Tun Dr. Mahathir for the NEAC Chairmanship

Party elections are over. New President, Deputy President, Vice Presidents, Wing Heads and Supreme Council members voted in. The sixth Prime Minister sworn in. Triple by-election’s done. The Cabinet’s been announced and sworn in. Euphoria is over, agony is over. Now its time to work.

There is the management of the nation needed a lot of attention and work. Top most on the agenda is the economy. Aggregate demand needed to be made, industries made more productive and competitive, interest rates kept low, jobs to be protected and created, the unemployment to be reduced and so the list goes on.

This is pertinent to the global financial crisis already on our doorsteps. The nation may not feel the brunt of it yet, unlike other more developed and sophisticated economies, which have  already started to bite-the-bullet. However, it is there and inevitable.

The question now is how do we do this?

We already faced a major regional financial crisis in 1997-98. The RM was attacked, stock market was almost obliterated and businesses went belly up in an unseen rate. Loans and financial commitments are unable to be met. Much to the dismay of many, the western-puppet Finance Minister then was out to ‘ruin’ the economy by almost taking the IMF prescription. He was removed and the Prime Minister personally took charge. One of the action plan was the formation and implementation of the National Economic Action Council (NEAC).

This was a revolutionary but highly effective effort to carefully monitor, analyse, formulate action and implement on a play-by-play basis. Nation’s best economic analysts, industry players and strategic thinkers met daily, to religiously go through the numbers. Sometime twice daily. Non performing loans (NPL), financial and capital markets and interest rate, industrial, commodity  and consumer price indexes were critical indicators and microscopically managed. All Government contracts were managed via the project management method (PMC) for efficiency. The NEAC even wanted to know how many are there unsold brand new houses, shops and mini factories, on a weekly basis.

Now it is time to do that again. We have more streams of people to sit and do this, once again. The past twelve years, we have developed more matured strategic thinkers and planners, industry players, economists and bankers. More Malaysians also now sit in strategic MNC positions all over the region. These are the minds that needed to be tapped.

The thirteen million Ringgit question now is, who should provide leadership?

Who else but the Fourth Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad. He has the wealth of knowledge and experience, kept himself abreast with the latest information on the global economy and financial crisis, regularly speak and consult with world renown economists and strategic thinkers and recently, took the initiative to round up all the industry captains and guilds and economists to discuss this in detail.

In all, Tun Dr Mahathir made the newly appointed MITI Minister Dato’ Mustapha Mohamad to be the Executive Director of the NEAC exactly ten years ago. So, was now the Minister in-charge of EPU Tan Sri Noh Mohamed Yaackop. The newly appointed Deputy Finance Minister Senator Dato’ Dr. Awang Adek Hussin was then made the Assistant Governor of the Bank Negara. Tan Sri Dr. Zeti Akhtar Aziz was appointed Governor of the Bank Negara in 2001 and still managing it. Dato’ Azman Yahya was handpicked to head the Danaharta, the agency which solved almost the entire NPL problem, which was the key factor to get the banking and financial market back on its track. The Danamodal head then Dato’ Muhamad Ibrahim is now the Bank Negara Assistant Governor. So those who are running the economy now are the people he handpicked.

It was Tun Dr. Mahathir’s highly unorthodox method of capital control enforced on 2 September 1998 that stopped the nation’s wealth from ‘bleeding’, of which the next step of recovery plan was able to be planned and implemented. The entire free economy criticize unprecendented move but later was proven to be very effective. It received a lot of recognition, even by the most revered economic guru such as Joseph Stiglitz.

The same time, he advocated the use of Gold Dinar for international trade and vehemently against the dependence of US Dollar. International startegic partnership dialogues, especially amongst the under developed nations were encouraged. Intra-Asian trade was promoted, with focus on East, West, Central and South Asia. Tun Dr. Mahathir even almost got the East Asian Economic Caucus going.

He was also an advocate of the knowledge based economy; k-economy. Earlier, he created the right platform for that; Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC). Today, Prime Minister VI Dato’ Seri Najib is talking about the ‘innovation based economy’.

Prime Minister VI Dato’ Seri Mohd. Najib Tun Razak should really consider this, especially he is personally taking charge of the economy. He should bring back some of the original NEAC members in coupled with new ones and get Tun Dr. Mahathir to lead the charge.

This is the first bullet Malaysia must bite. And in the immortal words of US President Harry S. Truman, “The buck stops here!”.

Published in: on April 11, 2009 at 10:40  Comments (3)