PETALING JAYA: The long-awaited 12th Malaysia Plan is finally here. Tabled in the Dewan Rakyat last Monday, it has not been without its critics.
The government has described it as “transformative”, but some have criticized its Bumiputera policies and others have taken issue with its healthcare agenda.
To cut through the fog, FMT takes a look at what the plan hopes to achieve, how the government thinks it will get there, and what people seem to think.
The government says the plan takes a “transformative approach based on three themes, four catalytic policy enablers, and 14 game changers” that would turn the country into a high-income nation.
As defined by the World Bank, the high-income threshold as of 2020 was a gross national income (GNI) per capita of US$12,056 (RM50,472). Currently, Malaysia’s GNI per capita sits at RM42,503, with the 12MP aiming for this to be RM57,882 by 2025.
Other key targets include average annual GDP growth of 4.5% to 5.5% during the plan’s lifespan, an increase in average household income to RM10,000 a month, a narrowing of GDP-per-capita gap between the peninsula and East Malaysia and a slashing of greenhouse gas emissions.
How we will get there
The government has identified three main themes it will focus on, which are resetting the economy, strengthening security and wellbeing and advancing sustainability. It has earmarked RM400 billion to fund policies serving these aspirations.
The “catalytic policy enablers” and “game changers” are grouped under the themes. These refer to broad areas the government has targeted for improvement, such as the performance of SMEs, the healthcare system, poverty eradication efforts and talent development.
Some of the ideas are new and will require new initiatives and projects, while others focus on strengthening existing policies or allocating additional funds for them.
What people are saying
The plan has received its fair share of brickbats from the opposition, with a number of prominent MPs speaking against it.
In presenting the plan, Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said Bumiputera-held shares and companies would be tradable only to other Bumiputeras in order to inch the equity ownership of the group towards 30%.
He said that numerous programmes would be established to boost the performance of companies owned by the segment.
Commenting on the equity policy, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng said he had fielded complaints from many Malays who had said it would shrink the demand for their shares and sink their value, which would hurt the very group the government was thinking of protecting.
Former health minister Dzulkefly Ahmad said the policy was “suicidal”, claiming that the feedback from Malay businessmen was that this was the “worst policy” and that it was a sure way to kill the Bumiputera economy.
Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim took issue with the RM10,000 household income target, calling it “unrealistic” and suggesting the poverty rate be used as a more appropriate indicator of prosperity.
Damansara MP Tony Pua questioned how the plan could be effective given that it was “80% identical” to the 10th and 11th Malaysia Plans, which he said had failed to achieve their stated goals.
Outside of the government, the Galen Centre for Health and Social Policy expressed disappointment in the healthcare portion of the plan, saying that long standing issues had not been addressed with substance, or at all.
The think tank said areas in need of improvement but left unaddressed in the plan include the management of non-communicable diseases like diabetes and cancer, healthcare financing, contract doctors and a lack of public sector specialists.