By Lim Kit Siang
I WAS very happy yesterday for my hopes that in March, Malaysia can break the four-digit daily increase of new COVID-19 cases have come true following report that the latest daily increase was 941, the first time the tally fell below the 1,000 mark since Dec 9 – falling on the third last day of the month.
But we have still not brought the third wave of the pandemic in Malaysia – already one of the longest waves in the world – under control, and my hope is that we can reduce the triple-digit daily increase to double-digit figures next month.
The worse performer nations in the pandemic management are the US and European countries and many best performer countries are in Asia – but Malaysia is not one of the best performing countries.
The 10 worst-performing countries are US (31 million cases); Brazil (12.5 million); India (12 million); France (4.5 million); Russia (4.5 million); United Kingdom (4.4 million); Italy (3.5 million); Spain (3.3 million); Turkey ( 3.25 million) and Germany (2.8 million).
Myanmar is ranked No.79 among countries with the most cumulative total with 142,393 COVID-19 cases and 3,206 deaths; South Korea ranked No. 85 with 102,141 cases and 1,726 deaths; China (where the pandemic started) ranked No. 92 with 90,182 cases and 4,636 deaths; Singapore ranked 101 with 60,321 cases and 30 deaths; Thailand ranked No. 116 with 28,773 cases and 94 deaths; Vietnam No. 176 with 2,594 cases and 35 deaths; Cambodia ranked No. 179 with 2,273 cases and 11 deaths; Taiwan ranked No. 190 with 1,023 cases and 10 deaths – all showing greater resilience and results than Malaysia which ranked No. 45 with 342,885 cases and 1,260 deaths.
This is one black mark for Malaysia in our quest to become a world-class nation, including a country with the competitive edge over other nations in being able to draw foreign investments for the economic growth and prosperity, which is all the more important after the economic ravages of the pandemic after more than a year.
Are we learning from our mistakes and those of other nations to ensure that there will not be a fourth wave of pandemic before third wave is fully brought under control?
But there are other black marks for Malaysia preventing Malaysia from becoming a great nation, whether in ensuring public trust and confidence, good and democratic governance, infrastructure investment or human capital development.
We are in this sorry state of affairs today where Malaysia is losing out on foreign direct investments (FDI) and domestic direct investment (DDI) because the effort to pursue the Malaysian Dream has slackened in the past year.
Lacklustre educators failing our children
When Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin was the Education Minister, in the beginning of the last decade, he launched the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025 in September 2012 for Malaysia to become a “wonder nation” and make the quantum jump from the bottom third to top third of 2021 PISA (Programme for International Assessment) tests of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
But this had been a dismal failure, for instead of leaping into the top third of the PISA tests, Malaysia’s 2018 PISA results had been worse than the 2015 PISA results in all the three subjects of Maths, science and reading and we are still far from the top third among the 80 PISA participating countries. Can we do better in the fifth 2021 PISA tests?
Another dismal failure of the Education Blueprint 2013-2025 was its strategic goal of recruiting from the ranks of the top 30% into the teaching profession.
According to Education Ministry’s statistics at the time, top academic performers comprised only 1% of applicants into the Bachelor of Education programme in 2009 and this was only increased to 9% of total applicants in 2011. What is the position today?
A decade later, we have slipped further in human capital development to the extent that multinational companies (MNCs) are less keen to employ local engineers who had graduated from local public universities, preferring graduates from the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand and even Indonesia.
They say local graduate engineers fall below their requirement, viz:
- They cannot perform their tasks well;
- They will need more training on the job (which will cost time and money); and
- It is more a nuisance to hire them, especially when engineers from nearby Asean countries can perform better.
The Cabinet tomorrow should address this and many issues which have caused Malaysia to regress in the past few decades and why our country is losing its shine as an investment destination for local and foreign investors.
Since 1970, the gross development product (GDP) of Malaysia has increased 90 times but Indonesia has increased by 117 times, Vietnam 122 times, China 163 times, Singapore 175 times and South Korea 178 times.
After the past 50 years, both Singapore and Vietnam have overtaken Malaysia in having larger GDPs.
Act on “police cartel”
There are views that Malaysia is less attractive as a country of investment than even Indonesia because like Singapore and Vietnam, Indonesia is politically stable, resourceful, the Government is pro-business and they offer economic incentives for businesses.
Are we in the trajectory to become a kakistocracy, as illustrated by having the largest Cabinet in the nation’s history but the worst performing, which does not have the moral and political courage to address two historic challenges last week:
- To advise the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to convene Parliament to spearhead a national mobilisation of Malaysians to bring the pandemic under control by Malaysia Day on Sept 16 so that normality and economic recovery can begin in the last quarter of the year; and
- To address the Inspector-General of Police’s shocking revelations and set up a Royal Commission of Inquiry on Police Integrity and Professionalism and on how to turn the Malaysian police into a world-class police force?
Instead of restoring public trust and confidence, the Muhyiddin Government is doing the very opposite – as evidenced by the latest scandal reneging on the Parliamentary mandate in 2019 to confer voting rights to Malaysians above 18 years of age in the next general election!
Is Malaysia losing out to more and more countries in creating a workforce with technology know-how, political maturity and stability, racial harmony, the rule of law, control of corruption and good governance?
If the Cabinet dare not pursue the Malaysian Dream and address these critical issues to stop Malaysia from the trajectory of a kakistocracy, then it is on track to become Malaysia’s most ignominious Cabinet in history. – March 30, 2021.
Lim Kit Siang is the MP for Iskandar Puteri.
The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.