We need a new agenda, based on current reality, that will transcend the ideals of Vision 2020, Thuraisingham Shan writes.
The year 2020 has come and is set to go without a 20/20 perspective of reality.
A developed Malaysia by 2020 was only a dream. It was a mere vision in the minds of Malaysians. It was a mission which needed to be fine-tuned to enable Malaysia to achieve the status of a developed nation.
Malaysia is a paradox. It is rich in natural resources. It has a thriving industrial base and a large pool of technical capability. But many people are poverty-stricken. We started off well enough after independence, but the lack of progress on many fronts after that is a major cause for concern.
An old fatalism has reasserted itself, and we have lost our confidence. The goal is not an unrealistic one. Extrapolating from current growth rates and trends with various improvements and directions, we should be able to provide our people with a decent standard of living.
Past success bears this out. We were able to produce enough food for our population. We started from scratch to have today satellites and a high-level communication system linking remote regions of our country. Our failure motivates us to try harder. The same approach can lead us to success in many other areas.
The ultimate aim: a Malaysia free from poverty, strong in trade and commerce, science and technology, providing health and education to all – a developed Malaysian nation. That has been the hope of Malaysians since independence.
In this new millennium, we have to accomplish that goal. We have to evolve creative political leadership at all levels of governance – from new villages, kampongs, state assemblies to Parliament, with a new vision for the millennium. The ideals of the Malaysian Vision 2020 has to transcend the visionary statement of Dr Mahathir Mohammed, its proponent. As it stands, it is a mere statement without the logistics for implementation.
Mahathir did not have perfect 20/20 vision. As an elder statesman, he remains in the public eye for his role in nation-building, without reaching out to people to build bridges across religious and social divides.
We have to focus on transforming our nation into a developed nation in reality. We have now to share our ideas to evolve a new creative political leadership at all levels of governance – from the kampongs, new villages, the state machinery to parliamentarians.
We have to interact with the various research and development machinery and interact with domain experts, scientists, technologists, bureaucrats, members of industry, media practitioners, farmers, political leaders and the youth to play an important role in reshaping our thoughts, to arrive with a new “manifesto agenda”.
The political leaders have to contribute to a new vision with resolve and vision to serve the people through the existing political system in a democratic environment.
We need visionary leadership that would percolate to all levels of governance. We have to transcend the ideals of a manifesto, which is usually prepared for elections to help the people understand what a party promises to do if it comes to power.
We have now to draw up a manifesto for change for elected representatives in kampongs, new villages, state legislative assemblies and Parliament – and for the people of the country to equip them with information to demand good performance from their representatives at the various levels.
We have to be realistic in the realms of creative leadership and people’s aspirations. We need to develop a clear vision that would be relevant from the grassroots to the higher echelons of political leadership.
We need to ignite the minds of the youth so they will dedicate themselves to the nation and bring about a change in thinking to make Malaysia a developed country. It is said that “igniting the minds of the youth is the most powerful resource on earth, above the earth and under the earth”.
History has proved that those who dare and imagine are the ones who break all human barriers and limitations. In every field of human endeavour – whether it is science, medicine, sports, the arts, technology or politics – the names of the people who imagine the impossible are engraved in our history. By breaking the limits of the imagination, they changed the world. We will change the world. – APJ Abdul Kalam
The need of the hour is not talk of peace, progress and prosperity, but honest efforts to take steps in that direction.
A leader must have:
- a vision
- the passion to realise the vision
- the inclination to travel and explore the earth
- experience in how to manage both success and failure
- the courage to take tough decisions
- nobility in management
- transparency in every action
- the ability to master problems and succeed
- the ability to work with integrity and succeed with integrity
We need creative leaders who have these qualities and the vision to work for real change. The youth of our country should inherit a nation that is a leader, not a follower.
We need a new shift in thinking to create the needed change.
To begin with, let us look at the areas where Malaysia has core competence:
- agricultural and food processing
- education and healthcare
- information and communications technology
- infrastructure development, which includes reliable and quality electric power, surface transport and infrastructure for all parts of the country, including rural and urban areas
- self-reliance and critical technologies
Towards a true vision!
Thuraisingham Shan is a cooperative and management consultant. This piece was coordinated by Priyah Balakrishnan