JULY 13 ― PKR President Anwar Ibrahim’s recent statement that the NEP (New Economic Policy) is not sustainable is both truthful and factual ― it is unsustainable as it fails to uplift the majority of the poor households in many communities in Malaysia and had been used by unethical politicians for personal gains and other abuses for over 60 years.
He further reiterates that the policy should be needs based and not race based which is the most telling point on the abject failure of the NEP to date.
The clearest example of the failure of the NEP for Sarawak is the rising gap between the urban and rural areas ― mega structures and grand buildings adorn the cities and towns in the state but step into the rural areas and you will see horrifying poverty.
The absence of proper roads (muddy timber tracks do not qualify to be called roads) in many rural settings after 60 years of development is most telling, not to mention lack of treated water supply and electric power.
Only in specific rural areas (translate to politically-linked) are there some amenities available and also in areas close to timber yards or oil palm activities.
As clearly spelt out in the papers, rural schools are delipidated, some beyond repair and some without treated water and electricity and clinics without qualified health service providers.
Only in the more recent years have things started improving in rural areas, especially with the arrival of fast internet connectivity, providing rural communities a glimpse of what they have been missing.
If the NEP had been effective in Sarawak, there would be no need to quarrel over the cost for repairs of schools, promise of better services of rural clinics and arrival of electricity and water supplies, some of these areas are just mere kilometers away from hydro dams.
What’s the best solution for the revival of the NEP into a really functional and effective policy for Malaysia?
Foremost it must be needs based; surely all our public service administrators know where the areas are in most need of funds and proper infrastructure.
Sarawak Institute for Public Affairs (SIPA) had always voiced the need to open up roads to rural areas to stimulate the rural economy as Sarawak’s huge landmass needs connectivity to overcome distance to ports and markets.
Hopefully elected officials will put their communities first in requesting for grants to build better roads and bring in amenities which will make these rural areas more attractive to investors.
* Philip Wong is the Director for Sarawak Institute for Public Affairs (SIPA), an entrepreneur and author with Masters in Development Economics (Canada) and passionate about travelling, having visited over 100 countries to date. Sarawak Institute for Public Affairs is dedicated to the betterment of the state of Sarawak and Malaysia for a more prosperous, harmonious and fair society.
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.