PUBLIC policy plays a crucial role in shaping the governance and development of a nation.
In the case of Malaysia, a diverse and multi-ethnic country in Southeast Asia, public policy decisions are vital for addressing various political, socio-economic and environmental matters.
It has a wide array of implicit and explicit issues and challenges that need considerable attention from all strata of government as well as societal machinery to produce effective results.
The current phase of globalisation and the speed of technological advances dictate that we should be ready and foresee the unforeseeable waiting ahead of us.
Leading to central ones are:
Diversity and inclusivity
One of the fundamental challenges in Malaysian public policy is managing diversity and ensuring inclusivity.
Malaysia is a multicultural society comprising Malay, Chinese, Indian and various indigenous populations.
Public policies must strike a balance between the diverse needs and aspirations of these communities, promoting social cohesion and national unity.
Safeguarding and protecting every need of society and concurrently avoiding sensitive issues are paramount for the nation’s total health.
Economic development and redistribution
Another critical aspect of public policy in Malaysia is achieving sustainable economic development and addressing income inequality.
Policies that focus on equitable wealth distribution, poverty alleviation and job creation are essential to bridge the socioeconomic gap between different segments of society.
Policies promoting innovation, entrepreneurship and investment can also stimulate economic growth and enhance Malaysia’s competitiveness in the global market.
Education and human capital development
Investing in high-quality education and human capital development is crucial for Malaysia’s long-term progress.
Public policies should prioritise access to education, address educational disparities among different regions and communities and enhance the quality and relevance of the curriculum to meet the demands of a rapidly changing world.
Emphasising lifelong learning, vocational training, and technical skills development can empower individuals and contribute to the nation’s overall productivity.
Sustainable environment and natural resources
Preserving the environment and managing natural resources sustainably are pressing challenges for Malaysia.
Effective public policies are needed to address issues such as deforestation, pollution, climate change, and biodiversity loss.
Encouraging sustainable practices, promoting renewable energy, implementing conservation measures, and enhancing environmental governance is essential for the long-term well-being of both people and the planet.
Governance and transparency
Ensuring good governance and promoting transparency is critical for effective public policy implementation.
In recent years, Malaysia has made significant strides in enhancing governance mechanisms, fighting corruption, and promoting accountability.
Continued efforts to strengthen institutions, foster transparency, and engage citizens in the policymaking process can further improve public trust and the overall effectiveness of policy outcomes.
Taking cognisance of those issues, the prime minister affirmatively espoused a highly philosophical concept of Madani, the Malay acronym for SCRIPT which stands for sustainability, care and compassion, respect, innovation, prosperity, and trust.
The SCRIPT policy framework focuses on current problems and requirements and the nation’s future needs and potentials.
It aptly intertwined with the concept of GREAT strived by the Chief Secretary of the Government for the civil service.
The acronym stands for good governance, responsible, empathy, accountability and tenacity of purpose, to be applied in the public sector and to solidify decisively all policies and implement them effectively.
The values of GREAT essentially dovetail well with Madani, enforcing and enhancing each other as a whole.
The interconnectedness of both frameworks will heal our nation with substantive reform and progress into a brighter future.
Succinctly, public policies in the Malaysian context are a complex and dynamic field that requires careful consideration of diverse societal needs and aspirations.
Addressing the challenges of diversity, economic development, education, environment and governance is crucial for sustainable and inclusive growth.
By embracing both Madani and GREAT philosophies in the true sense, we can forge a path towards a prosperous and equitable future.
With robust, evidence-based policymaking, meaningful stakeholder engagement, and a commitment to the public interest, Malaysia can navigate the complexities of public policy and strive towards a better tomorrow.
Dr G Periasamy is a senior research fellow at the National Institute of Public Administration (INTAN). Comments: email@example.com