Shared Prosperity Vision is everything and nothing

TK Chua


LETTER | The Shared Prosperity Vision 2030 (SPV2030) is now the current fad. Before this, we had Vision 2020, the Multimedia Super Corridor, the knowledge economy, growth corridors, high-income economy, TN50 and many more.

This is how I see it - it does not matter if the government is new or old, the most important things are slogans, blueprints, visions and never-ending “ideal state” statements.

So what really is SPV2030? To me, it is everything and nothing.

If we put down everything we desire - uplifting the poor, reducing income disparities, creating higher-paying jobs, embracing big data and the digital economy, sustaining the environment, controlling corruption and abuse of power, fostering a business-friendly environment and continued caring and nurturing of the bumiputera community, surely all this would avert criticisms. Who really could quarrel with a document like this?

But have we not heard of all this before? Fair enough, maybe this time around it is really different. But I doubt it if one looks at how the current problems faced by nation are being tackled.

Why talk about dreams and aspirations when the problems are right here and right now staring at us?

There are so many inciteful and incendiary issues being tossed around lately. Not only we have not tackled them resolutely, but we are also even tacitly condoning or encouraging them. So why would SPV2030 make any difference? By then it may be too late.

We constantly talk about the ecosystem and the environment. But are we blind to the contaminations and pollutions that happen almost every month? Now we are trying to re-export toxic wastes that were imported into our country. But how did they get in in the first place? Look, we need to take care of our environment right now, not in five, 10 or 20 years.

Sure, we want to transform our economy and create high-paying jobs and we have been saying this for as long as I can remember. But look at us; how do we move up the value chain when the “production function” of the nation has gravitated toward the standards of unskilled foreign labour? 

When exactly are we going to regulate and control the unfettered entry of unskilled foreign workers? We should know by now that our pathetic involvement in the gig economy is only by the hourly payrate of Foodpanda riders.

If we can’t solve the problems right in front of us, let’s not talk about grandiose stuff for the future.

We talked about the knowledge economy, regional growth corridors and high-income economy. But what did we get? The only thing that went up is prices, not real income, not real wages and not better living conditions. And how did we get to pay for social development and welfare? Surely it is not through income and savings but through increased borrowing and debts.

Education has been in limbo for years now. Before this, we had blueprints and teaching of science and mathematics in English etc. But what have we achieved thus far besides the continued harping on vernacular schools and the recognition of the UEC? Vernacular schools and UEC may be the goose that lays the golden eggs just in case some of us are so vehement against it.

I think Malaysians must learn to judge the government by the things it does, not the grandiose stuff it pledges or promises every few years. When Vision 2020 was not achieved, we hawked the TN50 National Transformation. When TN50 was discredited because the PM who promoted it was no longer in power, we peddle SPV2030.

Let’s not waste more time getting excited with SPV2030. It is something we can all think and write about one Sunday afternoon. Ask the government what it is doing about the problems facing us right here and right now. 

As John Maynard Keynes said, “In the long run, we are all dead".  

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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