Home  >  Opinion

New Malaysia vis-à-vis Vision 2020

  • The spirit of independence can be lifted up when all Malaysians come together as one.

By Prof. Dr. Mohd Azizuddin Mohd Sani

Independence Day on 31 August 2019 will become the last independence celebration for Malaysia before we enter into a new decade next year, the year 2020. The year 2020 is supposed to be the year that we mark ourselves as developed state through Vision 2020. But somehow, it has been delayed to year 2025 due to our political and economic circumstances.

These circumstances are actually related to the issues of ethnic relations and economic difficulties. Recently, Malaysia is facing difficulties in dealing with particularly issues of ethnicity emerged in post-2018 general election that can threaten Malaysia’s unity such as the rejection of ICERD, Zakir Naik’s speeches, the Seafield Sri Maha Mariamman Temple case, introduction Khat in primary school, and many more.

Moreover, economic difficulties facing by Malaysia were due to internal and external factors. But, the mismanagement of the Malaysian economy have led the Malaysian government to put a strong stand and effort to combat graft and abuse of power. In those notes, this chosen theme for the 2019 National Day and Malaysia Day is “Sayangi Malaysiaku: Malaysia Bersih” (Love our Malaysia: A Clean Malaysia) obviously to stress the importance of unity and patriotism for the well-being of the people and shared prosperity.

The theme will instill the value of integrity and strong character among Malaysians, as mentioned by Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo. I believe that the spirit of this year’s independence is much related to the concept of ‘New Malaysia’ (Malaysia Baru).

In realizing the spirit of Independence, we currently need to explore the true meaning of ‘New Malaysia’. However, so far the concept of ‘New Malaysia’ is very vague and the new PH government is somehow failed to define it and to make the people understand the way forward for Malaysia as a nation. However, we cannot deny that many efforts have been done to ensure the ‘New Malaysia’ emerged in Malaysia through several approaches in politics such as the improvement in practicing political freedom, freedom of the press, eradicating corruption etc.

For me, the idea of ‘New Malaysia’ projected by the PH government has many similarities with the pillars of Vision 2020 projected by Tun Mahathir Mohamad in 1991. I think that we have to go back and evaluate our understanding about Vision 2020 because the substances of the vision are relevant to guide us in driving our Independence and Malaysia’s future in next decade. Let us look back in some of the nine pillars of Vision 2020.

First pillar is “...the challenges of establishing a united Malaysian nation with a sense of common and shared destiny. This must be a nation at peace with itself, territorially and ethnically integrated, living in harmony and full and fair partnership, made up of one 'Bangsa Malaysia' with political loyalty and dedication to the nation”.

Based on this pillar, no one is justified to question any citizen or ethnic of this country of his/her or their loyalty to the country. It is clear that our multiracial society shares a common destiny to live together in the spirit of togetherness and unity. Any ethnic issue should be resolved peacefully and this makes Malaysia continued to be prosperous and stable politically in the past and today.

The element of respect between ethnics or races in Malaysia can overcome any hurdle that we may face in the future. In the Vision 2020, the fifth pillar also said that we have to establish “… a matured, liberal and tolerant society in which Malaysians of all colors and creeds are free to practice and profess their customs, cultures and religious beliefs and yet feeling that they belong to one nation”.

This pillar is acceptable by all when Vision 2020 was introduced and is in line with the current government’s initiatives in policy and policy implementation. Hence, any element of hatred toward religion, race, ethnic and gender are not welcomed in this beloved country. Thus, political maturity is needed to guide Malaysians to become a liberal and yet tolerant society.

Recently, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and Tun Daim Zainuddin urged Malaysia to change its economic policy from ethnic or race-based to a need-based economy in order for Malaysia to become a developed state. Anwar for instance said that “What I need to do is to accelerate the process (of implementing a needs-based economic policy). But I’m equally, if not more committed in terms of reducing inequality and elevating the poor and also to check on unbridled capitalism”.

Argument from both of the leaders is sacrosanct with the eighth pillar of Vision 2020 which says “…the challenge of ensuring an economically just society. This is a society in which there is a fair and equitable distribution of the wealth of the nation, in which there is full partnership in economic progress. Such a society cannot be in place so long as there is the identification of race with economic function, and the identification of economic backwardness with race. Clearly, Vision 2020 already calls us to move away from race-based to a need or fair based economy in order to become a developed country.

In my view, the PH government does not have to define ‘New Malaysia’ because all ingredients of ‘New Malaysia’ are in fact embedded in the Vision 2020 proposed almost 30 years ago, but never being fully implemented. Right now, the government should produce policies that reflect the agenda of ‘New Malaysia’ inspired by the Vision 2020.

As a higher middle income nation dominated by the middle class who decided to change the government in the last general election, the majority of our population wants political stability, peace and security, and economic prosperity in order for them to have a normal and quality living in Malaysia. They want Malaysia to have strong economy and more economic opportunities to do businesses and have good jobs.

Once Malaysia can be able to reduce corruption and instill good governance in the political and economic systems, Malaysia can focus to bring more developments and investments in order to realize Malaysia again as “Asian Tiger”. Malaysian constitution must be uphold and learnt by all Malaysians. Rukunegara must be embraced, not forgotten.

Therefore, the spirit of independence can be lifted up when all Malaysians come together as one. I am optimistic that Malaysia will overcome any hardship and wrongdoing happened in the past and move forward with ambition to see Malaysia embracing unity, harmony, and caring society. With the proper vision and leadership, the future of Malaysia is bright.

(Prof. Dr. Mohd Azizuddin Mohd Sani is Professor at the
School of International Studies, Universiti Utara Malaysia. Email: [email protected].)

Copyright © 2019 Sin Chew Media Corporation Berhad (98702-V).
All rights reserved. Contact us : [email protected]