A shared vision of prosperity for Malaysia

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad at the launch of the Shared Prosperity Vision 2030 in Kuala Lumpur October 5, 2019.

Over 2000 attendees were present at Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s unveiling of his Shared Prosperity Vision (SPV 2030) last Saturday (Oct 5).

The 188-page document is ruling coalition Pakatan Harapan (PH)’s first roadmap for Malaysia’s economic development for the future since the opposition party’s surprise win at the polls last year.

Three key takeaways from the SVP 2030 include the following:

• A promise to address wealth and income disparities by looking after economically marginalised segments of the Malaysian population.

• The plan to restructure the economy and return investor confidence in Malaysia in its bid to become an Asian Tiger.

• The urgent need to plug leakages, abuse of power, and corruption especially in the awarding of government contracts.

Dr Mahathir blamed the failures of Vision 2020 – his brainchild from his earlier 22-year tenure – on poor implementation by his two predecessors, including freshly ousted former Prime Minister Najib Razak.

A close reading of SPV 2030 reveals statistics that show delineations made along the lines of race as opposed to needs. The booklet summary in fact makes specific references to Bumiputera development versus those of other races.

Granted, the report does also mention a need to focus on helping 9 target groups, namely youth, children, senior citizens, women, people with disabilities, Sabah and Sarawak bumiputeras, indigenous people, communities in economic transition, and B40 (the bottom 40% of Malaysian households with monthly income of RM 3,900 and below).

The jury is out on whether or not Malaysia’s history of race-based affirmative action starting with the New Economic Policy (NEP) of the 70s will persist, under a different cloak this time.

Widely criticised to have failed precisely those it was intended to help, these affirmative action programmes have benefited a select few and contributed to the abuse of power and rampant cronyism that PH has pledged to fight.

Dr Mahathir’s newly launched SPV 2030 comes at an awkward time in light of the Malay Dignity Congress organised the next day (Oct 6), which the nonagenarian premier also attended.

Jointly organised by four pro-Malay public universities, the Malay Dignity Congress made news after a controversial speech that congress secretariat Zainal Kling delivered claiming that Malaysia belongs to Malays alone.

He added further that non-Malay citizens should have their citizenship revoked if special Malay-Muslim rights were challenged, and those who opposed Islam as the official religion should be “fought against”.

When asked to comment on Zainal’s inflammatory statements, Dr Mahathir mentioned that he did not hear these remarks.

Whatever the aspirations and spirit of the SPV 2030, the devil is always in the details. It remains to be seen how Dr Mahathir’s vision for Malaysia’s inclusive growth will be administered and executed at the ground level.

Picture Credit: Ahmad Zamzahuri.