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Should Malaysia Be Led By Technocrats? (PART 1)  - Syahir Sulaiman



“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it” - Albert Einstein

MALAYSIAN ECONOMY - THE DIAGNOSIS

The economic numbers are not promising.

Firstly, fiscal deficit and debt level are alarming, at 3% and 53% of GDP respectively, despite the slow and steady GDP growth at 4.0% to 4.5% annually.

Secondly, inflation seems to be the ‘new norm’ nowadays, hovering at 3% primarily due to the imposition of the 6% GST on all goods and services, coupled with the ‘expected’ fuel price adjustments every month as well as the subsidy removal of essential goods such as sugar, rice, cooking oil and toll on major highways.

This translates into a higher cost of living among the Middle 40 and Bottom 40 of the society, on top of the record high household debt level at 88% of GDP. The major bulk of this debt comes from the financing of unaffordable house prices and excise-duty inflated car prices.

Interestingly, as revealed from a survey by The Edge of 21,439 respondents in December 2016, the high cost of living was ranked as the least important of all the issues. 

On the whole, corruption and poor governance are the two most urgent problems that Malaysia needs to fix. These two issues topped the list for all the ethnic groups, particularly among the Chinese, and across all age segments, particularly the 18-24 and 46-60. The issues of weak economy and racial tensions came later.

More than often, fiscal and monetary policy tools are deployed to tackle the immediate economic needs. These include measures to sustain economic growth, thus creating more jobs and boosting the liquidity in the market.

However, when it comes to the institutional and socio-economic issues, changes must happen at the core of the problem, and in a multifaceted perspective.

As denounced by Professor Jeffrey Sachs in his book entitled The End of Poverty, “Many factors can affect a country's ability to enter the world market, including government corruption, legal and social disparities, diseases, lack of infrastructure of transportation and communication, unstable political landscapes, protectionism, and geographic barriers."

In order to address the structural economic issues of a country, Professor Sachs further espoused the term ‘clinical economy’ and stated that, “Countries, like patients, are complex systems, requiring differential diagnoses, an understanding of context, monitoring and evaluation, and professional standards of ethics.”

There you are. The anatomy of a country is like a human body. It is so complex that it requires a high standard of professionalism to handle it.

- Syahir Sulaiman, Head of Strategy, PAS Youth
- 9 March 2017

*This is Part 1 of his article on technocratic government, as a prelude towards the ‘Konvensyen Profesional Malaysia (K-Pro)’ entitled ‘Mempersada Kerajaan Teknokrat’, to be held on March 18th, 2017 at Cyberjaya.