The Axiata 7th ASEAN Leadership Forum

By Monday April 5th, 2010 No Comments


Assalamualaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh,

A very good afternoon and Salam 1Malaysia.

His Excellency Keo Puth Reasmey;
Deputy Prime Minister of Cambodia,

Her Excellency Secretary Annabella Abaya;
Presidential Adviser, Philippines,

Yang Berbahagia Dato’ Michael Yeoh;
Chief Executive Officer of ASLI,

Yang Berbahagia Dato’ Sri Jamaludin Ibrahim;
Chief Executive Officer of Axiata Berhad,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and gentlemen,

1. I would like to start by thanking ASLI for inviting me to deliver this keynote address today at this important occasion. This is the third time I have had an opportunity to address an annual ASEAN Leadership Forums and I would like to congratulate ASLI for taking the initiative to bring together Government, business, Civil Society and thought leaders of ASEAN and to deliberate on the future challenges facing this region.

2. Let me say too that I am honoured and humbled to accept the Inaugural ASEAN Transformational Leader Award. It is particularly appreciated as it is offered jointly by the ASEAN Leadership Forum, ASEAN AFFAIRS magazine, and the ASEAN Business Forum. Thank you for extending me this honour.

3. Transformational leadership is a challenge facing ASEAN as well as our respective countries. Our citizens want leaders who can transform society and improve their lives so they can have a higher standard of living and a more prosperous and peaceful future.

4. All leaders, I believe, strive to be transformational but transformational leadership is not easy. At the same time, transformational leadership offers a variety of challenges. For one, there will always be pockets of people in any nation, society or organization who resist change. Some are fearful of the uncertainty that change brings. Others could feel threatened by the requirements of doing things differently. So, a transformational leader must be able to address these concerns and impediments, and break down resistance to change. They must have a strategic vision and clear goals in mind. Leaders must plan strategies carefully and be able to effectively communicate the vision, goals and strategies in order to build support. These are necessary for the transformation to succeed. Transformational leaders must also have a sense of mission and a sense of urgency to get things done quickly.

Excellencies, Ladies & Gentlemen,

5. I believe that transformational leadership is especially important today as the world grapples with uncertainties created by the global financial crisis and other threats to world peace, security and prosperity. Transformational leadership makes a real difference in peoples’ lives. Transformational leaders deliver results that matter, change mindsets, and can mobilise support. They are able to implement difficult changes and are not afraid to make tough decisions.

6. In Malaysia, we have embarked on our transformational journey with our Government Transformation Programme. It has clearly defined National Key Result Areas and Key Performances Indicators. These are the scorecards by which our Government will be measured.

7. My Government needs to deliver and to deliver quickly. This is the message I have emphasised to my Cabinet and to Senior Government Officers. Today’s increasingly more sophisticated electorate is not easily satisfied. We must work hard to meet, if not exceed, their expectations.

8. The focus on Performance Management is, I believe, a fundamental pre-requisite for transformation to be successful. The Government Transformation Programme has charted a road-map and strategic direction to transform Government. The Malaysian public expects nothing but success in this. Failure to deliver will have dire consequences for us all. I wish to stress that Performance Management and the Government Transformation Programme are not mere slogans. They represent a determined plan of action that will be closely monitored and carefully implemented to improve the lives of our people.

9. I ask the Rakyat to help make this Government Transformation Programme successful. We mean business, and we invite the people of Malaysia to join us on this journey of change and transformation.

10. Representing another example of our transformational agenda, the New Economic Model, which will complement the Government Transformation Programme and our broader efforts to implement real and important change for the benefit of all Malaysians, was launched last week. The new model will serve as the backbone of our long-term policy agenda, and, as it is integrated into the 10th and 11th Malaysia Plans, will transform the Malaysian economy along three guiding principles – high income, inclusiveness and sustainability – driving our economic progress as we become a fully developed nation.

11. In line with the first principle, high income, we will re-invest in the people of Malaysia, break down barriers to growth and enable and empower the private sector by re-shaping and energizing the public sector, in order to achieve a high-income economy where the Rakyat will benefit from better, higher paying jobs and a better quality of life. I must stress that the true strength of Malaysia is in harnessing the potential of all Malaysians and allowing all to share in the proceeds of increased national prosperity. So our second principle of inclusiveness is built into the DNA of our new economic model, where the implementation of affirmative action policies is redefined to go beyond racial considerations and be market friendly, fully transparent and based solely on merit and needs. And as there is no value in pursuing a future where an influx of wealth is traded for a world that will not foster better lives for our children and grandchildren, we will not forget the importance of maintaining a commitment to sustainability of both economic performance and environmental impact.

12. As you can see, there is a great deal of work to be done to push this transformational initiative forward – taking it from a defined set of principles and goals and turning it into concrete policies – but we are steadfast in our commitment to seeing this implemented as part of the 10th Malaysia Plan. We will soon be announcing the Economic Transformation Programme with a dedicated public/private delivery vehicle, similar to PEMANDU, which will bring us through this process. The first stage will include broad engagement with the Rakyat and groups such as business leaders and investors, to ensure that all Malaysians have an opportunity to provide input into the policy making process. As I have made clear in the past, the era of ‘government knows best’ is over, so we will be seeking input and engagement from all of our most important stakeholders. This period of consultation will drive the second phase – the development of a detailed blueprint or roadmap on how the New Economic Model and accompanying economic reforms are to be implemented.

13. We will share more details on this plan soon, but I am proud to say that the process has started, work is ongoing and the path towards a transformed economy is clear. Of course, such an extensive transformation will not be easy, but I am confident that Malaysia is ready for this change and that it will all pay off in a stronger future for all Malaysians, irrespective of race and social class.

Excellencies, Ladies & Gentlemen,

14. I would like to offer our Government Transformation Programme as a model for other countries to emulate. Ours can serve as a case study for other ASEAN countries to consider in their efforts to transform their own administrations and societies. To do this, we would like to exchange ideas and share best practices, so we can learn from each other. Sharing transformational experiences and case-studies will help us all. While each member country is unique, and not everything tried in one country can be successfully applied in another, greater openness and willingness to share experiences can allow us to learn from one another.

15. We have as a region accomplished much and proven our critics wrong. Many had written off Southeast Asia after the 1997-98 Asian Financial Crisis. Others doubted our ability to recover from last year’s Global Financial Crisis. Yet we have bounced back. ASEAN is clearly on the road to recovery now. Coming into full effect with AFTA and the ASEAN-China Free Trade Area this year demonstrate ASEAN’s resilience and continued relevance in the international marketplace.

16. ASEAN will need to transform itself in order to ensure its relevance for future generations. Our young people must feel a sense of community, a sense of belonging and commonality. That is the reason why ASEAN leaders at the last summit in Thailand focused on the importance of ASEAN Connectivity. We believe that a more connected region will enhance regional integration. Connectivity covers not only physical linkages but also financial and socio-cultural ties, including tourism, cultural exchanges and movement of people. This calls for a convergence of ideas. A high level task force is developing a master plan for ASEAN Connectivity. We look forward to receiving a bold, comprehensive master plan from them in October.

17. In addition, ASEAN must continue to have a strong external orientation. Increasingly, other regions and countries want to expand their engagements with us, such as the EU, Japan, China, Korea, India, the U.S., Australia and New Zealand. Meaningful, constructive engagements with external partners will help us maximise the benefits. That’s another reason for ASEAN Connectivity to be inclusive, involving not just member states in the region but also dialogue partners. Accordingly, ASEAN Connectivity can boost trade, investment, tourism and development. It will narrow development gaps and facilitate people to people contacts, contributing to ASEAN community building.

18. A good example is the Singapore-Kunming Rail Link, which passes through Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam on the way to China. We anticipate it will be completed in 2015. ASEAN is also working towards a single aviation market by 2015.

19. I believe that this community-building, this sense of ASEAN consciousness, will allow governments, the private sector and our people to work closely together. It’s like a three-legged stool; we need all 3 legs for the stool to be strong. It is my hope that, in facing our future challenges, we can all work together and benefit from our smart power for mutual benefit and development.

20. We’ve already taken a big step forward in ASEAN community building when leaders adopted the ASEAN Charter and decided to focus on our three core communities. These are the ASEAN Political and Security Community, the ASEAN Economic Connectivity and the ASEAN Social-Cultural Community. I see today’s ASEAN Leadership Forum as another manifestation of this desire to create an ASEAN Community. I hope this forum will be productive and identify new and innovative strategies to move ASEAN forward.

I thank you all.

Wabillah ttaufik walhidayah wassalamualaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh.

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