At annual political party gatherings, we hardly ever hear any rational or clever discussion on the economy and on how we as a country should move forward in a global competitive environment.
IT always troubles me – and I am sure many Malaysians feel the same too – when politicians, especially those belonging to parties involved in the governance of the country, cannot go beyond talking politics.
If you follow the proceedings of the annual general meetings of our political parties, you will find that the state of the country’s economy is hardly given any priority.
Speakers at such meetings, sometimes called general assemblies, prefer to stick to political issues. They play to the gallery and engage in attention-grabbing rhetoric so that they can be guaranteed media space to reach a far bigger audience beyond the meeting hall.
We have seen them all. From apple polishing their leaders to making outrageous demands, some think they can play the jester but what they think is funny can be hurtful at times.
Sure, time is allocated for debate on the economy but more often than not, the speakers cannot see the big picture. Instead, it is always about how the various communities should share the pie, or who should get the lucrative contracts and projects.
The Opposition, on the other hand, seems to criticise for the sake of it, without providing a viable, alternative Budget. At their annual general meetings, the economy is also low on the agenda.
And yet, in a most ironic way, the Budget speech gets extensive coverage and is probably the most analysed event of the year.
At the annual political party gatherings, we hardly ever hear any rational or clever discussion on the economy and on how we as a country should move forward in a global competitive environment.
But the reality now is that the cake is shrinking. There is really no point talking about how we should split the cake if we cannot even bake it well.
And so we spend time quarrelling over issues that do not contribute to productivity nor help to strengthen the country’s race relations.
Our politicians are known for their foot-in-the-mouth syndrome and we have become notorious for making announcements first before studying their ramifications.
Be it a policy or a law, the tendency is for our leaders to announce it first, wait for the reaction and, if negative, review, back track or simply scrap it. Not only is the damage already done, we also give the world the impression that we do not give enough thought to all these serious matters.