Malaysians clueless on ETP, poll shows – By Leslie Lau

Najib’s various transformation plans have yet to gain traction with Malaysians. — file pic

The Malaysian Insider | KUALA LUMPUR, 24-Dec-2010 — Over half of voters in peninsular Malaysia have little or no knowledge about the Najib administration’s Economic Transformation Programme (ETP), a recent survey by the independent Merdeka Center shows.

The survey also showed that the majority of Malaysians did not understand such economic initiatives despite their widespread publicity.

Fifty-two per cent of voters surveyed said they were not aware of the ETP, compared to 48 per cent who said they knew of it.

When asked how much of the ETP they understood, 82 per cent said “not very much.”

The poll was conducted in the first two weeks of this month.

Najib’s ambitious plans to build new train lines, taller towers and bigger developments is a major plank of his administration and has been called the country’s largest-ever infrastructure expansion programme.

The government has allocated close to RM100 billion to jump-start a raft of projects.

They range from the controversial RM5 billion 100-storey Warisan Merdeka tower, a RM36 billion mass-rail transit (MRT) network, a new high-speed rail link between Penang and Singapore as well as more new highways and power plants.

Najib’s ETP is estimated to cost RM443 billion and aims to double per capita income to US$15,000 (RM46,500) within 10 years, to propel Malaysia into the ranks of high-income nations.

But criticisms about Najib’s big projects remain, underscoring significant public dissatisfaction with “mega” projects and the perceived cronyism attached to the deals.

Property consultants and private economists have also expressed concerns that huge infrastructure spending could burden the economy and create a property glut that would take years to absorb.

The MRT for Kuala Lumpur will be the first project to kick-start the ETP, with construction expected to start by next year.

MMC-Gamuda Joint Venture Sdn Bhd was recently appointed the project delivery partner (PDP).

Yesterday, it was announced that the finance ministry would set up a special purpose vehicle (SPV) to raise funds for the RM36 billion MRT project.

Officials have argued that the massive spending plan will create jobs and help the economy grow.

The Merdeka Center survey showed that less than half of those polled — 47 per cent — were confident that the ETP would propel Malaysia into becoming a developed nation.

Broken down by race, the survey showed 61 per cent of Malays polled were confident of the ETP while only 19 per cent of the Chinese sharing the sentiment.

Among Indians surveyed, 55 per cent expressed confidence in the ETP.


By Leslie Lau
Executive Editor