Friday, January 29, 2010

Clueless Malaysian Leaders

As a business student, I have learned that vision is important in mapping a company’s direction and ensuring future success. Many companies have their vision statements (in addition to mission statements).

From Wikipedia:

A vision statement outlines what the organization wants to be, or how it wants the world in which it operates to be. In concentrates on the future. It is a source of inspiration. It provides clear-decision making criteria.

Likewise, the government of a country should have its vision. In 1980s, when the controversial Dr Mahathir was elected the prime minister, he had a vision to make Malaysia a developed nation by 2020. The current Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib paraphrases his own vision into two words – 1 Malaysia. While his vision is a wholesome one, it comes four decades too late. Malaysia experienced a bloody racial riot way back in 1969.

And the government is clueless about economy. In 1980s and early 1990s, Malaysia transformed itself from an agrarian economy to a manufacturing one. In late 1990s, however, Malaysia lost the edge to China, which has since become the world’s factory. Until today, the country still hasn’t found a new economic model. Former Prime Minister Abdullah told us to ‘go back to farm’. Agriculture is not bad if we know how to do it the high-tech way. However, I am afraid our farms are not advanced enough.

If Malaysia’s leaders lack vision, their counterparts in Beijing are visionary. Take, for example, China’s bet on clean tech. The Middle Kingdom has the world’s fastest train running from Wuhan to Guangzhou. It is building the world’s largest solar power plant in Inner Mongolia. BYD, the Warren Buffet-backed car maker, was the first company to launch electric vehicles. Beijing’s obsession with clean tech can be explained by the need to reduce pollution, but there are financial incentives too. China is already an important solar panel exporting county, and it wants to be a leader in high speed rail and electric vehicles too.

Back to our country: Malaysia is a tropical nation with ample sunlight. First Solar, the American company which builds the solar power plant in Inner Mongolia, has a factory in Malaysia’s Kulim Hi-tech Park. Why has the government not looked seriously into promoting solar power yet?


  1. LKY is a vsionary leader. Look where the country is now compared to where it was before :)

  2. Yes I think clean energy is the way to go. Suria is for Sun in Berhasa Malayu right?

  3. Because they are Malaysian government lor... LOL~

  4. Mei Ting
    Yes, LKY is visionary. But his model may not work in 21st century.

    Correct, suria is Sun. This is actually a loan word from Sanskrit. Another word is matahari.

    I'm not sure if I can LOL...

  5. They are only keen on championing the rights of certain religion and certain ethnic group. Those 2 things top their agenda for as long as they rule this country. Other things are secondary.

  6. There are many areas that China has an advantage over Malaysia. For starters, their "1China" was accomplished a long time ago. Their 5000 years of civilization simply wipes out ours, if we have one to call our own.

    They treat everyone on par and there's no religious sensitivities to contend with, not that religion is a bad thing. Maybe having one ruling political party is the answer.

    Right! For progress, we need visionary leaders just like a company with a clear vision statement.

    Not only did we lose out to China, at one point we also lost some investment to Thailand.

    A good post, KS.

  7. kyh
    Sigh... the government is certainly more concerned with moral issues, read Islamic values, than economy.

    Actually, China has racial conflict too. Don't you remember the riots in Tibet and Xinjiang?

    China's one-party rule means that they can make decisions fast. But the downside is there is no check-and-balance.

  8. These are important questions and I think it's great that, as a citizen, you raise them.

    You are right the Chinese gov't had a vision and I'm impressed to see how well China is doing these days considering the challenges it faced a few years ago.

  9. Zhu
    Yes, China's development is really impressive.