PETALING JAYA – Malaysia’s New Economic Policy (NEP), has come in for criticism from Australian academic Wolfgang Kasper. “The preferential treatment locks the country in the middle income trap, breeds marginalization in politics, conflict, cronyism and excludes the poor from the free market and denies them social mobility.”
“It’s easy to jump on the back of a tiger. It’s difficult to get off. It will bite you.”
The emeritus professor of economics at University of New South Wales, once an adviser to Malaysia’s Finance Ministry, also criticized the Federal Government giving cash-handouts and financial aid instead of providing equal access to education to help the marginalized poor to lift their income status.
“Handouts are the worst incentives.” “Everyone should be given opportunities in life for starting out,” said Kasper on the sidelines of a lecture at INTI International College.
“Access to good education is important. Focus on the young.” Kasper reiterated that handouts are “the worst incentives” that can be given, as it discourage some people from working and so keeps them poor.
His lecture, “Public choice and Prosperity”, organized by the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs, was on the dangers of creating “risk-averse bureaucrats” through a government monopoly on education.
There should be competition between schools, he advocated, one that can be fostered by the government giving school vouchers to parents to choose the best schools for their children. He cited Sweden as an example of making a success of the school voucher system run by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).