HAPPY NA­TION

New Straits Times - - Opinion -

To start with, we can ap­point a min­is­ter of na­tional unity and hap­pi­ness. The Fi­nance Min­istry, Depart­ment of Na­tional Unity or the Eco­nomic Plan­ning Unit (EPU) could es­tab­lish a hap­pi­ness mon­i­tor­ing cen­tre to over­see the im­ple­men­ta­tion of pro-hap­pi­ness poli­cies and mea­sures.

Min­istries that pro­mote mea­sures which cause pub­lic un­hap­pi­ness could be pe­nalised by hav­ing their bud­get al­lo­ca­tions cut. After all, why do we want to use tax­pay­ers’ money to per­pet­u­ate un­hap­pi­ness?

Hap­pi­ness is at­trib­uted to sev­eral fac­tors, ac­cord­ing to Pro­fes­sor Sachs: in­come per capita, health, life ex­pectancy, free­doms, gen­eros­ity, so­cial sup­port and ab­sence of cor­rup­tion.

From the above, we can un­der­stand why we scored poorly in the Hap­pi­ness In­dex.

For in­stance, our in­comes are low and with in­fla­tion ris­ing and wages be­ing slow to rise, hap­pi­ness has de­clined.

The ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem must be re­vamped to churn out highly skilled grad­u­ates so that we can have ex­cel­lent scores in ed­u­ca­tion qual­ity in­dices like Pro­gramme for In­ter­na­tional Stu­dent Assess­ment and QS rankings.

Our life ex­pectancy has im­proved con­sid­er­ably but our fun­da­men­tal free­doms need to be stud­ied by the gov­ern­ment and its agen­cies.

Gen­eros­ity would have been rea­son­ably high with pro­tec­tive poli­cies, 1Malaysia Peo­ple’s Aid and ris­ing safety nets.

Cor­rup­tion, how­ever, could have pulled down our score on the Hap­pi­ness In­dex. Un­less we take dras­tic ac­tion to ad­dress cor­rup­tion, ac­cord­ing to the Trans­parency In­ter­na­tional Cor­rup­tion Per­cep­tion In­dex, we will be­come more un­happy as a na­tion and peo­ple.

We need to take the UN-spon­sored Hap­pi­ness In­dex se­ri­ously. We could com­pare and re­late our Malaysian Well­Be­ing In­dex to the UN Hap­pi­ness In­dex.

The Jef­frey Sachs Cen­tre could work closely with the EPU and gov­ern­ment agen­cies to im­prove the hap­pi­ness rank­ing. There should be more dis­cus­sions among gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials, non-gov­ern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tions and the cen­tre to­wards this aim.

Fi­nally, the em­pha­sis on eco­nomic growth should be shifted to mak­ing Malaysians hap­pier, as higher in­comes alone will not bring hap­pi­ness. Hap­pi­ness is all en­com­pass­ing, as man shall not live by bread alone.

So, let’s pur­sue more hap­pi­ness for our peo­ple.

TAN SRI RA­MON NAVARATNAM Chair­man, Asli Cen­tre for Pub­lic Pol­icy Stud­ies

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