KUALA LUMPUR: The government has been urged to host public town hall meetings, and not closed-door discussions, in preparing for the tabling of the mid term review of the 11th Malaysian Plan in Parliament in Oct 2018.
Asli-Centre for Public Policy Studies and the Malaysia Civil Society Organisations for Sustainable Development Goals (CSO-SDG) Alliance said today this would provide a bottoms-up approach compared with the top-down approach adopted by the previous government in development planning.
They said such an approach would also help ensure that no one – regardless of gender or ethnicity – was left behind in the development process.
“There will also be a stronger sense of ownership for the plans so that it becomes the peoples’ development plans. We note that the Economic Planning Unit has been busy in closed door discussions with agencies and selective invitations to CSOs/NGOs in the review of the 11th Malaysia Plan.
“There is a need for an open process as promised by the Pakatan Harapan government,” Asli CEO Michael Yeoh and CSO-SDG co-chairman Denison Jayasooria said in a statement.
They said such openness would not only be a departure from past practices but also democratise development planning and make it an inclusive process.
“The post-GE14 democratic space calls for greater opportunities for both civil society and ordinary Malaysians to participate in the critical review of the 11th Malaysia Plan and in the formulation of a new agenda for development for all Malaysians, moving beyond ethnicity and racial considerations which were the dominant variables for development planning of the past.”
Asli-CPPS and the CSO-SDG Alliance hosted a CSO discussion on July 23 which drew more than 50 people, including a panel that comprised of Deputy Minister of Defence Liew Chin Tong, Dr M Jeyakumar Deveraj, Prof Dr Rashila Ramli, Dr Madeline Berma, Lavanya Rama Iyer, and Gurmit Singh.
The statement included the main observations and suggestions made at the discussion:
* Development planning in the past has not given sufficient attention of moving beyond ethnicity and race as many sections of Malaysian society feel a sense of alienation from the development process and have major issues of access. In this context it is recommended that the midterm review adopt a stronger commitment to the Sustainable development Goals (SDGs) ‘of leaving no one behind’.
* The economic model of development must have a balanced approach to profits, people and the planet namely economic, social and environmental sustainability. It must be a human rights approach to development – equal opportunities and reducing inequality of outcomes.
* Independent monitoring mechanisms must be set up to ensure that marginalised communities have an opportunity to lodge complaints and seek remedy and access.
* There must be an effective capacity building programme to equip the district level civil servants to address poverty and inequality, as well as ensuring human wellbeing for all;
* There must be multi stakeholder engagement at all levels – from the federal to the state to the district and local government levels.