What will the exchange rate between the Malaysian Ringgit and the Singapore Dollar in 50 years’ time in 2070?

I was coming up from Pekan Nenas and on the way I was thinking about this book-launch when a thought struck me.

Fifty years ago, one Malaysian ringgit was equivalent to one Singapore dollar. Now, it is S$1 to RM3. What will it be like in 2050 or 2070? Will be it 1:4, 1:5 or even 1:6? Why no one is thinking it could be the other way round, to be 1:3, 1:2 or even 1:1?

That in essence is the substance of the Malaysian Dream - how we can be a united world-class great nation or whether our fate is to just to plunge on to become a failed state!

Do we lack resources, talent, brain-power or whatever and destined to lose out to Singapore?

Recently, 22-year-old Lee Zii Jia from Alor Setar won the All-England Badminton Singles title, becoming the first Malaysian since Lee Chong Wei in 2017 to win the title.

We have another Malaysian, Red Hong Yi, who shot to international fame for the memorable Time Magazine April 26 cover image, burning 50,000 match-sticks in her final design of a 2.3m x 3m world map to highlight how climate change can affect and destroy the world.

A Google check will show how Malaysians from all races and religions have made Malaysian proud on the world stage, individuals like:

  • Emir Haady Imran Zulharnain, who at 16 year-old, became the youngest person ever to enrol at the Royal College of Surgeons (RCSI) in Dublin Ireland.
  • Nurul Ezzaty Hasbullah, 23, who was awarded the oldest international scholarship programme in the world , the Rhodes Scholarship to continue her studies at the University of Oxford. She is only the fifth Malaysian to be awarded with the scholarship.
  • Junior doctor Farah Roslan who invented the UK’s first disposable sterile hijabs.
  • Scientist Prof Dr. Serena Nik-Zainal who was honoured with an award originally known as the ‘Nobel Prize for Cancer Research’.
  • Six secondary school students - Amelia Jade Mae-Xian Lim (Wesley Methodist School), Chin Jia Yao (Chong Hwa Independent High School), Tay Yi Cong (Chong Hwa Independent High School), Haris Dani Erwin Dani (PERMATApintar National Gifted Centre), Imran Adham Azmin (PERMATApintar National Gifted Centre), and Lai Bo Wei (SMJK Chung Ling) – who set a new record at the 16th International Junior Science Olympiad (IJSO) in 2019 in Doha.

But on the international stage, Malaysia as a nation had not fared as well.

Since 1970, the GDP of Malaysia has increased 90 times but Indonesia has increased by 117 times, Vietnam 122 times, China 163 times, Singapore 175 times and South Korea 178 times.

After the past 50 years, both Singapore and Vietnam have overtaken Malaysia in having larger GDPs.

In 50 years’ time, will we be overtaking other countries and will more countries be overtaking us?

I want to take this opportunity to challenge the thesis that old people must leave the public scene and allow the youths to take over.

The DAP had always been a youthful party – we started as a party of the young and continued as a party which always prioritised the interests and the future of the young – as we struggle to leave a better legacy in terms of a better life for our children and children’s children.

In the 1969 general elections, three of the DAP MPs were below 30 years of age.

Fong Po Kuan and Teresa Kok, were the first DAP woman MPs, elected in 1999 GE but Po Kuan was only 26 years old.

Yeo Bee Yin, our MP for Bakri, became a Cabinet Minister when she was 35 in 2018.

Among the current batch of elected representatives, we have Jamaliah Jamaluddin, who became Selangor Assemblywoman for Bandar Utama when she was 28; Michelle Ng, who became Selangor State Assemblywoman for Subang, when she was 28; Lim Yi Wei, Selangor State Assemblywoman for Kampong Tunku when she was 29; and Young Syefura Othman, who first became Pahang State Assemblywoman for Ketari when she was 29.

Perak State Charman Nga Kor Ming, a five-term elected representative, was first elected Perak State Assembyman when he was 27; Secretary-General Lim Guan Eng first became an MP when he was 26; DAP Charman and eight-term MP, Tan Kok Wai first entered Parliament when he was 29.

We also have Hannah Yeoh who first became an elected Selangor Assemblyman woman at 29 and went on to become Selangor State Assembly Speaker when she was 34; former deputy Education Minister who first became Member of Parliament when 27; DAP National Organising Secretary Anthony Loke who first became Negri Sembilan State Assemblyman when he was 27; and Senator Liew Chin Tong, DAP Director of Political Bureau, who was first elected as MP for Bukit Bendera who he was 31;

I myself became DAP Secretary-General when I was 28 in 1969, although I was in detention in the Muar Detention Centre during my first Internal Security Act incarceration

We have a long list of elected DAPs and State Assemblymen who were entrusted with this heavy responsibility when they were still young, including Wong Shu Qui first elected Johore Assemblywoman when she was 30; Vivian Wong elected as Sandakan MP when she was 30; Liow Cai Tung first elected as Johore State Assemblywoman at 27; Teh Swee Leong elected as Kedah State Assemblyman when he was 29; Kerk Chee Yee first elected Malacca State Assemblyman and appointed State Executive Councillor when he was 26; Teoh Kok Seong first elected as Negri Sembilan Assemblyman when he was 29; Arul Kumar who was first elected Negri Sembilan State Assemblyman when he was 28; Gooi Zi Sen first became Penang State Assemblyman when 31; Howard Lee first became Perak State Assemblyman when he was 30; Jenny Choy first elected as Perak State Assemblywoman when she was 30; Ong Boon Piow first elected as Perak State Assemblyman when he was 29; Phoong Jin Ze first became Sabah State Assemblyman when 29 and became a Sabah Minsiter at 30; Alice Lau first elected as Sarawak MP when she was 31; Justin Wong first elected as Sabah State Assemblyman for when he 28; Lau Weng San first elected as Selangor State Assemblyman when he was 30 and many others.

The old must never be an obstacle to the development of the young as the old must always ensure there is renewal and regeneration so that the political struggle for justice, freedom, meritocracy, excellence and integrity can take into full account the aspirations of the young population with some 44% of the Malaysian population below 24 years.

But as a fervent believer of the “power of one”, I would be utterly inconsistent to ignore the potential power and influence of over two million Malaysians who are above 65 years to bring about positive change and urgent reforms to the institutions of the nation so that Malaysian can become a world-class great country.

I therefore call on the two million Malaysians who are above 65 years not to abdicate their responsibility and to propel the Malaysian Dream to a new and higher stage of development, for they must continue to play an important role in shaping the Malaysian reality.

Lim Kit Siang MP for Iskandar Puteri