Monday, February 21, 2011

1Malaysia - highly misunderstood and abused.

"The concept of 1Malaysia encapsulates the economic imperative to unite and optimise our collective resources as a nation to compete and cooperate for our place in the global community. Transformation often involves some temporary short term economic dislocation. Hence, the full commitment and drive of all stakeholders, in terms of the rakyat, businesses and public sector, is required. Potential short term dislocation will need to be viewed as an investment towards medium term and sustainable gains in higher income and quality of life for all. Success would be achieving Vision 2020 in a holistic sense, not just higher income and quality of life but also achieving developed nation status in a manner consistent with our cultural values." - The 10th Malaysia Plan, Economic Planning Unit, Prime Minister's Department

1Malaysia got a lot of bantering because it was meant to unify Malaysia. And every time the concept was brought up, it also unearthed long buried unhappiness amongst different ethnic groups. And that is because the most obvious need for unity can be seen and experience in our everyday life. We know each other is different, and we are treated preferentially. So the rakyat began to dictate the concept of 1Malaysia and it became a banner hoisted for silent public outcry. Our diversified cultural background and deep-seated national policies have made 1Malaysia seemed like a Utopian concept. Great to have but realistically unachievable not unless there's a reformation. One that will bring equal treatment to all races... And that is the general perception. What does 1Malaysia unite, if not the people? Right? Well, wrong.

The core idea of 1Malaysia, and correct me if I am wrong, is about optimizing collective resources as mentioned above. It is about checking every layer of income earners and restrategizing and reorganizing to ensure optimization of resources for maximum output. If at all, 1Malaysia is about consolidating assets in terms of human capital to help save the country from a doomed ending by 20 years time. Of course, this is a sensitive issue since we can't help that the socio-status in this country is somewhat disproportionate to ethnic percentage. There are many various reasons why Chinese seems more economically advanced than Malays, as a natural response to lopsided policies. But having said that, there are a lot of rich Malays and poor Chinese and Indians too. Because of social status, trouble begins to simmer between races. The government foresaw this and ensured certain policies are in place to propel Bumiputras into playing more significant roles in the nation's economy. Then it spiraled into a chicken and egg story...

In order to get out of this 'mess', we need to reassess what the public understands about 1Malaysia and more importantly, what steps the government and media are taking to ensure the concept is not misunderstood. Unity starts from prioritizing based on socio-economic needs, starting from the bottom of the pyramid. Yes, there are more Malays below the poverty line and yes, that should be the first focus (which is what the transformational plan for Malaysia is about). I think the government has got the right strategic plans in place, but the question becomes... what is their perception management plans? Every time we open Facebook and/or read the headlines of some authoritative media in Malaysia, someone links 1Malaysia to the segregation of races. If we look at it objectively, the message we ought to be sending out is 1Malaysia = the unity of resources. Resources means talent. Talent means the people. Ultimately, it shouldn't be about who you are but what you can do and how the government is 'moving' these resources to ensure the right people are in the right place. Motivate the people who can do, teach the people who can't, regardless of race and class and put them in places where everyone can excel. Perhaps that would encapsulate 1Malaysia better?

Before the government and media propagate 1Malaysia, perhaps they should unite first to decide the right message that's needed to be sent out.

Then again, this is only my puny tiny little insignificant opinion. At least I now know not to misuse the word 1Malaysia. I now know not to hang my country's precious name so loosely on my lips and violate her dignity. I now know what 1Malaysia truly constitutes. Thanks to the successful tourism positioning, (maybe that's why we are all so confused!) 1Malaysia is not truly Asia. 1Malaysia is about consolidation of the country's resources for a dynamic economic growth.

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