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How Can The Ninth Malaysian Plan (9MP) Foster National Unity And Bring Development Benefiting All Malaysians When 6 Out Of 14 States With 13.64 Million Malaysians In 2005 Comprising 51% Of The Population Are Left Out Of The Development Corridor?
So why is Pak Lah repeating his previous announcements and trying to pass them as new projects. Clearly there is a serious lag in implementation as the projects are still in the planning stage (which should have been done long ago) when it should be on-stream now. To date can Pak Lah state how much of the RM 220 billion under the 9MP or even how many of the first batch of 880 projects valued at RM 15 billion have commenced?
In fact Pak Lah seems to still be at the rhetoric stage of making weighty pronouncements of plans for development projects. The latest is his announcement of a RM 15 billion South Johor Development Corridor to be undertaken by him personally as a big gift to Johoreans. Pak Lah said that this South Johor Development Corridor is additional to the East Coast Development Corridor(Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang) carried out by Petronas and the Northern Development Corridor(Perlis, Perak, Kedah and Penang) carried out by Sime Darby and Permodalan Nasional Bhd(PNB).
This poses two questions. One Pak lah should not forget that he is the Prime Minister of all Malaysians when he can personally head the South Johor Development Corridor but leave the other two development corridors to government statutory bodies. Any development corridor personally driven by the Prime Minister will have a higher percentage of success as compared to mere statutory bodies. If he can head the South Johor Development Corridor, he should also head the East Coast Development Corridor and Northern Development Corridor.
The second question is more important. Whilst no one will oppose Pak Lah’s announcement on the RM 15 billion South Johor Development Corridor, what about the development fate of other states that still do not have any development corridor such as Sabah, Sarawak, Melaka, Negeri Sembilan, Selangor and Federal Territory. Malaysians from these 6 states have a right to ask why they face such discrimination.
Or to put it bluntly, how can the 9MP foster national unity and bring development benefiting all Malaysians when 6 out of 14 states with 13.64 million Malaysians in 2005 comprising 51% of the population are left out of the development corridor? Such neglect and discrimination will only increase the sense of alienation in East Malaysia, especially for Sabah, the least developed and poorest state in Malaysia with a poverty rate of 23%.
Perhaps the government feels that both Federal Territory and Selangor, with a total of RM 51,010 million under the 9MP or 32% of the total allocation of RM 159,256 million for all states, does not need any new development corridor. Pak Lah may feel both states have adequate development funds as the 32% allocation under the 9MP is an improvement to the 30.2% they received under the 8MP.
However the same can not be said for the other 4 states whose allocation in percentage terms has gone down under the 9MP in respect of the 8MP for Melaka (3.1% to 2.5%), Negeri Sembilan (5% to 4.2%), Sarawak (11.6% to 10.6%) and Sabah (11.2% to 9.5%). Compared to the 2004 national mean monthly household income of RM 3,249, all these four states mean monthly household income were below the national average as follows:-
Sabah RM 2,487
Sarawak RM 2,725
Melaka RM 2,792
Negeri Sembilan RM 2,886
Clearly these four states of Sabah, Sarawak, Melaka and Negeri Sembilan require a development corridor. Even the urban poor in Selangor and Federal Territory should not be left behind. In contrast the mean monthly household income for Johor is RM 3,076. 51% of the population or a majority of Malaysia’s population should not be left out.
Such socio-economic injustice can be seen by the higher income inequality in Malaysia with the income share of the bottom 40% of households decreasing from 14% in 1999 to 13.5% in 2004, while the top 20% of households increasing from 50.5% to 51.2% in the same period. Even the United Nations Human Development Report states that Malaysia has the highest income inequality between the rich and poor in South-East Asia.
Development should be equitable to give equal opportunity for every state and every Malaysian to better themselves. Pak Lah should be a Prime Minister for all Malaysians and to ensure their basic right to development regardless of region by setting up development corridor throughout the country.