Keeping TN50 on right track

YOUTH and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin has made a flying start in his race to prepare for the 2050 National Transformation Discourse (TN50).

He has also commendably stressed the need to focus on what the national identity, which is a key issue, should be by 2050.

But he may go off track if he feels that the vital TN50 policy document, which is intended to be based on feedback from the rakyat, will provide the guidance to government planning for TN50. Indeed, this discourse with the people is necessary but it is not sufficient.

1. The TN50 discourse must be a two-way consultative process. Otherwise, how are the rakyat to have the research knowledge and facilities to study and appreciate the complicated socio-economic, scientific and geopolitical developments in the world and Malaysia in the next 30 years? The Government has to provide its sophisticated inputs from the very beginning of the TN50 discourse and plan, like we did during the time of prime ministers Tunku Abdul Rahman and Tun Abdul Razak.

Government, the Opposition, civil society, the business community and universities must be actively encouraged at all stages of the planning process to fully consult and openly share their views and constructive criticism.

All Malaysians must be able to feel by the end of the round-table discussions that the draft TN50 blueprint was really inclusive and truly reflected the views of all Malaysians.

It must not and should not only or even mainly uphold the aims and aspirations of the elite.

TN50 should not neglect the concerns of the bottom and middle income groups of all races and religions in multi-cultural Malaysia. That will destroy the credibility of TN50 and the Government.

2. The target date for completion of the draft is early 2019. That is hardly two years from now, hence the minister’s flying start is worthy of all our support. However, to achieve comprehensive support there has to be:

i) rapid establishment of round tables at all levels and right across our country; and

ii) early presentation of the Government’s own preliminary ideas on this vital 30-year, long-term plan.

Unless the two-way planning and consultative process is well organised and carefully implemented, the Government will not get proper and meaningful or useful feedback. As a result, the whole TN50 planning and consultative process can run off track.

3. Whatever direction the planning process takes, it has to keep heading for the finishing line. Even now, we all should know what the national TN50 goals should be:

> National unity should be our overriding goal. We should follow the Constitution and the Rukunegara. Any deviation from the letter and spirit of our Constitution and Rukunegara can undermine our fragile unity.

> Our national identity should be to be Malaysian first and foremost. We should be proud to be Malaysians first and then Malay, Chinese, Indian, Kadazan, Iban, orang asli and etc.

> The UN Sustainable Develop­ment Goals should be incorporated in our TN50 Plan where poverty should be completely eradicated. The incomes especially of the bottom 40% and middle 40% should be deliberately increased through better incentives and more progressive budget policies.

> Malaysian cultures should be embraced and strengthened. We need to learn to love and appreciate all our colourful ethnic cultures rather than concentrate on the culture of the majority race.

> Understanding of all religions has to be steadfastly raised to enhance the true practice of all faiths which promote harmony and peace.

> More strenuous action must be taken to fight extremism and extremists from all religions. Human Rights as envisaged in the UN Charter should be strongly supported if we are to be worthy and respected members of the United Nations.

The above are initial goals that need to be adopted in the coming discourse and in the preparation of the TN50 draft blueprint that is to be completed before 2020.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s aim that Malaysia should be among the top 20 countries by 2050 can be achieved. But it can happen only if all races, religious groups and especially the low income citizens are treated equally and fairly.

Article published in The Star and Malaysiakini.

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