Can Malaysia recover in the next three decades to become a world-class great nation by our Centennial in 2057 or will Malaysia decline further after losing out to Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore and Vietnam to lose out even to Indonesia?
I am thankful that with us today are Kee Thuan Chye, Liew Chin Tong and Ooi Kee Beng who have written books about my 55-year pursuit of the Malaysian Dream for Malaysia to be an united and plural, world-class great nation.
I have gone through many ups and downs, having been twice detained under the infamous Internal Security Act, arrested numerous times and hauled to court under the Official Secrets Act, the Police Act and other charges, suspended from Parliament and demonised as anti-Malay, anti-Chinese, anti-Indian and even anti-Malaysian, of having caused May 13, 1969 riots although I was never in Kuala Lumpur during the whole time, and being a secret agent of CIA, KGB, MI6, the Australian secret service but strangely never accused as being secret agent of Singapore Special Branch.
I have become an octogenarian. But age is a number and you are as old or young as you want it to be.
My thoughts and concerns are not of the past but of the future.
For example, can Malaysia recover in the next three decades to become a world-class great nation by our Centennial in 2057 or will Malaysia decline further after losing out to Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore and Vietnam in the past half-a-century and to lose out to even more nations including Indonesia?
I will not be around in 2057 but this is the substance and concern of the Malaysian Dream!
There is disagreement among analysts and forecasters whether the four great economic powers in 2050 will be China, India, United States and Indonesia or China, United States, India and Indonesia, but where will be Malaysia’s position?
Can we begin to fully tap the potential of our talents and resources and our position as the confluence of four great human civilisations – Malay/Islamic, Chinese, Indian and Western – to be a world-class great nation to reverse Malaysia’s national decline in the past half-a-century where one nation after another has overtaken us, whether in international competitiveness, good governance or an effective and efficient government?
The 23-month Covid-19 pandemic should be a wake-up call. Yesterday, we recorded 4,896 Covid-19 cases and 36 Covid-19 deaths. Indonesia, on the other hand, recorded 246 Covid-19 cases and five Covid-19 deaths yesterday.
Indonesia, which has more than eight times the population of Malaysia, has been recording triple-digit daily new Covid-19 cases for more than seven weeks since Oct. 15 and have recorded single-digit daily Covid-19 deaths six times since 19th Nov, 2021 while Malaysia is struggling for seven months to reduce daily new Covid-19 cases to below 4,000 cases; and struggling for eight months to reduce daily Covid-19 deaths to single-digit numbers.
In 1995, when Transparency International (TI) launched its annual Corruption Perception Index (CPI) series, Indonesia was placed last on the list with a score of 1.95 out of 10. Its best score was in in the 2019 TI CPI when it scored 40 out of 100 with expectations of improvement in the score in the coming years.
Malaysia started in 1995 with a score of 5.28 out of 10, and our best score for 17 years was during the Pakatan Harapan government in the TI CPI 2019 where it scored 53 out of 100 points. Many are looking forward with dread to the 2021 TI CPI as it is expected to mark a sharp decline in the anti-corruption index.
When the TI CPI started in 1995, we were ahead of Taiwan and South Korea, which is now ranked No 28 and No 33 respectively in the TI CPI 2020 as compared to Malaysia’s rank of 57.
We have failed in our anti-corruption efforts, allowing Taiwan and South Korea not only to overtake us, but Indonesia and other countries to close the gap in anti-corruption efforts.
Can Prime Minister Ismail Sabri’s Keluarga Malaysia concept be the silver bullet for Malaysia to fully tap our talent and resources to be a world-class great nation and end the regression with more and more countries overtaking us?
I have my grave doubts as the most important ingredient for Malaysia to become a world-class great nation is unity and harmony of our multi-racial, multi-lingual, multi-religious and multi-cultural nation and to end the toxic and divisive politics of race and religion.
We have today in Cabinet Ministers who do not support or uphold the five Rukun Negara principles of nation-building, which is the recipe of racial and religious polarisation in plural Malaysia and will condemn Malaysia as mediocre country and even a failed state.
The forces of change in the past decades had not been without its achievements, like saving Malaysia from kleptocracy and ending the hegemony of a single political party in the 14th General Election in 2018.
But can we ensure that we can become a world-class great nation before our Centennial in 2057 and become a world-class great nation? Only a Malaysian First mentality, mindset and policy can ensure this.
Can Malaysians succeed with a Malaysian First movement?
I leave you with this question.