In my last blog I wrote about the importance of stability in our diverse community, and how my 1Malaysia vision is about leveraging the strength of our diversity so we can grow stronger together as a nation. In this blog, I would like to take the opportunity to address the issues that have been brought forward by the opponents of 1Malaysia.
Two attitudes can be struck by them. On the one hand the die-hards say there should be no change from the approach of 1971 and the first wave of the New Economic Policy. I can understand why some are fearful: many of the historic imbalances in our society still need addressing – and we will. But we must also have an approach that encourages all who can contribute to Malaysia to stay here and we must recognise that widening ownership of the economy will not, of itself, fight poverty at root.
To those who fear 1Malaysia for these reasons I ask for calm and patience – for 1Malaysia is about a dynamic strategy to fight poverty in our country and will, I believe, achieve much more than if we refused to change.
But it is the second group of opponents of 1Malaysia who worry me more. They dismiss anything and everything we have done as being not enough and instead demand a revolutionary programme of change. To different audiences they say different things: motivated only by a lust for power and what seems like congenital need to provoke more and more controversy.
Of course, taken together their programme is a mess: one cannot promise to abolish road tolls, write off RM40 billion in PTPN loan and cut the budget deficit all at once: very quickly one of these promises would fall apart leaving a lot of angry people and an economy in free fall.
But despite my fears, I am also an optimist. Stocking up anger at the alleged failure of the current government to implement such a crazed programme will, I believe, only fail in the end, because the more such a dangerous mix of impossible promises is exposed to public scrutiny, the less and less credible those who seek to stir things up will be.
Malaysia does not need a revolutionary programme, it needs leaders committed to change you can trust. This year promises to be a year of robust political discourse in Malaysia, let’s hope it is one where more and more of our politicians address the real choices we face.
Ultimately it is the people who will determine the future. That is what our freedom from colonial rule was all about, that is what we preserved from the moment of Merdeka and we should all be proud of: a Malaysia where Malaysians decide.