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Vision 2020 gone off-track


Speech (2) on the Ninth Malaysia Plan
by Lim Kit Siang  

, Monday) :In this connection, I am surprised that the Prime Minister is not prepared to be fully frank and forthcoming in his speech, continuing to declare that Malaysia is �on track� to achieve Vision 2020  developed nation status, when he should know better than anyone that Malaysia is �off track� as far as fully developed nation status in 2020 is concerned, unless we want to emulate the Selangor example of claiming the first state to be fully developed, although it ranks only fourth after Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Malacca in the Development Composite Index by State 2006, (Table 17-1), with stinking water coming out of the taps  in the Klang Valley.

The 30-year Vision 2020 of Malaysia becoming a fully developed state, first enunciated by former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahahtir Mohamad in his speech �The Way Forward� at the inaugural meeting of the Malaysian Business Council on 28th February 1991  is predicated on the premise of an average growth of about 7 per cent annually of the economy  during the three decades � doubling the real gross domestic product (GDP) every ten years between 1990 to 2020, with the GDP eight times larger by the year 2020 than it was in 1990.


According to the Third Outline Perspective Plan (OPP3) in 2001, Malaysia was  on track to achieve developed nation status by 2020 despite two years of setback suffered by the economy amid the regional financial crisis in 1997.  Malaysia�s GDP growth was slated to  average 7.5 per cent a year in the second decade of Vision 2020, up from 7 per cent under OPP2 (1991 to 2000).


Abdullah has reported that the country generated an average GDP growth of 6.2 per cent per annum  in the last fifteen years from 1991 to 2005 and the  target for average real GDP growth in the five years under the 9MP is 6 per cent per annum.


This means that to achieve Vision 2020 objective of the GDP doubling every decade and to be eight times larger in 2020 than in 1991, Malaysia faces the Herculean task of having to achieve  phenomenal economic growth  averaging  11.8 per cent per annum in the third decade of Vision 2020 from 2011-2020 � which is clearly impossible.


Vision 2020 has not only gone  off-track in terms of its economic growth objectives, but also with regard to its nine strategic challenges and objectives.


I do not propose to enumerate the �nine central strategic challenges� which Tun Mahathir had said must be overcome if Malaysia is to be a fully developed nation � a united nation, with a confident Malaysian society, infused by strong moral and and ethical values, living in a society that is democratic, liberal and tolerant, caring, economically just and equitable, progressive and prosperous, and in full possession of an economy that is competitive, dynamic, robust and resilient. 


A case can be made however that in every single one of the nine strategic challenges, there had been  both regression and  progress, leaving the conclusion in each case as to whether we have moved forward or backward a highly contentious issue.


This could be amply illustrated by the following incidents:

Firstly, the recent opinion survey by Merdeka Centre for Opinion Research on ethnic relations which found:

        Although 90 per cent of the respondents said they were proud to be
Malaysian, only 45 per cent considered themselves Malaysian first.

        Forty-two per cent viewed themselves as members of their ethnic group first while 12 per cent considered themselves equally Malaysian and a member of their ethnic group.

        Negative racial stereotypes still prevail. Fifty-eight per cent of Malays,
63 per cent of Chinese and 43 per cent of Indians polled agreed that 'in
general, most Malays are lazy'.

        Seventy-one per cent of Malays, 60 per cent of Chinese and 47 per cent of Indians agreed that 'in general, most Chinese are greedy'. Sixty-four per
cent of Malays, 58 per cent of Chinese and 20 per cent of Indians agreed
that 'in general, most Indians cannot be trusted'.

Secondly, the Prime Minister�s speech  presenting the Ninth Malaysia Plan that �Ethnic polarisation is  still prevalent in schools, work places and in society� confirming the statement by Professor Khoo Kay Kim, �described as one of the architects of the Rukun Negara�, that �race relations between Malaysians are at their most fragile in nearly 40 years�. The Prime Minister omitted ethnic polarization in one important sector � the public service.

Thirdly, the diminishing sensitivity,  respect and space  for upholding the religious, ethnic  and cultural rights and practices for non-Muslim Malaysians, as illustrated by the unresolved M.  Moorthy and Article 121(1A) controversies, the Inspector-General of Police�s directive imposing tudung as compulsory ceremonial wear for non-Muslim policewomen which was unfortunately supported by the Prime Minister, and most recently, the UMNO Youth Kelana Jaya ultimatum to the MCA MP for Kelana Jaya, Loh Seng Kok, for raising in Parliament �imbalanced� history textbooks which failed to give proper recognition and place to the national contributions of all races in nation-building, new prayer recital guidelines and the problems faced by non-Muslims with regard to places of worship.

Let me state my full support to the right of Loh Seng Kok to stand up in Parliament to express the legitimate concerns and grievances of Malaysians as well as my full support for the validity and legitimacy of the various issues which he had raised.  I call on all MPs, particularly from Barisan Nasional and MP to deplore the ultimatum and threat from UMNO Youth Kelana Jaya, not only for trying to muzzle an MP for speaking up in Parliament but who  seemed intent on trying to do a repeat of the strong-armed politics over the Suqiu Electoral Appeals after the 1999 general election, including the UMNO Youth threat to burn down the Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall.

When I read the Ninth Malaysia Plan, I was taken aback that such diminishing sensitivity, respect and space for Malaysia as a multi-religious nation had taken a quantum for the worse, with Islam Hadhari promoted as �a comprehensive and universal development framework for the nation. (P 15)


I have no objections to Islam Hadhari or its ten principles propounded by the Prime Minister based on �faith in and piety towards Allah�, a just and trustworthy government, free and liberated people, a rigorous pursuit and mastery of knowledge, balanced and comprehensive economic development, a good quality of life for the people, protection of the rights of minority groups and women, cultural and moral integrity, safeguarding of the environment, and strong defence capabilities.


But when Islam Hadhari is elevated to a state directive principle  for all Malaysians regardless of religion and not just confined to Muslims, a very importance principle of democratic governance is involved.


Firstly, it goes against the first principle of Rukunegara on �Belief in  God�, respecting and upholding the multi-religious character and essence of Malaysia and the social contract of the 1957 Merdeka Constitution that although Islam if the official religion, Malaysia is not an Islamic State.


Secondly, if Islam Hadhari is to affect the lives of non-Muslim Malaysians, can they participate  in the formulation, development or amendment of its 10 principles?


Thirdly, has the elevation of Islam Hadhari as a new state directive principle and the �comprehensive and universal development framework for the nation� been fully discussed, debated and approved by the Cabinet, with the full support of the non-Muslim Cabinet Ministers?


Box  1 gives this explanation about Islam Hadhari:


�Islam Hadhari is not a new religion.  It is not a new teaching nor is it a new mazhab (denomination). Islam Hadhari is an effort to bring the people back to basics and back to the fundamentals, as prescribed in the Quran and the Hadith that form the foundation of Islamic civilization.�


At the conclusion of his speech last Friday, the Prime Minister expressed the hope in building �a golden civilization that earns the respect of the world�.

Are Malaysians building an Islamic civilization or a Malaysian civilization comprising the best from the various  cultures, religions and civilizations meeting in confluence in Malaysia?


All through the eight five-year plan documents in the past four decades from 1966 to 2005, scrupulous regard had observed with regard to the multi-religious characger of Malaysia.


Despite the unilateral, arbitrary and unconstitutional  �929 Declaration� by the former Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir on Sept. 29, 2001 that Malaysia is an Islamic State, the fact remains that Malaysia is not an Islamic State but  a secular state with Islam as the official religion, as clearly stated by the 1957 �social contract� and Merdeka Constitution and reaffirmed by the first three Prime Ministers of Malaysia, Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Razak and Tun Hussein Onn.


National development policies and documents should abide by both the word and spirit of the 1957 social contract and Merdeka Constitution that Malaysia is not an Islamic State but an secular state with Islam as the official religion, as exemplified by previous development documents like the Seventh Malaysia Plan, 1996-2000:


Para 1.04: It is important to maintain harmony between the material and spiritual aspects of development. Material development alone at the expense of spiritual needs on the one hand, or religious extremism on the other will be detrimental to the development of Malaysian society. The universal values found in Islam together with similar values in other faiths such as trustworthiness, moderation, responsibility, sincerity, diligence, dedication and discipline, are keys towards enhancing peace and prosperity in the country. Readiness to utilize advancements in knowledge, particularly scientific knowledge, which is another aspect emphasized by Islam, is essential for future rapid development of the country.


*  Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman

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