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Look East policy an overall failure

What the nation needs is good governance that respects moral integrity, environment and human rights

Mahathir's Look East policy has been a failure

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It is no surprise that Dr Mahathir Mohamad has been parroting to the nation the success of his Look East policy lately, when commemorating the 40th anniversary of the policy.

The reality is Malaysia is still stuck in the ‘middle-income trap’ because the Look East policy is centred on close government and business relationships, work ethics, subdued workers unions and poor environmental consciousness.

We lack the overall understanding of governance that abhors corruption; cabinet ministers with integrity and honesty; transparency in governance; and respect for integral ecology and human rights; which are vital for work ethics and industrialisation to flourish in a purposeful direction. This also holds true of the corporate world.

We as a nation are still far behind in good governance compared to countries like China, South Korea, Japan and Singapore.

What has made things worse over the years is the emergence of ethno-religious politics each time public accountability is demanded, together with a demand for blind loyalty to leaders, a clear Mahathir legacy.

Today we have millions of cars on the roads that contribute to climate disasters, due to Mahathir’s Look East policy of misplaced industrial nationalism that has ignored the damage to the environment. Future generations will carry the burden of this negligence.

Of course, there were good things done during his tenure such as infrastructure development, which are only a part of success rather than the overall process and system of success.

What the nation needs is good governance that respects moral integrity, environment and human rights. This could be found within our spiritual and religious traditions and in any part of the world with overall good governance – instead of going back to the so-called Look East policy that has become an overall failure. – Free Malaysia Today

AGENDA RAKYAT - Lima perkara utama
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  4. Selamatkan demokrasi dan angkatkan keluhuran undang-undang
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Stephen Tan Ban Cheng
Stephen Tan Ban Cheng
4 Jun 2022 6.52pm


An objective review would lead one to this view: the Look East policy was a manoeuvre to inject the “crony capitalism” of Japan into our Malaysian system.

In 1983, when I visited Japan, a cup of coffee cost RM15 in a hotel. The same cup cost RM2.50 locally. This was because the host of cronies that later dominated almost any trade to make their profits along the supply chain, meant that Malaysian consumers footed increased costs.

The 1990s and later years witnessed this phenomenon. If I am right, Malaysians in the bottom social rung have been more sinned against than sinning. Woe to the perpetrators who thrive at the expense of their fellow Malaysians.

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