1.Listen to the rakyat
Despite the serious losses in the last general election, it seems to me that the BN is still oblivious to sentiments on the ground. I am not sure whether BN really doesn’t know or it simply does not care. People want their voices to be heard. People want to be consulted. Regardless whether you agree with them or not, as the government, you are duty-bound to listen to the rakyat. Just listen, la… it is not so difficult. For many (not all) programmes or projects that the government does, there is little or no public consultation. The public is always left in the dark. The notion of engaging the public also seems alien to our civil service. I am not saying that there is no public engagement. I am saying that we need to do a lot more. Our laws need to be amended to make public consultation mandatory for major policies, programmes and projects. Listen to all sides. Get feedback even though it takes time. LISTEN.
2.Encourage opposing views
BN messed big time leading to and after the BERSIH rally. Even people who don’t support BERSIH or the opposition are annoyed with the heavy-handed crack down on the rally. Freedom of expression is fundamental to a healthy democracy. The internet has already neutralised the government’s monopoly on information dissemination. The government actually looks stupid trying curb dissenting views. People are already doing it online. The blogsphere, facebook and twitter are flush with discussions on every topic on the planet. All you have to do is give them the physical space to do so. Give opportunities and platform for people to speak, to say their piece, to shout until they go hoarse. Tak susah, bro. Don’t worry, hell won’t break loose, there won’t be racial riots, there won’t be violence. You have to trust the rakyat. If you can’t trust the rakyat, then you got no business being the government. [BTW, when having dialogues or talk shows on TV, invite lah some people with opposing views. Don’t lah syok sendiri by only inviting people who support the government]. ALLOW OPPOSING VIEWS.
3.Liberalise mainstream media
Many of the mainstream newspapers and TV stations make BN look silly by blatantly reporting one-sided views. Many people have simply stopped reading mainstream newspapers. The NST is a classic case. At one time, its circulation was the same as the STAR. Now it is only one fourth that of the STAR which is seen as more (only slightly) credible. RTM1, RTM2 and TV3 are so blatantly one-sided that it sometimes makes me want to puke watching them. How does BN expect to reach out to the other side via mainstream TV channels when no one from the other side is even watching them? Basically you are only talking to your hard-core supporters. This is not the 1960’s la, bro… people are intelligent enough to differentiate crap from news. Allow the mainstream media more freedom. LIBERALISE
4.Do more to wipe out corruption
A lot more has to be done to wipe out corruption. There have been some good initiatives over the past 3 years but more is needed. The award of government tenders and privatization projects must be made more transparent. This must apply not only to federal government projects but also those of the state governments and local councils. National leaders have to lead by example. Strengthen MACC. But MACC itself needs to do more to improve its image especially after the Teoh Beng Hock and Ahmad Sarbani cases. It does not matter whether it is the big fish or small fish, big sotong or small sotong, catch them all. STAMP OUT CORRUPTION
5.Sabah and Sarawak
It is obvious to anyone with half–a–brain that, despite having backed BN for decades, Sabah and Sarawak have been neglected - not only in terms of economic development but also in the formulation of national policies and programmes. Many (not all) Federal civil servants very often forget that Sabah and Sarawak exist. The cost of living in Sabah and Sarawak is much higher than that in Peninsular Malaysia, the incidences of poverty higher and the quality of infrastructure much poorer. A lot, lot, lot more needs to be done for these two states to do justice to the partnership forged in 1963. Build the capacity of Sabahans and Sarawakians to manage their state effectively. Invest a lot more in education and health. The distribution of government revenue has to be seriously reviewed so that the distribution is fairer and folks at the state are empowered to manage their own resources. BE FAIR TO SABAH AND SARAWAK
The Orang Asli have had an even worse deal than Sabah and Sarawak. The incidence of poverty is extremely high amongst the Orang Asli and their life expectancy is some 10 years lower than the average Malaysian. My verdict. The Jabatan Hal Ehwal Orang Asli has simply failed the community. The Orang Aslis remain very marginalised. Their land and their customs are not respected. Many states simply refuse to recognize their rights on land. BN has to recognize that these original inhabitants of this land deserve far better – they are special, their unique lifestyles and land must be recognized and the civil service must be sensitized to this. RESPECT THE ORANG ASLI
7.Strengthen schools and universities
Education is the bedrock of a developed society. I strongly support a one-school system – provided the national schools can deliver a high quality education. We need to get the best teachers (regardless of ethnicity or nationality) to teach our children. Let’s acknowledge it. The teaching profession is no different from the civil service. While there are many good teachers, there are also many dumb-ass ones in our national schools. (ohh… and stop the religious creeps from changing the face of our national schools)
Our universities are nothing to shout about. We need good lecturers. Get them regardless of who they are or where they come from. Given that the bulk of students in our local universities are Bumiputeras, getting the best lecturers from all corners of the globe will benefit them. Recruitment of lecturers must be solely based on meritocracy. I have no problems with having quotas for bumiputra students at local universities but I am totally against affirmative policies when it comes to recruiting academic staff. RECRUIT THE BEST TEACHERS. Period.
The Government has to attract talent from all over the world. I know Talent Corp has been formed but I don’t know how effective it has been. Over the years, the Government has had no qualms attracting hundreds of thousands of unskilled or low-skilled workers to work in our plantation and restaurants – yet has made it difficult for highly talented professionals from working here. This is STUPID. We need to attract highly skilled people to live and work in Malaysia. This is no doubt a difficult challenge. Smart and highly skilled people generally can choose where they want to live and work. Expecting them to accept shit as usual will not work. If we want talent, we need to change the conditions. It goes beyond offering high salaries. The working and living environment needs to be conducive. [The Government’s reaction to the BERSIH rally is a classic way how to turn away smart people from choosing to live in Malaysia]. ATTRACT SMART PEOPLE.
9.Bridge in gender gap in politics
When the PM announced the 30% quota for the women in the board of private companies two weeks ago, I laughed my ass off. Why ? Because the cabinet itself has only two women ministers (2 out of 28 which is only 7%). Before asking others to rectify the gender imbalance, the BN should first correct the male – female ratio amongst its elected representatives. For the next elections, I hope that women will form at least 30% of the candidates from both sides. The current BN structure basically prohibits any women from becoming the PM (since the PM will normally be chosen from the males members of UMNO). Bro, you need to lead by example. The next Cabinet, if you are still in power, should have at least 10 women ministers. [another advantage : the incidence of corruption among women is very very much lower than that among men]. EMPOWER WOMEN
10.Get rid of the tainted and the incompetent
BN has the habit of retaining politicians who repeatedly bungle or make fools of themselves or do silly things. (Bung Mokhtar is a good example – a fellow who repeatedly makes sexist remarks yet is retained and worse, given a position in the Backbenchers Club). There have been so many other incidences. The politicians who repeatedly screw up should not be nominated for the next GE. The inclusion of politicians perceived by many to be tainted (e.g. Rahim Thamby Chik, Khir Toyo) is only going to reinforce the perception that the BN is not serious about integrity. The reptilic dinosaur went extinct 65 million years ago. We need to ensure that the human version disappears as well. DOWN WITH THE MORONS.
These are only 10 out of the hundreds of things that I would like the BN to do. If I start listing everything, this blog will run out of memory. I also recognize that these 10 things are based on my perceptions and world views, based on my upbringing and my lifestyle – another person would have a totally different expectation of these things. There are so many other things that I want write (ISA, OSA, USA, Suhakam, EC, ETP, GTP, …) but these will have to wait for another time.
BN, having been the ruling party for the past five decades, has obviously done plenty of good things. The nation has made major leaps in economic development, infrastructure, health and education. Malaysia is actually the envy of many other nations. The “funny” collaboration among UMNO, MCA, MIC and other BN components parties has served the nation rather well in the formative years after Independence. We have come a long way since Independence - our progress can easily put many other countries to shame. There have been many brilliant politicians from BN to have worked very hard to help Malaysia grow. Tabik hormat.
Detractors will say that we could have done much better. But then, all of us as individuals could also have done better. Every nation could have done better. This is called the benefit of hindsight.
**You can read the originals here.