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“The world is Flat” – a complete alien, foreign, unpalatable and unacceptable concept to Umno leaders and MPs
(Parliament, Tuesday) : The Star reported over the weekend that the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi will appear along award-winning journalist Thomas Friedman, the author of The World Is Flat, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, next month.
The Prime Minister will open the session on Rules for a Global Neighbourhood in a Multicultural World at the Davos Forum, the annual gathering of world leaders, bankers, businessmen and economists.
The Star described as “a phenomenal success” the latest book by Friedman, a three-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize, and a columnist with the New York Times - The World Is Flat.
When I read the Star report, I was reminded of the last sitting of the budget meeting of Parliament on December 13, 2006 when I said that to many Umno MPs who spoke on the Iskandar Development Authority Bill, “the world is flat” concept is completely alien, foreign, unpalatable and unacceptable.
At a time when the global playing field is being levelled, flattened by advances in technology and communications, where not only nations, but companies and individuals have to think globally to thrive or at least survive, these Umno politicians are not only demanding that the playing field in Malaysia remain uneven but should become even more steep and discriminatory.
Malaysia should be taking bold steps to start the process to make the playing field in Malaysia more even, efficient and competitive as introducing meritocracy into more areas of national life and the dismantling of restrictive and discriminatory policies and measures meant to be temporary in nature as the challenges of globalization the nation is facing is not the battle between bumiputeras and non-bumiputeras or Malays versus non-Malays but Malaysians versus the rest of the world.
Instead, we hear voices to the contrary demanding the expansion and extension of these restrictive, discriminatory and crippling measures to aggravate what is already a most uneven playing field in the country. In the final analysis, it is the nation as a whole which is the greatest casualty, as we are being relentlessly left behind in the global competitiveness stakes, generation after generation.
What Friedman wrote in “The World is Flat” as to the short and blunt advice he would give to his children about the implications of a flat world should be food for thought for all Umno politicians and Malaysians.
He said that when he was growing up, his parents used to say to him, “Tom, finish your dinner – people in China and India are starving.” The advice he would now give his children is: “Girls, finish your homework – people in China and India are starving for your jobs.”.
Friedman said: “And in a flat world, they can have them, because in a flat world there is no such thing as an American job. There is just a job, and in more cases than ever before it will go to the best, smartest, most productive, or cheapest worker – wherever he or she resides.”
Similarly, in a flat world, there is no such thing as a Malaysian job, or a Malay job, Chinese job, Indian job, Kadazan job or Iban job.
Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic
Planning Commission Chairman