The 3 Malaysian agenda for Anwar Ibrahim


October 16, 2018

The 3 Malaysian Agenda–Language, Malay Rights and Meritocracy — for A Better Malaysia. Will Anwar Ibrahim do it?

by Koon Yew Yin

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com

In all my work and writing during the past 20 years, readers will have noted that my major concern is for Malaysia to become a fully developed nation in all the key aspects of life – economic, socio-cultural, political and educational.

Towards this end I have provided numerous press statements, given umpteen talks and speeches, and written hundreds of articles and a book on how to attain what may be described as my own version of Vision 2020.

It is a vision which I believe is shared by the overwhelming majority of moderate and progressive Malaysians, especially among the younger generation which I am in constant touch with through the scholarship system I have sponsored for the past decade.

Now that Anwar Ibrahim has won the Port Dickson by-election, it is necessary for me to emphasise again on what are the crucial policies and strategies that the heir apparent Prime Minister has to articulate and implement to bring about the realisation of a united and progressive Malaysia Baru.

1. Language policy

Continuing attempts by Malay ultras to downgrade the use of other languages especially English and Mandarin are not only counter-productive but will end with the Malay community being left out of the global economy and world of knowledge, science and technology.

Anwar should realise that his standing among leaders in the region and the world is partly or even mainly because of his ability to communicate in English.

Nobody is disputing the role of Bahasa as the national language. But English is the universal lingua franca par excellence and whoever is Prime Minister of the country needs to make sure that all young Malaysians from an early age master the language to propel us into the club of advanced nations.

Anwar should make sure that the policymakers do not continue to go back and forth on this issue. Further pandering to the Malay language chauvinists will see the Malay community regress rather than progress.

2. Malay rights

Anwar and other Pakatan Harapan Malay politicians must bear in mind that the use of Malay rights – constitutional and extra-constitutional – to enrich the Malays is not only wrong. It will never work. You can never legislate the poor from penury into wealth and prosperity.

Worse is to take away from those who have worked hard and accumulated assets and savings to put into the pockets of those that are seen to be needy.

The ultimate foolishness is to do this on a racial basis as was attempted by the NEP during the past 40 odd years after May 69.

All the analysis by foreign and local scholars’ points to the fact that the NEP and follow up racial policies have been the breeding ground of abuse of power, mismanagement of economy and super corruption, cronyism and patronage. The NEP has been a major contributor to the falling back of our economy and society to its present low level as compared with Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea and other countries that were in fact at a lower or similar stage of development in the 1970s.

I am sure that Anwar is fully aware of this. He has in the past when he was in the opposition talked about the need to do away with the NEP and a racially configured national economic policy. Now that he is at the point of becoming the Prime Minister he must not back down from his previous statements and promises on rejecting the NEP for a truly Malaysian agenda. On the contrary, he must act boldly to make the Malaysian agenda a reality

3. Restore meritocracy in all spheres of public sector

During my time in the 50s and 60s as a student and young engineer it could be said that the system of meritocracy was the dominant one in Malaysia. This is the political and economic philosophy which holds that certain things, such as economic goods or power, should be vested in individuals on the basis of talent, effort, and achievement rather than be based on factors such as race or family relationships or political affiliation.

During the past decades of Barisan Nasional rule, the meritocratic system was replaced by one based on race, political affiliation, family relations and know who.

This has resulted in the dumbing down of the civil service as well as resulted in inefficiency and mismanagement of the nation’s resources.

I am confident that if a study was done on the cost to the country as a result of the loss of the system of meritocracy, the figure will run into the trillions of ringgit.

Anwar must restore the system of meritocracy in the civil service so that we are not handicapped in competing with other advanced nations. For a start, I would like to propose two basic steps. These are

a.  University places should be allocated based on examination results and should not be based on race or other forms of quotas.

b.   Entry and promotion in civil Service, the Police and army must similarly be based on educational qualifications and working experience. There must be no political or party interference in the civil service.

Anwar now has the opportunity to lead the nation into a new era of progress, prosperity and unity. To do this he must implement the Malaysian agenda outlined above.

I and other loyal and patriotic moderates in the country will be monitoring him closely to make sure that he lives up to the cry for reform and rejection of the BN racist policies which resulted in Pakatan’s election victory and Anwar’s personal victory in Port Dickson.

Conclusion: I wish to quote the 5 most important sentences by Dr Adrian Rogers who has written 18 on politics and social issues

1. You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity.

2. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.

3. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.

4. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is the beginning of the end of any nation.

5. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.

Koon Yew Yin is a retired chartered civil engineer and one of the founders of IJM Corporation Bhd and Gamuda Bhd.

The views expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.

 

Trishakti — the Real Malaysian Manifesto we need


October 14, 2018

Trishakti — the Real Malaysian Manifesto we need

Opinion  | Dr.  Azly Rahman

Published:  |  Modified:

COMMENT | The “manifesto” shoved down the eyes, ears , and brain of the voters – one that promised good things in life: no tolls, greater educational future, more equality for everything that can be equalised, less cronyism, massive arrests of white collar-songkok wearing thieves in political garments, and so on. These promises pushed the old regime of the Barisan Nasional to the corner to become losers in the 14 th general elections. This is not the sum total of a manifesto. It should not have been called a manifesto.

These are mere promises made to lure voters. To amass votes. Now they are confessing that these promises were not meant to be kept. They are meant to get the votes, get into power, maintain power, consolidate power, and leave the voters shortchanged. That’s the politics. And there are apologists to that game.

But what is a manifesto if the one that was presented by the Pakatan Harapan coalition is merely a set of to-do-list of things to implement; some to throw away and some to seduce voters into voting?

What must a manifesto do for a multicultural polity such as Malaysia, yearning to become a truly multicultural Malaysia? What language of change must it be written in, what narrative employed, what tone of discourse weaved in to make it as memorable and alive as The Communist Manifesto written by Marx and Engels, or the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America drafted by Thomas Jefferson, or even the Tennis Court Oath of the French Revolution worked on by the Paris Commune? Or even as fanciful as the Transhumanist or Cyborg-Humanoid Manifesto of today’s geeks?

Come the 15th general election, who’s going to lead the cybernetic revolution of the Third Force, Third Wave, guided by the Third Eye? The Messiah we need to get us out of the Matrix — from Najibism to neo-Mahathirism? How do we craft a shift in social-political-economic-cognitive paradigm?

Image result for the new malaysia

Herein lies the need to redo the manifesto or for another coalition for a new government to come up with one in preparation for the next general election, since the current regime that is sloganising a “New Malaysia” seems to be slipping into the ethos, ethics, anatomy, and psychology of the Old Malaysia, with the modus operandi of the new nation building mirroring the old ways of doing things.

A Third Force may emerge out of this possibly short-lived regime that seemed not quite interested in honouring the promises. Race politics is coming back, or too stubborn to leave the consciousness of the leaders of the new regime, although a majority of them are from parties that have multi-ethnic soldiers and major-generals. These parties may be intimidated by the hegemony and authority and insincerity of mono-racial parties that want to continue the agenda of one-race-one-religion superiority.

Hence, missing in the “manifesto” are abolishing race-based parties, levelling the racial playing field of education, combating racial and religious extremism, designing a truly social-democratic and emphatic-based economy model that is sustainable, and graced with sound principles of human rights and justice. Plus all those good things that ought to be in a manifesto which will move society rapidly and deterministically to another progressive phase of our evolution. But it seems we are made to step backwards. The new regime seems to be unsure what to do with its “manifesto” and how to honour the promises.

Elegance is missing in that thing called the manifesto. More than elegance, the bedrock of change is missing: a new national philosophy that promises to make the dream of founding fathers such as Tunku Abdul Rahman come true. The dream of a true Malaysia in which no Malaysians will be left behind. The dream of a nation “clean, efficient, trustworthy” mooted by Mahathir Mohamad who ruled for 22 years. The dream of a society not ruled by the arrogant, the privileged, the filthy rich, and those who think they are entitled to power and wealth passed down as easily as any of the world’s monarchy ruling over the enslaved majority.

The Trishakti Manifesto

Here are my thoughts on the coming wave of change — of “trishakti” as a dimension of change:

Come the 15th general election, who’s going to lead the cybernetic revolution of the Third Force, Third Wave, guided by the Third Eye? The Messiah we need to get us out of the Matrix — from Najibism to neo-Mahathirism? How do we craft a shift in social-political-economic-cognitive paradigm?

Third Force, Third Wave, Third Eye = Trishakhti — a force that should shape new politics away from the current ideological impasse. Bloggers and commentators in social media must come together and ignite this new intellectual revolution in educating the masses. Trishakti — Third Force, Third Wave, Third Eye … a force that will colour Malaysian politics blind. A force that will be a vigilante to the abusers of power. No one can stop it. The internet is anarchy — ride its wave.

The Kuhnian Revolution in science proposed that when there are too many questions that go unanswered as a consequence of the end of history for the prevailing worldview, the paradigm is meeting the near-collapse of its existence. This is said in Kuhn’s classic work The Structures of Scientific Revolution. (Thomas Kuhn is a Harvard historian of science.)

Malaysia is facing such a crisis – the collapse of the Barisan Nasional paradigm and the emergence of a newer one. There are too many questions unanswered and too many structures crumbling – judiciary, education, law enforcement, economics, culture, and so on that needed to be rebuilt but yet the old architectural plan is still used. The Third Wave is here – postmodernity. The First Wave – traditional societies – gave way to modernisation. Malaysian politics must respond to the coming of this wave.

In Malaysia, both waves have failed as a result of the failed policies of modernisation taken over by privatisation, Look East, and Malaysian Inc policies. Vision 2020 is a meaningless slogan created by the ideology of the past. Capitalism developed without ethics, fuelled by greed and facilitated by race-based politics. The world is experiencing the earthquake of a new global ideology surfacing.

The Third Wave is here. The March 2008 tsunami was a warning of its inevitability. The May 2018 transfer of power was testament of voter nausea and irritability.

But the Third Wave needs a Third Force and a Third Eye. The Third Force cannot be stopped and the Third Eye cannot be blinded. Trishakti is here. We need a leader — an intellectual leader. Current leaders do not understand this force. They are in it and are drowned by it, like fish in the water.

Let us push this idea to the masses and see it dance in the Malaysian cyberspace and gets translated into praxis. Trishakti resides in the cave — Plato’s cave, where philosophers, architects, culturalists, and futurists of change are congregating.

We have failed to scan the global environment and understand the waves of change affecting us now and in future. We need a real manifesto. No mere set of promises to be broken. Will a Third Force emerge?


Dr. AZLY RAHMAN is an educator, academic, international columnist, and author of seven books available here . He grew up in Johor Bahru, and holds a Columbia University doctorate in international education development and Master’s degrees in six areas: education, international affairs, peace studies communication, fiction and non-fiction writing. Twitter @azlyrahman. More writings here.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

The DJ Blogger is back, momentarily


October 13,  2018

Image result for Din Merican

The DJ Blogger is back, momentarily

Looking back into the 1960s, The Shadows bring back lots of fond memories of friends, school mates and MU and GWU classmates, University Of Cambodia colleagues and other contemporaries and the loves I have won and lost.   Just relax. It is wonderful to know you and thanks for accepting me as your pal and for enriching my life.

Way back in the 60’s we were Malaysians. Race and religion were irrelevant. Damn Malaysian politicians for dividing us and for putting our diversity and harmony at risk. –Din Merican

Looking for Reformasi on the Road to Oz


October 3, 2018

Looking for Reformasi on the Road to Oz

by Kean Wong

View story at Medium.com

Kean Wong, Contributing Editor, New Mandala(left)

After two decades of reformasi, two generations of resistance to ‘Malaysia lama’ spent September addressing capacity crowds of Malaysians abroad about ‘Malaysia baru’ and the horizon ahead.

As the two veteran campaigners for Malaysia’s democracy traversed the Australian continent across September, another leader Anwar Ibrahim formally started his campaign to reclaim parliamentary leadership, nominating for the Port Dickson by-election almost 20 years to the day his jailing sparked off reformasi, the democratic reform movement that led to Malaysia’s regime change on May 9 this year.

Amid this frenetic activity was the background rattle of ruling party PKR’s own tightly contested polls this month, threatening to split it apart in bitter recriminations as two proteges contest to become Anwar’s party deputy. All at a time when this year’s historic victory under the PKR flag has become a drama of a fragile coalition, rather than about how the biggest ruling party enables reformasi coming to pass.

As veteran reformasi activist and PKR Vice-President Tian Chua blitzed three Australian cities in four days over the Hari Merdeka (Independence day) weekend, he provoked a raft of thorny questions about a new Malaysia that were sometimes left unanswered.

Those in two minds about new Malaysia’s ambivalence on liberalism, religious laws, and political values found the DAP icon Lim Kit Siang cajoling and bristling in front of record crowds over such questions a few weeks later. After a half-century as an integral part of Malaysia’s parliamentary democracy, the once-‘Mr Opposition’ Lim now counsels patience and fortitude as an elder in the new government. Like Mr Chua earlier in the month, Mr Lim by September’s end encouraged Malaysians he met abroad to not judge the new coalition government too quickly or harshly.

Syahredzan explains ‘new Malaysia’ in Sydney as panelists (L-R) MP Wong Shu Qi, Lim Kit Siang, and Bersih Sydney’s William deCruz and Mathuri Santhi-Morgan tune in.

 

The 77-year-old occasionally displayed flashes of his famed street-fighting rhetoric when parrying questions in jammed venues across Perth, Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne, before continuing his tour of the Malaysian diaspora this week in New Zealand. Like his former nemesis and now coalition partner Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, Mr Lim took all questions, barbed and not, with a deftness and directness that was so alien to the previous prime minister’s leaden events.

He wanted the Melbourne crowd, which packed three rooms with scores more stranded outside on a Saturday evening, to forgive but not necessarily forget the DAP’s old foes. In the new Malaysia the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government hopes to build, “we all need to have a big picture outlook, to have a lo-o-o-ng vision.”

Nobody in the new government joined this endeavour with entirely clean hands, he said, and Malaysians when united demonstrated to the region how corrupt governments could be tossed out peacefully via the ballot box.

“Tainted people? We’re all tainted. To some, Mahathir is tainted,” he told the crowd. “Let’s give a chance to all who’re tainted to turn over a new leaf. We want Malaysia to succeed. In the past, some said ‘Malays must unite’ but today we say ‘Malaysians unite!’. So we must give them a chance. So we can go forward. So that we can be inclusive, so that we can be progressive.”

“That’s why when people ask how can Lim Kit Siang cooperate with Mahathir when he had put Lim Kit Siang in jail? Not only that, Mahathir put my son (new finance minister) Lim Guan Eng in jail, and Guan Eng’s daughter is here!” he said, as the audience applauded his granddaughter in the room.

“Yes, it’s not easy. But there’s the larger interest of the nation. Personally, of course, you’ve jailed me twice (referring to the previous Barisan Nasional regime). You say I’m anti-Malay, I’m anti-Islam, you tell lies about me. But what is the larger picture? If Mao Zedong and Chiang Kai Shek can unite for the larger interest, why can’t we do so too? So we must be above ourselves, we must rise above our personal likes and dislikes. National interest, national good.

“So we’re in uncharted waters, in completely new territory,” he stressed. “There’s no simple answer to solve all problems. Of course there are a lot of reports about Mahathir, about Anwar disagreeing, but nobody can give answers to that. But you must have a positive outlook because we want the (PH) experiment to succeed. We don’t want it to fail. And if we continue with that approach, if Mahathir, if Anwar and everyone else has this approach, it will succeed, whatever difficulties and contradictions that arise. But if our attitude is ‘so what? let it fail’, then it will fail. But we want it to succeed. Of course the differences will develop, it will come. Let’s have a big picture outlook, a long vision. That’s also my message to the Malaysian diaspora. Not just now, tomorrow, the day after, but the next 10, 15, 20 years. Can we survive that?”

Mr Lim proved more gnomic and nuanced off stage the night before in Sydney, at a vegetarian dinner after a more formal panel discussion where he insisted Malaysia was created as a secular state, framed as it was by Sabah and Sarawak when the nation formed in 1963. He was relaxed about his ‘backseat’ role in the new government, he said, bemused when referred to as an ‘elder statesman’ after receiving the Bersih Sydney Democracy Award earlier in the evening. His political secretary, the young constitutional lawyer Syahredzan Johan, drew giggles among the Sydney crowd thanking the “boss” when Mr Lim pointed audience misunderstandings about Malay rights and religion for him to answer.

Mr Lim with Bersih Sydney committee and the Democracy Award, 21 September 2018.

While the crowd had come to hail “the opposition legend”, as someone synonymous with leading the resistance against the UMNO-dominated Barisan Nasional government’s corruption and other abuses since 1969, there was also a reflection of where the past 20 years had left Mr Lim’s DAP and the instrumental role he played in the reformasi coalition.

There were principles of accountability, of good governance that couldn’t be cast aside, he said, that urgently needed reform in any ‘new Malaysia’. He suggested old men like the new nonagenarian Prime Minister, and octogenarian advisors like former Finance Minister Daim Zainuddin, were atoning for previous mistakes, keen to leave behind a nation that worked for more than just the few. The Malaysian people had to continue playing their renewed role, he stressed, whether it was through civil society movements like Bersih or other groups, to ensure the new government stayed true to their promises.

Fellow coalition leader Tian Chua faced similar questioning a few weeks earlier, when he took to the stage at a ‘Malam Merdeka’ dinner event in Sydney featuring Malaysian dancers, and a performance by legendary chanteuse Saloma’s niece Rozita Rohaizad that included the crowd singing along to the Mahathir-era anthem ‘Sejahtera Malaysia’. Unlike the mostly older crowd that attended Mr Lim’s talk a few weeks later, many younger Malaysians at Mr Chua’s event had been part of the storied overseas voters contingent that had gone to great lengths to vote at the historic 14th general elections (GE14).

The questions posed to Mr Chua suggested the crowd was still unsure about how a disparate coalition worked together, under a former authoritarian leader that had jailed so many in the new government, while doubts about another leader returning to center stage also hovered into view. Where this fits into the past 20 years of acrimony between politicians now unexpectedly triumphant together was not easily answered by Mr Chua.

At the historic NSW Parliament upper house chambers.

“I was quite surprised when Mahathir invited me to his office the day before he quit UMNO. We hadn’t seen each other since 1999, when he had advised me to eat more as I was going in and out of jail so often,” he revealed, as the audience laughed along.

“Both of us we alone in his office, and I started by saying that most of the time we’ve been opposite each other (sic), we’ve disagreed about most things, we have fought over various issues. But one thing I’ve never doubted was his commitment to Malaysia, never doubted his love for the country. That’s what I said to him. But now we could sit down and work out our differences. We wanted the country to be free, to have a proud and better future,” he said, explaining the meeting in 2016.

“Today, whether it’s led by Anwar or Mahathir, Malaysia will be governed by the set of principles laid down in the (Pakatan Harapan GE14) manifesto. It doesn’t matter who takes over from Mahathir, and after Anwar there will be others. We have to follow a new way of governance. We must strike a consensus among those running the country. There will be no more one-man-shows, no more PM-decides-everything. We must all agree, and the leaders must follow this principle.

“It’s inconsequential whether we think Mahathir is a reformed man, or whether Anwar is up for doing the job. It will be a collective effort. Those in Putrajaya must be executing the collective wishes of the Malaysian people. And if any of us deviate from this, you all know what to do! That’s why May 9 can be repeated, the guarantee that helps us stay on the right track.”

This question of Dr Mahathir’s notorious authoritarianism, and how it had damaged Malaysia’s democracy by the time of 1998’s reformasi, intrigued the Australian parliamentarians Mr Chua met with during this short trip.

 

When catching up with Anthony Albanese, the former Australian Deputy Prime Minister who’s now a senior leader of the opposition Labor Party, Mr Chua had explained to his old university comrade how a delicate coalition of parties was galvanised to win power after the previous regime’s scandals proved too much for Malaysians. This Sydney meeting contrasted with one a few years earlier, when Mr Albanese learnt of the outrage over the multi-billion dollar 1MDB heist that was still unfolding, and how opposition parliamentarians like Mr Chua faced arrest and worse as they raised the alarm.

 

The respect for human rights and the supremacy of Malaysia’s Federal Constitution (which had co-drafters from Australia) was a critical part of new Malaysia, said Mr Chua, and keeping the new government true to its word will not only be the task of parliamentarians but also a responsibility of civil society. Adhering to the principles outlined in the winning coalition’s election manifesto will be tough, he admitted, and as Mr Lim echoed a few weeks later, the disappointments will pile up if “practical” timelines for promised reforms are not publically discussed and expectations managed.

“Sometimes people forget that some of us were pushing for the reforms we’re discussing as policy today, before this time 20 years ago. We helped start the reformasi movement, we weren’t parachuted in afterwards,” he said.

But it was the discussions about the tough party elections headlined by Rafizi Ramli’s challenge to Azmin Ali, and the opposing camps Mr Chua and his party peers were slotting into that made his long road trip between the Canberra and Sydney events so weary. The unbridled ambition and the urgency for power often obscured the ideals of the reformasi movement that he felt was still a core part of his identity.

ian Chua and Anthony Albanese, with classic regime change poster as backdrop.

Tian Chua and Anthony Albanese, with classic regime change poster as backdrop.

The party polls had sounded a little like the party fratricide that Mr Albanese alluded to when explaining how yet another prime minister was torn down in Australia the previous week, making it the fifth time in 10 years. The enmity stayed raw for quite some time, and a brutal contest for party power was no way to ensure stability and purpose when in government.

It was a sobering reminder that lingered as we left Mr Albanese’s inner Sydney enclave. Just as we stepped out, the overcast skies broke into a stormy deluge as the Malaysian reformist rushed to the airport for his flight home, straight into another bruising election season.

A version of this was published in The Malaysian Insight https://www.themalaysianinsight.com/s/99965

China & Malaysia: Co-Existing with Asia’s Leviathan


September 28, 2018

China & Malaysia: Co-Existing with Asia’s Leviathan

by Dennis Ignatius

Image result for China

China’s Dark Spots

Of course, China is far from perfect. Indeed, there is a dark and sinister side to the modern China of high-speed trains and gleaming skyscrapers.

For one thing, not everyone is enjoying the fruits of its progress. Forty million children, for example, still live in poverty. And each day, some part of China is rocked by angry, often violent protests as disaffected and marginalized groups rebel against injustice and governmental abuse of authority.

The lack of religious freedom, too, is appalling. According to UN reports, Xinjiang Province is home to vast gulags where thousands of Muslim Uighurs are incarcerated in “re-education” camps. Falun Gong followers are savagely repressed and yet another brutal crackdown on Christians is now underway.

The Communist Party of China is also entirely dismissive of  basic human rights in violation of its own constitution. Hundreds of human rights activists are routinely jailed, often tortured as well. The death of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo in a hospital prison last year was a potent reminder of Beijing’s utter contempt for basic human rights.

Thankfully, Malaysia has not seen the kind of brutal and repressive measures that are routine in China today. We can learn a lot of things from China but it is certainly not a country we want to emulate in everything.

China: Vision, Planning and Leadership equal rapid Progress

Perhaps the one lesson we can learn is that where there is vision, planning and leadership, countries can progress rapidly. Countries don’t have to get everything right; success in just a few critical areas can make a huge difference.

China did precisely that and in 33 years has become a behemoth that now challenges our own sovereignty. As I have noted elsewhere, few realize how close we came to compromising our sovereignty under former Prime Minister Najib. His reckless borrowing and lopsided infrastructure projects would have turned us into “a wholly-owned subsidiary” of China.

Whatever one may ascribe China’s rapid rise to, there’s no escaping the fact that we now have a leviathan  at our doorstep and we must, as a nation, rise to meet the challenge it poses.  China is going to cast a long shadow over Malaysia and the region. And we have to be ready for it.

Every Malaysian politician, certainly every Pakatan cabinet minister, would do well to spend time in China – to  learn, to see what’s possible and to understand what we are up against. Perhaps they may return home with a new realism and a fresh determination to prepare our nation for a future in which China is going to figure very significantly.

Preparing for the 4th Industrial Revolution

Image result for klaus schwab

The other great challenge that we face is the rapid technological advances – the Forth Industrial Revolution – that is already gathering pace.

As Klaus Schwab, Executive Chairman of the Word Economic Forum (WEF) put it: “We stand on the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another. In its scale, scope, and complexity, the transformation will be unlike anything humankind has experienced before.”

Image result for klaus schwab

A recent WEF study estimates that some 65% of children entering primary school today will end up doing a job that does not even exist now. Artificial intelligence will make millions of existing jobs obsolete while many of the skills we now value will become redundant.

Naveen Menon, President of CISCO Southeast Asia, warns that those most at risk will be those “lacking IT skills and ‘interactive skills’ such as negotiation, persuasion and customer service skills….”

Are we ready for this new world? It’s going to require a massive effort on the part of government, business and educators to ensure that our workforce will have the skills to compete and prosper in the coming decades, not just against China (which is already making quantum leaps in technology)  but even against our immediate neighbours.

It is a sobering reminder that we can no longer afford to dissipate our energies in destructive and divisive arguments and policies that detract us from facing up to the real challenges we face.

Running out of time

Simply put, we are running out of time as a nation. We cannot continue to keep fighting old battles; we either fight amongst ourselves and be left behind or unite to compete with the rest of the world.

Whether we like it or not, we cannot turn back the clock of history:

Malaysia is a multicultural nation with a rich blend of ethnicities, languages, cultures and traditions. We can either make it our  greatest strength or allow it to become our greatest weakness.

 

Likewise, we can harness the power of our respective belief systems to inspire the kind of  unity, integrity and work ethic that is necessary to build a prosperous and peaceful nation or we can use it to justify exclusionary and extremist policies that diminish us all.

We are a nation of many that must become one to prosper, to face the challenges that confront us.

The Challenge of Leadership

Of course, the challenges are enormous. How do you change the mindset of a nation that has long been conditioned to think and act in racial terms, that has long been taught to view each other with suspicion and distrust? How do you even promote much-needed policies that, in the short-term at least, might be deeply unpopular?

How does the government persuade the nation to rise to its greatness when the opposition is trying to drag it down into the gutter of bigotry?

Image result for mahathir mohamad

But that is the true challenge of political leadership: to take a nation where it must go, not where it necessarily wants to go. If anyone can do it, it is surely Dr Mahathir and this government.

Dr Mahathir has shown that he is not afraid to do what is unpopular if it’s good for the nation. And, at 93, he knows he doesn’t have the luxury of time to wait for evolutionary or incremental change; there must be a drastic reordering of the way we do things or nothing will change.

The greatest legacy he can give to our nation is to leave behind a nation with sound national institutions, a grand vision for the future and a reformatted mindset that pulls us together rather than drives us apart. It is perhaps no coincidence that circumstance has brought back the very man who dared to dream of “a Bangsa Malaysia” to lead us again when national unity is most needed.

We have perhaps a five-year window of opportunity (till the next election) to dramatically change our nation for the better. Fate has given us another chance to reinvent ourselves, learn from our mistakes and build that better nation we all long for. If China can do it, so can we.

Let us be that transformational generation  – the generation that makes the transition from the old Malaysia to the new Malaysia.

       

Mahathir the Disappointed Leader–Father


September 12, 2018

Mahathir the Disappointed Leader–Father

Opinion

by Nathaniel Tan

 

COMMENT | Over the (very many) years, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamed has kept a fairly consistent tone regarding what I suppose he might term the Malay Dilemma – a tone that we saw again during the recently held Future of Bumiputeras and the Nation Congress (KBN 2018), at the Bersatu anniversary,  and a recent interview.

I suppose I might term this tone that of the Disappointed Leader–Father.

I have this image in my head of Mahathir, himself a successful bumiputera, looking down and shaking his head while sighing, maybe face in hand, constantly disappointed at what he sees to be an endemic failure of his fellow bumiputeras to live up to his hopes and expectations.

We get the sense that Mahathir has a very clear idea of the kind of attitude and character you need to succeed as an individual and as a community, and that a big part of his persona seems to be having to deal with his view that the bumiputera do not live up to these standards.

Mahathir’s favourite counterpoint appears to be the Japanese, a fact reiterated by his recent visit to Japan and specifically named once again in the interview, where once he again he has held them up as the paragons of self-sacrificing patriots whose self-worth is tied to how diligently they can contribute to the betterment of their nation.

He then likes to ask: “Why can’t the Malays be more like the Japanese?”, in the same tone perhaps a dad would ask his kid, “Why can’t you be more like your older brother?”

Unhelpful comparisons

Mahathir’s other big go to, of course, is to compare Malays with other ethnic groups, notably the Chinese. A common theme of his seems to be something along the lines of the Chinese are successful because they are hardworking, and the Malays are not, because they are lazy.

“Mahathir’s sincerity is not doubted, and he has a great many strengths. Effective motivation, however, may not be one of them. His recent comments show that while he has changed in many positive ways, he still seems to rely on a certain amount of BN era fearmongering, his trademark sarcasm, and a degree of condescension.”

Most recently, at KBN 2018, Mahathir has taken this a step further:

Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamad today questioned whether the bumiputera will be able to compete with a new wave of skilled and business-savvy entrepreneurs from China making their way to Malaysia.

Speaking during a dialogue session on bumiputera economy, Mahathir said the new wave of immigrants will be unlike early Chinese settlers in Malaysia – who were then mostly involved in small businesses, and whose children have now gained control of major developments in the cities.

“These are the Chinese already in Malaysia whose attitudes we can accept. But if we bring in three million more people from China, what will happen to us?” he asked.

“They are hardworking and skilled in business. The ones who are coming, they are not labourers, but those who are already successful. Will we be able to compete with them?” he said in response to a question on China nationals buying property in Malaysia.”

In the West nowadays, this kind of framing would likely be denounced as having considerable elements of racism. Sadly, the truth is that this rhetoric retains the culture of fearmongering perpetrated by UMNO over so many decades – a variation on the theme that the bumiputera are under constant threat by other ethnic groups.

Mahathir’s approach is marginally better in that his conclusion is not “Therefore you need UMNO to protect you” but “Therefore you need to work much harder.” Of course, this is not to say that Mahathir’s tone has not changed at all. He now says that it is foolhardy to blame other races for the shortcomings of the Malays. On the whole, though, we should ask: is this a truly helpful approach?

Has Mahathir’s approach worked?

Mahathir’s sincerity is not doubted, and he has a great many strengths. Effective motivation, however, may not be one of them. His recent comments show that while he has changed in many positive ways, he still seems to rely on a certain amount of BN era fearmongering, his trademark sarcasm, and a degree of condescension.

If you have ever been on either end of questions like “Why can’t you be more like your brother?” being repeated over and over, I think you know the ultimately negative end result – a lot of resentment, and almost never any actual change towards becoming like the said brother.

After all the years of Mahathir’s Look East Policy, do we actually see any significant movement of Malays or Malaysians adopting Japanese values? (Anime does not count.)

I am also most curious as to where this idea of letting in three million new Chinese nationals came from. Is this a thing? Or was it plucked from thin air, to be used as the convenient bogeyman?

It’s true that global competitiveness should always be a cause for concern, but bringing up the sceptre of some sort of invasion by foreigners who bear a striking resemblance to Chinese Malaysians in a Malay-only conference could easily be seen as striking the wrong note.

The dichotomy of the ‘successful’ Chinese nationals of today compared to the ‘inferior’ Chinese labourers from whom today’s Chinese Malaysians descended could also rub people the wrong way.

Inspire hope, don’t fearmonger

Some say that the biggest two motivators are hope and fear. One might have hoped that a coalition named Pakatan Harapan might be intrinsically inclined towards one instead of the other.

At the end of the day, Malaysians are Malaysians, and the Japanese are Japanese. Each has their strengths and weaknesses, and each can learn something from one another.

If, however, you keep expecting one to become the other – something they simply are not – only disaster awaits. Your children may be siblings, but they are each unique individuals.

Instead of constantly berating or belittling Malays with fearmongering, unflattering comparisons or sarcastic jibes at every turn, think about how you can motivate them positively.

It is good that we start addressing practices like Ali Baba schemes out in the open, but why not focus more on success stories? Highlight successful bumiputera entrepreneurs and how and why they succeeded. Use them as inspiration.

Sometimes all that is needed is the reminder that having only ‘becoming rich’ as the goal is a recipe for failure.

We need only look at the lives of successful Malaysians – from any ethnic group at all – to see that the right goal is to develop the attitude, character and habits that breed success, and that once that goal is achieved, riches come fairly easily.

Abandoning the racial lens

As a Malaysiakini commentator correctly said, it is in the interests of all Malaysians for Malays to be successful. That said, perhaps a big part of the problem is looking at it as a Malay or bumiputera problem.

 

Perhaps what we need to solve racial inequality, somewhat counterintuitively, is to stop seeing everything through a racial lens, and stop obsessing about comparing one ethnic group with another.

If, for example, you have never met a lazy Chinese, you simply haven’t met enough Chinese.

It’s not accurate to go so far as to say that culture plays zero role in the welfare of a community. Sometimes, historical factors such as living in harsh climates where saving for the winter is essential to survival, breeds a slightly different work ethic than living in temperate climates, where food is easily available all year round.

That said, any type of biological determinism is inherently unhelpful, and not relevant to the question of how we can best move forward.

Play to each individual’s and community’s strengths

People react much better to being inspired and encouraged than they do to being belittled or scared–especially when it comes to becoming self-motivated achievers. Every sibling has unique strengths and talents to contribute.

The role of the parent is to play to those strengths, encourage those talents, and help each child maximise their potential – on a road that they themselves determine.

Ultimately, helping each Malaysian achieve their unique potential is the single best way to help the Malaysian family as a whole.

The way to do this is to reverse this habit of public dressing downs and bemoaning, and adopt instead an approach that does not ignore reality, but acts on that reality in a manner that is less negative, and more one of positive encouragement.


NATHANIEL TAN is eager to serve.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.