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Election Watch

Timely move, say analysts

Source: Malay Mail
Date: 4 September 2012

ANALYSTS have given their thumbs-up for Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s statement yesterday that the happiness index will be one of the two important yardsticks used to measure the country’s development.

They say the move is timely.

Asli Centre for Public Policy Studies (CPPS) chairman Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam said the happiness index was an idea that he had been championing for years.

“We have been obsessed with growth. Growth can be boosted by public spending in consumption and payment,” he said.

“It is about time we concentrate in the lower 40 per cent of the population. Our economic trickle cherry has been brought to great disrepute.”

Navaratnam said the gap between the rich and the poor had been widening and the growth was being enjoyed by the “big tycoons”.

“I’m hoping that the next national budget will change track and focus more on happiness of the people, even it it risks harming the distribution,” he said.

Navaratnam said it was not too late to change tracks and make these changes visible through the next national budget, which would be tabled by Najib at the end of this month.

Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (Ideas) CEO Wan Saiful Wan Jan called the move “brilliant” and he was glad Najib was embracing a concept that was espoused by Tunku Abdul Rahman.

“The realisation that happiness matters is not something new,” he said, although he admitted that he was “sceptical” about quantitative measurements for happiness.

“Putting a measurement index to could only increase government intervention.

When people are free to do what they want, automatically happiness will come,” he said, equating it to the spirit of Merdeka.

He said that happiness would stem from limiting the government’s role in the daily life of the people.

Clinical psychologist Azlina Ghaaffar said happiness would translate into the society the moment the government start addressing the people’s needs.

“I have had counselling sessions for so many successful people who have this worry at the back of their minds about their commitments and debts. Everything is so expensive nowadays,” she said.

“I don’t think people want to be rich. They just want to have guarantees in place that they would be able to put food on the table for their families and that their children will get enough opportunities,” she added.

She said that a happiness of the country will be defined by its cultural values, but said that even though Malaysia is a multi racial country, Malaysians still share many common Eastern values. 

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