with the likes of Aeroflot, Pakistan International, and a bunch of other unknowns. So, from being a first world airlines, MAS demoted itself to the level of an out-of-this-world airlines! And here’s the picture to prove it. Now, why would anyone want to fly Malaysia Airlines business or first class through Amsterdam? Perhaps only because cabin service is still good — thanks to the dedication of the cabin crew, and no thanks to the severe cuts in their perks and fringe benefits, to the point that they have to carry instant mee with them as otherwise they can’t afford to eat at those destinations.