(The Old Man’s war path with the current Prime Minister, Najib may wins the support from a good number of Malaysians who simply tired with the “wayang kulit” in the issue of 1MDB but then again, didn’t the Old Man had his hands in allowing the seeds of mismanagement, wastage and misdirection of priorities to take hold when he was the PM for 22 years? Food for thought. Image source: Jebat Must Die)
I have mentioned this in several of my blog posts that it is going impossible for us to achieve the developed nation status by year 2020 but when it comes from the horse’s mouth, it does sound pretty obvious, doesn’t it?
He added that even if the country earned high-income status, it would not be developed if cost of living remained high as Malaysians would have low purchasing power.
He said the government should instead focus on improving education, increasing productivity and salaries, while keeping costs low.
“The leader plays a very big role too. If the leader doesn’t understand and cannot resolve the problems the country faces, then it is doubtful progress can be made. A leader is a leader because he has more ideas than his followers,” said Dr Mahathir.
He said a good leader would strive to maintain peace and stability, and would not hesitate to restrict the freedom of the people to achieve this.
Before we go further, let’s run through some definitions – what really constitutes a developed nation?
Off the internet, it means this:-
While there is no one, set definition of a developed economy it typically refers to a country with a relatively high level of economic growth and security. Some of the most common criteria for evaluating a country’s degree of development are per capita income or gross domestic product (GDP), level of industrialization, general standard of living and the amount of widespread infrastructure. Increasingly other non-economic factors are included in evaluating an economy or country’s degree of development, such as the Human Development Index (HDI) which reflects relative degrees of education, literacy and health.
So, if one goes by the definition by the book, what Najib is doing is not far off from the “known criteria” of a developed country. But is this what was defined when the Old Man came up with his Vision 2020 back in 1991? Does achieving a developed nation is just a matter of terminology and status?
When it was initialized, where credit where it is due – it was a brilliant vision. The Old Man’s Vision 2020 encompasses 9 strategic challenges that Malaysia must overcome to achieve a developed nation status. The question is after almost 25 years in the making, how far we have come in overcoming those challenges with just another 5 more years to go?
1. The challenges of establishing a united Malaysian nation with a sense of common and shared destiny. This must be a nation at peace with itself, territorially and ethnically integrated, living in harmony and full and fair partnership, made up of one ‘Bangsa Malaysia‘ with political loyalty and dedication to the nation.
Have we matured enough to call ourselves Bangsa Malaysia? 1Malaysia slogan by Najib when he became the PM was highly tempting. But the fact is we are still segregated by race, culture, religion and even political affiliation. We still have Malaysians calling fellow Malaysians as “pendatang” (including the Old Man himself at one point) and whether you agree to it or not, I guess it all depends on your audience. Forget what the politicians may say or do, let’s go to the lower strung of society and see if this transformation into a Bangsa Malaysia.
How many of us can speak in the same language, namely the national language and speak it right and without any mistakes or slang? How many of us think ourselves as Bangsa Malaysia and not as a Malay, Chinese, Indian or others? And if race is not an issue, then what about difference in religion? Mentally we have not come to a point that we are thinking like a Bangsa Malaysia. We can’t speak well in the national language, what more going a level up at the nation level.
This will be a challenge that can be overcome by a concerted change in race based policies, fair treatment and abolishment of race based political parties.
2. The challenge of creating a psychologically liberated, secure, and developed Malaysian Society with faith and confidence in itself, justifiably proud of what it is, of what it has accomplished, robust enough to face all manner of adversity. This Malaysian Society must be distinguished by the pursuit of excellence, fully aware of all its potentials, psychologically subservient to none, and respected by the peoples of other nations.
Frankly speaking, we have made great strides in this area. We decided to bold enough to reduce the ruling Government’s majority in the Parliament and were brave enough to let 3 states to be run by the oppositions (each for PAS, PKR and DAP) and they have proved that it is not the end of the world once they have taken over the state administration. Whilst initially there was plenty of silly mistakes and bad decisions, the end result has been a state government that has been performing on par (if not better) with the rest of the states run by the ruling coalition.
And we have credit this change mainly to the power of the internet – especially blogs, facebook and tweets. And once where there was only the mainstream media for the people to get the information, now the information is at their finger tips and it is uncensored and allows for one to see views from both side of the spectrum.
Of course the opposition uniting within the common framework (despite the on-going feud between PAS & DAP) and the Government shooting themselves in the leg helped to accelerate the change.
3. The challenge we have always faced is that of fostering and developing a mature democratic society, practising a form of mature consensual, community-oriented Malaysian democracy that can be a model for many developing countries.
A model for many developing countries? We are still far away from the notion of a matured democratic society which became more apparent after the opposition won in a larger number and held on 4 states after the general election. Then the Perak fiasco happened and all hell broke loose. What happened thereafter was an utter shame to the whole democratic process.
Democratic society also means upholding the notion of human rights and freedom of speech. Whilst one would agree that there is no such thing as an absolute freedom of speech, a differentiating opinion on the way the Government runs the country should not treated in the same manner as sedition for say, wanting to remove a cross from a church which if it is not controlled could have gotten much worse.
4. The fourth is the challenge of establishing a fully moral and ethical society, whose citizens are strong in religious and spiritual values and imbued with the highest of ethical standards.
We may become more religious in recent years but has it been imbued with the highest ethical standards? We see a cross on a building and we become a rude mob who insist that the cross on the building will influence others and cause them to change religion. We have become extremists and now insist that the legal system now need to be split into 2 with 2 different set of rules imposed on the people who don’t share the same beliefs. Now we even having terrorists cells in the country wanting to impose Islamic rules by force.
5. The challenge that we have always faced is the challenge of establishing a matured, liberal and tolerant society in which Malaysians of all colours and creeds are free to practise and profess their customs, cultures and religious beliefs and yet feeling that they belong to one nation.
As I have mentioned before, religion should be something personal and not something to be imposed onto others by force. After all, religion and way of life under it can be highly subjective and this can be opened for abuse by those who have ulterior motive, less intelligent on the actual teaching of the religion and think that their views overrides anyone’s else views. One such statement is this where one can say that “non-Muslims that the Federal Constitution allows Muslims to convert anybody, whereas non-Muslims may only spread their teachings among themselves and not to Muslims”. This is the kind of thinking that leads to sleepless nights to people like Indira Gandhi. Such instances remains unresolved.
6. The challenge of establishing a scientific and progressive society, a society that is innovative and forward-looking, one that is not only a consumer of technology but also a contributor to the scientific and technological civilisation of the future.
The key word here has been “scientific” but we have been flip-flopping on what medium we suppose to teach Science and Mathematics for past few years and it is not helping the country one bit to be pushing the students to be struggling to learn the subjects in Bahasa when the lingual-franca of Science and Mathematics has always been English. And it is sad that after all the effort, time and money spent of grooming local scientists, we are getting surprises like this.
Where is the next generation of scientists, researchers, astronomers and space travelers? Despite this, there is still some of sense of hope and people who care on this. We have the right ingredients but we lack the required spark and interest.
One have to remember that no country in the world that had focused more on religion and gave overwhelming precedent to it compared to science and technology have ever reached the status of a developed nation. Correct me if I am wrong here.
7. The challenge is the challenge of establishing a fully caring society and a caring culture, a social system in which society will come before self, in which the welfare of the people will revolve not around the state or the individual but around a strong and resilient family system.
Malaysians generally as far as I can remember have been a very caring, compassionate and very kind people. We are very forgiving as well. Otherwise the dead woods, the dumb of the dumb and the corrupt & wasteful characters in the Government would have long taken out from the system. They instead get recycled into the same or similar positions where the nonsense remains untouched.
So what is needed here is NOT a welfare state or a state that bends too much in making subsidies and welfare based on race but instead it should be on level of poverty & income. After all, there is poverty in all level of a Malaysian society irregardless of race, culture and religion.
8. The challenge of ensuring an economically just society. This is a society in which there is a fair and equitable distribution of the wealth of the nation, in which there is full partnership in economic progress. Such a society cannot be in place so long as there is the identification of race with economic function, and the identification of economic backwardness with race.
Such a society cannot be in place so long as there is the identification of race with economic function, and the identification of economic backwardness with race. That means dismantling the race based economic policies as such the New Economic Policy which officially ended in 1990 but had lived on under different names.
9. The challenge is the challenge of establishing a prosperous society, with an economy that is fully competitive, dynamic, robust and resilient.
Old Man may be saying a lot of things here but to cut to the chase, we will not achieve a developed country mainly because we have not created an environment that promotes open thinking, right to question what is not right and have taken several giant steps backwards of Science and Mathematics. And emphasizing on religion as the back bone of the nation direction does not help is steering the nation towards Vision 2020 either. We even had that silly cross protest as recent as this year. And there are other serious implications from the over-subscribing of Islamisation in this country.
If we indeed want to measure ourselves and the nation from a religion point of view (in that how religious we are), then we need to define out loud what it means to be “developed”.
But I agree that economy alone does not constitutes a country as being a developed country. There must also be substantial personal development on all grounds. There should be a greater enforcement of the law of the land without any biasness or favor. It should also be about promoting fairness and togetherness where Malaysians are treated in equal terms and strive towards a single goal.
We are only fooling ourselves if we think that we will be a developed nation in the next 5 years. But that does not mean we can never be a developed nation. After all, we have all the right ingredients – a good mix of people from various backgrounds (race, religion and culture), natural resources, sufficient land mass and situated in the right place where commerce moves from west to east and almost little natural disasters other than probably flooding (and now earthquakes) and yet, we are missing the key drive to manage it in the right way.
Part of the blame should fall on the Government as they makes and enforce the policies and manage the public spending that have a big impact on the nation. But part of the blame should fall on us too – too long we have been under the umbrella of “first class infrastructure, 3rd class mentality”. No longer should be the case. We need to be the driving force for change and making sure that we think, do and act like citizens of a developed nation. We have to think beyond the limited boundaries of race, religion and culture.