Congrats and caution on the 1st GTP Report

The government must be commended for scoring generally high marks in its successful 1st Annual Report on its transformation programme.

The many achievements of the Government’s Transformation Programme which aims to achieve the 1Malaysia Vision of People First, Performance Now, have been received like a breath of fresh air. The report has uplifted our spirits and removed considerable initial doubts on the viability of the GTP.

As the prime minister stated the GTP “has brought with it winds of change and a paradigm shift in the bureaucracy and government mindset.”

All this success has led the public to now ask the following questions:

> Are these statistics accurate?

> Will the results be felt fully on the ground or remain broad statistics that lack the human factor?

> Will these encouraging results be sustained?

> Are all these transformation programmes intended only for the coming elections or is the government seriously thinking of the long term?

> Will the government continue this transformation process?

> Will the more fundamental causes of uncertainty and unhappiness related to more racial equity, religious freedom and a better environment and quality of life, be addressed with a greater sense of purpose and priority

On the details of the report itself, questions are being asked and they have to be answered transparently. This is necessary, to dispel lingering doubts and to raise the credibility and support for the impressive GTP Report and the National Key Result Areas as indicated below.

1. Reducing crime – Can the police substantiate their high scores with an open Public Perception Survey as to whether and how the people are affected by the reduction of the overall crime index by about 32,300 cases or 15% last year? Do people now feel more safe and secure from street crimes that have gone down by a whopping 35%?

2. Corruption – There is no doubt that the MACC is in the news almost daily. Much to its credit, it has raised public awareness of the dangers posed to our national security and survival by high levels of corruption. But the people still wait for more high profile cases to underline government’s determination to fight “grand corruption”! Reducing mainly grassroot corruption is not as reassuring to the general public. What can we do for instance to combat money politics which is the mother of corruption? The government should amend the necessary to attack money politics.

3. Improving student outcomes – The establishment of 1,500 preschool classes so quickly, the rise in the performance of the literacy rate to 85% and the numeracy rate to 91%, are heart warming. The questions parents will ask and teachers should ask are whether these high outcomes are primarily quantitative achievements or more importantly qualitative accomplishments as well. If it means that academic standards have really risen, then we all should be happy to look forward to higher employability rates too. So can we monitor these vital results to better appreciate their estimated favourable outcomes, please?

4. Raising living standards of low-income households – for 44,535 families or about nearly one quarter million Malaysians is quite a feat. We should all be proud of this achievement. All Malaysians will agree that priority should always be given to improve the welfare of poorer citizens. The “end poverty programme” should be intensified and made available to all racial groups in the urban areas to promote national unity as well. Can urban poverty targets be included in future, please?

5. Improving rural basic infrastructure – This aim has again been substantially attained by the building/upgrading of 783km of rural roads and the overdue provision of water, electricity and housing for about 80,000 households. It must be stressed that these small contracts that are often given out in a hurry to small local contractors could lead to a lot of wastage if not properly supervised. Hence their poor services could cause distress to the rural folk and become counter productive.

The availability of these useful basic needs have to be increased substantially. They have to be provided to also the poor urban dwellers. They can be even more burdened by poverty in the towns where they have little or no access to land for cultivation of vegetables and poultry.

6. Improving urban public transport – has been admitted to be one of the weak areas in the NKRA’s. This is understandable because it is full of complexities. It is, however, heartening that the Integrated Transport Terminals at Bandar Tasik and Gombak and the KTM projects have been successfully implemented. However, this weak spot in the GTP should be given more attention, if the deep seated daily urban public frustration is to be reduced in a timely manner. There should be a firm overall policy to phase out the use of cars in preference to public transport. Peoples’ welfare should come first?

Finally, the government has really done well in adopting and implementing its ambitious transformation programme. However, it has to be further strengthened and especially sustained, to continue to earn more public support and appreciation in the longer term as well.

Article published in The Sun.

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