Perak Sultan: Malaysia's development based on collective contributions of all communities

Sultan Nazrin Shah and the Raja Permaisuri Perak, Tuanku Zara Salim, during the launch of the ‘Striving for Inclusive Development’ book at The St Regis Kuala Lumpur July 14, 2019. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Sultan Nazrin Shah and the Raja Permaisuri Perak, Tuanku Zara Salim, during the launch of the ‘Striving for Inclusive Development’ book at The St Regis Kuala Lumpur July 14, 2019. — Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, July 14 — Malaysia’s success and achievements stem from the total contribution of all members of its community, Perak ruler Sultan Nazrin Shah has said.

Sultan Nazrin said this during the launch of his second book today, which charted the country’s growth and economic development from the signing of the Pangkor Treaty in 1874 to modern day Malaysia.

The book titled: Striving for Inclusive Development — from Pangkor to a Modern Malaysian State was nearly two decades in the making and drew on primary data sources, archival documents, as well as cutting edge national and international research.

“My book charts our country’s fascinating economic history over the past 150 years. It is a journey that demonstrates national perseverance, institutional changes, and indeed, a long-term ‘Striving for Inclusive Development.’

“Malaysia is what it is today because of the collective contributions of all communities,” he said in his royal address.

However, at the same time his book makes it clear that despite its achievements over the past 150 years, Malaysia still faces huge and complex challenges.

Analysing on what Malaysia has faced historically, Sultan Nazrin concluded his book with a forward-looking assessment of the challenges before the nation and set out a vision for an inclusive and sustainable future.

“The future design of affirmative action policies and programmes needs to be based on firm and fair observance of the balance of interest among all communities as provided for in the Federal Constitution,” he contended.

His work seeks to unearth the true roots of Malaysia’s economic and social development — its people, their human capital and well-being, as well as economic structures — including how the British established institutions for the expansion of the lucrative tin and rubber trade, and how they encouraged labour immigration to support their economic ambitions.

The launch saw many luminaries in attendance including Raja Permaisuri Perak Tuanku Zara Salim, Attorney General Tommy Thomas, Human Resource Minister M. Kulasegaran, Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman and former deputy prime minister Tun Musa Hitam. 

At the same time, many retired high-ranking civil servants such as former chief secretary Tun Ahmad Sarji and former Inspector General of Police Tun Hanif Omar made their appearance.

Corporate and international figures were also not left out with Redberry Media Group owner Datuk Siew Ka Wai, World Bank Country Manager for Malaysia, East Asia and Pacific Firas Raad, renowned Cambridge economist Hang Joon Chang, retired Australian academic Emeritus Professor Peter Drake as well as high commissioners and ambassadors from Europe and Asia attending the launch.

In his address, the sultan confessed to many nights of “squinting at large books” and spending so much time working on it that even his family had listed him as “missing in action.”

“To try and unlock the ‘secrets’ of history, I have done an immense amount of ‘looking down’ — researching; spending time in dusty archives and dimly lit libraries; and trying to instil some order into complex data sets.

“I’ve talked to numerous scholars and economic historians, and consulted with experts across many disciplines. There have been a hundred visions and as many revisions.

“I’ve spent many nights squinting at large books, but with words in such small print that I needed to start wearing glasses before I completed the book! On a healthier note, though, I believe I have found new perspectives on Malaysia’s history,” said Sultan Nazrin.

In his quest to complete his work, he said he has experienced how Malaysia has evolved to what it is now.

He observed how the fortunes of Malaysians had vacillated during economic cycles but managed an upward trend in development.

The Perak ruler saw how the country had shifted from agricultural-based rural lifestyles to prosperous, city-based lifestyles.  

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