Friday, June 19, 2009

Wake up Malaysia, we’re in trouble

PEOPLE of Malaysia, wake up! We are in big trouble! The world is collapsing around us. When the world comes out of this global depression, the world will be a different place. If we don’t get our act together, there won’t be a place for us in the new world order. We will not only miss the boat, we’ll miss the lifeboat and the life raft. As a result, we’ll drown.

For years, we exploited the natural resources that bless this great nation. At the same time, we offered a stable and cheap alternative for global manufactures looking for a cheap production base to keep costs low in an effort to remain competitive. These manufacturers were critical to our development. We believed that if we offered these manufacturers low costs, cheap labour and other favourable concessions they would direct their foreign capital to us and not to more expensive competitors. And for a while, although lots of them preferred more expensive locations nearby, many of them did invest in Malaysia.

And this FDI helped change the country from a commodities based economy to a country on the fringes of becoming a developed country. Because not only did these manufacturing giants bring significant investment with them, they also employed thousands of Malaysians who injected the wages they earned (wages sourced from foreign countries and then repatriated here by the manufacturers) back into the economy.

But the problem is, those days are over. We are no longer a cheap destination for those foreign manufacturers. There are now very few financial advantages for them to outsource their production to Malaysia.

And it’s not just Malaysia that is affected, the US Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai reports that one in five companies are contemplating shutting down their factories in China and moving them to Bangladesh, India and Vietnam, where factory wages for unskilled workers are around RM147 a month compared to RM800 in Malaysia.

These countries, as well as Cambodia, Laos, Burma (eventually) and other countries are the new low cost bases that Malaysia once was. So what does it mean for Malaysia? It means that Malaysia cannot compete on a cost basis. It’s a battle we simply cannot win. Just take a drive along the LDP near the Motorola bridge and look at the empty factories. More examples can be found around section 14 in PJ and further afield in just about every state.

And this is why the PM wants us to change and move up the value chain. Because, if we don’t change, what will we become? We’ll be back where we started and the world will pass us by. We’ll become poor again, a commodities based economy selling Palm Oil and our few remaining barrels of Oil. Perhaps, if we’re lucky, we’ll become the dumping ground for the world’s dirty industries. In fact, they are already knocking at the door.

We wont have the money to buy quality products so we will be left with what the rest of the world doesn’t want anymore. Our kids will have no future and over time, our country will no longer exist. So we have no choice, we have to change but we’re not very good at change, but change we must.

It doesn’t matter who or what you are. It doesn’t matter what race you are or whether you are Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Hindu and so on, or even if you have no faith at all; this is your problem, this is our problem and you and I cannot let any more time go by. We have to understand the need for change and be committed to change.

And this colossal change in mindset will have to come from all of us Malaysians: Indian, Malay, Chinese, Iban, Milanau, Bidayuh, Kayan, Kelabit, Kenyah, Penan, Sebob, Chebob, Dusun, Kadazan & Orang Asli. All of us will have to be united if we are going to pull through.

We will have to lose our natural suspicions of anyone or anything new. We’ll have to leave the comfort zone that previous administrations have provided for us. We will have to learn to take risks. And some of us will fail. But they will have to learn how to deal with that failure and pick themselves up and try again.

And we will have to work hard, to get rid of the ‘tidak apa’ mentality that is endemic in our society. We will have to make sacrifices that benefit our children and not us. We will have to accept that we won’t agree with every policy that comes out of Putrajaya. We will have to accept that we might not like everyone who represents us in parliament. And even though many of our opinions of those representatives or their wives are based on what we hear in coffee shops, we will have to accept that this is not about personalities, this is about the future of the nation, not our nation, but our children’s nation.

This change is going to require a dedication and commitment that we don’t even know if we have. But it’s got to happen because the people in Putrajaya cannot do it by themselves.

And we have to accept that until the next election, the current administration is going to lead us because more people voted for it than any other party. And if these people can prove that they are ready to get out there and lay it all out on the line for a better Malaysia then we must give them the chance to do so. And if they don’t, then they will lose the next election.

But if we adopt a wait and see approach – wait and see if they mean it, wait and see if they honour election commitments made, just sit around and complain and whine and wait and see till the next election, and don’t do our part then we’ll get a new government but it will be too late for that government because the lifeboat will have passed Malaysia by.

No comments:

Post a Comment