As a society, Malaysian’s have in the past demonstrated both the political will and social cohesion to change and as a result of that, Malaysia is only one of thirteen countries in the world which has managed to sustain an average of seven percent growth rate for 25 years. This was our glory years from about 1971 to 1996. Together with Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, and Thailand, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea and Taiwan are also in the thirteen.
To explain the glory years we must recognize that there is a very strong Asia -> Asean -> Malaysia link. (Note that the 5th member of ASEAN, the Philippines did not make the list.)
The uniqueness of these 9 countries is built on the fact that there was social and political cohesion within the countries and across the countries.
The formation of ASEAN was a major reason for the growth of this region. Quoting Kisore Mahbubani, ASEAN achieved three things for the region:
a) no two ASEAN states have ever gone to war with each other (remember this was just after the Konfrontasi with Indonesia and the communist threat was real and Vietnam and Cambodia we all at war)
b) ASEAN developed close economic and social coöperation within the region
c) ASEAN had geo-political centrality within the region
Domestically, it was the events that lead up to May 13, that provided the catalyst for change and the outcome was three unifying factors that brought this nation together:
a) Rukun Negara: the unification of Social intent through the declaration of the Rukun Negara on the 31st August 1971 – which in essence became the guiding pricipals for all Malaysians
b) Barisan Nasional: the unification of collective Political vision through the formation of Barisan Nasional in 1973
c) New Economic Policy: the unification of Economic coöperation among society with the announcement of the NEP in 1971.
With unity at the political level, social level and economic level Malaysia launched itself from a third world country to Upper Middle Income in a span of 25 years. On all social economic measures – health, education, poverty eradication, transportation, infant mortality, lifespan, employment, income levels, urbanization, etc… Malaysia improved. This will forever be know as the Glory Years of Malaysia where our self believe was so high that it got encapsulated in the slogan “Malaysia Boleh…..”
The good years did come to an end with the Asian Crisis of 1997 and from there all the unintended consequences of the NEP started to rear its ugly head leading to the watershed 12th general elections of 2008.
Time permitting, the next post will be the Unintended Consequences of the NEP.
I hope you has a good read. Please feel free to contribute to the richness of the discussion by posting your comments in the comment section just below. (Click on where it says leave a comment, just below this)