We need predictability, clarity and accountability, says Rafidah

KUALA LUMPUR: Predictability, clarity and accountability must be part and parcel of the Malaysian culture in order to restore public confidence in the country, said former International Trade and Industry Minister Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz (pix).

“The private sector expects a good measure of predictability and clarity. This is something the government must take note of. You’re not predictable, you’re not clear about the policies and measures going ahead, you’ll be in trouble,” she said in her lecture titled “Restoring Confidence in the Malaysian Economy”.

Speaking at the Malaysian Institute of Certified Public Accountants’ 60th Anniversary Commemorative Lecture & Luncheon today, Rafidah said the private sector does not want changes done mid-stream or flip-flopping in policies by the government.

“And of course, the requisite accountability… especially where public funds are concerned. The public requires that. This is to restore confidence. If they cannot see this accountability being part and parcel of the culture, they will not have confidence,” she said.

Besides putting in place policy-based remedial measures and institutional reforms, Rafidah said Malaysia also needs to reset the compass of public and corporate governance.

“Some of those ailments had to do with people who were supposedly governing GLCs (government-linked companies) and what not. Some of them were not even politicians. Some of them took advantage. In other words, it’s the governance of this country, public and private. We have to reset that compass. If you just talk about pinpointing to the politicians, it’s not enough,” she added.

According to Rafidah, putting in place governance and remedial measures while also ensuring economic growth are not mutually exclusive and can be done parallel. However, the present government should be given time and space to do what needs to be done.

“We need to make sure we give space to the present government. You have to give space for them to do what needs to be done. Do not be the group of people who are asking, ‘why so slow?’. The problem today is impatience,” she said.

She urged Malaysians to give the government at least one year, to show results that would take the country forward. At the same time, the government must show that remedial measures are being implemented, and share the developments and results to the public.

On GLCs, Rafidah said the public sector should enable and facilitate the private sector, instead of competing with them.

“The moment we have public sector coming in, it will edge the private sector out, it provides unnecessary competition and is a waste of public resources. That’s how we shut down the Public Enterprise Ministry,” she said, adding that entrepreneurial development is more relevant as it promotes entrepreneurs.

Having said that, Rafidah stressed that there is no specific formula or approach that would guarantee the restoration of public confidence as public confidence is affected by a mix of factors.

“When we talk about restoring public confidence, there is no panacea. There is no one formula, no one approach… because of the mix of factors that go towards the equation of restoring public confidence, I would like to have a new context to operate in. I call it Malaysia 2.0,” she said.

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