WHEN we look around us and examine the outstanding developments in Malaysia and the growth of the nation, we ask ourselves how all these were achieved in one generation.
Fifty years ago, Malaysia was a backwater country grappling with instability. Today, we are among the most rapidly developing and successful countries in the world. This would not have been achieved without the best inspiration from our leaders. The ideas were from our forefathers who were ahead of their time.
They had a dream, an idea and much confidence. What was greater was when all their dreams, ideas and confidence were translated into reality.
When Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced the National Transformation Plan 2050 (TN50), I was very excited. I was among those who offered to help and support to ensure that the noble programmes contained in the TN50 blueprint would become a success.
I have my own perspective on why Malaysia needs the TN50, the new national vision.
Firstly, after six decades of independence, we need a shift and catalyst for new national development. We need inspiration, excitement and a new target. This excitement and target will pave the way for us to become a better developed nation. A new lease of life will suit the current context and demands of this era. Without a target and renewed excitement, we will not grow as a country, because the first prerequisite for progress is neither capital, knowledge nor expertise. These can be acquired and nurtured with hard work and plenty of discipline.
The most important prerequisite in development and progress is a big mission and vision based on forward-thinking aspirations, which will produce extraordinary targets that can stir the emotions and elevate the spirits of all Malaysians. They will help to unite us as we forge towards the future together.
Secondly, we need TN50 because our country has always been developed with the best aspirations and visions. For example, the New Economic Policy, Look East Policy, the various Malaysia Plans, Malaysia Incorporated Policy and Vision 2020. These policies and big development plans do not merely outline plans for a year or two.
Imagine a Malaysia without such big aspirations and thoughts? We may have remained a minor agrarian country and most probably be left behind in the wave of globalisation and open economy. We would have remained as a nation of people who only look as far as tomorrow or the next day when it comes to goals in life. The best vision has always been part of Malaysia’s success story, therefore TN50 will be a continuation of that — a continuation that must be well supported just like everything else.
Thirdly, Malaysia needs to seriously think of her future. A modern and globally-motivated Malaysia will have many challenges. These challenges will not be new, but they will be very complex and difficult. In terms of the economy, it has not only become more global but it has moved rapidly towards a digital economy that is spearheaded by innovative ideas, creativity and sustainability.
Look at our people. They are not only modern and advanced, but they are egalitarian. Look at the advancements in technology and innovation in various sectors. It has gained prominence and shaped all of our practices and previous ways of working.
On Johor’s part, we have our stand on matters which must be taken into consideration in drafting TN50. How can TN50 become a new collective aspiration for all Malaysians? It is not a government policy or an idea formulated by a select few and meant for certain people. TN50 must become the hope, ambition and desire of all Malaysians, not merely a leader’s vision.
TN50 must be developed through Malaysia’s brand of unity. In the 21st century, a development plan with a top-down approach is no longer relevant, neither can it be too government-centric. Instead all plans for Malaysia are to be done in an inclusive and collective manner.
Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin and his team must seek ideas from every corner of the country. Listen and consider all of Malaysia’s true stories and don’t only choose stories that are nice to hear. TN50 will not be successful if we do not represent the voice and aspirations of all Malaysians.
Fourthly, TN50 must offer a new deal for Malaysia and the future generations. It must be realistic, not promises of the moon and stars, but one that will convince us that the sky is not the limit. TN50 should be something that will encourage all parties to compete for success.
Fifthly, the biggest challenge is the right focus. TN50 is not about having more skyscrapers, the longest bridges or biggest stadiums. It is not physical and material development, but it has to be sustainable — to sustain what Malaysia has achieved, and at the same time add value to what we have.
My hope is that all our plans will bring good things to all of us. I hope that we will emerge as a nation of respected people who are always mindful of themselves. Believe me, developing a new structure and system while reaching for a new goal is not a difficult task. There will always be new ideas and methods that will come about from the latest innovations. But, preserving what we have, what we inherited and what we have proudly developed all this while will be the bigger challenge.
* The writer is the menteri besar of Johor