The TN50 preparation should adopt a two-way consultative process
Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin has made a flying start in his race to prepare for the 2050 National Transformation (TN50) discourse.
He has also commendably stressed the need to focus on the key issue on what the national identity should be by 2050.
However he may go off track if he feels that the vital TN50 policy document, which is intended to be based on the feedback from the rakyat, will provide the guidance to government planning for TN50. Indeed this discourse with the people is necessary, but it is not sufficient.
1. The two-way consultative process
The TN50 discourse should be not one way only, but definitely a two way process.
How are the rakyat to have the research knowledge and facilities to study and appreciate the complicated socio-economic, scientific and geo-political developments in the world and Malaysia, in the next 30 years?
The government has to provide its sophisticated inputs from the very beginning of the TN50 discourse and plan, like we did from the time of of our founding fathers and first prime ministers Tunku Abdul Rahman and Abdul Razak Hussein.
The government, including the opposition, civil society, the business community and the universities, must be actively encouraged at all stages of the planning process, to fully consult and openly share their views and constructive criticism.
All Malaysians must be able to feel, by the end of the roundtable discussions, that the draft blueprint TN50 was really inclusive and truly reflected the views of the Malaysia we all want. It must not and should not only or even mainly uphold the aims and aspirations of the elite.
TN50 should not neglect the concerns of the Bottom and Middle Income groups of all races and religions in multi-cultural Malaysia. That will destroy the credibility of TN50 and the government.
2. Target date 2019
If the target date for completion of the draft TN50 is early 2019, that is hardly two years from now. Hence the minister’s flying start is worthy of all our support. However, to achieve comprehensive support there has to be -
i) The rapid establishment of roundtables at all levels and right across our country; and
ii) The early presentation of the government’s own preliminary ideas of this vital 30-year long-term plan.
Unless the two-way planning and consultative process is well-organised and carefully implemented, the government will not get proper and meaningful or useful feedback, the whole TN50 planning and consultative process can run off track.
3. Fundamental truths for the TN50
Whatever direction the planning process of TN50 takes, it has to keep heading for the finishing line and should not go off track.
Even now we all would know what these national TN50 goals should be. I would think that they are supported by most Malaysians as follows -
i) National unity should be our overriding goal. We should follow the constitution, and the national consensus of the Rukunegara. Any deviation from the letter and spirit of our constitution and Rukunegara can undermine our fragile unity.
ii) Our national identity should be to be, Malaysian first and foremost. We should be proud to be Malaysians first and then Malays, Chinese, Indians, Kadazans, Muruts and all the rich ethnic groups in Sabah and Sarawak and the Orang Asli.
iii) The UN Sustainable Development Goals should be incorporated in our TN50 Plan where poverty should be completely eradicated. The incomes especially of the Bottom 40 percent and the Middle 40 percent should be deliberately increased through better incentives and more progressive budget expenditure tax policies.
iv) Malaysian cultures should be embraced and strengthened. We need to learn to love and appreciate all our racial and ethnic colourful cultures rather than concentrating mainly on the majority racial culture.
v) Religious understanding of all religions have to be steadfastly raised, to enhance the true practice of all religions which actually promote harmony and peace.
More strenuous action must be taken to fight extremism and extremists from all religions. Human rights as envisaged in the UN Charter should be strongly supported, if we are to be worthy and respected members of the United Nations.
The above are initial goals that need to be adopted in the coming discourse and in the preparation of the TN50 draft blueprint, that is to be completed before 2020.
Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s aim that Malaysia should be among the Top 20 countries by 2050, can be achieved.
But it can happen only if all races, religious groups and especially the low-income citizens, are treated equally and fairly, to garner their full support for TN50.
Thus the above fundamental framework is important to consider, modify and to adopt, to ensure that the TN50 discourse and its blueprint are kept on track in the race to adopt TN50 by 2020.
We wish YB Khairy all the best in considering the first submission herewith of our constructive criticism, which I hope he will accept.
RAMON NAVARATNAM is chairperson of Asli/Centre for Public Policy Studies.