APRIL 27 ― The Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) and the Center for Market Education (CME) express concerns over the limited debate surrounding issues of political economy and the long-term consequences of implemented policies.

IDEAS and CME observe that a positive and vibrant discussion is ongoing on the future general elections (GE15), party leaderships and the relationship between the ruling coalition and the opposition (Memorandum of Understanding). However, policy decisions affecting the lives of the rakyat both in the short and long run are being made without the emergence of a proper and healthy debate both within the ruling and opposition coalitions.

The CEOs of the two think tanks, Tricia Yeoh and Carmelo Ferlito, wish to bring to public attention the following economic policy decisions that have been recently taken, announced and implemented without proper debate and without a sober reflection on the long-term potential negative unintended consequences.

Some of the main economic policy decisions that have been taken without serious public discourse include the new EPF withdrawal that has depleted RM40 billion of EPF funds in an instant, putting at risk the future financial stability and retirement of poorer households. Second, the shoddy management of MySejahtera, which has placed a massive amount of data in the hands of government that can be potentially misused and that has therefore further lowered public trust in government institutions. Third, the chicken price ceiling, which may have a negative incentive towards supply. Other recent economic policy decisions are the RTK test price ceiling and minimum wage revision; all of the above policies require meaningful public debate and rigorous engagement with the relevant stakeholders. We urge the return of policy debate that we believe crucial to key economic decision-making processes in the immediate future.

Some of the main economic policy decisions that have been taken without serious public discourse include the new EPF withdrawal that has depleted RM40 billion of EPF funds in an instant, putting at risk the future financial stability and retirement of poorer households. — Reuters pic
Some of the main economic policy decisions that have been taken without serious public discourse include the new EPF withdrawal that has depleted RM40 billion of EPF funds in an instant, putting at risk the future financial stability and retirement of poorer households. — Reuters pic

The aim of the current statement, however, is not to take a position on the above mentioned issues, but to stress how these important decisions cannot be made in the context of an emergency and without a proper debate. By always acting in response to an emergency, structural reforms are not addressed; furthermore, avoiding a reflection on the long-term unintended consequences means compromising Malaysia’s growth path and shifting the costs of these decisions to future generations.

In conclusion, IDEAS and CME invite all the political parties to increase their level of engagement with economic policy decisions so that better choices for the welfare of the rakyat can be taken and the economic growth process can be placed on solid foundations.

* The Center for Market Education (CME) is a boutique think-tank based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

** The Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) is a nonprofit research institute, dedicated to promoting solutions to public policy challenges, focussing on three overarching missions ― advancing a competitive economy, ensuring trust in institutions and promoting an inclusive Malaysia.

*** This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.