Better policies for a better Malaysia
It is quite clear our government policies can be improved. Many issues remain unsolved despite spending hundreds of billions of ringgit and numerous plans, commissions and transformation programmes. To name a few, corruption is increasing, investment collapsing and ¼ of our local graduates unemployed.
We choose to stay and help rebuild our home
It could be said Malaysia is crumbling. And many Malaysians are running away – over 300,000 in the 18 months between June 08 and Dec 09 alone. But for us at REFSA, Malaysia is home. If the taps in your house leak, or if there are termites, or if it needs a new coat of paint, you don’t abandon it and go and buy a new house. You stay and fix the problems, for your benefit and the benefit of your children.
Malaysia is where we were born, where we live and where we want to spend our retirement years, preferably with our children and grandchildren nearby and not in some faraway foreign country.
Lasting improvement starts from the ground up
Our policy makers do appear to recognise the issues. But the “solutions” proposed very often call for even more government involvement and spending, or another Commission, or Committee, or Registrar … which have proven ineffective.
We believe real change can be achieved only from the ground up. For example, New Zealand and Denmark achieved their status among the two least corrupt countries in the world without formal Anti Corruption Commissions, let alone agencies. It is just that their citizens have developed cultures where bribe-giving and taking are abhorred.
We now have a surfeit of top-down structures but the problems remain because the basic foundations are weak. Our foundations need strengthening. Government policies are most effective when they are understood and fully supported by the people affected.
REFSA will help with Relevant Facts, Sparkling Analysis; Simply Presented
Well-informed, enlightened Malaysians are necessary for the bottom-up approach to be viable. To this end, REFSA aims to educate and inspire interest by the general public in government policies and actions.
We will do so through policy papers, comments, newsletters, books, workshops and conferences that illuminate how government policies and actions affect the everyday lives of Malaysians. Our publications and events will always be in plain language, easily understood and accessible to all.
We will clearly set out the issues and suggest potential solutions. Our hope is that Malaysians will then consider, debate, and improve on our research, and ultimately create a consensus on policies that would improve our lives. Our people-centric politicians and leaders should then respond to this grassroots momentum.
Our two main aims are to:
1. Elevate policy debate to a more constructive level. The noise level is high when the Government and Opposition are engaged in debate. However, the media carries only the sound-bites, and very often ordinary citizens are left wondering what the facts are in the first place. REFSA aspires to be the source of independent, impartial facts from which you can draw your own conclusions.
2. Get more Malaysians interested in government policies. Many Malaysians are too busy earning a living, being stuck in traffic jams and caring for their families to be concerned with government policies, which are perceived as distant and irrelevant. But if ordinary citizens start asking about policies, our politicians will respond. Policies are not just about the grand plans encapsulated in acronyms such as ETP and GTP and the like. Policies also cover everyday issues such as crime and how the police force is deployed, which was the subject of our first focus paper.