Thursday, December 31, 2020

Malaysia 2021 – Reset and Rise!

Many may remember the anticipation and hope we had when we welcomed the year 2020. After all, for the people of our generation, the year 2020 was “the” future during our school days - we did colouring, drew pictures and wrote essays about the year 2020 with all kinds of wild imagination. Then 2020 came. None of us expected Malaysia 2020 to be defined by the triple whammy of political, health and economic crisis. 


Sheraton Move in February 2020 and the political maneuvering thereafter have brought Malaysian politics to its lowest point. The current government got into power by backdoor operation and betrayal and stays in power by trading support with power and position. 


Even with a bloated cabinet, Malaysia doesn’t seem to be able to overcome the lives and livelihood challenges brought about by Covid-19. As of 30 December 2020, the total number of Covid-19 infection has risen to 110,485 cases with 22,562 active ones. Our hospital beds may not hold enough for long. 


In term of livelihood, the number of unemployed persons went up to 748,200 persons in October 2020, more than 50% higher than the national average of 494,000 for the period of 2016 to 2019.  This does not even include those who are temporarily jobless at 183,600 (they were not counted as unemployed by the government as they would return to work eventually) as well as those who are suffering income reduction. 


Most forecasts show that 2021 is going to be another if not more challenging year. Politicians from both of sides of the political divide must arrive at an amicable solution to the current impasse to provide political stability that will bring us out from Covid-19 health and economic crisis. The Prime Minister and the leaders of Perikatan Nasional should stop being obsessed with snap polls. The country does not need another General Election as we struggle to contain the spread of Covid-19 and manage its economic impact. We must remember that people come before power. 


For us in the opposition bench, it is our sincere desire for a reset in our direction next year. Firstly, let us draw a clear boundary of who we can or cannot work with, based firmly on clear principles and conviction. Secondly, the 108 Members of Parliament (MP) in the opposition must unite. Despite our differences, let us remember that we were (and still are!) the 108 MPs who did not jump or defect, knowing full well that the position of ministership, deputy ministership or GLC chairmanship awaits us if we did. Let us be once again reminded of our shared goals of clean governance, harmony, integrity, justice and competency. 


Indeed, 2020 has not lived up to our childhood imagination. In fact, Malaysian Politics 2020 is a display of the ugliest form of politics that no one would be proud to show to the next generation. However, this has not and will not crush us. As we welcome the year 2021, we still believe and are determined to pursue good politics; politics that focus on building Malaysia with the following seven characteristics: 


i.               A united country, of which citizens of all colours are free to practice their own cultures and religion, but still recognize themselves as Malaysians with a sense of common and shared goals;  

ii.              A prosperous society with educated and excellent workforce in a competitive, dynamic and resilient economy powered by creativity, innovation and technological advancement;

iii.             A just society, of which the fruit of economic development is shared fairly among different social classes and promotes upward mobility;

iv.             A democratic country with mature democracy, freedom to speak and assemble, free and fair elections as well as high civic-mindedness among people;

v.               A country that strives towards equity in opportunities for all in quality education and personal enhancement;

vi.             A low-carbon society that protects and preserves the forest, wildlife, and environment; and most importantly

vii.           A moral, ethical and caring society with strong family and community values, protecting our most vulnerable ones. 


When the light shines in the darkness, the darkness cannot overcome it. Let’s still believe in the power of doing the right thing together. 


In year 2021, let’s reset and rise! 


Syed Saddiq (MP for Muar, Former Minister of Youth and Sports)

Mohd Azis Jamman (MP for Sepanggar, Former Deputy Home Minister)

Hannah Yeoh (MP for Segambut, Former Deputy Minister of Women, Family & Community Development)

Yeo Bee Yin (MP for Bakri, Former Minister of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change)

Baru Bian (MP for Selangau, Former Minister of Works)

Maszlee Malik (MP for Simpang Renggam, Former Minister of Education)

Sivarasa Rasiah (MP for Sungai Buloh, Former Deputy Minister of Rural and Regional Development)

Salahuddin Ayub (MP for Pulai, Former Minister of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry)

Amiruddin Hamzah (MP for Kubang Pasu, Former Deputy Minister of Finance)

Teo Nie Ching (MP for Kulai, Former Deputy Minister of Education) 

Isnaraissah Munirah Majilis (MP for Kota Belud, Former Deputy Minister of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change)

Monday, November 2, 2020

Creating Green Growth and Jobs as a Part of Post-Covid Economic Recovery

The country is waiting eagerly the announcement of Budget 2021 on the Government’s plan to bring us through Covid-19 crisis, to protect the social and economic wellbeing of the people. Undeniably, the outlook is challenging. Social Security Organisation (SOCSO) has just reported nearly 90,000 job losses so far this year and if the trend continues, the number will hit 100,000 by the end of the year. In addition to that, we already have 127,000 graduates still without jobs for more than 6 months and the number will keep rising as there are 300,000 new graduates every year. The country is in the search of new jobs and the government can play a big part to make it happen. 

 Income, jobs and growth used to be at the opposite ends of the scale with environmental protection. But it is no longer so as more countries around the world recognise the potential of green industry in the post-Covid world. According to Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Secretariat, at least 30 OECD and Key Partner countries have included green measures in their post-Covid economic recovery strategy, and rightly so. This article focuses on green measures that can be considered in Malaysia. In order to create green jobs, the government needs to facilitate more green projects on the ground, reducing bureaucracy and catalyse them by attractive financial incentives in terms of tax incentive, low-interest loans as well as grants. 

Renewable Energy 

I believe the lowest hanging fruit among all in terms of increasing the number of green projects and new jobs on the ground is renewable energy projects. The government should maintain or increase Pakatan Harapan’s renewable energy (RE) target of 20% in electricity mix by 2025 excluding large hydroelectric sources above 100 MW (33% if include large hydro.) Pursuing this target has the potential of generating RM 33 billion private investment and additional 50,000 RE jobs.