Sunday 1 November 2009

Competitiveness Over Subsidy

While the country wonders the ways to transform us into a high income economy, policy-makers appear to be stuck with the old ways of doing thing. The recently announced National Automotive Policy does not clearly position our automotive industry to be more competitive.

It appears that the main thrust is to provide the safe harbour to existing local players, give them some more breathing space to keep on doing what they are doing. Worse, the Rakyat, as we have always been, would be paying for the inefficiency of our automotive players. The so called policy to get old car inspected and possibly be scrapped in the future is no more than an attempt to create demand for locals cars which cannot stand at equal footing with the imported models. Now MITI is singing a different song that the policy is about ensuring road-worthiness of cars on our roads. Since when MITI is involved in the territory of the Transport Ministry?

One problem with Malaysia is that we are so good in self-glorification. So many millionaires or even billionaires were born out of contracts with the government or with the support of the government where even blind people could also achieve the same results, if they were given the opportunities. Replicating the time-tested approach which is not based on competitiveness would not get us that far.

As a society, we got caught in this glory that is not real. Even our soccer industry is no where compared to less lucky countries in this region. Why? The glory of the past (or could it be that others started later than us) remains in our head and we thought the future remains the same.

We really need to ditch the subsidy mentality in all aspects of our life. From getting degrees at universities, opportunities to work, business opportunities as well as in leading organisations, from the smallest to the largest. Unfortunately, those who benefited or are benefiting from the subsidy would not let go the sweets. It takes strong leadership to change this.

For you and me , we have to keep on sending the point that Malaysia need to progress on competitiveness, performance and justice. And this has to be reflected in whatever we do. Just stop for a while and think of the next few things that we could do together to move this country forward.

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