There is much about Malaysia’s development that we should be proud of. Our economy is growing at a strong and steady pace, while growth around much of the world is either flat or falling. Our capital markets are reaching record highs as global markets continue to struggle, with FGVH and IHH Healthcare recording the world’s second and third largest listings . And our success is reflected in global rankings – we have the 15th most efficient goods market; we place 26th in terms of developed infrastructure; and we stand as the 18th most competitive economy.
Much of our progress and our prosperity can be attributed to our forefathers – and we should be thankful to them for it. Alongside the British, they fought valiantly against the communists and quashed the extremism that threatened our way of life. They then secured our independence from colonialism, granting us full control over the resources that have featured strongly in our economic growth: rubber, tin, palm oil and iron ore. These commodities became the backbone of our thriving export industry, providing us with the means to invest in our infrastructure and industrial development.
In the years that followed, we grew from simple townships to large, sprawling metropolises, housing some of our greatest architectural and structural achievements. In 1996, the opening of Kuala Lumpur International Airport established Malaysia as a top international travel hub. Two years later, the rise of the Petronas Twin Towers changed the face of our skyline, and more than a decade later still stand as the tallest twin building in the world and home to Suria KLCC, Malaysia’s iconic retail destination. In the intervening years we have continued to invest in our growth, and in the process, improved many of our lives. Take, for example, the Multimedia Super Corridor, Sepang International Circuit or the North-South Expressway. From technology to entertainment, they all in some way symbolise our development and we should all be proud of them and what they stand for.
With the pride of these accomplishments also came revenue. Locally, businesses could perform more efficiently as we embraced technological advancements, both online and off. Agriculture and key commodities benefited as our tools improved, and we experienced an increase in tourism as well as international trade. As economic conditions improved, so did social ones. The quality of education grew and became more accessible to everyone. The increased availability of electricity and water allowed rural areas to operate outside their usual limitations. As business and services grew more widespread, the rakyat no longer had to travel long distances to shop, pay their bills or even watch the latest movies.
On the advent of our 55th year of independence, I urge Malaysians to once more reflect on past events. There is much to be learned from the lessons brought forth by our forefathers. Let us never forget that it was the unity of our Malay, Chinese and Indian ancestors, and not any one race alone that pushed back the communist insurgents and drove them out. Let us never forget that we stood with the Iban/Dayak and Kadazan/Dusun people of Sabah and Sarawak as the nation rose from the backwardness of colonialism. Let us never forget it was as a country standing as one, with the greatest minds from all specialities and all walks of life coming together to propel us to the top of the global pile. And that we celebrate Merdeka in remembrance to those actions and lessons which have brought us our sovereignty, without which Malaysia would not be what it is today.
To me, standing above all else is 1Malaysia, for it is this which symbolises everything that has contributed greatest to our country’s wellbeing. Regardless of ethnicity or religion, race or creed, I ask all Malaysians to cherish the road our multiracial history has taken us. It is through this spirit of togetherness which 1Malaysia embodies that allows us to achieve more towards a brighter future. And remember that we have walked together down this road these past 55 years. After all, there is much we can be proud of. How many countries can boast of having citizens of diverse ethnicities coming together for a teh tarik at the local mamak to watch the Olympics and cheer our athletes, celebrate sport and our nation as one.