Political MoU can provide checks and balances for more reforms

Malaysia needs to do a lot of reforms based on science, technology and the English proficiency, says former Khazanah MD

by HARIZAH KAMEL / pic by BERNAMA

THE set of reforms from the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between the government and Pakatan Harapan, if implemented, would provide checks and balances that can improve the country’s economic policies.

Former Khazanah Nasional Bhd MD Tan Sri Mohd Sheriff Mohd Kassim (picture) believes if Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob gives his full support for the reforms to come through, much of the country’s inefficiencies in terms of policy and governance will be dealt with in a satisfactory manner.

“If these new reforms, such as parliamentary reform, which hopefully will be implemented can introduce more checks and balances, there will be less corruption, abuses and wastage of funds,” he said during KSI Strategic Institute for Asia Pacific’s virtual roundtable entitled “The New Economic Policy (NEP): Reflections on the NEP after 50 Years” recently.

Mohd Sheriff, who was the former secretary general of the Finance Ministry in the early 90s, views that most of the criticisms are not so much about the policy, but the way the NEP was implemented and the abuses that happened with it.

“I think all Malaysians agree that there is a need to reduce disparities in the country whether you call it the NEP or Shared Prosperity Vision, including disparities between Peninsular Malaysia and East Malaysia, which needs to be looked into. A lot depends on the politicians being honest, open and transparent in their policies,” he said.

Mohd Sheriff also mentioned the Asian financial crisis in 1997/1998 and the recession which followed exposed the structural weaknesses in the implementation of government policies including the NEP.

He stressed that Malaysia needs to do a lot of reforms to be at a higher level of development based on science, technology and the English proficiency as these are the basic requirements to raise productivity and efficiency in order to sustain the growth momentum and become a high-income country.

“I agree with the view that after 50 years of implementing the NEP, with the vast expansion of education, training opportunities and the increasing number graduating from top universities, the Malays are now better able to find their own way to success in the modern industrial and commercial sectors of the economy. So, the policy of preferential treatment for Malays should be reviewed so that they will be encouraged to compete on their own merit,” he said.

One area he calls for urgent reform is the government-linked companies (GLCs) sector. However, he noted that some GLCs are crucial to the country because of their developmental role and strategic importance to the economy.

“Good GLCs should be retained but those that are not essential and are not performing should be closed down because many of them are creating problems for the private sector due to unfair competition and some GLCs have become too politically connected.

“The country’s reputation in corporate practices will go down if the politicisation of GLCs is not stopped,” he added.