By LIM SUE GOAN
Translated by SOONG PHUI JEE
Sin Chew Daily
We talked about the inadequacies of the government's transformation plans yesterday and let's discuss the other two factors that determine the success or failure of the plans.
In addition to management and execution, I believe that openness and professionalism are equally crucial. Openness promotes healthy competitions while professionalism improve decision-making ability.
The Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA) exposed a bafflement during a recent press conference when it revealed the first half year's total industry volume, that it has been alleged to have contravened the Competition Act 2010.
Why can't the figures be published? Are they worried that people might follow suit and choose to buy foreign cars after knowing that the figures of foreign cars are approaching the figures of domestic cars?
MAA president Datuk Aishah Ahmad also disclosed that the government is still controlling the prices of imported cars and if the prices are found to be approaching or lower than domestic car prices, the government would ask the manufactures to increase prices before allowing them to enter the market.
The Competition Act should be meant for encouraging fair competition and pressing down prices to benefit consumers, but it seems now to have serving exactly the opposite purpose. It seems like the transformation plans are unable to get rid of the protection policy. That is why, the opening up pace of the national automotive policy is so slow, causing the commitment to attract foreign investment lacks convincing and foreign car manufacturers have chosen to set up plants in other countries.
If the move to open up is not thorough enough, protected enterprises will never be able to make progress, but continue to rely on the government's subsidies and sacrifice the people's interests.
Reducing the people's burden is one of the seven National Key Result Areas (NKRA). High car prices have burdened the people as we have to pay 70% in taxes when we buy locally-made cars of below 1500cc, and 95% when we buy imported cars. Car prices in Malaysia have nearly doubled the prices sold in foreign countries. The crux of the problem lies on conservative policy.
To truly transform, the public domain needs professionals to contribute creativity and management skills. However, the government rarely hire outside professionals to fill high-ranked positions in its administration and government enterprises.
Please noted that the following examples do not direct against anyone. Former chief secretary to the Government Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan was appointed as the chairman of Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas); former Chief Justice Tun Datuk Seri Zaki Tun Azmi was appointed as the chairman of a special commission set up to study remuneration and the type of civil service; and former Home Ministry secretary-general Tan Sri Mahmood Adam was appointed as the chairman of the Public Service Commission (PSC). There are many more similar appointments before this.
Retired senior civil servants indeed have their own abilities, but they might lack professional knowledge. For example, only energy experts would know well about the exploitation of crude oil and its market operation. Judges are versed in laws, but they do not necessarily understand the operation and regulations of the public domain.
All governments and enterprises must keep improving to produce quality work and products. Most importantly, they must ensure no talent and resources is wasted.
The government can actually use other ways to recognise the contributions of retired senior government officials or judges, such as appointing former chief justice to lead a judicial reform commission.
Cabinet appointments have been based on political considerations and thus, other important posts should be meritoriously filled to attract talents.
If the Government is aware of these weaknesses and correct them as soon as possible, there is still hope to achieve the goals of the transformation plans.