Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Stumbling blocks to nation's progress (Mkini)

At dinner last night, a foreign investor asked me if he should continue to bet his money on Malaysia in the next five years. He was anxious to find out if Malaysia can ride out the current economic crisis.

I told him that the indicators so far are not good. On the economy, it is quite obvious that the government and the ruling elites do not display enough political will, deep economic knowledge and policy wisdom to take this country to a higher level.We have identified two crucial challenges for the economy.

First, it is quite obvious that our fixation with building mega dollars industrial parks and hubs is not working.

Malaysia's economic success cannot be solely dependent on industrial parks.What we should do is to focus on enhancing the quality of education in the country. Without a pool of highly skilled labour, it will be difficult for us to attract higher value investment into the country. Malaysia's dependence on low cost foreign labour is a major barrier for innovation.

It is an open secret that this government does not focus on the substance of a good education policy. The whole debate on the use of language has created a diversion from the real problem faced by this country.Until and unless something is being done to enhance, revamp and reorganise the curriculum and the quality of teachers in this country, Malaysia's hope of joining the ranks of high-income countries will remain a mere dream.

Since the last general election, many Malaysians and foreigners are hopeful that this country will change for the better. Many of them will be disappointed to find out that the quality of political discourse has taken yet another dip for the worse.

The opposition coalition has not performed much better either. Constant bickering and open disputes over trivial issues only helped to expose a lack of calibre in their leadership ranks.

Malaysians must make a serious choice on whether they should continue to tolerate current political antics or demand better quality politicians in the next general election.

The use of extreme racial and religious language in the ongoing Permatang Pasir by-election is an indication of what to expect in the next general election.

Race relations in the country could turn for the worse if Malaysians allow themselves to be manipulated and influenced by the propaganda and rhetoric.Less than capable and tainted politicians will continue to hide behind the race and religious curtain for survival.For those who thought that racism in Malaysia is over after the last general election, they might be disappointed.

The next general election will put Malaysian political maturity to test.Malaysians will find little fault with race and religion if we can agree that good governance and a responsible government is more important.

Mutual respect and acceptance can be nurtured once the blame game stops.The local politics is not only suffering from a devious manipulation of race and religion to score political points but also corruption and abuse of power.

Several scandals e.g. the PKFZ fiasco, thousands of custodial deaths, judicial independence, alleged collusion between the ruling government and the public institutions and others have rocked the country in recent times. Many foreign observers are surprised that many Malaysians have been remarkably resilient and tolerant towards these scandals. Many governments would not have survived even one of the scandals.

Socially, this society is at a crossroads. The ruling government is very aggressive in promoting its new slogan, '1Malaysia'. But as many as 40 percent of Malaysians are not quite sure what it really means.

The government is now considering dropping a race identification tick box from all official forms. This is merely a cosmetic move as a person's race can be easily identified from his/her name.So far, the ruling government does not show any indication that it is serious in eradicating real racial profiling, promoting equality among all Malaysians, respecting democratic rights to assembly and free speech, enhancing democracy and improving its own governance.

Other emerging countries are using the crisis to improve and correct their internal discrepancies. It does not take long for Malaysia to fall behind the pack if the government continues to focus on political contestation and neglecting everything else.

After hearing me, the foreign investor told me he had made up his mind on where to put his money and place his next bet. I hope he is still committed to Malaysia.


romerz said...


They will be overcomed eventually I have no doubt. Why? Because of our population demographics.

Those who continue to impede our progress as a nation are not getting any younger and it is a matter of time before the young of this country takes over.

Of this I have no doubt when the median age is 24.6 years (2008 estimate according to WolframAlpha).

Change will come when the country is in the hands of younger and more able politicians, when I do not know but we are surely heading that way.

My only fear is how do we transit from these old racists and inept buffoons peacefully? Unless they die before the transition takes place, I worry that they will resort to violent means to stay in power!

Don't worry about progress, it will come within our lifetime even. Worry more about the transition as I do daily when I hit out at old politics.

Whilst I know what needs to be done, I'm as yet unsure how it can be achieved given the desperate people we are dealing with!

Care to give me an idea on which I can use? Thanks in advance.

Anonymous said...


The BN/UMNO animal farm will not focus on improving the quality of education in Malaysia. They send their own children abroad...that they know.

They also know that they need to keep the quality of education in M'sia low so that the people remain "katak dibawah tempurung". If Rakyat becomes too clever, the animal farm will not remain in power.

You are right. Countries with a high percentage of educated citizens have low crime rate. Look at the jails....up 70% of the jailbirds are Chinese. The country doesn't look at how to equip the less educated with skills...skills which they can use to earn a living. Good leaders will build more technical schools where the less academically-inclined folks can learn and acquire certification on brick-laying, plumbing, electrical works, etc. This will be good for all Rakyat. No....nothing for this category of Rakyat. How do they survive? They resort to crime.

The economy is in the doldrum in Malaysia and yet, the animals in Putrajaya can spend billions to do feasibility on green dam, hire PR consultants to improve the image of the police, looking into building a bridge from Melaka to Sumatra...the list goes on and on.

It is not that Najis and Moohidin have no brain. They use their brain to look into ways to line their own pockets and that of their cronies. They don't think for the Rakyat. Rakyat think they are stupid...they are not. These 2 animals think for themselves and as a result they look stupid..when in fact, they are so clever in counting what goes into their pockets.

Tell investors Malaysia is not the place to invest....tell them to go to Singapore, HK or even Thailand.

Anonymous said...

Of all the predicaments of our present scenario, the worst and most explosive are racial and religious rhetorics...and politicians and editors who played them seemed to be ignorant of the fiery consequences that would result...

RON, Kuala Lumpur

Anonymous said...

If I were the foreign investor who listened to your explanation, I would also know what to do with my money.

How many investors would the ruling government need to convince them that changes and reformation are needed? They do not need just icing on the social-economic-religious cake. If parties concerned are so gung-ho on propagating the 1M'sia concept, then they must be brave enough to 'bite the bullet' to face and solve all other pertinent and important issues so apparent in the eyes of locals and foreigners as well.

Of course,it is good that the foreign investor be committed to Malaysia, but could he? What are the pull factors? Will he be pushed to other ASEAN or Asian countries? Who will miss out on the shift of balance of the economic and financial power from the West to East and South Asia?

Citizen said...

With this current bunch of ministers eg Nazri(who said MACC can use gun to shoot if threatened and simply accuse people before police even investigated),Muyuddin(defending Utusan for inciting a racial issue and now using govnmt property for own party use and got the guts to say he is not afraid!, defending the candidate of Permatang Pasir that he is not wrong(morally) but actually this guy(Rohaizat) has been found guilty by the Bar council and righted by the court.),Rais yatim(for giving flimsy excuses to trying to change the name of H1N1 virus to some other name).They are all old cocks and their brain cells have stagnated!So how do you expect our country to propress with them around.

Anonymous said...

Yes..! Same goes with my foreign investors...

I might also take mine else where.

As long as "both sides" are still as screwed up as ever, Malaysia will loose "big time"...!!!

Don't they know that "The World" knows & is watching....!!!

And they keep telling them .....
"Come to Malaysia lah....
Very nice place.... (I agree until....)
Investment very easy....
Can get approval easy.... (Eerrr..)
We are multi racial... (I agree)
We live in harmony.... (Mmmm...!)
Blah.. Blah.........

I've such big plans for our country. But now.......
I don't know !!!

Anonymous said...

Thats a good one...I can also use such advice for my other foreign friends.

Thumbs UP!

red.dot said...

On your statement:
"Many foreign observers are surprised that many Malaysians have been remarkably resilient and tolerant towards these scandals. Many governments would not have survived even one of the scandals."

It's not that many Malaysians have been remarkably resilient & tolerant towards these scandals, but the rakyat's being suppressed of their very basic right!

Anonymous said...

I can understand your reason for wanting to be honest but shouldn't you try to refrain from volunteering such views. Unless they beat it out of you!
You may have cost your fellow Malaysians jobs!

Anonymous said...

Qoute from one of the blogs re the state of our country.....

when the intellectuals go down and the fools go up, they then become ministers and leaders, running and ruining the country!


Anonymous said...

Race is part and parcel of constition but there is the catedgory for chinese and indians is under 'others' , pl be advised. So pl amend the constitution and abolish this part

Anonymous said...

Khoo, we know how bad our country has become under those corrupt warlords, but at least you should have tried to trick the foreigners to invest here so that we can have at least maintain a bowl of rice everyday before those warlords take everything for themselves and cronies and soon we will dig tapioca to eat.The Penans have already started digging

Anonymous said...

I think most of the opposition supporter hated the gov so much that they are willing to make sure the current gov lose out in every field. They don't even mind malaysia lose out economically by protrating a very bad image of malaysia to the world. They don't mind the fellow malaysian suffer economically as long as they make sure they topple current gov. The worse malaysia suffer economically, the happier they are as long as bn toppled at all cost.

Anonymous said...

Khoo, as bad our current political situation is, Malaysia as a whole is still a good place to invest.

I hope you've sold your friend here the good parts about Malaysia as well and not just the ugly politics...which are not expected to change that much in the next 4-5 years!

SH Tan said...

You are an optimist and I'd like to hope that you are correct, for our children's sake. However, the signs on the walls are not pretty. I have not seen any difference in the next generation of the UMNOputras.

As for our economy, it is pathetic. What happened to the billions in the stimulus packages? Some friends in the construction and building industry told me they have not seen anything so far. Maybe they are non-UMNO. I just came back from 2 weeks in China. You can feel the pulse of the economy there by seeing the highways choked with big trucks and heavy movers. There are big infra projects everywhere. Factories I visited told me that they are seeing orders coming in. They are starting to gear up. Restaurants are full. Wait list for Mercs in Beijing is several months. China is where all the money is. I never fail to be amazed on each trip to China.

ajoyly said...

You have put beautifully what are the problems besetting Malaysia's progress in view of the current economic recession? And how they can be overcame? The difficulty is that, there is a blockage in the form of personal or vested interest. Connected with money and which has became a permanent feature of political life in the country.

Such entrenchment is not easy to remove. Considering, it is a part of the fabric of politic. It requires a general overhaul of all aspect of Malaysian Society's infrastructures. A gargantuan task indeed! It will need intense concentration and stamina as at every turn and corner it will be met by very strong resistance.

From those who are involved in such a lifestyle. To give up would mean like losing a gold mine. Nevertheless it has to be done. Othewise, like cancer, it will kill investment and the economic life of Malaysia. To the detriment of workers in which case, thousands will lose their jobs.

Money itself is not the root of evil. It is how it's used, like bribing in order to obtain favours from people holding political offices. With both parties having vested interest in the transaction concerned, it is not easy to pin down the culprits. As both sides will be protective of each other.

The difficulty is enormous but it can be done with a strong and determined political will.

Anonymous said...

Uncle Khoo there r too many of us inthis country. Maybe chinese and indian be allowed to go back to our mother country. Opnion only ma dun get angry