THE much-awaited Ninth Malaysia Plan (9MP) will be unveiled
at the current parliamentary session amid high expectations following the
fuel price rise and other pressing problems.
The Plan's implementation period, 2006-10, is particularly strategic
because we are now entering the second phase towards realising Vision 2020,
to become a developed nation.
Also, this is the first plan formulated under the stewardship of Datuk Seri
Abdullah Ahmad Badawi since he took over as Prime Minister in late 2003.
Dr Abdul Rahman: The Ninth Malaysia Plan
is the first major testing ground for Abdullah.
High on the people's mind is to what extent the 9MP will
address the fundamental issue of building a united Bangsa Malaysia or
Malaysian Nation (NB: not the "Malaysian race" as often stated).
Simply put, Bangsa Malaysia is about nation building and moulding
our ethnically and culturally diverse people into one nation with a
collective national will, consciousness, shared identity and shared
It is about ensuring durable cohesiveness and unity with tolerance and
respect for difference - be it ethnic, cultural, religious, ideological or
It is about forging a strong socio-cultural and spiritual glue to bind
current and future generations together as one and surviving periods of
prosperity as well as adversity.
The strength of our diversity as a nation - after some five decades of
independence - has lately come under serious challenge, with many issues
coming to the fore and creating uneasiness, misunderstanding and tension as
well as testing the parameters of our inter-ethnic and inter-religious
tolerance, peace and civility.
Externally, we are faced with the challenge of intense global competition
(particularly in terms of attracting foreign investment), the consequences
of market liberalisation, rising fuel prices and turbulent global
geopolitics. All these have a serious impact on our nation-building
However, it is a blessing that the various internal problems are not being
swept under the carpet. This helps to draw attention to what we have to do
urgently and effectively together as a nation.
It is encouraging that the top leadership is giving emphasis to greater
openness, dialogue, consultation and change. This gives hope for working out
a lasting solution together.
The 9MP needs to address some of the shortfalls and consequences of the
previous plans. We urgently need a development paradigm that is more
holistic and human-friendly, based on principles of good governance, justice
Of particular importance is, we have a strong development-oriented state
that is determined to realise the two-pronged objective of eradicating
poverty, irrespective of ethnicity, and the restructuring of society.
We have had impressive growth through export-led industrialisation, with
our GDP today being 14 times larger than that in 1970.
Malaysia now enjoys the status of an upper middle-income developing country
and an economic powerhouse that is ranked the 17th largest trading nation in
However, we have serious problems arising from our success. The emphasis on
material development and the focus on certain areas, particularly on urban
western industrial corridors, have resulted in the under-emphasis of a more
Agriculture has become a sunset sector, and some states do not feature
significantly on the development radar screen.
While there have been focus on the Malays, other indigenous groups feel
While anti-poverty programmes have been successful, the non-Malay poor feel
Despite increasing prosperity, there is rising inequality, with an
under-class in urban areas emerging.
Corruption and malpractices in both the public and private sectors reflect
badly on governance and integrity.
Over and above these, crass materialism, environmental degradation and
increasing social problems, particularly crime, are impacting seriously on
the quality of our lives. The Prime Minister has spoken many times about
We will have a disunited nation if development is not seen and felt as
benefiting all sections of society, all ethnic groups and all regions.
The 9MP under Abdullah's leadership is thus the first major testing ground
in putting his ideas and aspirations into policy and practice.
He not only needs the people's support but also constructive inputs and
criticisms to achieve the country's mission.
(4 April 2006)