The word 2020, or “Wawasan 2020”, was coined by the likes of the late Nordin Sopiee and Allahyarham Rustam Sani.
former has a PhD from London School of Economics in political science,
the latter the same but from Yale University. Both were top brains that
Malaysia lost too early.
They coined Wawasan 2020 in 1990, with
one vision in mind – to give Malaysia a ‘perfect’ vision forward.
Regardless of which partisan divide, all Malaysians embraced it. Be it
MCA or DAP, there was nary a dissent against such a view; as articulated
by then Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad in a speech at the Malaysian
Among the list of goals was a GDP growth of 7.5
percent each year to double the size of the Malaysian GDP every decade.
Malaysia did not double in size every decade between 1990 and 2000, let
alone triple in size by next year. Which is why Wawasan 2020 or “Vision
2020” has to be pushed back to 2025 no thanks to the kleptocracy of
former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak that has had Malaysia hammered
to the wall of debt that has crossed the ceiling of US$290 billion and
Regardless of the ‘tsunami’ that wrested the power
from the hands of Umno and BN, the grip of the old government was
strong. It needed policy-preneurs and strategists across all parties
that formed Pakatan Harapan and, more importantly, their deep
connections to civil society organisations and even overseas Malaysians
who had never renounced their ties and sentiments to Malaysia be they in
Hong Kong, Hanoi or Hannover.
Take footballer Lim Tiong Kim. He
could have made his bread, forever, in Bayern Munich. But the
Malacca-born Lim returned to Malaysia to spearhead the growth of
Malaysian youth football. Why would the likes of Lim Tiong Kim return?
The word is “Malaysia”. We feel at home to serve the country well.
the likes of me anticipated the groundswell against Harapan after
losing the by-elections in Cameron Highlands and Semenyih, we were doing
it out of a sheer passion for the country to set the country right.
technology, for example, is not just cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin
or Ethereum which Bank Negara banned. Blockchain technology – which is
increasingly favoured in Japan, the land where Malaysia is supposed to
“Look East” to – is gaining in prominence in China and South Korea.
exports, be they bird nests or the certificates of education or even
Bahasa Malaysia or khat, can be blockchained and certified by keying in a
series of alphabets. Malaysia is still stuck in the mindset of 4G when
the world has moved to 5G; with the caveat of whether we want to put all
our faith in Huawei or something else.
The point is simple –
countries don’t grow unless there are strategists from all shades and
background putting their minds together. As a policy strategist of
Bersatu, my job is to provide critical and brutal truths on steering the
The seven academicians who once helped Emir
Research, which I founded, to get the electoral analysis for 2018 right,
can get the election analysis for 2023, or for one sooner, right again.
Privacy and exclusivity do not allow me to name them individually. But
one day, history will name them as visionaries too.
countless of other Malaysians who put on their thinking caps to create
Bersih 1 to 5 to tilt the balance against Umno and PAS. No one leader
did it on his own. It was a team effort since 1998 or 1970 if the focus
is on the National Economic Policy. Even earlier when the late Tunku
Abdul Rahman, Tan Cheng Lock and VT Sambathan went to London to lay the
ground for independence. Even Lee Kuan Yew, prior to the separation of
Singapore from Malaysia in 1965, played a role.
Harapan is in trouble when the leaders do not do three things – ignore
the manifesto conceived by strategists through laborious constructive
engagements with all stakeholders and research; form parliamentary
select committees mapped out by the forward-looking thinkers and when
they do not listen to their presidential councils. Indeed for the last,
some intentionally absent themselves from the meetings, either at the
coalition or party level.
All strategists, according to Carl Von
Clausewitz, a German military expert in the 19th century, will find that
their “strategies” will face what in German is called fritchon, or
“friction” in English. One of “frictions” is the difficulty of
operationalising the strategies when the top or middle management does
not listen fully. Thus, what was a strategy becomes a document that
faces enormous resistance even from the word “go”.
that problem as does DAP. Liew Chin Tong, a top strategist of the party,
affirmed clearly that there was a “swing” of 20 percent of the votes
against BN and Umno in 2018. But he finally admitted that these votes
were not due to love for Harapan but for the loathing of the “First
Couple” in the previous administration.
Bersatu is a party that
seems to want to move Malaysia forward, on freedom of speech,
contestation of ideas, a new manifesto and a solid “Vision 2025”
forward. But it would not be correct to have the top leaders of Bersatu
chastising people who are sensing doom. When Nouriel Roubini from New
York University foresaw the Asian Financial Crisis, he was not dismissed
as a quack. When Urjit Patel, the Central Bank of India governor, was
dismissed by PM Narendra Modi in December last year, he left quietly.
KS Jomo in Malaysia is also warning of the headwinds to be faced by
Malaysia. The same goes with Lim Guan Eng, the minister of finance, who
warned of an erosion of support for Harapan; and also Wong Chen, the PKR
MP for Subang.
Thus, there is a constant need for an optical
correction by speaking the truth; even if this has to be spoken to the
powers-that-be within the ranks of the government. In all, this is for
the good of Malaysia especially when we are celebrating our Merdeka
The fact that many have started asking tough questions on
the direction of this nation is a sign that many are not in favour of
the “new Malaysia” which Harapan is trying to create. I have delivered a
wake-up call that is inchoate in the mind of many. The last thing
anyone should do is to shoot the messenger.
Strategists are the
early warning predictors. And if we have got it right before against the
grain of all political scientists, we will get it right again as our
methods are numerically and methodologically rigorous.
Happy 62nd Independence Day!
Dr. Rais Hussin is President & CEO of EMIR Research, an independent think tank focused on strategic policy recommendations based upon rigorous research.