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Malaysian PM to launch new set of reforms

Publication Date : 11-09-2012


Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak is set to launch another round of broad reforms to tackle the issues Malaysians are most worried about these days - including crime, education and rural development, as he gears up for the next general election.

Among the initiatives expected at the end of the month - online tracking for police reports, as the government responds to recent accusations that the police are massaging crime data to present a picture of a safer Malaysia.

Najib will also announce new measures for rural development and fighting corruption.

Some details of the Government Transformation Programme 2.0 were disclosed by Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Idris Jala in his column in The Star yesterday.

"A lot of hard work has gone into and is going into the fleshing out of the new programme of transformation," said Idris, who heads Pemandu, the government agency overseeing Najib's reform programmes.

Since taking office in April 2009, Najib has presented himself as a reformer. His election slogan - "Janji Ditepati" or Promises Kept - draws from that image.

The first set of reforms that were rolled out in 2009 covered seven areas of public services.

These reforms included fighting corruption, lowering crime, improving education and rural infrastructure, as well as urban public transport.

This was followed by economic reforms to double incomes by 2020, and lastly by political reforms to relax the government's grip on democratic rights.

This second round of reforms will run from next year to 2015, said Idris.

While they are unlikely to make a difference before the general election, which must be called by April next year, they are good campaign fodder, said political analyst Ibrahim Suffian.

"The Prime Minister cannot just say that he has fulfilled his promises but must also indicate what the next step would be," said Ibrahim. "And that's what he's doing now."

Alex Iskandar Liew, the Pemandu director of communications, said public confidence in the reforms appears to be strengthening.

He said that an internal survey by Pemandu three years ago showed that less than one-third of the respondents believed that the government would deliver on its promises.

But this year, about two-thirds of people surveyed expressed confidence.

But Ibrahim warned the government also runs the risk of fatigue setting in as it keeps making more promises.

"People will want to see real results, to kick the tyres so to speak," he said.

He also noted that Najib is competing with the opposition, which has promised to lower car prices - among the highest in the world - and university fees if it wins power.

According to Idris, this second round of reforms will expand on the first.

For example, a smartphone app called MyDistress that allows people to contact the police with the push of a button in an emergency will be expanded beyond its current test base of Selangor. The phone's GPS locator will help police locate those who need help.

In education, he said, the first batch of 5,000 teachers found to have substandard English skills will be sent for remedial courses, beginning next month.

In the area of rural development, a concept called the "21st century village" will be launched to get qualified young Malaysians to run rural-based businesses and create more jobs in the villages.

The first batch of 11 entrepreneurs will begin their projects with government financial assistance this month. Other initiatives include building integrated modern farms.


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