During the Economic Transformation Programme Open Day held yesterday, one of the key messages sent by the CEOs to our government was – for Government’s role in business to be reduced and for freer competition.
Personally, I can particularly relate to that. In fact, I am so averse to government involvement in business that I have decided to avoid the many government grants that are given out for technology startups. I have also decided to steer clear of the government as much as I can in business. This means avoiding government contracts like the plague. I am crazy like that.
The thing is, I do not see how our present government can reform the business of government to be limited to policy making and regulation, which is what we actually need the government to do instead of actually getting involved in the decision making and operational issues of businesses particularly through its many GLCs. Even if the present opposition takes over the federal government, I do not see the government getting out of business either because the system is already institutionalised and ingrained in our collective psyche that Malaysia Inc is run like that.
Some may ask me why I am so anti government. I am not anti-government. I am merely anti government involvement in business. The reason that I feel this way is that I have personally felt the bite of government involvement in business and I do not want to experience it ever again. I would be very happy if the government, whichever government, decides to just keep its fingers out of business and to instead focus on policy and regulation.
In fact, I would argue that the government should step up regulation – not in the bad way, mind you. Taking the example of the Internet – while I do not think that the government should engage in Internet censorship, I do feel that regulation needs to be stepped up in certain areas such as: policing the collection and transmission of personal information, registration and collection of taxes from internet businesses, and taking cyber-criminals to task.
However, from what I have gathered about the ETP, I believe that it is business as usual for our government. I do not see why the government would happily give away multi-billion dollar cash cows until after they have been milked dry. I will believe our governments’ drive when I actually see it. For now, I will wait and see.