TN50: Don't miss the bigger picture

TN50: Don't miss the bigger picture
Khairy (left) engaged with the audience during a TN50 dialogue session at UiTM Seri Iskandar, Perak on Wednesday, March 8. - File photo
Dear Sir,

I watched the live telecast on TV1 where Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin and Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Zambry Abdul Kadir conducted a dialogue session at UiTM Seri Iskandar in Parit, Perak on March 8, 2017.

Among the aspirations of TN50 is for the national football team to qualify for the Word Cup said Khairy Jamaluddin and he also wants universities in Malaysia such as UiTM to be on par with internationally renowned universities like the University of Oxford, UK. He then added that he wants to see a Malaysian scientist winning the Noble Prize and paintings by our artists exhibited in world-renowned museums. If this is the minister’s vision, I must say, it is quite disappointing. He has missed the bigger picture by a very wide margin, so to speak, most unfortunately.

Youths being youths, as expected, only asked for and suggested common things and not many are forward looking, most unfortunately. Perhaps, the next time such a dialogue is held, the organisers should call a few seniors to join in as well and let them pitch in.

As far as I can see, there are not many or none whosoever who had posed questions or offered suggestions on leadership (appointing the country’s leaders), appointing talented youths as ministers (we have some) or to head quasi-government bodies that relate to youths, inviting and appointing youths to participate in running the the country, about the economy, start-up champions, commerce and industrialisation, investments, sharing of the country’s wealth with its citizens in order to make our citizens richer, welfare, the environment, infrastructure, public transportation, flood prevention, fighting and preventing corruption, law, patriotism, defending the country in case of attacks by rogue or greedy nations and unity. All these will make us qualified to join the First World Club,

Nevertheless, if our country wants to become a member of the First World Club, the mentality and the attitude must change to match that of the First World Club members.

One other thing that Malaysians have always been lacking in is to have a ‘maintenance mentality’. We have many beautiful buildings in the country including the Twin Towers and KL International Airport but maintenance is sorely lacking and as a result, the beautiful buildings that we have deteriorates very fast. This mentality too must be changed.

Back to the TN50 dialogue many questions or suggestions raised revolved only around lifestyle, education, culture (arts and music), sports and career development, amongst others. These, to me, are not impressive enough.
Despite that, the Perak Menteri Besar, Datuk Seri Zambry Abdul Kadir, in his closing remarks, said that he was impressed with today’s youths for their bravery and courage in approaching ministers and to ask questions.

Being a senior I think more like youths for the fact that I mix with youths and I am an active (associate) member of a couple of youth organisations such NRC 11 and Young Corporate Malaysians. Where all the members are not older than 40 years of age.

Malaysia is a country blessed with resources in abundance; we have oil, discovered in the mid 70s, and if they are managed well, our revenues should be huge, bigger than what it is now and if corrupt practices among civil servants and people in power can be totally eliminated, revenues collected will be a lot more. If we ever have a government that really think of its citizens, some of the revenues can be shared with its citizens in several ways, short of handing out cash, which seems to be the first choice today but, then again, it is too little to be of any significance at all.

Before I go further, let’s look at one country where its citizens are all theoretically millionaires. In a report written by Alister Doyle of Oslo, Norway, he wrote, “Everyone in Norway became a theoretical crown millionaire on Wednesday in a milestone for the world's biggest sovereign wealth fund that has ballooned thanks to high oil and gas prices.

Set up in 1990, the fund owns around 1 percent of the world's stocks, as well as bonds and real estate from London to Boston, making the Nordic nation an exception when others are struggling under a mountain of debts.

A preliminary counter on the website of the central bank, which manages the fund, rose to 5.11 trillion crowns ($828.66 billion), fractionally more than a million times Norway's most recent official population estimate of 5,096,300.

It was the first time it reached the equivalent of a million crowns each, central bank spokesman Thomas Sevang said.

"Many countries have found that temporary large revenues from natural resource exploitation produce relatively short-lived booms that are followed by difficult adjustments," she said in an email.

The fund, equivalent to 183 percent of 2013 gross domestic product, is expected to peak at 220 percent around 2030.

"The fund is a success in the sense that parliament has managed to put aside money for the future. There are many examples of countries that have mot managed that," said Oeystein Doerum, chief economist at DNB Markets.” “

Surely, with the many sources of revenues Malaysia earns our leaders can emulate the Norwegians, it doesn’t have to be thirty years perhaps, in just 10 years, our country’s citizens all can be fairly rich, maybe not as rich as the Norwegians, but rich enough. Things that are burdensome and a bane to the citizens can be reduced or totally eliminated and GST is the first item that comes to my mind which must be eliminated first. Secondly, income tax can be gradually reduced until it can be reduced by as much as 30% from the current rate and thirdly, education can be totally made free-of-charge from  kindergarten up to university levels and fourthly, with the increase in revenues, salaries can be increased fairly substantially. This are some of the ways where the country’s wealth can be shared with its citizens. One may be delightfully surprised that due to our citizens’ higher salaries and greater spending power, the eventual 30% reduction in income tax and the elimination of GST can result in total tax collected and accumulated to be much higher than the quantum of tax collected based on the current rates and with GST added. Surely with a greater spending power the people will buy more things.

Without GST, duties are already included for most goods and services anyway.

A wise government will think of saving money for rainy days, just like what Norway is doing, and with the higher amount collected from taxes and revenues from various activities, there should be a lot of balance funds that can be saved and accumulated yearly. These money can be used to invest overseas in selected activities including investing in property and our eventual earnings will definitely multiply by two-fold or even three-fold, if not more, if it is managed carefully.

Subsidies for education, at all levels, must be re-instated and perhaps, increased. This way we can produce better scholars compared to now and maybe we can get our first Noble Prize winner in 10, 20 or 30 years from now. We need to build more schools, colleges, universities and training centres to cater for the increase in numbers of students and trainees at all levels. We need more scientists, doctors, engineers and researchers in various areas of technology including world class experts in computer hardware, software and developing the latest technology for use in the virtual world.

The other important items that the government must look into are: food, housing and utilities. Firstly, food must be available in abundance and preferably, self-sufficient or at least make us less dependent on imports. We definitely do not want to see our citizens starve or even suffer from malnutrition. We have substantial land throughout the country with great potential to be turned into agricultural farms planting trees and other crops and even herbal plants to produce vegetables, fruits and other types of food as well as health food products made from herbal plants.

Secondly, our fishing industry is still, I can say, in its infancy despite many local people involved in this industry over the last five or six decades when compared to Japan and Taiwan, for example. The fishing industry certainly can be developed further, not just fishing in the deep oceans that our country is surrounded with. If we compare ourselves with countries in Europe, Canada or the USA, we are even further behind.

Thirdly, housing is a necessity, there’s no question about this and we must be able to house all our people somewhere. Everyone needs a roof over their heads. Current and the forseeable future trends in housing is into high-rise dwelling and the building and construction technology that we have now should be good enough to build affordable houses for the larger majority, all over the country; in the cities, in the suburbs and in the rural areas as well, if not for all.

Last, but not least, we have to look at our resources such as water and energy and both are necessities. Besides depending on rivers for our water supply, we have to look at alternative ways to complement our supply of water including turning sea water into potable water. Dependence on oil, coal and other fossil fuels for our energy should be reduced and we must look into alternative means of supply such as using the solar system and the wind to generate electricity, among others.

With the substantial rise in the standard of living, we will have more citizens with higher education and we will also have fitter and healthier people, perhaps we can have a football team comprising better, fitter, intelligent and thinking players, which are sadly missing now and we can hope that our team will qualify to play in the World Cup, have universities that are at par with Oxford University, a Malaysian scientist who can win a Nobel Prize and have our artists exhibiting their work in world-renowned museums and also, a Malaysian author who is as good as a Nobel Prize winner in literature and all the things mentioned above.

*Opinion piece by Astro AWANI ardent follower, Hussaini Abdul Karim from Shah Alam, Selangor.

** The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position of Astro AWANI.