61-Day Countdown to 13GE – Thanks to Najib and Psy, Malaysians must ask why Malaysia failed to live up to our potential to be a leading global nation 56 years after Merdeka

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said Pakatan Rakyat is jealous of Barisan Nasional for scoring with Korean “Gangnam Style” star Psy because it derailed DAP Secretary-General Lim Guan Eng’s plans to invite Psy to a function under the Pakatan Rakyat name.

Whether Najib is gullible to believe such a canard when DAP and Pakatan Rakyat just do not have the millions of ringgit to throw around as Umno/BN is doing in the run-up to the 13th General Elections and which would finally be paid by the taxpayers, the Prime Minister should not think that Malaysians as a whole are so gullible as to believe his “tall tale”.

This is reminiscent of his “tall tale” at the 66th UMNO anniversary at Bukit Jalil National Stadium on May 11, 2012, when he made the ludicrous allegation that Bersih 3.0 organisers “want to fight…want to kick at the cops…or their story won’t come out in CNN, Al-Jazeera, BBC”, after defaming Bersih 3.0 “sit-in” at Dataran Merdeka held two weeks before the UMNO anniversary as a “coup attempt by the Opposition to topple the government” with “salt and mineral water bottles”!

It was at the 66th UMNO anniversary that Najib claimed that he was so uplifted by the support and “jubilant mood” shown at the celebration that he was ready to seek an audience with the Yang di Pertuan Agong to dissolve Parliament the next day.

But nine months later, and with less than a month to go before the fifth anniversary of the watershed of Malaysian electoral politics – the 308 political tsunami of March 8, 2008 general elections – Najib is still dithering on when to hold the 13GE.

Nobody should be “jealous” about Najib’s alleged “coup” with Psy and Gangnam Style. In fact, the nation should be very thankful to Najib and Psy, as Malaysians are now asking why Malaysia failed to live up to our potential to be a leading global nation in all fields of human endeavour 56 years after Merdeka.

Where would Malaysia be today if we had developed in tandem with South Korea, without overtaking or being overtaken by South Korea in the past half-century since Merdeka in 1957, when South Korea was so poor and backward as it had only half our per capita income?

In the half century from 1960 to 2012, South Korea’s GDP per capita increased 148.5-fold from US$155 to US$23,021. What would be Malaysia’s GDP per capita in 2012 if it had increased by 148.5-fold from US$299 in 1960 instead of the 35-fold it actually registered?

With an increase of 148.5-fold, Malaysia’s GDP per capita in 2012 would stand at US$44,401!

According to International Monetary Fund data, Malaysia with GDP per capita of US$44,401 in 2012 would be the 18th richest country - in the top world league in the company of the following countries, as shown below:

International Monetary Fund (IMF) GDP (nominal) per capita
Year – 2012

Nation GDP per capita
1 Luxembourg 105,720
2 Qatar 100,378
3 Norway 99,316
4 Switzerland 77,840
5 Australia 67,983
6 UAE 65,377
7 Denmark 55,448
8 Sweden 54,879
9 Canada 50,826
10 Singapore 49,936
11 United States 49,802
12 Japan 46,896
13 Austria 46,330
14 Kuwait 46,142
15 Netherlands 45,942
16 Finland 45,545
17 Ireland 44,781


With GDP per capita of US$44,401 in 2012, Malaysia is not only well ahead of South Korea with US$23,021, but even ahead of Belgium, Germany, Iceland, France, Brunei, United Kingdom, New Zealand and Hong Kong whose 2012 GDP per capita is as follows:

Nation GDP per capita
Belgium 43,175
Germany 41,168
Iceland 41,151
France 40,690
Brunei 38,801
UK 38,591
New Zealand 37,401
Hong Kong 35,961


How did South Korea succeed where we failed – with South Korea transforming itself in half a century from a country which was poorer and more backward than Malaysia, with only half our per capita income to become two-to-three times richer than Malaysia - with stunning advancements reflected in every field of human endeavour, whether development of human resources, technology or even in the field of culture, as illustrated by the phenomenon of Psy and Gangnam Style?

Today, I received a long email from an exasperated Malaysian pouring out his frustrations at Malaysia’s lost opportunities in the “lost decades”. He wrote:

“Fast forward to the 2000s, a mere one generation or so and the difference is starling. Korea have well known multinational companies such as Hyundai Motor, Samsung Electronics, LG.

“Hyundai Motor started about 2-3 years earlier than Proton, and is now a world force in automobile with competitive models. Kia started much later than Proton. What has become of Proton?

“Korea economic model is conglomerate driven, supported by the government. Taiwan economical model is small and medium size industry, driven more by entrepreneurs on their own with limited support from the government.

“Now Taiwan is a leader in the electronic industry with well known names such as Acer, HTC, Taiwan Semiconductor, ViewSonic, and the world largest electronic contract manufacturer Foxconn and so forth.”

We thank Najib and Psy for the “Gangnam Style” on the second day of Chinese New Year Open House in Penang on Feb. 11.

Let all Malaysians enjoy, have fun and be joyous with Psy and Gangnam Style – but thanks to Najib and Psy, Malaysians as a national and patriotic duty, must come to grips with the question: Why has Malaysia fallen so far behind, not only South Korea but the rest of the world, when we started with our nationhood in 1957 and the formation of Malaysia in 1963 with such great promises?

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Ipoh Timur