Zaid to Tok Pa: How come Malaysia is now poorer than Vietnam?

IN addressing the ways and means to tackle poverty in an effective way, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Economy) Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed (also known as Tok Pa) has to start by asking why or where Malaysia failed to become like neighbours Singapore, China Japan or South Korea.

“What factors have pulled us down? Why are we even poorer than Vietnam?” asked former de-factor Law Minister Datuk Mohd Zaid Ibrahim in his latest Facebook posting.

“These are the questions Tok Pa needs to ask in all earnestness. Unless we grasp the real problems that inhibit our growth, we can never overcome poverty problems but will exacerbate it. Irrespective of the impressive five-year plan.”

In Zaid’s contention, Malaysia should be at par with South Korea, Singapore, and China because ‘we were much more prosperous when we started in 1957’ compared to those countries.

“We have regressed as our march towards prosperity and high income have floundered. That’s very clear,” he observed.

“After COVID-19, we will probably have another one million people added to the poverty group. So to talk about tackling poverty in an effective way, Tok Pa has to start by asking why we did not become like our neighbor (Singapore) or China Japan or South Korea. What factors have pulled us down?”

In Zaid’s opinion, Mustapa has to ensure that the Government’s role should be prioritising on helping the people at all times.

“The the mantra (Tun) Dr Mahathir (Mohamad) always used is not good; about how it is OK to give projects or give loans to the rich or big corporations because they paid taxes.

“In the first place, I don’t know how much the rich pay taxes. Clever people are not always honest. What must not be forgotten is the role of the Government to give a helping hand to the rakyat. That’s their prime responsibility.”

Zaid further advised Mustapa not to trust private and corporatised government entities and government-linked companies (GLCs) when it comes to understanding the difficulties of the rakyat.

“(The) Government must revert to using and employing government servants who are still happy to serve the people. If we have to remove some of the civil servants who are not capable of doing their work, please remove them,” he suggested.

“It is better to have 800,000 highly skilled and motivated civil servants than 1.6 million who can’t perform and have no heart to serve.”

Although it is a daunting task to change structural weakness in the Government, Zaid questioned: “What good is extravagant and nice sounding policies that has failed to work in the last 50 years?”

“We can’t find short term solutions to cure deep seated and chronic problems of the past. For too long we play politics with peoples’ lives. This must end,” he added. – Sept 10, 2021

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