What can you do with RM800 million? In this day and age, not too much:
1. Build a new Istana Negara, with RM400 million cost overruns due to flyover etc (‘direct negotiation’ eh?);
2. Build a new Parliament in Putrajaya, instead of fixing it up which would cost indefinitely cheaper (although now they’re thinking of spending RM50 million to haphazardly slot in the Legislative into the Putrajaya International Convention Centre, PICC);
3. Spend all the money left in Felda (the Federal Land Development Authority) – In 2004, Felda’s total cash pile stood at RM4 billion, but by 2010 it is only left with about RM200 million.
Instead, given the sour and dour state of the economy, as well as general outlook of young Malaysians (especially), with RM800 million, you could:
A) Build at least two new schools, although I’d much rather that money be put into liberalizing the teaching profession (by, for instance, forcing Universiti Perguruan Sultan Idris or UPSI to relinquish its stranglehold on teacher-training) as well as funding a thinktank and building public support to dismantle and rebuild the primary education syllabus;
B) Provide seed grants of up to RM100,000 for young Malaysians (which means at least 8,000 recipients) to pursue a socially relevant, philosophically mature, and conceptually exciting project that will give hope and build faith among young Malaysians so that they will continue to believe that Malaysia is worth fighting for, and no need to leave;
C) Create a “Pulang, Marilah Pulang” fund, that promises young Malaysians currently living/working abroad and under the age of 35 a maximum of RM100,000 start-up stipend (maybe over a period of 20 months, equivalent to RM5,000/mth) so that they will come back to their tanah air and replant their roots here.
If you could advise the Najib administration on how to spend RM800 million, what would you tell him?