During my visits to ASEAN countries, I was happy to observe that the Malaysian flag is indeed flying proudly in these countries. Our Malaysians workforce as well as businesses set up by Malaysian companies in these countries are a testament that Malaysia is on the right track for progress. As I went through my pile of work in the office this week, I thought it would be a good idea to share the mind map that I had on my table via my blog, just as I shared it with our Malaysians abroad during my visit to Laos.
We can be proud of the fact that we have made our nation’s presence felt in many countries including advanced and upcoming cities around the world. I hope that this will serve as an encouragement to Malaysians worldwide – that the entrepreneurial spirit is strong and is something we can leverage on and be imbued with. We look at possibilities in many places – even far-flung, unfamiliar places – but there are opportunities for us. And Malaysians must seek opportunities wherever they are, in both developed and developing countries.
Our challenges will be different from those challenges faced by other nations, but we cannot rest on our laurels because the environment has changed significantly. For example, in the ’70s and early ’80s, while we were enjoying high growth rates before the Asian financial crisis, there were many countries that kept closed economies. They were not prepared to reform; they were not prepared to liberalise. Yet today, practically every country has adopted market-friendly policies. The only aspect that has not changed is the system of governance. And these countries such as Lao PDR, Cambodia, Vietnam and others which were not in the game previously can embark on reforms. Certainly even big China was not in the game in the ’70s – they only came into play in the ’80s with the famous dictum of Deng Xiaoping: it does not matter what colour the cat is as long it catches mice. These are very pragmatic people.
So the world has changed. Malaysia has no choice; either remain stagnant as a middle-income nation or transform ourselves. If we remain as a middle-income nation, other countries will leapfrog ahead of us. This is because they are not looking at incremental changes; they are looking at massive technological changes which will enable them to leapfrog over other countries.
This is why we should not rest on our laurels. We should not think that the same set of policies that worked for us in the ’70s and ’80s will continue to do so if the environment has changed. We must move forward with a new set of policies that make us globally competitive. The keyword is globally competitive. We cannot succeed if we are not globally competitive.
If we are globally competitive then Malaysia can achieve Vision 2020. We want to be a developed nation, we aspire to be a developed nation. We have defined what developed nation means in per capita terms. We want to grow our income per head from about US$7,000 to US$15,000 in 10 years. And that is how we have defined developed nation in a nutshell.
However, per capita is not everything; it has to be inclusive. The fruits of our success as an economic nation must be shared by all Malaysians. It cannot be just an elite group that enjoys the benefits; it must be spread around. So, inclusiveness is important and no one should be marginalised. Hence, we introduced 1Malaysia, People First Performance Now. 1Malaysia is about being together, about sharing the success of Malaysia, that everyone should benefit from the economic success of Malaysia and that it is a fair and equitable distribution.
We also believe that this economic transformation is a journey filled with challenges as well as excitement, because Malaysians can do it. And we have proven so within a year with two major successes. Despite being subsumed by some issues from time to time, within one year we have turned the economy around from a recession to an economy that achieved a 10.1% growth in one quarter.
Another accomplishment that we have achieved within one year is our global competitive index which has jumped from 18 to 10 within one year. We are now a top ten nation in the world, and we can be proud of that. Again, as we cultivate a culture of excellence, we will not to stop at top ten. I want us to be in the top five; I want us to go up the scale.
We are pushing as hard as possible. I am working. I have said on my Twitter before, “I feel the the strain now, that my days are getting longer and my nights are shorter”. I don’t mind the hard work; I think that hard work is good because I am driven to do my best. As a government we must do our best. I took the leadership to show that I am serious, committed, and dedicated. I can assure you, as your Prime Minister, I will do my level best to transform Malaysia.
Of course this journey I cannot make alone; I need my colleagues in the government, all of us in the private and public sectors. I need every Malaysian, wherever you are, to join me, to work hand in hand to achieve something extraordinary. It is all about achieving results. It must be about transforming and leading Malaysia towards something better, towards achieving higher goals. And that is the journey that I want all Malaysians to feel a part of, as a family of 1Malaysia. And Insya-Allah, God willing, we will get there. With your support we will get there.