Is Najib backing off from support for NEM to become an even bigger Flip-Flop PM than Abdullah?

The meek and timid response of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak to the ferocious and incendiary rejection of the New Economic Model by the Perkasa-led Malay Consultative Council raises the question whether Najib is backing off from the NEM to become an even bigger Flip-Flop PM than his predecessor Tun Abdullah.

Najib’s statement that the NEM is not the Government’s “final stand” but merely the “trial balloons” of a group of experts making suggestions from the global market’s perspective is a greater commentary on Najib’s leadership qualities than on the NEM proposals.

The NEM was launched by Najib two months ago with great fanfare as a defining moment in the nation’s development path, to take the quantum leap from the nation’s decade-long economic stagnation and escape from the two-decade middle-income trap to become a developed high-income country – but it appears that it may end up more as a defining moment in the grave failings of the year-old Najib premiership.

Right from the very beginning, the NEM courageouslty admitted that Vision 2020 is not possible without economic, social and government transformation – and the NEM was presented as one of the four key pillars to unleash Malaysia’s growth potential, drive change, propel Malaysia to become a high income advanced nation with inclusiveness and sustainability and achieve Vision 2020.

NEM warned that almost all economies of East Asia are poised to achieve high economic growth in this decade but Malaysia runs the imminent risk of a downward spiral and faces the painful possibility of stagnation.

It admitted that the implementation of the NEP, which “has reduced poverty and substantially addressed inter-ethnic economic imbalances”, has engendered rent-seeking, patronage, opague government procurement and “pervasive corruption”.

It warned: “We are not developing talent and what we have is leaving.The human capital situation in Malaysia is reaching a critical stage.”

The NEM delivered the dire warning: “We must act now before our position deteriorates any further”.

But the biggest challenge for the NEM is whether there are “political will and leadership to break the log-jam of resistance by vested interest groups and preparing the rakyat to support deep-seated changes in policy directions”.

Will Najib fail in the first NEM test of political will and leadership as predicted by the NEM itself?

Lim Kit siang
30/05/10

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