Posted by: mel | November 11, 2009

The inspirations we get from China and Indonesia

Mysinchew | Opinion | 11 November 2009

Kuala Lumpur has recently welcomed two honourable guests – Chinese President Hu Jintao and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. China and Indonesia were lagging behind before their reforms and they were even worse than Malaysia. There are something we should learn from them.

Chinese economy has been soaring since its economic reform 30 years ago. The key lies on the Chinese government’s pragmatic approach. “It doesn’t matter if a cat is black or white, so long as it catches mice.” Former Chinese leader Deng Xiao Ping’s “cat theory” has proven that the Chinese insistence in market economy or Chinese-style capitalism is on the right track and finally, it enables China to realise its dream to “surpass the United Kingdom and catch up with the United States”.

China may have to face with hunger problems today if it chose to cling to Communism. The inspiration we can get from China is, we should be pragmatic in development. Just like Singapore Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, as long as it is good for the country, he will cast aside national sovereignty and racial narrow-mindedness while removing all obstacles to economic development and promotes a genuine reform.

Today, China is the world’s second largest economic power and its education level has greatly improved. It no longer cares whether small countries will recognise Chinese university degrees. Chinese top universities were ranked better in the world’s top university rankings compared to Malaysia’s universities. Currently, only University of Malaya has been ranked among the top 200. We are the one who has to bear the loss of not recognising academic degrees issued by foreign universities that are doing better than us. And no talent will come either.

Indonesia faced a serious corruption problem during the Suharto era. After he stepped down and ended his rule of more than 30 years in 1998, Indonesia entered a period of adjustment for political development and democratic reform. Other than lifting the ban on political parties and promoting the freedom of press, Indonesia also rigorously fight corruption. For example, Indonesia’s independent Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) mounted a blitz operation against the High Court and searched for evidence of fund misappropriation.

Indonesia had given the outside world an instability image but in recent years, it has surpassed Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and Singapore and became the fastest-growing ASEAN country. Its democratic politics has been gradually maturing and it is expected to become the fifth BRIC country.

Indonesia has given us an inspiration that we must be bold in reform, particularly political reform. Malaysia is currently talking about minor changes and anti-corruption on the surface but dares not to touch on the root. How are we going to improve the state system? How are we going to carry out economic reform?

Malaysia started to talk about opening up earlier than Indonesia as Tun Dr Mahathir had implemented the open economic policy in the early 90s, which brought 8% – 9% annual economic growth. But it eventually stalled because of political problems.

Malaysia has many good plans, including the advanced country vision, Multimedia Super Corridor and the high-income country proposed by Najib. But the government has neglected the details and implementation issue.

And now, the government is seeking for the less attractive objective by aiming for a 6% annual economic growth to achieve the Vision 2020. However, if they do not learn the pragmatic attitude from China and adopt Indonesia’s political reform, the new economic model to be revealed at the end of the year may bring only short-term effects.

Hu and Susilo’s visit has as well reminded us to learn from China and Indonesia. They can do it, sure Malaysia can do it, too! (By LIM SUE GOAN/Translated by SOONG PHUI JEE/Sin Chew Daily)

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