JUNE 16 — A number of Malaysians assumed that the glorious days of Malaysia as a progressive Muslim nation has ended when the former Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad resigned in 2003. Under the leadership of Tun Dr Mahathir, Malaysia was modernised from a relatively ‘kampung’ country into a well-respected nation with good quality highways, improved quality of life, easy access to education and of course, the construction of the world-renowned Petronas Twin Towers. The list could go on and on.
Recently, the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Datuk Seri Najib Razak has urged social media users to spread positive news about the country. Ever since he assumed office as the Prime Minister in 2009, Malaysia has been plagued with a number of controversies such as the two missing Malaysia Airlines Jetliner in 2014, the increasing cost of living, the depreciating value of the Malaysian Ringgit and the infamous 1MDB scandal.
Nevertheless, everything was not all that bad. Under the administration of the current Prime Minister, Malaysia has initiated/ executed a number of mega-infrastructural development projects namely:
(a) the completion of Southeast Asia’s longest bridge – the 24km-long Sultan Abdul Halim Muadzam Shah Bridge linking Batu Maung and Batu Kawan in Penang in 2014;
(b) the extensive make over of the Klang Valley Integrated Rail System through the extension of the LRT system from Sri Petaling and Kelana Jaya to Putra Heights, the opening of the Sunway BRT system and the inaugural operation of the full MRT line from Sungai Buloh-Kajang next month;
(c) the launching of KLIA2 as the main hub for low cost airlines in Kuala Lumpur in 2014, replacing the old dilapidiating Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT);
(d) the construction of the Signature Tower in Bandar Malaysia and the KL118 (scheduled for completion in 2018-2019) replacing Petronas Twin Towers as the tallest structures in Malaysia;
(e) The Terminal Bersepadu Selatan in 2011 – an improved integrated bus-rail terminal replacing the old Pudu and Putra Stations in Kuala Lumpur;
(f) the development of the Pan-Borneo Highway Project spanning 1,073km linking Sabah and Sarawak targeted for completion by the end of 2021;
(g) the Electric Train Sytem opened in 2010 spanning 755km from Padang Besar to Gemas (with extension to Johor Bahru Sentral by 2020);
(h) the proposed East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) connecting Gombak and Kota Bharu (scheduled for completion in 2023), and
(i) the proposed KL-Singapore High Speed Rail scheduled for completion by 2026.
Besides these, Malaysia is also doing well in many other aspects as recognised by a number of global rankings:
(a) Kuala Lumpur – one of the top-ten most visited cities in the world as reported by the UK’s Telegraph in 2017 ;
(b) Kuala Lumpur and Johor Bahru – Southeast Asia’s cheapest city to live in as reported by the Star on 22 March 2017;
(c) Malaysia has the fourth-best healthcare in the world, as reported by Free Malaysia Today on 14 February 2017;
(d) 5 of Malaysian universities are now world’s top 300, reported by New Straits Times on 8 June 2017;
(e) Malaysia has some of the best roads in the world, ahead of Sweden and on par with South Korea, according to the report published by World Economic Forum (WEF) in 2015;
(f) Malaysia is ranked 29 out of 159 nations by the Global Peace Index in 2017, ahead of United Kingdom, South Korea, France, Indonesia and the United States of America - indicating that Malaysia is one of the most peaceful nations on the planet;
(g) There is a report by local online media stating that Malaysia is the second most corrupted country in the world. This may be the result of the adverse corruption reports against 1MDB and the Prime Minister. However, contrary to ‘popular’ belief, the Corruption Transparency Index 2016 endorsed by Transparency International ranked Malaysia at 55th out of 176 countries worldwide, suggesting that Malaysia is actually one of the least corrupted nations in the Asia-Pacific region. In fact Malaysia was not even listed as one of the top ten most corrupted countries in the world, reported by CNBC on 24 January 2017.
(h) Malaysians possess the fifth strongest passport in the world ranked by Passport Index in 2017. Malaysians have visa-free/visa upon arrival access to 155 nations the world over. This superior ranking demonstrates Malaysia’s good reputation in the eyes of many nations in the world.
(i) Malaysia has the highest English proficiency rate in Asia according to an index compiled by English First (EF) in 2015, ahead of Singapore and South Korea.
Believe it or not, Malaysia is an awesome country. There are a lot of good things about Malaysia as this country is built together by all Malaysians, older and younger generations alike. Indeed, Malaysian are great achievers.
One does not have to love the Prime Minister to love the nation. The ruling party and the Prime Minister come and go but Malaysia will always remain as our home, our pride, our priceless abode.
The Prime Minister might not always be right but this time, I have to agree with him. It is the duty of all Malaysians not to speak ill of the nation. If Malaysians are not happy with the current administration, bad-mouthing the country is not a good solution as we can always exercise our rights at the ballot box.
With all the facts provided above, is it still really difficult to spread positive news about Malaysia?
* Dr Mohd Hazmi Mohd Rusli is a senior lecturer at the Faculty of Syariah and Law, Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia and a visiting professor at the School of Law, Far Eastern Federal University, Vladivostok, Russia.** This is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail Online.
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