The National Economic Advisory Council (NEAC), the ‘independent think tank’ which was set-up by Prime Minister Najib Razak and tasked to generate new ideas for economic growth to help Mr. Najib win the next election was wound down on 31 May 2011 having completed its mandate.

When Mr. Najib launched the NEAC, there was much hope that finally Malaysia would have an institution that would put the national interest ahead of the narrow vested interests of crony capitalists or sectarian politics. In his speech at NEAC’s inaugural meeting, Najib stated that the NEAC would change Malaysia.

This inaugural meeting of the NEAC represents an important reform milestone and a turning point for Malaysia. The NEAC’s objective — to provide ideas and direction to transform Malaysia into a higher income country — is far reaching. It will not only reshape Malaysia’s economic activities and planning, but also our society.

NEAC, an independent think tank without any statutory powers, could only recommend. Its recommendations were supposed to be operationalised through the 10th Malaysia Plan, the Economic Transformation Programme and the Government Transformation Programme.

The jury is still out on the success of the NEAC and its product, The New Economic Model (Parts 1 and 2). Actual reforms, which have been disappointing, are however the purview of Premier Najib Razak and not the NEAC. We leave a thorough analysis on the NEAC and NEM for another day but one thing for sure, NEAC can be proud of its wonderful website. It has a plethora of reports, studies, speeches, news and analysis on the Malaysian economy. It could be a treasure trove for researchers.

As for Mr. Najib, he would evaluate the NEAC on one count – will/did it help him win the (next) election.