RESET & REFLECT: Ushering Malaysia 2021

The year 2020 has been unprecedented in many ways. We were faced with the greatest political, economic and health crises in many years. 

The crises exposed our weaknesses. We may be angry with the Sheraton move. The economic and Covid-19 crises may cause us to despair. But as we end the year 2020 and move into 2021 I hope we’re still optimistic. 

I hope we’re prepared to build back better and to launch this Great Reset. I have a book titledThe Great Reset’ because I believe that we should work towards a better Malaysia because Malaysians deserve better.

For Malaysia to move forward, we need to have a new framing for our public discourse. We need to think of a new paradigm when we envision nationhood – a New Deal for Malaysia. And this covers 5 major key priorities.

First, Identity

We must move away from divisive rhetorics and embrace a shared identity with a common destiny. At the end of all these crises, we should realise that much as we may be culturally different, we may have a different religious background, but we are all Malaysians. The spirit of #KitaJagaKita has to be ingrained in our minds so that we see ourselves walking towards a common destiny as Malaysians.

Second, building our democracy.

We must accept that we have differences. Malaysia has been a 50:50 democracy, if you look at the election since 2008. Malaysians would be better off if our institutions are adapted to suit Malaysia’s new normal of having coalition governments formed by parties of similar strength.

What is important is for us to build a better political system, a parliamentary system that will manage differences that will accommodate each other. And to see each other not as enemies but as respected opponents. And to see each other as partners in building a better nation. We must forget about this winner takes all mentality. Only with accommodation, can we build a thriving democracy.  

Third, building an economy for all

We must think of the Malaysian economy as one that would work for everyone. We do not want to be in the situation where we’re hiring unskilled foreign labour and we have hundreds of thousands of Malaysians working overseas as cheap labour.

We must build the virtuous cycle of higher pay, higher quality, higher technology and higher productivity.

Only if we can build a virtuous cycle, will we have dynamic growth for our economy. And everyone will be served by the economy and not the select few.

Fourth, we need a new security mind-set

We need the police, the armed forces, the prison authorities, urban planners, and health authorities to think about securing the nation together. 

What Covid-19 taught us was that working in silos would not help. We are only as strong as the weakest link among us.

If prisoners are not well taken care of, we will have a Covid-19 outbreak in prisons. If we do not secure and handle foreign labour dormitories well, we will have an outbreak there. And that extends to policing, national security, the armed forces. We need to think of our security with a new mind-set. 

Fifth, Malaysia’s place in the world. We should see ourselves as a nation coming together to face the world.

We should see Malaysia as the middle power. And we should see Malaysia as an economy that shines in the region, that grows dynamically and that helps everyone in the society to live up to their potential

As the 2020 curtain draws to a close, I’ve outlined 5 key priorities on which we need to reflect and think through. While they might seem separate, these priorities are interrelated and form the essential foundations for us to build a better Malaysia. 

Let’s build a better Malaysia together. 

I wish you a great 2021. Happy New Year. Happy Holidays. Stay safe, stay healthy.

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