Tun Razak Moment: An Opportunity for Reset

I am deeply honoured to be invited to address the Fifth Cohort of the National Resilience College. The NRC is designed to provide courses for a select group of senior officers of Brigadier General and Colonel in rank or equivalent with the aim of broadening their horizons, prompting them to think and act like statesmen.

This is my fifth engagement with the College. I first addressed the Inaugural Cohort in September 2019 when I was Deputy Defence Minister. During one of the Covid-19 lockdowns, I was again invited to address the Second Cohort in January 2021, even when I was in the Opposition. I addressed the Fourth Cohort and an Executive Short Course in September and October 2023, respectively.

This time I spoke on the topic of “Leading the Nation: Strategic Leadership as an element of National Power: Towards a greater and better Malaysia.”

I believe the role of strategic leaders is not to micromanage but to help societies to transform and transition from the past into the future, and from the existing conditions to a more desirable future.

In the case of Malaysia, we had a Tun Razak moment – a time when our second Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein took over the government’s leadership – after 1969. From the 1970s onwards, Malaysia’s economic policy transitioned from laissez faire economy during the Tunku Abdul Rahman administration to the developmental policy approach. This in many ways helped the Malay community.

Fifty years ago, Tun Razak visited China to open up a historic diplomatic relation. Locally, this also helped the Tun Razak administration to win votes from the Chinese community, putting back people’s trust on the government.

With such successes, combined with economic development, the Tun Razak experience shows that we can connect politics, foreign policy and economic policy, to push for Malaysia’s second take-off.

We have a great opportunity to advance the idea of Bangsa Malaysia, or what I call Malaysian nationalism, which is to strengthen democracy, to build economic security and inclusivity, to modernise the security sectors, and to put Malaysia in its rightful place globally.

I have high hopes for the up-and-coming military leaders trained at the National Resilience College that some of them would emerge as eminent statesmen and partners in nation building.

I gifted the NRC a copy of Henry Kissinger’s Leadership and General David Petraeus, and Andrew Roberts’ Conflict. These are two very insightful references for those who are interested in contemporary history.

I would also like to thank the College Commandant Major General Datuk Johnny Lim for gifting me his personal coin and the College’s coin, as well as his kind invitation and generous hospitality.

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