Umno and Barisan Nasional Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin addressed some of the obstacles confronting Malaysians during a talk on ‘Malaysia Moving Forward – Challenges’ at the WOU main campus on 22 May 2011.
Khairy shared that BN is currently making the changes people wanted, as pointed out in the voting choices of 2008, but that transformational changes cannot happen overnight.
He felt the greatest tragedy for Malaysia is that it does not fulfil its great economic potential by being “stuck in mediocrity”. He said the country is still attracting investments “that consign us to a workshop, a factory of the world”. He said we must innovate, create technology, instead of assembling and copying, and this is not done.
He stated that the three biggest challenges that would define whether the country makes it or not, are economic competitiveness, investments, and Malaysia’s addiction to subsidies.
“We are not able to create an environment still today in which people feel that they can give their best in Malaysia. That’s why we have a brain drain,’ he said, adding that the National Economic Action Council estimates 350,000 Malaysians have emigrated and are working abroad, more than half of them with tertiary education while the World Bank Report puts it at over 1 million.
He lamented that the government is not able to retain the best talents in Malaysia due to discriminatory policies, job satisfaction, and a sense of belonging.
On investments, he said Malaysia has to provide the right environment through skills training to attract capital-intensive, value-add, knowledge intensive FDIs. However, the skills training vocational education only makes up 10% of the education system here compared to 60% in developed countries like Germany.
He said Malaysia’s addiction to subsidies puts the nation at serious risk to serious financial burden and sovereign debt in the years to come.
Khairy said if the government wants the people to tighten their belt, then it must do the same, such as a stop to government functions at 5-star hotels and reviewing the National Service programme which costs the government RM560 million a year.
He also talked on national unity and the need for moderates in every political party to stand up against extremism, against people who frighten other Malaysians and create imagined threats and enemies. He said it is important to get the best people to join politics and be at the helm – people who are smart, honest, able, dedicated and committed.
On electoral reforms, Khairy called for free and fair elections and supported equal access for media time and a proper campaign without restrictions for all parties, as is practised in the Singapore elections. “We don’t know how many votes we lose when we play heavy-handed tactics. When we have TV3 during election campaign pumping BN propaganda 24/7, it actually turns people off,” he said.
Khairy said proper access for the opposition will be seen as fair and offsets any reactionary effect. “It’s about the appearance of being fair so you don’t get the whiplash from looking like you’re a bully,” he said.
He also spoke out strongly against Perkasa and what it advocates. “There is only so much you can push the other communities against the wall with this rubbish. This is not the sort of politics we want and promote in Umno. We don’t need somebody who antagonises and upsets and hurts other people like Perkasa.”
Over 300 people attended the two-hour session organised by Penang BN Youth and chaired by Penang Gerakan chairman Dato’ Dr Teng Hock Nan. Among the attendees were Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Wong Tat Meng and Tan Sri Emeritus Prof Gajaraj Dhanarajan from WOU, as well as state chairmen and members of the BN component parties