KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 31 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad tonight called on Malaysians to develop themselves in tandem with the government’s efforts to bring progress to the country.

In his New Year 2020 message, the prime minister said that despite Malaysia not being able to fully achieve developed nation status, there are elements of a developed nation that can still be implemented.

He identified these values as diligence, discipline, maintaining cleanliness, being tolerant, showing mutual respect, and being polite and magnanimous.

“(These are) attributes that differentiate developed people from those who are undeveloped and backward.

“These noble values represent all cultures, religions and races, and the diversity of Malaysia should make us more keenly aware of these attributes,” he said.

Referring to 2020, Dr Mahathir said the year is close to his heart. 

“When I helmed the Malaysian administration for the first time, the government, through Vision 2020, set the target for Malaysia to achieve developed nation status in that year.

“However, of late, we realised that the objective cannot be fully achieved and, as such, we drew up a new blueprint that we have identified as the Shared Prosperity Vision 2030.

“In other words, we have pushed forward the target to 2030 and, we believe, we will be able to achieve the objective,” he said.

Dr Mahathir said the government often talks about efforts to develop and prosper the country because “we have been entrusted with the trust (to do so) when we accepted the responsibility to be the government”.

Dr Mahathir said the government cannot just leave the fate of the country to chance without crafting suitable strategies and plans to develop and prosper the nation.

“In short, we have to continue to strive and not depend on fate to develop ourselves,” he said.

The prime minister also spoke of the need for Malaysians to rise above political polemics that he said will get them nowhere.

“While some of us are still trapped in political polemics which will not help self-development, the fact is that the external situation does not promise us a smooth journey,” he said.

Dr Mahathir pointed out that the challenges brought about by the trade war between the superpowers and fast-paced technological development are factors that will determine the direction of the world and the country.

“We have to accept this situation and strive to develop ourselves to address these changes and challenges,” he said.

The prime minister said the development of digital technology has changed the way of doing business and providing services.

“Those who understand this transformation have found avenues for employment and to earn an income. Those who did not change have found themselves without a livelihood,” he said.

However, he underscored that the government will continue to help the people face these new challenges through existing and new programmes.

It is the government’s hope that the people will take advantage of these opportunities and develop themselves along with the government, he said, adding that when they are successful, the government and the country will ride on that success.

Dr Mahathir also referred to the KL Summit that Kuala Lumpur hosted recently and said it provided an opportunity to explore new essential and critical areas not only for the benefit of Muslims but also Malaysians of other faiths.

He said the summit showed to other Islamic countries how Malaysians of various religions are able to live together peacefully without excessive conflicts and rifts in a scenario of diversity.

“It never crossed our mind to introduce laws to segregate the people or immigrants based on religion or race.

“Although we have provisions for Bumiputeras, these are to ensure their survival and are not intended to negate or rob others of their rights,” he said.

Dr Mahathir said that it is for this reason that the country’s wealth is not only in the hands of the Bumiputeras as it is also shared with and, in many cases, held by the other races.

A country can overcome challenges when its people have strength by way of industriousness and eagerness for knowledge, he said, adding that a high level of knowledge can strengthen the nation in various disciplines. — Bernama