2018 will soon become a history to remember.
Just about hours away to meet a fresher year, we have to admit that a lot of events had occurred during the past 12 months. One of the most memorable events is the surprising result of the 14th General Election. The whole world was in shock after the majority of Malaysian voters elected once again Tun Dr. Mahathir as their 7th Prime Minister. But that was not the most shocking news. What shocked them the most is that the transition of power went smoothly well, and the world’s oldest premier has now once again became the permanent newsmaker.
As a Malaysian, we do not have much choice but to extend our hope beyond 2018 and look forward to the future, which can only promise us with many challenges ahead. For this country to achieve its ambition, all of us must unite and gather our spirit to champion the idea of liberalism, freedom, justice and openness. It is not easy for us to attain this conceptual goal, what more to define it all together as many have its own version of understanding.
This country has grown matured since its independence more than 60 years ago. Although some said that this country has gained independence, I personally think that this country has never been conquered or colonized before. The only thing that happened to us was that we were directly or indirectly “influenced” by the British for centuries, and that was the reality for this country. The influence still exists, making the whole nation celebrate the independence day as if they had really been colonized and conquered.
I do not want to elaborate further as to why I believe we were not colonized before. What is more critical for us is to understand history from our own perspective, and not from the perspective of the outsiders.
Now! 2018 is about to be in the history book, but what will happen to 2019 and beyond? It is a big question that must be answered.
Here, I would like to share some of my ideas. I would like to socialize with the readers the ideas for Malaysia to thrive and become a nation whom the whole world will show respect.
We had a chance in 2018 to revamp the whole education system and policy in Malaysia. Despite many failed attempts made by the previous government, PH led government now has just one golden opportunity to pull all parties together and agree to a single education system and abolish any raced or religion based education systems. It had to be a common systematic education policy which should aim at improving the integration amongst the multi-racial and multi-religious Malaysians in the future.
However, this chance had slipped away, and the only area that the Education Ministry can be focusing on is to integrate the syllabus by reducing the exam-oriented programs towards more practical applications that can bring out the talents from the inside. The ministry can also include more civic-oriented education programs for future generations to learn about such in self-discipline and good moral behaviors.
Affirmative action policy should stay although many people have rejected the idea. However, this policy should not only target at one particular race or religion, but it has to focus on some specific criteria such as low-income groups, rural citizens and urban poor. The affirmative action policy should also focus on certain indigenous groups such as the Orang Asli, Ibans, and Kadazans. If this policy is implemented, I can assure you that this country could prosper further and more talents can be unearthed from the untapped communities in this country.
Having said the above, this policy should not become the reason to reduce the original core social contract agreed in the constitution, such as the special position of Islam and the Malays.
Football is the most popular sport in Malaysia. Despite the case, Malaysia should not only be focusing on just football but try to invest in other favorite games that can generate more economic returns. Sports such as rugby, cricket, basketball and ice hockey can become the future face of Malaysian sports. Believe it or not, these are the sports of the elites.
However, I can still contribute my ideas in the area of football development like I did in 2006 when I sent a bundle of suggestions to FAM’s secretary general, Dato Seri Ibrahim Saad. As he promised me that most of the views were going to be implemented, I still do have some other polished ideas such as how football can improve the economic status of the underprivileged people or communities. This is somehow related to the concept of sports scholarship programmes made by the famous NFL clubs in the United States, but it has to be redesigned and remodeled to suit the Malaysian requirement.
Apart from the above, sports in Malaysia should get more sponsorship from the private sectors especially the SMIs and SMEs. A “pool of sponsors” programme through some sports institutions should be standardized in order for these private entities to contribute their donations. It is indeed the truth that without money, there will be no success in sports.
Health Ministry should start looking into the possibility of implementing the National Insurance concept so that the ministry coffers can be increased further with this pool of funds. As insurance companies generate more wealth through privatized insurance programmes, the government should start implementing its own agenda through a newly established National Insurance policy for all citizen of Malaysia as early as a newborn baby.
This program should become the catalyst for the technological growth of our country’s health system by providing free health services to all Malaysians. When the quality of facilities and services improve, then there will be no more shortage of facilities and services in the future. The condition can only be enhanced if the funds are adequate or even overflowed. The idea of a common National Insurance policy has been implemented in most developed countries. Soon, the quality of the government’s health facilities can be at par if not better than the private facilities. In some cases, there are already some facilities and services which are better than the private’s such as the National Heart Institute (or IJN) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
If we consider the above policy is difficult to implement because of diverse culture and substantial income gaps amongst the people of Malaysia, I would suggest that this policy is tagged with the premium level of tax contributions and also the education loans provided to the students at the universities. This can be considered as a wholesome arrangement for each citizen of Malaysia covering education, health, and assets management. The equity leveling programme can be with or without the government assistance depending on their income group, level of education and health conditions.
I, in most instance, have an exquisite feeling that this country will prosper further if the above is implemented swiftly by the government, at least to start discussing it in the year 2019.
Malaysia should be self-reliance on its own agricultural advancement and resources. Since the introduction of UPM as the agriculture-based university, Malaysia has yet to overtake its neighboring countries like Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam in term of the agricultural outputs such as paddy or rice, and fruits. It is quite worrying as Malaysia survives through the imports of foods from many countries including China and Japan.
As FELDA settlers are complaining that the palm oil plantations are not yielding good results thus far; the government can start improving their quality of life by introducing new agricultural techniques and technologies. For instance, the government can introduce again more programmes for the younger generations to farm paddy, fruits, livestock, and medicine related plants. There is more than 60% of Malaysian soil that has yet to be explored and there are lands that are not agriculturally developed. These are the prospects for the farmers and young entrepreneurs to venture into in the future.
The government should start identifying critical segments of agriculture such as livestock, paddy, and fruits that need further development. However, these areas can only be further enhanced if the local farmers have strong confidence that they will achieve great successes if they acquire the skills and techniques. Therefore, more existing farmers should be identified and groomed to become a business owner such as having extra lands, factories and heavy types of machinery.
If a rain-forest country like Malaysia cannot beat a half desert-like land such as Spain in exporting agricultural products, I do not know how else can Malaysia become. We must remember, agricultural advancement does not necessarily mean we go backward, but it is in fact, we go forward such as the United States in the plantation of cornfields and the United Kingdom or New Zealand in the production of livestock.
Finally, we come to the area of Entertainment:
In the entertainment industry, Malaysia has vast experience and talents to penetrate the markets such as Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia and some other parts of the world. The only thing they need is adequate funds.
If Malaysian entertainment wants to thrive, they must be able to work together with all Malaysians regardless of race and religion. The supports must come from all sectors and artists must be from all backgrounds. The entertainment industry should also be expanded not only in the movies or songwriting fields (or musical) but also in the area of arts, cultural and social media.
Malaysia, despite the size, has great potentials. There are already a good number of colleges and universities that offer excellent artistic related education programmes for the students. These programmes are not enough to cater the increasing demand within this segment. Some of the talents may need a more polished technique to excel in their fields such as stand up comedians and songwriting fields. It is a waste to see in most cases that other citizens who are more successful in the arena as compared to the locals, perhaps due to the lack of integration between all races within the community.
If Malaysians can keep producing truly Malaysian materials all the time, this can be easily achieved, and the quality can increase tremendously like what happened in the past during the era of Sudirman, Tan Sri P. Ramlee, and Alleycats.
With that, I wish you all a very Happy New Year of 2K19, and May Allah bless this country with prosperity and togetherness until we manage to overcome any sorts of challenges in the future.
Let’s us all keep this country proud, and let’s make this country great again!