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Malaysia�s 50th Anniversary has highlighted major areas of retrogression which must be arrested and reversed if Malaysia is not to continue to lose out in the global stakes for competition, progress and development

Speech at swearing-in ceremony for the DAP Bukit Mertajam parliamentary liaison committee
by Lim Kit Siang  

(Bukit Mertajam, Sunday): Should Malaysians be proud of what the country has achieved after 50 years of independence? 

In Parliament, a Barisan Nasional Member of Parliament said Malaysia has great cause to be satisfied with the nation�s progress and achievements in the past 50 years as the country is ten times more advanced than Ghana, which also became independent in the same year as Malaysia in 1957.


This BN MP is right if we are prepared to compare with the worst � but Malaysians must not be content with such low benchmarks and must be prepared to compare with the best rather than the worst, especially as the people are being bombarded every day with the slogan of �Cemerlang, Gemilang, Terbilang�.


We should be concerned as to why the country had failed to hold our prominent position in the region and the world when the nation was second only to Japan as the most developed country in Asia 50 years ago in 1957.


We should ask why we have lost out to South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan and Hong Kong with an ever-increasing gap when we were ahead of them 50 years ago instead of the false pride of being well ahead of Ghana.


Malaysia�s 50th Anniversary has highlighted major areas of retrogression which must be arrested and reversed if Malaysia is not to continue to lose out in the global stakes for competition, progress and development.


If those in power and authority in Malaysia continue in their �denial complex�, refusing to come to grips with reality and address the reasons for our decline and retrogression, more and more countries in future will be overtaking us in the international competitiveness and development stakes like Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and even some African countries although we will continue to be poles ahead of the failed African states like Robert Mugabe�s Zimbabwe.


Last Thursday, there was an article in the �Capital Talk� business section of the Star on Bapa Malaysia Tunku Abdul Rahman entitled �True visionary�, which made some interesting comparisons between Malaysia today from that of 50 years.

Let me quote some extracts from this article:


In the 1960s, Malaysians were not complacent. They lived in a performance-based system where meritocracy was recognised and encouraged. University Malaya very quickly became a highly respected university in the entire Commonwealth. Religion was not politicised. Malaysian society was much more liberal then than what it is today�


The Anti-Corruption Agency began formal operations on Oct 1, 1967. Led by Tunku, Tan Siew Sin and Sambanthan, the Government in the 60s was not perceived as being plagued by rampant corruption, unlike nowadays.


By any standards, the above achievements were world-class and made Malaysians proud�


After Tunku was forced to retire, Malaysia was never the same again. The standard of English declined and is still declining. The education system became politicised and the quality suffered severely. Malaysian sports became politicised too.


Under the previous administration, business, politics and corruption became inseparable under the guise of Malaysia Inc. The judiciary became a source of embarrassment instead of pride. Religious fundamentalism became intertwined with politics and this destroyed the entire landscape of an open Malaysian society.


Different races go to different schools and Malaysians of all races face more barriers at interacting compared with during Tunku�s time. Meritocracy and a performance-based system were replaced by complacency and a get-rich quick mentality that cut across all communities. Now, we cannot find the equivalent of the Rubber Research Institute�


The tragedy for Malaysia was the failure of the ruling political party to see the vision and the wisdom of Tunku�s multi-faceted policies. Had they continued with his policies, Malaysia would have succeeded far beyond what it has achieved so far.


Let i-Capital rank visionary from 1 to 10 with 10 being the highest score. Tunku's policy of retaining English ranks as 10. The policy of making the rule of law the way in governing Malaysia and maintaining the independence of the judiciary also ranks as 10. The rule by person from 1982 onwards would be ranked 1.


Tunku's policy of allowing the economy to be influenced by market forces certainly ranks as 10. The subsequent policy of managing the economy on a central planning model gets a 1. Tunku�s policy of promoting meritocracy and a performance-based system earns a 10 � if only we can rank it as 11. His policy of a balanced economic development would also rank as 10.�


The multiple scandals which recently burst on the Malaysian scene on the occasion of the 50th anniversary whether the pervasive mismanagement of public funds exposed by he 2006 Auditor-General�s Report; corruption in the police and public service; the RM4.6 billion Port Klang Free Zone bailout scandal; the galloping crime wave illustrated by the heinous rape-murder of eight-year-old girl Nurin Jazlin Jazimin and the latest crisis of confidence in the judiciary after the revelation of the Lingam Tape are all proof as to how far we have fallen from the high standards the country has set for itself when we achieved Merdeka 50 years ago.


After 50 years, the country has lost its bearings. We are in danger of losing the national soul. Malaysia must get back to the basics.


All Malaysians have a national and patriotic duty to take a stand to check the rot setting in all the major institutions of the state so that Malaysia can take its rightful place among the front rank of developed nations instead of just sloganeering about �Cemerlang, Gemilang, Terbilang� while it slides further down the international competitiveness stakes.



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

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