Wawasan 2020 remains a pipe dream but its objectives are still achievable — Tariq Ismail Mustafa

AUGUST 29 — It is merely a few months until 2020 is here. That much anticipated threshold which was

supposed to lift us as a developed nation. Sadly, Tun Dr Mahathir’s vision will remain a pipe dream for now. This is devastating because Wawasan 2020 was not merely an economic roadmap, but, more importantly it was a roadmap towards a united Malaysian society through these challenges -

Challenge 1: Establishing a united Malaysian nation made up of one Bangsa Malaysia (Malaysian Race).

Challenge 2: Creating a psychologically liberated, secure and developed Malaysian society. Challenge 3: Fostering and developing a mature democratic society.

Challenge 4: Establishing a fully moral and ethical society.

Challenge 5: Establishing a matured, liberal and tolerant society.

Challenge 6: Establishing a scientific and progressive society.

Challenge 7: Establishing a fully caring society.

Challenge 8: Ensuring an economically just society, in which there is a fair and equitable distribution of the wealth of the nation.

Challenge 9: Establishing a prosperous society with an economy that is fully competitive, dynamic, robust and resilient.

I wish to remind all Malaysians — not as a Supreme Council member of a political party, but as an ordinary Malaysian who had spent his formative years abroad — that none of the challenges set by Tun Dr Mahathir has been met. We are still an infantile society with no clear direction. While it is true that the leader is reflective of the people that voted him in, the question remains whether the people in turn mirror the tenacity and discipline of the leader?

It has been 62 years since Malaya freed ourselves from our colonial masters. Yet, Malaysians in general have not overcome our instinct to view anything and everything through a racial lens. Despite New Malaysia being intended to usher in a new era of exemplary leadership towards a common purpose regardless of our differences, Malaysians still tend to react to extremes over anything and everything that does not conform to our specific cultural values.

It is preposterous to equate the introduction of Islamic Calligraphy as an attempt at Islamisation. It is equally preposterous to demonise those who disagree with the words of a certain Permanent Resident questioning Malaysians’ patriotism. And lest we forget, the calls of treason over that one tycoon’s humiliating and degrading the sacrifices of our Armed Forces. It seems Malaysians will only allow freedom of speech so long as the thoughts and opinions of the speaker exactly mirror our own internal thoughts. Heaven forbid one voices a dissenting opinion! Dissent and differences are a cause for cultural war, an intense rivalry worthy of a Shakespearean drama.

This is what Malaysians are witnessing today — the rise of the Ultra from both sides.

The late Tun Dr Ismail in his capacity as Home Affairs Minister, had once said — “These ultras believe in the wild and fantastic theory of absolute dominion by one race over the other communities, regardless of the Constitution... Polarisation has taken place in Malaysian politics and the extreme racialists among the ruling party are making a desperate bid to topple the present leadership.”

Somehow though, deep within this seemingly vile and putrid disdain for the other’s culture, is the opportunity for leaders to unite the people. It is shocking then, that the Minister of Unity has not emerged to vehemently defend the right, to calm and reconcile the people, as good and passionate leaders are wont to do. In this context, Tun Dr Mahathir proposes that a united Malay race could entice economic prosperity which in turn could lead to that shared prosperity for all. However, to some this gesture of reconciliation is deemed racist. How is reconciling the Malays racist?

Economic unfreedom inevitably breeds social unfreedom, and vice versa. The success of socioeconomic development depends on the relationships between crucial instrumental freedoms — economic opportunity, political freedoms, social facilities, transparency guarantees and protective security. It requires the removal of various types and sources of unfreedoms that leave people with little choice and little opportunity to exercise their rights. These include poverty, tyranny, poor economic opportunities, systematic social deprivation, public facility neglect and intolerance.

In this respect, politicians need to empower and emancipate the minds of Malaysians by returning to the fundamentals. Our economic model for the next five years must go back to basics. We have to relook at where we are presently and realign every plan we have to that one shared vision.

The time is ripe to go back to fundamentals and review, rethink, and re-strategise our path using Wawasan 2020 as a starting point. The Wawasan 2020 objectives are still achievable as the initial targets set were fundamental targets with broad implications socially, economically and politically. In fact, Wawasan 2020 has the Rukunegara at heart.

It is time that the Cabinet of Malaysia follows Tun Dr Mahathir’s lead and themselves lead by example. We can be Malay, Chinese, Indian, Iban etc in our own homes, but to the outside world we are one nation, one people. The leaders MUST remember that they are the catalyst for Malaysians to unite as one nation. Leaders must banish Political Idealism to the confines of theory and the classroom and instead focus on the practical aspects of attracting prosperity and investments into this nation, to be shared by all.

Malaysia desperately needs an emancipation and evolution of the thought and mind, with the latter being an effort from ordinary Malaysians themselves. This nation should not be allowed to regress due to a few ignoramuses and cretins. Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam and Indonesia (and we are just talking about Asean) have surpassed us in terms of economic growth and readiness to meet the demands of digitalisation while we quibble over petty inconsequential matters. Anger and frustration may be justified, but it should not cloud one’s judgement in building a future where our children are embraced in that shared prosperity.

*This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.

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