It’s important to meet our targets once they are set
TIME never stands still: its passage is unmercifully relentless. It’s hard to believe that already half the year is gone and before we know it, it will be December, the festive season and yet another year would have passed.
And since time never stands still, we have to move along with it. Much has been said about national reconciliation and more about its lack. But we must realise that we have to put aside the divisiveness of the general elections, do what’s best and move on from there. Really there is a lot of work to be done.
In times such as these, it helps to remind ourselves of the aims under the government and economic transformation programmes specifically set out by the Prime Minister and endorsed and supported by the Cabinet and most people in the country to take this country to developed status.
The true north of transformation is to become a developed country by 2020, and the yardstick, the measure for this, is to achieve a per capita gross national income of US$15,000 by the year 2020.
The other important corollary of this is that this is done in an inclusive manner and in a sustainable way. Inclusiveness means that all communities and all sectors, and particularly the poor and disadvantaged, benefit from this increase in income, so that prosperity is reflected among all Malaysians.
When we say sustainable, we refer to developing and stretching our resources and maximising their returns so that future generations will also benefit from our wealth. That also means giving due consideration to the environment and the quality of life of all Malaysians.
The Performance Management and Delivery Unit or Pemandu, which I head, is the body which coordinates and facilitates the implementation of specific measures aimed at reaching our goal of becoming a developed country by the year 2020 together, including fostering seamless and effective working relationships between the civil service and private sector players. Credit must be given where it is due, and the true heroes of our nation’s transformation are both these civil service and private sector players who make things happen in line with the needs of the country.
In explaining Pemandu’s approach to the work that we do, there is nothing that we help coordinate and facilitate which has not been agreed to by the Prime Minister and the Cabinet. Pemandu always and unambiguously acts according to and under the instruction of the Prime Minister at all times. Anyone who says otherwise is not telling the truth and simply does not understand how things work. The scope of work we carry out is very clear and together with our counterparts in civil service, and stakeholders from various segments of the corporate sector, we are all collectively committed to the cause in helping Malaysia achieve a developed nation status.
Indeed, I am firmly convinced that the broad aims of the transformation programmes are good for everyone – for all Malaysians whatever their creed and colour and whatever their political ideology.
Is it not good if we achieve developed status by meeting the high-income target? Is it not great if all Malaysians benefit from increased income and the poor benefit more than others? Should we not think about increasing the quality of life for Malaysians now and for future generations by using up our resources sustainably and taking care of our environment and wellbeing?
And as a good government should we not constantly get feedback from the public and do our best to fulfill all legitimate demands of the general public?
Going forward, there are five areas that we need to focus on where this is concerned:
1. We must stop and reverse the polarisation of the nation. The best way to do this is to focus on what we agree on and move forward from there. People may disagree that we are meeting the targets of transformation but few will disagree with the targets that we have set. If we collectively agree and do whatever we can to achieve our targets, we are already getting there;
2. We must have an education system which meets the expectations of the rakyat while fulfilling national aspirations. No matter the medium of instruction, we want education to be of great quality and useful. If we need the quality of English to rise to improve the employability of our graduates, let’s just do it;
3. We must take whatever measures necessary to reduce further the incidence of crime and corruption. The public wants crime levels to be as low as those in the most developed and safe of countries in the world. We as a government need to look at this deeply and come out with more solutions instead of fighting among ourselves our inconsequential things;
4. We need to deal with public distrust of our key institutions. If we need to rebuild them up from bottom to top, so we must. Without public trust in all government institutions, without the public belief in these bodies, much of what the government wants to do cannot be achieved;
5. We need to be clearer and more consistent in our communications so that the public is not confused by the different signals coming from different parts of the government. As far as possible, the government needs to speak with one voice.
Acknowledging that we need to improve in some areas to meet with public demand is not a weakness. It reflects maturity and will to make changes, so necessary for any government to improve and move forward as ours is clearly committed to do.
That means we will continue to coordinate and facilitate all that is necessary to reach our transformation goals. And as we continue on our journey, we will have feedback loops to ensure that we stay focused on our eventual, agreed targets.
As they say, time and tide waits for no man and we really have to get a move on to get to where we want to go and meet the targets we have set for ourselves.
(Datuk Seri Idris Jala is CEO of Pemandu and also Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department. All fair and reasonable comment is most welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org)