Friday, April 20, 2012

Why Don't We Privatise The Government?

When Mahathir became the prime minister in the early 1980s, he went on a privatisation frenzy. Perhaps he was thinking of Margaret Thatcher.

Unfortunately for Malaysia, Mahathir was no Thatcher.

How much privatisation has cost the country is anyone's guess. Just the Mas case may give us an inkling.

When the privatisation frenzy was first on, we were told that it would benefit the country. For example, the government's hand would be more free (to do what?).  Costs would go down and efficiency improved.

All this we know today is just hot air. Many say, for example, that refuge collection was more efficient when the local councils themselves were doing the job.

And instead of the government having to employ fewer people, the number of civil servants has bloated to more than a million, perhaps one of the highest in the world for a population of only some 28 million.

Privatisation in Malaysia is more akin to what former opposition leader Lim Kit Siang often described as "piratisation" that is to say, profits are privatised and losses are borne by the public like in the Mas bailout.

Today, almost anything is fair game when it comes to privatisation.

Now, it seems that traffic summons are also fair game.

While the authorities are at it, why doesn't the Najib administration also privatise the judiciary (the public's confidence in the Malaysian judiciary is at an all time low), the police force (no better here), the AG's department (well, what to say), MACC (the anti-corruption body is more like a death trap with the unexplained deaths of two suspects who had been in their custody and who, it was alleged, jumped to their own deaths) and the Malaysian Election Commission (some say it is more interested in perpetuating the Barsian government than in ensuring that the electoral roll and process are fair and clean).

Better still, Najib should privatise his administration so that he and his company can jet-set the world in style and maybe retire in Timbuktu.

And jesters Hassan and Ibrahim Ali can run the show demonising the Christians and stirring up racial discord and the country can live happily thereafter.

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