Strengthening Unity Towards Realising the Madani Economy Aspirations
In preparation for the national day celebration which falls on August 31 every year, normally various programmes and events will be held throughout the month. Their main purpose is to promote and boost the sense of patriotism among Malaysians. However, this year, the excitement of the celebration temporarily got halted. The heat of the State Election that took place on August 12 almost drowned out the vibrance of the upcoming Malaysia’s Independence Day celebrations.
Throughout the period of the campaign, election candidates used various communication channels either face to face or digitally i.e., via social media to convey their message and capture the attention of potential voters. There were times in the process tension arose as representatives of the competing parties used offensive language and averred untrue or negative statement against their rival candidates. Eventually the tension grew and established hatred, prejudice and division among people in the community. Such a practice should be curbed as it threatens social harmony and hinders nation’s economic progress.
Now the time for politicking is over. The people have made their choices and the leaders who succeeded in the election have been known. Our attention should now be back to focus on building the nation, rejuvenating the country’s economy and uplifting the living standard of people of different socioeconomic classes.
One thing that should be in the minds of politicians is that the election is not just an avenue for people to choose their leader. As a matter of fact, they should have the right perspective on why people cast their votes during the election process. When people exercise the right to vote whomever they wanted, they are actually voting for someone who could represent their collective voices, fight for their common goals and help transform society for the better.
Now all political leaders—both government and opposition—who were elected through a democracy process need to set aside their conflicting party ideologies and find a common purpose through their participation in parliament or state legislative assembly to help develop the nation and solve various issues faced by people in their daily lives.
In a country inhabited by people with different religions, customs and cultures; to plan and implement any development initiative is not an easy task. It becomes more challenging if the federal government and the state government are of different political party or alliance. The intensity of the challenge could further be complicated if there exist an unequal wealth and income distribution level among classes in the society.
In Malaysia, the gap between the rich and poor is manifested through the labels B40, M40 and T20 which represent the 40% of households nationwide with lower income group; 40% of middle income group and 20% of high income group respectively. The B40 earns below RM4,850 per month, while the M40 draws an income between RM4,851 and RM10,960 per month; and the T20 have income of above RM10,960 monthly.
Despite being the smallest group in terms of percentage, the T20 has the most wealth compared to the other two. To put into perspective, a report from the Department of Statistics Malaysia shows that the T20 has the largest share of total household income with the total share accounted for by the group amounting to 47%. The group also owns 80% of the total Employees Provident Fund (EPF) savings. As for states, the development gap is determined by incidence of poverty and unemployment as well as the availability of infrastructure facilities and services in the areas
However, this task will not be difficult if leaders of all parties—federal and states—unite and work together in the same direction towards the betterment of the nation. As such, it is hope that their cooperation could be forged more closely and effectively for the sake of inclusive development that in turn will benefit every single person in the country.
Similarly, the Madani Economy framework which was recently launched by the Prime Minister that aims at restructuring the country’s economy and ultimately enabling the people to enjoy a better quality of life would hardly materialise unless all parties—the federal and state governments, private sector and people of all political ideologies, religions and races—work in concerted efforts to achieve the goals set forth in the blueprint.
The author does not see the sanity for certain quarters to reject the implementation of this economic framework considering that the main focus is to improve the country’s economic performance which indirectly creates a spillover to the entire community members especially in the aspect of distributive justice and enhancing quality of life.
In detail, thed economic framework targets seven objectives to be achieved within the next 10 years. Besides positioning Malaysia among the world’s top 30 largest economies, the plan also targets Malaysia to be among the world’s top 12 countries in the Global competitiveness index; top 25 in both Corruption Perception Index and Human Development Index; to increase labour income up to 45% of the total income; women workforce participation to reach 60%; and fiscal sustainability with a lower deficit goal of 3% or less.
The government has long aimed for Malaysia to become a developed country. Unfortunately, since 1992 the country is still shackled in the middle-income country group. With the cost of living becoming more and more pressing and the global economic outlook remain highly uncertain, the Madani Economy framework needs to be implemented collectively and without delay for the country to progress towards its intended goals and visions.
Many economic experts have agreed that the introduction of the Madani Economy framework has set the right tone towards building a better Malaysia. Nevertheless, the experts are of the opinion that its success depends on strong political will and solid support from the government, private sector and the rakyat.
What is clear is that the implementation of any development plans will be easy if a nation is bound by elements of unity and solidarity. The same applies to the Madani Economy implementation. In other words, it is attainable provided stakeholders at all levels unite and they are determined to achieve it.
So, in conjunction with the 66th Malaysia National Day that will be celebrated soon, we should forget all the differences that exist among us. On the other hand, let us make it a starting point to rejuvenate and foster the spirit of unity among Malaysians; and work towards realisation of the Madani Economy.