Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Malaysia In A New Paradigm

I have been unashamedly enjoying myself writing this blog in the last few months by taking a long detour through my childhood experiences, the transformations I went through while being educated and still being educated by the world in which I find myself in.

As you can see by now, Malaysia is my country and this is my way of fighting for it. Race is not a matter that I can choose, and I have to accept it as it is like all the things in life that I must accept if I am not to become witless. Religion is a personal thing between me and myself and how I come to terms with myself, with the community I am in, with the environment which I have unwittingly helped to destroy and the endless everlasting universe and cosmos that I can only hold in awe in all my little eternity.

I think we have all come away from the old foggy nationalism that arose way back when our fathers were trying to drive off the old colonial power - which was nothing but an institutional structure with the ability to impose a certain set of strictures or law and order as they call it in order to derive a certain end result. It was an order of establishing a global social economic network to drive resource-scarce but value-added rich industrial machinery first in Europe then Japan and now China (it seems). Those so-called imperialistic tentacles do stretched themselves far and wide and they are now collected called globalisation.

Malaysia is nothing but a little stretch of tropical land with fertile soil and some valuable deposits in the ground. The once idyllic community was disturbed when the economic machinery was brought in with people to man them in order to produce an economic output. That little act became a way of life for the people working here. In chasing the colonial investors out, Malaysia had effectively severed its economic ties with its major trading partners, and its economy took a major dent. In looking east, we tied our fate with Japan whose economic miracle pulled up Asia including Malaysia but only for a while before Japan failed under the weight of the American attempt to "rebalance" the exchange rate to correct its poor budgetary management. Asia worked hard to create the American obesity. Having seen the rise of Asia, or rather South East Asia and the city states, China realised that there was also a way out of their economic misery.

Malaysia's economic fortunes are closely tied to these global developments. As the global economy swings, the Malaysian economy must also adjust itself in order to make itself relevant to the latest new world order. We have rested out fortunes on the minerals that we can dig up, the produce of the land we can from planting and harvesting, and we have to some extent ventured into the assembly line business. The rest are just pure services connected with banking, communications, transport and logistics, education, commerce and a host of other services that ordinary people can provide.

In restructuring society, the first attempt was to bring the Malays into the modern economic mainstream which is the world of towns and cities and plantations and factories. It is urban pressurised living which goes according to the clock and not the heavens. There is a disconnect between man and nature, and there is very much a connection between man and man through agreements and contracts and other artificial constructs in order to solve urbanised connected living such as economic risks, healthcare and other urban ills.

But the modern economic mainstream thrives on openness, on communication and trade, the creation of markets, the synthesis of old ideas into new innovations, the stimulation of waves and waves of forward movement in order to keep up with the new developments around the world.

The Old Malaysia responded by imposing strictures, a corset to cater to the chosen few and ignoring the masses. The battle for a piece of the old cake was futile as the cake eventually crumbled out of dryness and lack of care in nurturing its growth. When the economy faltered, new money was injected by oil money while Japanese investments kept some urbanites in fairly well managed state of progressive misery. Once upon a time, firm control was held over the money supply to prevent any unwarranted exuberance, otherwise called speculation. Then suddenly, the new elite in the government took over the treasury. They burst into the stock and property markets. When things didn't go their way, they took over the central bank. They took over the judgment over criminal and commercial and political justice. They took over the monopoly of the economy. They created inflation and this fueled the state of dysfunction that the economy is now suffering, when fiscal stimulus means more jobs for unskilled foreign workers and the local graduates are left with nothing much to do except to contemplate revolution, and causing so-called political tsunamis.

The New Malaysia that we are now in is a honky dory world of escalating property prices and pushing the stock market through monopolies. Nobody has to work that hard. Money flows easy as banks send everybody cash to spend now and pay latter. In this new paradigm, the Old Politics looks decidedly anachronistic. Old Politicians look and sound decidedly dinosaurial.

The New Malaysia does not talk about religion, race or nation. The New Malaysia talks about building an effective and efficient economic structure and institutions that can create flexibility and dynamism in the New Economy. A robust New Economy. The New Malaysia wants New Leadership at all levels to be able to lead, to create New Frontiers for the nation and the world. The New Malaysia is not about Old Money but New Ideas. Forget about the 30% equity. Create New Wealth and you will get your percentage. The New Malaysia requires New Collaborations between all Malaysians, and between Malaysians and Foreigners. The Old Malaysia was about the Old Malaysian Elite collaborating with the Old Foreign Elite to make use of the poor locals to make their money. The New Malaysia must explore the potential in the local economic and social environment to create a New Malaysian Economic Force to fight the rest of the world, armed with electronics and brains. The New Malaysia does not kill and destroy other Malaysians.

In the new paradigm, Malaysia must guard itself against international human trafficking, international money laundering, international crime rings, international terrorism. The much expected beauty of the new world of globalisation has also ushered in a new world of globalised undesirables. The free and rapid movement of people, capital and goods means tighter security run by well-equipped and well-trained personnel. Who says there are no jobs for graduates. The only challenges is to kick out the Old Politicians in the civil service and replace them with fresh technocrats. There is nothing much to lose. The civil service has lost so much of its credibility and intellectual rigour that things cannot really get much worse.

1 comment:

walla said...

We cannot choose which race we are born into. But we can choose how people around us will remember us when we go.

Similarly, a country cannot choose how it starts but it can choose how it will continue. It can choose to turn itself from a comma either into an apostrophe, or a full-stop, in the march of nations.

If we surf the comment webs of the region, we and the dot come up foremost in the pathos and depth of our arguments.

However what is on the radar at this point in time are just the echos of the remnant past falling forward to ping on our minds.

After we are gone, the comments will be punchier, thoughts more abbreviated, attention spans shorter, tones more acerbic. The long arguments will probably disappear altogether. We already see that more in the comment sites of the dot. But then again perhaps they have fewer issues than we do.

Likewise, achievements by peoples of a country may follow the same pattern. When the country starts its journey, much is to be done by less and so the work of each will appear more.

As the country matures, the population would have grown so that work and achievements would have been parceled out resulting in increasing granularity.

All this points to a new challenge for a new Malaysia operating in a new paradigm.

Diversity and molecularity will create more options, designs, interfaces and combinations.

The very holistic identity one can draw from memory of the old Malaya will fade with every new generation like how the oldies puzzle youngsters these days in much the same way their fads puzzle the foggies of yesteryear.

We are all trapped in the epoch in which we find ourselves.

But some things persist independent of time. Intelligent thought, honest work, compassion for others and a sense of responsibility to a higher order, whether of ideals or relationships.

Regardless of each epoch's mutation, these virtues remain pivotal to continue one stage of development to the next.

The new Malaysia should pay homage to these virtues and enshrine them for the next generations. No matter what new axioms of economic or social approach may need to be used in the future, these essences of humanhood are also the foundations of nationhood.

This my small and short attempt at trying to write something generic to complement the blogger's exceptional post.