Only Ubah can allow Malaysia to escape the middle-income trap

DAP’s 48th anniversary message by DAP Secretary General and MP for Bagan Lim Guan Eng on 18th March 2014 in Kuala Lumpur

While the nation prays for MH370 in sombre mood, the DAP is not celebrating its 48th anniversary today apart from this note to acknowledge the party has come into existence since 18 March 1966. This day 48 years ago, a group of patriotic Malaysians came together to form the Democratic Action Party to bring forth a Malaysia that is just and fair to all, regardless of race, creed and gender.

Right from the beginning, it has been an epic uphill battle fighting an authoritarian regime that not only persecutes our leaders and members but also conduct widespread electoral manipulation in elections that are not free and fair, media restrictions, detention without trial and other forms of repressive measures.

BN’s unchallenged rule was assisted by its total control of the mass media, reminiscent of Communist and fascist dictatorships as well as the racially divisive tactics of South Africa’s discredited white apartheid regimes. In these years, any possibility of cooperation with other opposition parties to form a viable coalition to challenge Barisan Nasional’s rule would be demonised by the mainstream media as anti-national,anti-Malay or anti-Islam and defeated immediately.

Nonetheless, DAP persisted through these trials and tribulations and finally prevailed in the historic 2008 general elections which ushered in a two-party system with the formalisation of Pakatan Rakyat. The 2013 general elections when PR won 51% of the popular vote spells the beginning of the end for BN, if not immediately is certainly so in the near future.

DAP’s struggle for a just and fair Malaysia is based on rule of law and integrity in leadership that provides opportunities for all against the self-enriching cronies continues. Through CAT governance of competency, accountability and transparency Malaysians can make not only a moral choice but vote for a brighter future for our children

As a partner in power with Pakatan Rakyat component parties in the heroic fight to end to BN’s authoritarian rule, DAP is focused both on democratising the nation’s institutions and providing socio-economic justice by implementing sound policies to escape the middle-income trap and provide for better livelihood. Unless we escape the middle-income trap, Malaysia would be stuck with 8 countries in East and South Asia that falls within the per-capita income of US$1,036-US$12,516 (RM41,052) such as Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, China, India and Sri Lanka.

Fundamentally, the middle-income trap is an economic governance issue where BN’s policy paralysis and failures has led to a gradual decline and an eventual stagnation in living standards. A more inclusive and sustainable growth strategy will be needed which includes infrastructure investment; increasing innovation through research and development; promoting entrepreneurship; investing in human capital by way of revamping education systems in order to produce highly-skilled workers and professionals; reducing income inequality; as well as rooting out corruption and cronyism.

The Economist’s latest edition listed Malaysia as third in the world in its crony capitalism index for 2014, the same position since the last study was conducted in 2007. The Economist said uncontrolled rent-seeking this century was allowing politically well-connected billionaires worldwide to double their wealth. This is clearly evident in Malaysia where the independent power industry, finance, construction industry, sugar, rice, water, sewage, rubbish disposal and highway toll concessionaires are in the hands of several crony companies.

Only UBAH can put an end to crony capitalism and allow Malaysia to escape the middle-income trap.

As we acknowledge the party’s 48th anniversary, it is worth noting that DAP will turn 50 in 2016. The DAP Central Executive Committee decided in its December 2013 meeting to form a “DAP at 50″ committee led by National Political Education Director Sdr. Liew Chin Tong to educate Malaysians about the party’s struggle and to prepare for events to commemorate the 50th anniversary. More importantly the 50th Anniversary celebrations will serve as a launch pad for change towards Putrajaya at the next general elections.

*This article first appeared on www.limguaneng.com March 18, 2014

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