Will Malaysia become a failed state by 2050 or 2063?

Last Wednesday, the eighth Malaysian Prime Minister wrote in his Facebook displaying the cover my 1978 book “Time Bombs in Malaysia”:

“Dari permulaan karier politiknya pada tahun 1960an, Uncle sering beri amaran bahawa Malaysia bakal muflis dan menjadi failed state.

“Tapi 60 tahun kemudian sehingga Uncle bersara politik, Malaysia masih belujm muflis dan failed state.”

This is typical of the dishonest, indecent and uncivil politics of lies, hate and fear which will result in Malaysia becoming a failed state.

I have never used the term “failed state” when I was MP for Kota Melaka, Petaling and Tanjong from 1969 to 1999. It was only when I became MP for Ipoh Timur that I used it and against the sixth Prime Minister who took office in 2009.

I am prepared to be corrected but the first time that I used the term “failed state” was probably on 11th May 2009 where I said that the image of Perak and Malaysia projected to the world was that we were “degenerating into failed states like Zimbabwe, Somalia and Congo rather than aspiring to be first-world developed nation status” because photographs and videos were flashed around the world of the Perak Speaker, V. Sivakumar in Speaker robes and in the Speaker Chair being bodily dragged out of the Perak State Assembly.

The second time I used the term “failed state” was in Parliament during the debate on the 2011 Budget on Oct. 28, 2010 where I pointed out that Malaysia’s poor indices which affected Malaysia’s international competitiveness like Transparency International 2010 Corruption Perception Index score and ranking and the 2010 Legatum Prosperity Index “are not the signs of a country prepared to take the quantum leap to escape the decades-old middle-income trap to achieve inclusive, sustainable high-income developed stratus in 2020 but those of a country towards a failed state or a bankrupt nation in 2019 as warned by the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Idris Jala”.

I googled “Malaysia failed state” and was shocked to find 120 million items in 0.46 seconds.

I printed the first 10 pages of the google search results and 95 per cent of the news items were from the last 12 months, like “Not yet a failed state, Malaysia is decaying rapidly – Nikkei Asia” (10 Sept. 2021); “Is Malaysia really on the path to become a failed state? – The National, Thailand” (27th July 2021); “Not yet a failed state, Malaysia is decaying rapidly – IDEAS” (10 Sept. 2021); “Is Malaysia a failed state? Here are the facts” - Free Malaysia Today (14th July 2021); “Malaysia Is Staggering Down the Road to Failed Statehood – Bloomberg” (8th July 2021); “A failed government a failed nation makes – The Malaysian Reserve” (7th Jan 2022); “Is Malaysia a Failed State – Dennis Ignatius” (28th July 2021); “Malaysia a failed state? Not yet…but where are we heading? – Aliran” (23rd July 2021) and “Dr. M is right: We’re on track to becoming a failed nation – Malaysiakini” (2nd Jan 2022).

We in the DAP do not want Malaysia to become a failed state but to fulfil our vision to become a world-class great country.

We want Malaysia to succeed and not to become a failed state, whether 2050 or 2063 when Malaysia is marking its centennial.

But will Malaysia become a failed state in the future?

These are the thoughts which trouble me since my announcement at the DAP congress a month ago about my retirement from competitive politics.

I said:

“I am privileged to share this journey to realise our Malaysian Dream to be a world-class great nation with many patriotic Malaysians, both inside and outside the DAP.

“The battle for the Malaysian Dream must goes on until it is achieved but this is in your hands.”

The Malaysian Dream of Malaysia as a world-class great nation must be the dream of all Malaysians and not just of the DAP.

How can we achieve the Malaysian Dream?

The 56 years of the DAP have proven that the DAP is a patriotic Malaysian party dedicated to the betterment of all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or region and committed to the fundamental nation-building principles of the Constitution and the Rukun Negara – parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy, separation of powers, the rule of law, good governance and public integrity, respect for human rights and Malaysia as a multi-racial, multi-lingual, multi-religious and multi-cultural society.

In my first speech in Parliament on Feb. 23, 1971, I declared support for Article 153 of the Constitution on the special position of the Malays and the legitimate interests of the other communities on the ground that “Every Malaysian will support special rights to help the poor Malays, just as every citizen will support any special assistance to non-Malay poor, on the basis of need and not on the basis of colour or race.”

At that time, the eighth Malaysian Prime Minister was an 18-year-old lad and, in the words of his brother Nasir Razak in his book “”What’s In A Name”, was a “ringleader: who corralled his younger brothers to troop into the office of his father, the second Prime Minister of Malaysia, to make the case for a swimming pool in the grounds of their official residence of the premier.

I will not play psycho-analyst to explore whether this incident had anything to do with the kleptocratic beginnings of the sixth Prime Minister of Malaysia.

In my speech in Parliament in January 1976 welcoming the premiership of Tun Hussein Onn, I called for a new order to build a united, progressive and prosperous Malaysian nation. There was no talk of a failed state.

The worst of the Covid-19 pandemic seems to be over and we have to grapple with the socio-economic consequences of the post-Covid 19 pandemic.

The Covid-19 pandemic has fortuitously done one favour to Malaysia – it has stopped the beginning of the Second Malaysian Diaspora when international travels were locked down soon after the Sheraton Move conspiracy.

In the last half a century, we lost over a million of the best and brightest Malaysians in the First Malaysian Diaspora, who emigrated to make other nations instead of Malaysia great resulting to our losing out to Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore and Vietnam.

Where will Malaysia be in 2050 or 2063? Will we be losing out to even more nations?

This should be the great issue in the forthcomning15th General Election - What is to be done to ensure that Malaysia does not end up as a failed state.

There are five questions to be answered:

  1. Is it possible to reverse the national decline of the last half a century, where we have lost out to Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore and Vietnam. Come 2050 or 2063, are we going to lose out to more countries, including Indonesia and the Philippines?
  2. Is it possible to reset the national policies of the last half a century, for instance the New Economic Policy, which was meant to last a span of 20 years but have lasted over half a century creating UMNO-putras while leaving the Malay masses as poor as ever.
  3. Can we convince Malaysians that Malaysia has only a future if we return to the founding principles of Malaysia and the Rukun Negara – separation of powers, parliamentary democracy, rule of law, good governance, integrity, human rights, unity and solidarity?
  4. Is the Malaysian Dream for Malaysia to become a world-class great country an impossible dream?
  5. Will there be a second Malaysia Diaspora, with over a million of the best and brightest Malaysians regardless of class splattered all over the world in the first Malaysian Diaspora, to make other nations instead of Malaysia, world-class great nations?

Lim Kit Siang MP for Iskandar Puteri