HISTORY has it that when the ancient Chinese decided to live in peace, they made the Great Wall of China; they thought no one could climb it due to its height.
During the first 100 years of its existence, the Chinese were invaded three times and each time, the hordes of enemy infantry had no need of penetrating or climbing over the wall because they just bribed the guards and came through the doors.
The Chinese built the wall but forgot about the human characters. Though the Great Wall has over the years become a powerful symbol of China’s enduring strength and spirit, it has actually been a good reminder to the Chinese of the superiority of human behaviour.
The Chinese realised much later that the best defence against the enemy is not a fortified wall, but a fortified character. Thus, there goes the saying of ‘the building of human character comes before the building anything else’.
William Shakespeare captured it succinctly when he said, “the fault is not in our stars, but in ourselves”. Meanwhile, former Porsche CEO Peter Schutz said: “hire character; train skills.”
Lastly, back in the days when Germany was divided, a huge wall separated East and West Berlin.
One day, some people in East Berlin took a truck load of garbage and dumped it on the West Berlin side.
The people of West Berlin could have done the same thing, but they didn’t. Instead, they took a truck load of canned goods, bread, milk and other provisions, and neatly stacked it on the East Berlin side.
On top of this stack, they placed the sign: “Each gives what he has”.
Hate and revenge have never solved anything. Instead, it spirals down into an everlasting abyss of despair and anger. The Chinese have a saying – ‘revenge has no ending. Love from deep within has far reaching solutions’.
I have written two books, namely Malaysia: Road Map for Achieving Vision 2020 and New Road Map to a Developed Nation.
Malaysia was one of the richest countries in the world based on gross domestic product (GDP) per capita. We were the biggest producer of tin, rubber and palm oil in the world for a relatively small population of 32 million people.
Moreover, we have petroleum. Yet, we could not be classified as a developed nation but Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea are classified as developed nations. All these countries do not even have timber to build their houses.
What is wrong with Malaysia?
Corruption: The biggest culprit in the country is corruption. Just a few days ago, our former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak was appointed economic adviser to the new Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob. Najib has stolen billions of ringgit and is still being charged in court for corruption.
Transparency International’s 2017 Corruption Perception Index ranked Malaysia at the 62nd spot out of 180 countries. Business executives surveyed in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2013-2014 revealed that unethical behaviours of companies constitute a disadvantage for doing business in Malaysia.
Civil service: Managing a country is like managing hundreds of business operations in every town and cities. Good managers produce good result while bad managers produce bad result. Just based on the number of COVID-19 cases, our civil and politicians have not managed our country well.
Through Google, I found out that Malaysia has 1.71 million civil servants on the Government’s payroll as of March 2019 for 32 million people. That means one civil servant for every 19 citizens.
For comparison, the UK has 430,075 civil servants for a population of 66.65 million people or one civil servant for 150 British citizens.
Meritocracy: As I said earlier, good managers produce good result and bad managers produce bad result. To achieve good results, the management must be efficient. The best and quickest way to get good result is to practice meritocracy.
Our Government must practice meritocracy in the selection of students for entry to universities. As a result, we will always have better qualified graduates to work in the civil service or in the private sector.
Becoming a developed nation: Our Government must not select civil servants based on race and religion. If the Government practices meritocracy for the selection and promotion of civil servants, we will always have the most efficient civil servants managing our country so that Malaysia can become a developed nation. – Sept 13, 2021
Koon Yew Yin is a savvy investor and philanthropist.
The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.