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Malaysia 2020 Essay


To accomplish a vision during a long clip is really hard because it needs a batch of agencies and besides people ‘s consent in order to be realized. Malaysia is the best illustration to larn how can accomplish a strategic program by doting its vision that called ( wawasan 2020 ) .

In this article our group wants to give a general position on the large undertaking in Malayan history i.e. vision 2020 ( wawasan 2020 ) . First, we start by holding a expression to its definition, and so we want to demo some Fieldss which these visions focused on accomplishing its ends, and the challenges which are confronting the vision presents.


Malaysia is one of the earliest states in the universe due to Dr. Mahathir who conceived of Vision 2020 and encouraged all Malaysians to accomplish this end by sharing in this program. Vision 2020 has come from a forces vision -Mahathir ‘s vision- and it really rapidly became a national Vision due to the first-class communicator of this Vision by the premier curate and his authorities members. The Vision sets new and higher ends for national aspiration, and this vision contribute dramatically in altering the manner Malaysians see themselves and the way of their shared fate. No longer are we resigned to the fact that we are a underdeveloped state that will, at best, remain 2nd rate. Malaysians are urged by the Prime Minister to endeavor to be the best and non settle for the 2nd best. There is nil that we are non capable of making, if we are prepared to work hard and utilize our inventiveness and resourcefulness.

vision 2020 ( wawasan 2020 ) :

The undermentioned text is from the Malaysia vision web site, it ‘s explain the vision 2020 presented by Dr Mahathir Mohamed at the Malayan Business Council.

The intent of this paper is to show before you some ideas on the future class of our state and how we should travel about to achieve our aim of developing Malaysia into an industrialised state. Besides outlined are some steps that should be in topographic point in the shorter term so that the foundations can be laid for the long journey towards that ultimate aim.

Hopefully the Malaysian who is born today and in the old ages to come will be the last coevals of our citizens who will be populating in a state that is called ‘developing ‘ . The ultimate aim that we should take for is a Malaya that is a to the full developed state by the twelvemonth 2020.

What, you might justly inquire, is ‘a to the full developed state ‘ ? Do we desire to be like any peculiar state of the present 19 states that are by and large regarded as ‘developed states ‘ ? Do we desire to be like the United Kingdom, like Canada, like Holland, like Sweden, like Finland, like Japan? To be certain, each of the 19, out of a universe community of more than 160 provinces, has its strengths. But each besides has its just portion of failings. Without being a extra of any of them we can still be developed. We should be a developed state in our ain mold.

Malaysia should non be developed merely in the economic sense. It must be a state that is to the full developed along all the dimensions: economically, politically, socially, spiritually, psychologically and culturally. We must be to the full developed in footings of national integrity and societal coherence, in footings of our economic system, in footings of societal justness, political stableness, system of authorities, quality of life, societal and religious values, national pride and assurance. [ 01 ]

Some policies and schemes of vision 2020 ( wawasan 2020 ) :

the Malaysia economic policy and scheme:

This new policy can be considered an add-on papers to the NEP ; it provides a model towards Dr. Mahathir ‘s new vision 2020 program typifying “ the manner frontward ” policy towards a “ developed ” state in 2020. This will necessitate the state to keep a 7-plus per centum growing rates for the following 25 old ages. Prime Minister Mahathir believes raising workforce quality and developing expertness in sophisticated industries are decisive elements in the state ‘s route to economic success and development ( Brown 1993: 43 ) . In order to ease these growing demands, the NDP has relaxed many of the FDI limitations imposed by the NEP such as equity and licensing demands and processs.

The intent of the Industrial Master Plan which was formulated by the United Nations Industrial. [ 02 ]

Malaysia economic policy focal points on some Fieldss to accomplish its intents:

Export Facilitation. Import Substitution. Duty Structure, Strategic Exposure.

Export Facilitation:

The economic principle of Malaysia to advance exports provides the state with three of import advantages.

  1. First, it generates foreign-exchange that can cut down the sum of foreign debt needed to fund development.
  2. Second, it contributes to developing a competitory industry substructure from larning from investors- a move that brings technological excellence taking to higher value-added exports. By the publicity of specific industries, such as the semi-conductor industry, has speeded engineering acquisition and enhanced the state ‘s competitory Worldwide placement.
  3. Finally, FDI provides employment in the industry sector, which to a big extent is attracted from the agricultural sector. [ 02 ]

Duty Structure:

As a nexus to the policy of keeping a stable economic system with past budget schemes of commanding rising prices, there have been major decreases and abolishment of import responsibilities on goods and services. The 1995 budget proposes a decrease of duties imposed on over 2,600 points of which a bulk is nutrient points ( Budget 1995: 22 ) . Besides, duties on edifice stuffs and family contraptions have been reduced. These steps will non merely command rising prices, but besides heighten the quality of life and favor the overall clime for investings. However, Ad Valorem revenue enhancements are imposed on imported goods and services ( refer to Appendix 4 ) [ 02 ] .

Import Substitution:

Economic development in Malaysia was first built on the footing of Import Substitution, indicated by the big displacement of GNP distribution from agricultural sectors to fabricating sectors. Import permutation has increased in chiefly three countries, conveyance equipment, Industrial chemicals and fertilisers and in Industrial machinery ( Onn 1988: 28 ) . However, exports constitute the chief beginning of growing in the fabrication sector from 1970-1990 ( mention to appendix 6 ) . This tendency can be explained by economic policy that places great accent on bettering industrial fight as a vehicle towards vision 2020. [ 02 ]

Strategic Exposure

Strategic exposure represents a important constituent in Strategic Trade Theory. The principle behind take downing barriers to merchandise and exposing local industry to foreign competition is to make a more competitory domestic industry ( Hamilton 1989: 4 ) . Such a Level Playing Field policy will coerce local houses to increase their fight to last.

Strategic exposure represents a direct nexus to going an industrialised state by 2020 and the realisation of economic ends. Integrating FDI as a strategic step to heighten technological know-how can cut down domestic acquisition and experience curves in selected industries. By giving foreign investors considerable revenue enhancement deductible inducements in countries such as preparation of local employees, research and development and in publicity of exports Malaysia has been able to increase World broad fight as demonstrated by increasing exports and GDP ( Carrol, Errion 1991: 21 ) . Malaysia aims for the twelvemonth 2000 to hold at least 1.6 % of GDP spent on R & A ; D and is foretelling that at least 40 % will come from the private sector [ 02 ]

Higher instruction ‘s policy and scheme:


In Malaysia, with the cooperation of the local universities formulate and create action programs for reforming technology instruction in readying for the professional outlooks of the hereafter. As a consequence, the universities are urged to move and play a leading function in bettering the technology instruction.

Interaction with local and abroad industries should besides be increased. This will ease more realistic and relevant joint undertakings for pupils and industry professionals. Through this interaction, universities will confront a assortment of real-world multi-disciplinary jobs that are similar to the concern operational jobs locally and internationally. These jobs can be used as trial instances for solution attacks. Engineering pupils could organize interdisciplinary collaborative squads to develop effectual solutions to such jobs. As a consequence, the coveted properties for the hereafter applied scientists, for illustration, the ability to map on multidisciplinary squad, the ability to place and work out technology jobs, the ability to understand the professional and ethical duty and the ability to pass on efficaciously can be achieved. [ 03 ] .

Infrastructure and Facilities

Universities need to set up consensus on relevance of a set of a new fundamental for technology instruction. This may include information engineering, bio-engineering, nano-skill-technologies, accomplishments and understanding necessary for efficaciously taking multidisciplinary-teams, the challenges of framing and turn toing large-scale system-of-systems jobs, sustainability, lifecycle direction of systems, risk-based plus direction, and the demand of womb-to-tomb acquisition, globalisation, demographic worlds and demand for diverseness [ 03 ] .


The teaching method of technology instruction must be changed. Harmonizing to Felder many pupils in the United States fail to stand out with merely the support of traditional method used in learning technology. Engineering pupils prefer active instruction method.Therefore ; the traditional instruction technology theoretical account must be changed to a new learning theoretical account in line with the applied scientists of the twenty-first century. The hereafter technology instruction plan should include the usage of ICT ( Information Communication Technology ) . This thought suggested by many undergraduate technology pupils. The ICT genre involves the usage of all tools in the signifiers of package, online plan and resources to make new and improved conditions for acquisition, for illustration the usage of e-learning, electronic mail, word processor, and web resources ( both inactive information and dynamic synergistic information ) [ 03 ] .

Using ICT in Education

The construct of ICT in instruction, as seen by the Ministry of Education of Malaysia, includes systems that enable information assemblage, direction, use, entree, and communicating in assorted signifiers. The Ministry has formulated three chief policies for ICT in instruction.

  1. The first policy is that of ICT for all pupils, intending that ICT is used as an enabler to cut down the digital spread between the schools.
  2. The 2nd policy emphasizes the function and map of ICT in instruction as a instruction and larning tool, as portion of a topic, and as a topic by itself. Apart from wireless and telecasting as a instruction and larning tool, this policy stresses the usage of the computing machine for accessing information, communicating, and as a productiveness tool. ICT as portion of a capable refers to the usage of package in topics such as “ Invention ” and “ Engineering Drawing. ” ICT as a topic refers to the debut of topics such as “ Information Technology ” and “ Computerization ” .
  3. The 3rd policy emphasizes utilizing ICT to increase productiveness, efficiency and effectivity of the direction system. ICT will be extensively used to automatize and mechanise work procedures such as the processing of official signifiers, timetable coevals, direction of information systems, lesson planning, fiscal direction, and the care of stock lists. [ 04 ]

wellness policy and scheme:

The MOH ‘s vision for the hereafter and the strategic aims are based on its corporate values that incorporate professionalism, teamwork and lovingness.

Strategic Goals

  • Prevent and cut down the load of disease
  • Enhance the health care bringing system
  • Optimize resources
  • Improve research and development
  • Manage crisis and catastrophes efficaciously
  • Strengthen the wellness information direction system


  • Improve administration, and acceptance of appropriate engineering and service
  • Practices to authorise persons, households and communities towards achieving womb-to-tomb health.
  • Develop accomplishments and competences to farther cut down mortality and morbidity rates in promotion of beef uping the quality of healthcare bringing.
  • Establish effectual concern schemes to heighten organisational
  • Performance and the ingestion of resources.
  • Increase the usage of grounds through research to back up all degrees of determination devising.
  • Promote the degree of readiness in pull offing catastrophes and health-related crises efficaciously.
  • Upgrade the criterions of information and communicating engineering every bit good as wellness information sciences to keep sound wellness information Management [ 05 ] .

Biological diverseness policy and scheme:


The vision 2020 ( wawasan2020 ) in biological diverseness based on the undermentioned rules:

  • The preservation ethic, including the built-in right to existence of all life signifiers, is profoundly rooted in the spiritual and cultural values of all Malaysians
  • Biological diverseness is a national heritage and it must be sustainably managed and sagely utilised today and conserved for future coevalss ;
  • Biological resources are natural capital and their preservation is an investing that will give benefits locally, nationally and globally for the present and future ;
  • The benefits from sustainable direction of biological diverseness will accrue, straight or indirectly, to every sector of society ;
  • The sustainable direction of biological diverseness is the duty of all sectors of society ;
  • It is the responsibility of Government to explicate and implement the policy model for sustainable direction and use of biological diverseness in close cooperation with scientists, the concern community and the populace ;
  • The function of local communities in the preservation, direction and use of biological diverseness must be recognized and their rightful portion of benefits should be ensured ;
  • Issues in biological diverseness transcend national boundaries and Malaysia must go on to exert a proactive and constructive function in international activities ;
  • The mutuality of states on biological diverseness and in the use of its constituents for the wellbeing of world is recognized. International cooperation and coaction is critical for just and just sharing of biological resources, every bit good as entree to and reassign of relevant engineering ;
  • Public consciousness and instruction is indispensable for guaranting the preservation of biological diverseness and the sustainable use of its constituents ; in the use of biological diverseness, including the development of biotechnology, the rules and pattern of biosafety should be adhered to [ 06 ] .


  • To optimise economic benefits from sustainable use of the constituents of biological diverseness
  • To guarantee long-run nutrient security for the state
  • To keep and better environmental stableness for proper operation of ecological systems
  • To guarantee saving of the alone biological heritage of the state for the benefit of present and future coevalss ;
  • To heighten scientific and technological cognition, and educational, societal, cultural and aesthetic values of biological diverseness ;

To stress biosafety considerations in the development and application of biotechnology ; [ 06 ]

Challenges of set uping vision 2020 ( wawasan 2020 ) :

  1. The first of these is the challenges of set uping a united Malayan state with a sense of common and shared fate.
  2. The 2nd is the challenge of making a psychologically liberated, secure, and developed Malayan Society with religion and assurance in itself, justifiably proud of what it is, of what it has accomplished, robust plenty to confront all mode of hardship.
  3. The 3rd challenge we have ever faced is that of fosterage and developing a mature democratic society, practising a signifier of mature consensual, community-oriented Malayan democracy that can be a theoretical account for many developing states.
  4. The 4th is the challenge of set uping a to the full moral and ethical society, whose citizens are strong in spiritual and religious values and imbued with the highest of ethical criterions.
  5. The 5th challenge that we have ever faced is the challenge of set uping a matured, broad and tolerant society in which Malaysians of all colourss and credos are free to pattern and profess their imposts, civilizations and spiritual beliefs and yet experiencing that they belong to one state.
  6. The 6th is the challenge of set uping a scientific and progressive society, a society that is advanced and advanced, and one that is non merely a consumer of engineering but besides a subscriber to the scientific and technological civilisation of the hereafter.
  7. The 7th challenge is the challenge of set uping a to the full caring society and a caring civilization, a societal system in which society will come before ego, in which the public assistance of the people will go around non around the province or the single but around a strong and resilient household system.
  8. The eighth is the challenge of guaranting an economically merely society. This is a society in which there is a just and just distribution of the wealth of the state, in which there is full partnership in economic advancement. Such a society can non be in topographic point so long as there is the designation of race with economic map, and the designation of economic retardation with race.
  9. The 9th challenge is the challenge of set uping a comfortable society, with an economic system that is to the full competitory, dynamic, robust and resilient. [ 07 ]


Is Malaysia on path to 2020? This is the most of import inquiry every clip the issue of Malaysia 2020 has been raised. And it is of import to mensurate and measure the schemes and policies to maintain Malaysia on path to 2020 ; Siddiquee ( 2006 ) [ 08 ] indicated that the recent reforms represent Malaysia ‘s effort to stay relevant and competitory in a quickly altering local and planetary environment. It is clear that the alterations are mostly consistent with NPM ( National Public Management ) rules and they are non merely geared towards heightening efficiency and institutional capacity of the governmental machinery, they besides seek to transform it into a dynamic, market-driven and customer-oriented disposal.

It is true that Malaysia is in front of other developing states in footings of ICT substructure and its use, nevertheless, there is a long manner to travel before Malaysia can catch up with other regional leaders like Singapore and South Korea. Soon, non merely the figure and types of services offered through such channels are limited but besides the public entree to such services is unequal. On the one manus, the public consciousness about such installations is comparatively low ; on the other manus, pilot undertakings being carried out have exposed a assortment of challenges Therefore, the reforms, although by and large seen as stairss in the right way, have non brought approximately dramatic betterments in the populace sector.

An analysis of the populace sector competency of 12 Asiatic states from 1999 to 2001/2002 by the Global Competitiveness Report shows that Malaysia ‘s ranking has dropped from 46 in 1999 to 65 in 2001/2002. Malaya has fared ill compared with neighbouring Singapore, which has ranked foremost for three back-to-back old ages. Measured on a 0-7 graduated table ( where 0 agencies least competent and 7 means the most competent ) , Malaysia ‘s tonss are 2.24, 2.50 and 2.10 against Singapore ‘s 4.52, 4.4 and 4.7 during the same period. What is even more surprising is that Malaysia ‘s 2001/2002 ranking is below that of Thailand ( 44 ) , Indonesia ( 48 ) , and the Philippines ( 58 ) .

The Malayan experience shows that there is barely any speedy hole to the jobs of the populace sector and that there is a long manner to travel before the ends envisioned are realized.

Malaysia has, despite its attempts to develop ICT particularly in the Multi Media Super Corridor, receded from topographic point 25 ( in 1997 ) on a comparative fight graduated table of substructure development to put 38 ( out of 49 states in 2001 ) .

Malaysia still implement new ways to accomplish its end The authorities have started implementing several enterprises to ease the smooth development of cognition economic system, peculiarly in the countries of scientific discipline and engineering ( S & A ; T ) , research and development, info construction and funding. Examples of some of these enterprises include the launching of the National IT Agenda ( NITA ) and the Multimedia Super Corridor ( MSC ) . These enterprises is to place itself in the global-map of knowledge-based economic systems and to set about steps in guaranting that just entree is targeted to all sections of Malaysia society. As a whole, k-economy provides the agencies to keep sustainable rapid economic growing and fight in the medium and long term. As mentioned earlier, the private sector will go on to go the engine of growing in k-economy with support from the populace sector. At the same clip, the aim of societal and economic equity will still be a critical component in this new phase of economic development but with the added duty of contracting the cognition spread among assorted groups, between urban and rural communities and across the parts. Hence, holding the national policies and programs in topographic point to drive human resources, private and public sector to accomplish k-economy, who is responsible for organizing and disposal of the programs, policies and schemes implemented ( Abdullah, Rose & A ; Kumar ( 2007 ) ) [ 09 ] .


Despite Malayas have achieved many ends from 1981 boulder clay now, there are many troubles that brush Malaysia for accomplishing visions 2020 and there are a batch of jobs have to be solved such as the undermentioned jobs:

  1. The large spread between Malay and Chinese and Indian citizens between each other ‘s whether in communicating, covering, relationships.
  2. The non-stabilization in the leadings of Malaysia authorities since 2000.
  3. Inefficiency to construct a new coevals to follow vision 2020 wholly.
  4. Weakness of consciousness of Malaysian ‘s society to implement vision 2020.
  5. Concentrating on development of the large metropoliss like KL, PENANG and ignore the other small towns.


  1. hypertext transfer protocol: //www.wawasan2020.com/vision/p4.htmln.
  2. hypertext transfer protocol: //www.geocities.com/TimesSquare/1848/malay.html.
  3. N. M. Nor1, N. Rajab2 and K.M. Ismail3, Educating the Engineer of 2020 Malaysian Scenario, University Teknologi Malaysia. College of Science and Technology, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
  4. Chan, Foong-Mae, ICT in Malayan Schools: Policy and Strategies, Educational Technology Division, Ministry of Education, Malaysia, October 2002 from hypertext transfer protocol: //gauge.u-gakugei.ac.jp
  5. Ministry of Health Malaysia Strategic Plan 2006-2010, April 2008 from hypertext transfer protocol: //www.moh.gov.my/MohPortal/Pelan % 20Strategik % 20KKM % 202006-2010.pdf
  6. Official declaration, Malaysia ‘s national policy on biological diverseness, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Ministry of Science, Environment and Technology, pp 2 & A ; 3, Thursday April 16 1998.
  7. hypertext transfer protocol: //www.primeministersofmalaysia.net/2020.php
  8. Siddiquee, A. , N. , ( 2006 ) Public direction reform in Malaysia International Journal of Public Sector Management 19 ( 4 ) 339-358.
  9. Abdullah, H. , Rose, C. , R. , and Kumar, N. ( 2007 ) Human Resource Development Schemes: The Malaysian Scenario. Journal of Social Science 3 ( 4 ) : 213-222.

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Key Points

  • Malaysia now aims to become a fully developed country within the next two decades, abandoning the original target of 2020.
  • The current economic policy is in need of reform if Malaysia is to achieve its economic goals.
  • There are concerns that democracy in Malaysia is deteriorating with the government tightening its control over the media following allegations of political corruption.
  • Nationalist sentiments espoused by the ruling coalition also raise concerns over increasing ethnic divisions in the country.


A slowing economy, political corruption and social tensions may hinder the government’s goal to become a developed country by 2020 as part of the Wawasan (Vision) 2020 of former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir bin Mohamad in 1991. In his original paper outlining the vision, Mahathir specified nine requirements that Malaysia needed to achieve under the plan: to be ethnically united, psychologically liberated and secure, democratically mature, moral and ethical, tolerant, scientifically advanced, have a family-based welfare structure, equitable growth and a prosperous economy. Broadly, these nine requirements can be divided into economic, political and social categories.


Economic Goals

As Dr Mahathir stated in Wawasan 2020, ‘I believe that we should set the realistic (as opposed to aspirational) target of almost doubling our real gross domestic product every ten years between 1990 and 2020’. This puts the GDP target at around US$352 billion by 2020. While Malaysia was on track for some time to achieve the Wawasan economic goals, recent figures show that the economy has fallen behind. In the aftermath of the 2008 Global Financial Crisis, current Prime Minister Najib Razak told reporters in August 2009 that the country must achieve an annual Gross Domestic Product growth rate of eight per cent if it is to become a fully developed country by 2020. Since then, however, the annual GDP growth rate has been closer to six per cent, averaging 5.65% over the period 2010-15. According to Najib, this will delay the goal of becoming fully developed until 2030. A major factor behind the slowing GDP growth rate is falling commodity prices. According to 2014 figures provided by the Observatory of Economic Complexity, Malaysia’s top exports include integrated circuits (US$40.7 billion), refined petroleum (US$24.7bn), petroleum gas (US$21.3bn), palm oil (US$12.4bn) and crude petroleum (US$11.5bn). In total, petroleum and palm oil accounted for around 29 per cent of total export revenue for that year. Since then, however, oil prices have plummeted from around US$100 per barrel to US$40 at the beginning of this year, at times dipping below US$30. As the Financial Times notes, the future of Malaysia’s economic growth largely depends on government spending and an oil price rebound:

Falling oil prices mean that oil-related revenues are set to fall well short of the initial target of about 2.5% of GDP. If oil prices stayed at current levels and the government stuck with its original spending plans, the 2016 fiscal deficit would have hit almost four per cent of GDP instead of the 3.1% of GDP the government was originally aiming for.

To offset this, the Malaysian Government has announced various spending cuts to operating and developmental expenditure which are expected to save nine billion ringgit ($2.9 billion). It is unlikely, however, that these cuts will, on their own, be sufficient to put Malaysia back on track to reach its Wawasan economic goals.

New Economic Policy

There are also concerns surrounding the need for reform in Malaysia’s economic policy. Current economic policy favours ethnic Malays or Bumiputera, who comprise two-thirds of the total population. Introduced in 1971, the New Economic Policy (NEP) was implemented to address grievances held by the Bumiputera about the generally higher living standards enjoyed by Chinese Malaysians at that time. At face value, it does appear that the NEP did indeed help many Bumiputera to escape poverty. As depicted in the graph (below), the monthly income of ethnic Malays has increased at a greater rate than that of Indian and Chinese Malaysians since the NEP was implemented. The current average monthly household income for Chinese Malaysians, however, remains well above that of the Bumiputera. This is of concern to some economists who believe that ‘state-sponsored favouritism has hooked Malays on handouts and government jobs, and helped to enrich the country’s élites’, while doing little for those in poverty.

Although it was only initially intended as a temporary measure, the NEP remains in place today and has drawn criticism from various commentators, including The Economist, which labelled the policy as one that ‘has become central to a system of corrupt patronage’. There has also been some dissatisfaction among the general public. According to a poll conducted in 2008, seventy-one per cent of Malaysians agreed with the statement that Barisan Nasional’s ‘race-based affirmative action policy is obsolete and must be replaced with a merit-based policy’. Unsurprisingly, 83 per cent of Chinese respondents and 89 per cent of Indian respondents agreed with the statement. Perhaps more surprising, however, is that 65 per cent of Malay respondents also felt that the NEP was outdated. Faults within the NEP are also recognised among some politicians. The former PAS-Malaysian Islamic Party MP for Kuala Selangor, Dzulkefly Ahmad, told Malaysia Today at the time of the poll that ‘the Approved Permit system was meant to allow Malay entrepreneurs a stake in industries, such as the automotive business. Instead, it became a monopoly for a selected few’. Prominent Malaysian economist K.S. Jomo also concludes that an alternative approach needs to be found to create more lasting conditions for improved inter-ethnic relations. Although there is no doubt that the NEP has achieved some socio-economic goals, it is no longer likely that the policy will promote equitable growth in the longer term and aid Malaysia’s larger goal of becoming a fully developed country.

Political Goals

Under Wawasan 2020, the Malaysian Government is tasked with establishing a mature, moral and ethical democracy. Recent events, however, have shone a spotlight on political corruption in the country. Prime Minister Najib Razak and the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) strategic development fund that he chairs have come under scrutiny after allegations were raised that monies had been siphoned into the Prime Minister’s personal bank account from 1MDB. The 1MDB fund was set up by Najib in 2009 when he took office with a mission to ‘drive sustainable economic development by forging strategic global partnerships and promoting foreign direct investment’. In July 2015, then Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail linked a donation of US$681 million made to Najib’s account (which was later returned), with companies and bodies that had ties to 1MDB. Patail was then replaced by Apandi Ali, who, after an investigation, cleared Najib of any wrongdoing, declaring that the money was a personal donation by an unnamed member of the Saudi royal family. The Swiss Attorney-General, on the other hand, who began investigating the matter in 2015, has confirmed allegations of criminal conduct in four cases involving 1MDB, over a period spanning 2009 to 2013. Najib, however, was not among those accused of wrongdoing and has not been investigated by the Swiss. Whether or not Najib is guilty of the corruption allegations laid against him, they unfortunately highlight corruption within the Malaysian government.

As per the aim of Wawasan 2020, Malaysia is to become a democratically mature country. To quote the original paper, ‘The third challenge we have always faced is that of fostering and developing a mature democratic society practising a form of mature consensual, community-oriented Malaysian democracy that can be a model for many developing countries.’ While what constitutes a mature democracy may perhaps be a matter of debate, there are some prominent issues surrounding the nature of Malaysia’s democratic system. As noted in a recent FDI Strategic Weekly Analysis, the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition holds power while lacking majority support. At the 2013 general election, the Barisan Nasional secured only 47 per cent of the popular vote but won 51 per cent of parliamentary seats, with the opposition Pakatan Rakyat alliance receiving 50 per cent of votes while taking only 48 per cent of the seats. Barisan Nasional garners most of its support from more sparsely-populated rural areas. The 2013 general election was, however, the worst ever result for Barisan Nasional and its largest component, the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO). To maintain its grip on power, the Barisan Nasional may be willing to sacrifice certain democratic values.

One of these is freedom of the press. The country’s most popular news website, The Malaysian Insider, was blocked by the government in early March 2016 following its coverage of the 1MDB corruption allegations. In an official statement regarding the decision to block the news site, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that, although the government upholds freedom of speech, such freedoms must be exercised with responsibility. Prime Minister Najib then took it a step further, writing that it was an example of ‘unhealthy journalism’ and that the news site was ‘constructing their own version of “reality”’. Controlling the media is not something new for the Malaysian authorities, having also blocked sites such as Sarawak Report and The Edge Malaysia for reporting alleged corruption. According to the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) 2016 World Press Freedom Index, Malaysia is ranked 146 out of 180 countries for press freedom. With press freedom widely regarded as a pillar of democracy, such freedoms will need to be protected for Wawasan 2020 to come to fruition.

It could be argued that Malaysia is not heading in the direction of the mature, moral and ethical democracy envisaged in Wawasan 2020. Some critics have even accused Malaysia of heading in the opposite direction for some time. Professor Amin Saikal of the Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies at the Australian National University has claimed that ‘Malaysia has been sliding towards authoritarianism since Mahathir pursued the sodomy case against his deputy, Anwar Ibrahim [in 1998]’.

Social Goals

Perhaps the biggest challenge faced by the Malaysian Government in terms of achieving the goals of Wawasan 2020 is to establish an ethnically united society. According to the Malaysian Department of Statistics, the three major ethnic groups in Malaysia are Malays (Bumiputera), who account for 67.4 per cent of the population, Chinese-Malaysians (24.6%) and Indian-Malaysians (7.3%). Underlying ethnic tensions date back to before independence and frequently centre on economic disparities primarily between Chinese-Malaysians and the Bumiputera, which provoked riots in 1969 and subsequently led to the implementation of the NEP. Today, the deteriorating political situation is bringing these ethnic tensions back to the surface. As noted by Asia Sentinel, ‘critics say the Prime Minister is attempting to use a perceived threat by the Malaysian Chinese, who dominate the economic landscape, to dominate the political one’. Similar sentiments were expressed by Bloomberg:

At stake is the unbroken rule since independence in 1957 of the United Malays National Organisation, the biggest actor in one of the longest-ruling coalitions in the world. Ethnic Malays are the bulwark of that coalition, and Najib needs to keep them onside.

The reaction of Najib to recent unrest appears to validate such concerns. Allegations of government corruption sparked protests in August 2015 that drew more than 25,000 demonstrators, which were then followed in September by pro-government rallies of around 30,000 marchers. The element of ethnic tension underlying these protests became apparent in the government response. Najib was quoted by the Bernama News Agency as saying [of the participants in the Bersih 4 rally], ‘Don’t they understand, are they that shallow and poor in their patriotism and love for their motherland? Don’t they understand the country was built on the blood and sweat of our freedom fighters?’ He went further stating that those who took part in the protests only want to ‘discredit our good name, scribble black coal on Malaysia’s face to the outside world’. Protesters at the following pro-government rally also accused those attending the August Bersih rallies as undermining Malay rule and claimed that most participants were Chinese. The use of patriotic language and the association of Chinese-Malaysians with supposedly “anti-government” attitudes raise concern over the possibility of future ethnic tensions.

Using ethnicity to secure political power is a dangerous prospect. While tensions are not close to breaking point, there has been an increasing number of demonstrations over political divisions and racial and religious tensions over the past five years, according to the US Bureau of Diplomatic Security. To calm ethnic tensions and move towards a more united Malaysia, the government needs to cease using Malay nationalism as a way of maintaining its hold on power. The likelihood of that happening, however, would seem to be low. After losing the popular vote in 2013, the Barisan Nasional has positioned itself as a champion of ethnic Malays to maintain its grasp on power and turning its back on those nationalist sentiments could spell political suicide for the coalition.


Wawasan 2020 will not be achieved in the short-to-medium term. The government has openly admitted that the economic goals of Wawasan 2020 will not be reached for at least another two decades due to slowing economic growth. The same also holds true for its social and political aspirations. While the Malaysian political system is democratic in nature, there has been little progress towards becoming a more mature democracy. There is also the possibility that the system will begin to deteriorate within the next decade as the Malaysian Government tightens its control over the media. The Barisan Nasional coalition maintains power despite lacking majority support and, instead of appealing to the wider population and attempting to draw in new supporters, the coalition is increasingly focussing on shoring up its primary support base of ethnic Malays.  This could, in turn, lead to further ethnic division within the country. By 2020, Malaysia will fall short of achieving the primary economic, political and social goals of Wawasan 2020. While Malaysia still hopes to become a fully developed country in the next two decades, it is important that the government does not abandon the pursuit of becoming a democratically mature and ethnically united country. At this point, a number of policies and approaches need to be rethought if all of the goals of Wawasan 2020 are to be achieved within the medium term at least.

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