Clear doubts over SPV 2030 before 12th Malaysia Plan

GIVEN the present rising anxiety over the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCov) that was first detected in Wuhan City, China, it would be easy to miss the growing concern and rising doubts over the emerging Shared Prosperity Vision (SPV 2030) that will be introduced in Parliament in the third quarter of this year.

Datuk Khalid Jaafar, the adviser to the Economic Affairs Minister, has emphasised via a Bernama report yesterday that “SPV 2030 was in no way a raced-based policy but a needs-based one aimed at narrowing the economic gap in the context of income, irrespective of race.”

He added that saying “that the SPV2030 is a rehash of the New Economic Policy (NEP) was a misconception.”

Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali in his ministry’s latest report card also mentioned that the ministry had conducted 390 engagement sessions with various parties to prepare the 12th Malaysia Plan that would crysalise the implementation of SPV 2030.

However, despite their laudable efforts to explain the SPV, there is still serious doubt as to whether it will be different and more progressive than the archaic and sometimes discredited NEP.

I recall that those of us who helped to design the NEP were happy at that time because it was meant to eradicate poverty regardless of race. It was implemented faithfully in the initial stages but soon got abused through uneven application.

The non-Malays and even many poor Malays felt left out and alienated. Thus, the economy did not realise its full potential, and neither did the NEP adequately achieve national unity in the later years of its implementation.

The questions that loom large in the minds of many is whether the SPV will also have high aspirations but turn out with low expectations.

There is therefore a need for the planners and political leaders to set up effective socioeconomic safeguards in the 12th Malaysia Plan to ensure that a basic needs policy is implemented fairly and properly.

They must also ensure that efficient monitoring systems are in place to assure the public in a more transparent manner that the government’s good policies are being actually achieved.
It is vital that we succeed in getting the full support of all sectors of Malaysian society. This is a prerequisite for greater national unity and prosperity, and progress for all races.
No one should feel alienated or marginalised. The poor and unfortunate would not begrudge equal opportunities for all races who need equal and equitable treatment. Neither would any of our religions and values encourage unfairness.

Thus, I would appeal to the government to publicise the principles of SPV 2030 and explain more fully how the policy would affect the poor even before the 12th Malaysia Plan is presented to Parliament later this year. Only then would the present lingering doubts of all races about SPV 2030 and its association with the NEP be removed.

Sadly, bumiputras still constitute most of the poor in our country. We must help them advance further, but we must also allow other poor Malaysians to move forward and not stagnate and become a drag on our economy.

While the income gap between the bottom 40% and middle 40% should be narrowed, surely we have to also narrow the income gap between them and the top 20% income earners in our country. How else can we have equal opportunities in our country and more socioeconomic and political stability and stronger national progress?

Given the viruses of polarisation, racism and religious bigotry now plaguing our country, SPV 2030 could be the major cure to most of our national problems. But it should not be like the divisive and debilitating NEP, which was often abused in its implementation.

This may indeed be our last chance to restructure our economy to make it serve the basic needs and human rights of our people for a better Malaysia for all.

This article was originally published on January 31, 2020 in The Star.

Photo by Ishan @seefromthesky on Unsplash

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