Wednesday, March 26, 2008

PM: We will (God willing –ed) step up pace of reforms

PM: We will (God willing –ed) step up pace of reforms
By Shahriman Johari

KUALA LUMPUR: The pace of reforms will be quickened, the prime minister has promised. Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi yesterday acknowledged the unhappiness expressed by Malaysians at the general election and said economic plans would be reviewed.

One of the earliest decisions the government will make is to help the poor deal with rising costs.

"The result of the elections was a strong message that I have not moved fast enough in pushing through with the reforms that I had promised to undertake.

"I thank the Malaysian people for this message. Point made and point taken," he said when opening Invest Malaysia 2008, an investment conference.

Barisan Nasional lost control of four states and failed to regain power in Kelantan. It also did not win a two-thirds majority in parliament.

Abdullah said he was also aware that Malaysians complained they did not benefit from an economy that grew 6.3 per cent last year.

"Unless that is addressed, any reference to the economy's good performance certainly would not go down well."

One of the measures to help low-income earners is softening the impact of rising prices while limiting waste caused by subsidies.

Second, economic gains would be spread to the neediest.

Third, the government would continue to reduce income gaps between and within ethnic groups.

Other priorities include fighting crime, stepping up the battle against corruption, supporting judicial reforms and ensuring a fair number of places of worship.

The government may also fine-tune some projects under the Ninth Malaysia Plan, which runs from 2006 to 2010, so that benefits are spread more evenly.

Abdullah said the federal government would discuss projects in states controlled by DAP, Pas and Parti Keadilan Rakyat with the state governments.

"We will deal with them. There are certain projects slated to be implemented in the states. The government has no problems discussing with them."
© Copyright 2008 The New Straits Times Press (M) Berhad. All rights reserved.

"I think the government should work extra hard this time so that the public will be able to see results from all these reforms that they are promising to make." - Faridah Khalid deputy president, National Council of Women's Organisation Malaysia

"We welcome the prime minister’s intention to improve the situation concerning places of worship. We will do everything possible to facilitate this and co-operate with the federal and state governments to ensure that every race and religion will have their interests looked after. We hope to hear more from the prime minister, preferably in more detail, on his action plan for improving Malaysia’s multi-ethnic and religious situation." - Datuk A. Vaithilingam president, Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism, and Taoism

"I think he has to make sure he can deliver on those promises. The expectations of the people are very high. I think a lot of effort has to be put into crime prevention. The police have to be visible in crime-prone areas. He has to deliver on all those things he promised, including those from the findings of the Royal Commission to Enhance the Operation and Management of the Police. The proposed Independent Police Commission on Misconduct and Complaints (IPCMC) has to be implemented." - Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye, vice-chairman of Malaysia Crime Prevention Foundation

"We believe this was the reason for the appointment of (de facto law minister) Datuk Zaid Ibrahim. His views on the 1988 crisis are well known, as are his views that we must have a judicial appointment commission. The fact that he was appointed shows that the PM is intent on bringing changes. I agree with him that the changes must take place quickly." - Ambiga Sreenevasan president, Malaysian Bar Council

"The PM should be wary of large-scale projects such as the economic corridors which can marginalise the Orang Asli. For example, Orang Asli smallholders planting rubber should be earning an average of RM2,000 to RM3,000 monthly but are only earning RM1,000 a year because their land is managed by big corporations." - Colin Nicholas co-ordinator, Center for Orang Asli Concerns

"I think it is an accurate assessment of the BN’s debacle in the last election, especially in issues such as corruption and crime. One hopes that concrete measures will be taken. One can admit one’s mistakes but deeds speak louder than words. When it comes to places of worship, it is important that the rules be implemented faithfully, with care and compassion. There should also be a willingness to address sensitive religious issues such as conversions and custody of children." - Dr Chandra Muzaffar political scientist and Professor of Global Studies Universiti Sains Malaysia

"We hope that priority will be given to revise the policies, plans and projects under the Ninth Malaysian Plan. We hope that government-linked companies will also begin to recruit and employ talent in a way that complements the racial diversity in the country. To further combat corruption, Transparency International hopes that the Anti-Corruption Agency will be made an independent body reporting directly to parliament." - Tan Sri Ramon V. Navaratnam president, Transparency International
© Copyright 2008 The New Straits Times Press (M) Berhad. All rights reserved.

Malaysia's Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi on Tuesday pledged to push ahead with economic reforms after disastrous election results, and backed down on looming fuel price hikes.

"The result of the election was a strong message that I have not moved fast enough in pushing through with the reforms that I promised to undertake," he said in a speech to an investment conference.

"I thank the Malaysian people for this message: point well made and point taken."

Abdullah said that despite plans to dismantle energy subsidies that are draining state coffers, he will maintain fuel prices at current levels to protect the interests of the poor.

"Whatever is the present price, we will have to live with it," he said, adding that a policy on subsidies would be announced later.

The ruling Barisan Nasional coalition was delivered a stunning blow in March 8 elections, ceding five states and a third of parliamentary seats to the opposition which campaigned heavily on high inflation.

Malaysia subsidises petrol, diesel and gas as well as 21 food items including milk, salt, wheat flour and rice, but the controls have triggered severe shortages and smuggling across its porous borders and long coastline.

Abdullah said there were limits to what the government could do to keep prices low but promised to assist lower-income groups with special measures and limit wastage caused by subsidies.

The premier also promised to oversee the implementation of the many multi-billion-dollar development projects launched in the run-up to the polls, despite speculation they could be axed.

He said there will not be any cancellation of projects in opposition-held states but said that funding for some projects will be reassessed.

"We need to fine-tune some projects. We have to see what we can do. This involves the need to reassess and estimate the money allocated," he said.

Abdullah unveiled plans to streamline Malaysia's stock exchange, cutting the number of boards from three to two, and the creation of a third credit agency.

"By reducing the number of boards and the amount of listing requirements, we will help to catalyse more high-quality listings to add to the vibrant and dynamic nature of our equities market," he said.

No comments:

Post a Comment