ANALYSIS: Emphasis on strategic reforms also key to achieving Malaysia's economic aims

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Petaling Jaya (The Star/ANN) - All too soon another year has passed and a new year is born. And I am back with my column but with a different name this time. We started off with Transformation Blues but now its Transformation Unplugged.

A person performing unplugged music is often capable of striking a deep chord with the audience. Likewise, I would like to be able to share facts and information with readers on the dynamically evolving transformation journey of Malaysia through this column.

If what we needed to do last year was to clear misperceptions and misconceptions and, to state our purpose clearly and unambiguously, we now have to go beyond that and grapple with the issues that arise from our being and doing.

There are two things which we must continue to do this year. First, we must keep focus. We need to be focused so that our efforts are concentrated and not diluted to achieve particular aims.

There are only so many resources we have and these have to be utilised properly and efficiently for maximum benefits to be obtained. Diffuse the effort over too wide an area, and the results will only trickle in a slow stream instead of a raging torrent.

For instance, Pengerang in Johor is being developed as an oil hub with planned investments of RM60bil or more. Other states may want to duplicate such an initiative but there are not enough resources such as financing and expertise to carry it out.

We need to concentrate our efforts on building this oil hub as one massive project and make it a roaring success before we even think about building another one somewhere else. We must be entirely focused.

The other essential thing we must continue to do is to press on ahead with the strategic reform initiatives which will transform the way we do business and create wealth. These are the enablers that will help our country become more competitive.

They cover things such as encouraging competition within the local economy, improving public service delivery, developing human capital which includes major changes in the education system, improving public finance, reducing the role of government in business and narrowing economic disparities amongst others.

These are vital and necessary for the transformation to take place meaningfully and we will continue to focus our efforts in these areas.

Transformation basically involves change towards achieving our aim of becoming a developed nation with an income of at least US$15,000 (45,300 ringgit) per person by 2020. That remains our true north.

To achieve this, we essentially need both a transformation within the Government and the Government working hand-in-hand with the private sector to achieve our overall economic aims our economic transformation.

In this context, I want to give credit to our civil service who have stepped forward and made the changes necessary in the Government to achieve the economic gains in partnership with the private sector.

I have said time and again that Pemandu is a monitoring agency for the implementation of projects, deadlines and targets. Achievements come from the civil service and the private sector.

Civil service performance has been nothing short of exemplary and is reflected in most of our key performance indicators or KPIs being met and even comfortably exceeded in many cases. Our measurement and monitoring indicates that we have exceeded targets and that is in large part due to the civil service.

A policy does not become a plan and an achievement until you flesh out every detail and hold someone accountable for each. The yin and yang of change is about being and doing being is about our purpose and doing focuses on what we should be achieving. When yin and yang complement, we get success.

Pemandu does NOT do things by itself. We are initiators and catalysts of change. We don't implement them but we coordinate them, we monitor them and facilitate change by mustering government support. It therefore follows that we don't take credit for achievement which belong to the Government and the private sector.

As always, there's a lot to do before we reach our ultimate goal of becoming a developed nation by 2020. We must make sure that the ship moves fast enough, and importantly too, stays on course.

Idris Jala is CEO of Pemandu and Minister in the Prime Minister's Department.

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