WHILE new cabinet members take positions in their respective ministries, the avalanche of waiting tasks can be indeed daunting.

However, while they face their respective challenges, every ministry must incorporate four critical areas, irrespective of their terms of reference, for ensuring a collective thrust towards nation-building.

These are reducing cost or debt, investor confidence, strengthening stability and effective delivery or code-named R.I.SE.

Reducing cost or debt

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim got the ball rolling after taking office as he briefed all key personnel to find solutions to reduce commodity costs within two weeks.

This urgent need underscores the importance of addressing the bread-and-butter issues, especially those affecting the B40 community.

The approach of ensuring that the subsidy given must not be a pervasive one, which also includes the T20 community who can bear the cost, will go a long way.

However, it is paramount that every ministry does its part by reducing its respective expenses, and contributing ideas and deploying actions to reduce the national debt, now reaching RM1 trillion.

It requires more inter-ministerial collaboration to avoid duplication during the deployment of similar initiatives, especially to communities.

It is best to tighten the belt and focus on the most effective roll-out programmes, with thinking out-of-the-box ideas for manpower optimisation.

It cannot be led only by the Finance and Economic Ministries. The problems must be on the shoulders of every ministry.

Investor confidence

This is a vital key for a sustainable economy. In recent years, many international players have moved their base from Malaysia to neighbouring countries.

In fact, over the years the infrastructure support has improved. So it cannot be the reason for our country to lose the status of preferred choice as held previously.

Relevant ministries must conduct exit interviews on industries pulling out and compile a list of reasons why our neighbours can better attract these businesses.

A similar approach to finding solutions within a given limited time can increase the intensity and purpose of this quest. This can open doors to many new opportunities.

There is an urgent need to fill these glaring gaps, woo more investors as well as increase initiatives to retain those already on our shores.

Global inflation has been predicted to be just around the corner but it is vital to brainstorm and offer good competitive packages to attract potential industries as well as businesses to take advantage of the best business climate conditions our nation still has to enable the roar of the economic tiger to be heard in the Asean region once again.

The country’s potential and advantages must again be aggressively promoted like in the past, with target markets identified, especially from two rising economic giants China and India.

Strengthening stability

The political undercurrents are still strong and this is not the time to decide who the captain of the ship should be, but rather train focus on which shore this ship needs to sail towards.

The political slopes can be slippery and it is vital to give time to the newly elected to do what they have been tasked to do.

The National Unity Ministry should not be the sole driver of unity.

Every minister must ensure that greater racial integration and higher inclusivity prevails at all levels of governance in the ministries.

Regular sharing of ideas and celebrating diversities need to go beyond gatherings only for meals during festivals.

The extra effort to know all colleagues and staff members from every racial divide should be encouraged so that the unity we expect to see in our country can be experienced in all ministries.

Strengthening stability should be an integral part of every Malaysian lifestyle.

Don’t walk with a bottle of kerosene to stoke the flames of disunity, but find every opportunity to douse a fire with water whenever possible, even in a conversation that could potentially divide and distract us from national unity.

Effective delivery

The long queues at passport offices used to be a nightmare in the 90s’.

It is such a welcoming breeze that everything is so professionally structured and made simple that we can emerge from such offices in a short time holding our passports with a beaming smile.

Effective delivery is the key to connectivity and all processes and systems in every ministry must be reviewed to assess if delivery time can be shortened and systems improved.

Perhaps the first 100 days can be evidenced with a report card highlighting these simple low-hanging fruits of achievements which have been plucked.

This will boost public confidence that they have chosen the right people for the job.

Every ministry has its lion’s share of challenges, but nation-building resting on these four common pillars can drive our economy and attract investors back with uncompromising efficiency to deliver the right results at the right time.

All four are related, the key being “strengthening stability”.

Before anyone thinks of pulling the rug please consider the plight of more than 30 million people whose simple wish is to reach the shore of peace and happiness as fast as possible.

Malaysia simply should R.I.S.E!

Prof Dr Suresh Govind FASc is an honorary professor at University of Malaya, chairman of the Board of Trustees for Yayasan Perpaduaan Malaysia, director of Sathya Sai Academy for Human Values and Coordinator for Friendship Group for Inter-religious Service. Comments: letters@thesundaily.com