By Lim Kit Siang
SINCE the launching of the Theatre Impian in Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur last Sunday, I have been waking up at 3am, 4am or 5am with the question – how can we rekindle, re-inspire, re-energize and re-motivate hope and inspiration in the Malaysian Dream for the country to be a world-class great nation by ensuring that the 15th General Election (GE15) fulfil the high but dashed hopes of the GE14 for reform and salvation?
How do we restore the hope and the inspiration in the GE14 when Malaysians at home and abroad made the superhuman effort to ensure that their every vote counted and stood tall in the world by performing the political miracle of effecting a peaceful and democratic transition of power for the first time in six decades?
But the high hopes of May 9, 2018 had not been fulfilled.
We had a mandate of five years to implement the Pakatan Harapan (PH) manifesto for a New Malaysia, but it was cut short in 22 months by the Sheraton Move conspiracy which toppled the PH Government and ushered in a backdoor as well as an illegitimate regime.
As the former Attorney-General Tommy Thomas said in a recent podcast, among the “worst failures” of the PH Government were not actively addressing the Sedition Act and Anti-Fake News Act while the “biggest achievement” was the passing of the constitutional amendment lowering the voting age to 18 before the five-year mandate of the PH Government was suddenly terminated after 22 months.
Malaysians spoke out loud and clear to oppose kleptocracy but kakistocratcy slipped in by the backdoor.
Is it possible for Malaysians, at home and abroad, to make another superhuman effort in GE15 to reject both kleptocracy and kakistocracy and to save Malaysia from becoming a failed state?
There is frustration, disappointment and even despair in the land.
Has Malaysia reached the terminal stage where the future is only kleptocracy, kakistocracy and a failed state?
I do not think so.
So long as Malaysians do not believe the siren song that any race or religion is facing extinction, as there is no race or religion in Malaysia’s plural society which wants to eliminate another race or religion, and Malaysians regardless of race or religion can focus on the shared middle ground of making Malaysia a world-class great nation which delivers a better quality of life in education, economics, public health, housing and environment to all Malaysians, then the Malaysian Dream is still relevant and pertinent.
Politics in Malaysia has entered a new phase, with the “Three-Kingdom” scenario in the backdoor Government evolving into a new stage, with each of the three players in Government attempting to secure an unique advantage over the others.
What is surprising is that key role played by PAS, which the Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, had condemned in the past as “Parti Ajaran Sesat”.
It is a sign of the turbulent and tumultuous political times in Malaysia that the Prime Minister is now the captive of the “Parti Ajaran Sesat” he had been condemning, when he was previously in UMNO or Bersatu!
In pursuit of the Malaysian Dream for Malaysia to be a world-class great nation, the first principle is to recognise that Malaysia is falling behind more and more countries in excellence, meritocracy, good governance and competitiveness.
We have regressed in our quest to become a world-class great 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 COVID-19 pandemic after more than a year.
We must learn from our mistakes that prevent Malaysia from becoming a world-class great nation, whether in ensuring public trust and confidence, good and democratic governance, infrastructure investment or human capital development.
When Muhyiddin was the Education Minister at 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 OECD (The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development).
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.
The four sets of PISA results for Malaysia since 2009 are as follows:
Where will Malaysia be in the fifth 2021 PISA tests?
Another dismal failure of the Education Blueprint 2013-2025 was its strategic goal of recruiting from the top 30% cohort into the teaching profession.
According to the Ministry of Education’s statistics at the time, top academic performers comprised only 1% of applicants into the Bachelor of Education program 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 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);
- Its more a nuisance to hire them, especially when engineers from nearby ASEAN countries can perform better.
We have also slipped in the world competitiveness ranking from No. 22 in 2019 to No. 27 in 2020. Our ranking in the 2021 world competitiveness report is likely to be even worse!
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.
The time has come to sound the bugle call for all Malaysians to realise that we are losing out to more and more countries in creating a world-class great nation and a workforce with technology know-how, political maturity and stability, racial harmony, the rule of law, control of corruption and good governance — and that there must be new spurt of national energies to make Malaysia great again if we are not to be relegated to the backwaters of a kleptocracy, kakistocracy and a failed state!
Can we return to the days when we can uphold the Malaysian Constitution and the five Rukun Negara principles to achieve a world-class great nation — as we have now Ministers who have dubious positions on the Constitution and the Rukun Negara? – April 4, 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.
Photo Credit: MalayMail