Editor's Note: Wawasan 2020 is only two years and 2 months away people. The vision called for Malaysia to become a fully developed country by the year 2020. Have we achieved that? Walter puts Malaysia through its paces and addresses some house-keeping issues that need to be dealt with before we can even consider our economy.
The time is coming, Malaysia. It will be here in just a few years. It will be here before you know it. It’s time to start acting more grown up, something nobody likes to do. But it’s got to be done. What am I talking about?
Malaysia will soon move into that elite group of countries around the world that are classified by the Word Bank as “fully developed nations” as a nation with a high-income economy. We will be entering the “Big Leagues”, joining such countries as the US and Canada, the UK and France, Australia and New Zealand, along with our neighbor to the south, Singapore. Lofty company, indeed.
According to Wikipedia, “a high-income economy
is defined by the World Bank as a country with a gross national income (GNI) per capita (gross national income divided by mid-year population) of US$12,236 or more in 2016”, a figure that will most likely continue to increase as the years go by.
For Malaysia in 2016, according to Malaysian government statistics reported in the annual report of the government’s Economic Planning Unit
(EPU), GNI actually fell to US$8,821 from US$9,291 the year before. The fall in GNI was due to the depreciating ringgit, a situation which is already starting to correct itself (let’s hope that trend continues).
Time to Put On Your Big Boy Pants
While Malaysia certainly has the look of a fully developed nation, does it yet have the “feel” of a fully developed nation? I think most short-time visitors might think so, but for those taking a longer, closer look, maybe not so much.
There are lots of things in Malaysia that really need to be addressed by the time the monetary goal of fully developed nation status is hit and maintained, so it’s better to get started now to change those few “developing nation” things that one sees a lot of if one stays in Malaysia for long.
1. You Can’t Run to 7/11 for Your Pet’s Birth Control Needs
Let’s start off with our four-legged friends; pets and animals. I get it, I like seeing the occasional dog roaming my neighbourhood or a cat waiting for my food scraps at the neighbourhood mamak, but Malaysia has got to really get the stray population under control and do it in a humane way.
With the number of stray dogs and cats all over the country, one would think that they are reproducing like rabbits; and in actuality, they are. It’s far beyond time for Malaysians to embrace two little things called spaying and neutering. It may not be a little thing to the animal that is getting spayed or neutered, but once it’s done, it’s done. Your furry little friend will still be your furry little friend and you won’t have to avoid roving gangs of dogs following you everywhere you do or cats fighting over your last uneaten piece of roti canai.
2. Those Lines on the Highway Actually Mean Something. Really, They Do
When it comes to driving, things are just a bit outside the realm of how most fully developed nation drivers drive. For starters, let three lanes of traffic be three lanes of traffic, not eight lanes, no matter how much traffic there is.
3. As Much As We Want to Be, We Can’t All Be Speed Racer
And while it’s true that drivers all over the world sometimes drive faster than the speed limit, where I come from, most people don’t travel 100kph over the limit, like is done so often on highways here. Just because you drive a Mercedes, a Ferrari or in a lot of cases, even a Vios (Editor's Note: Correction, it's the national car, Myvi
), it doesn’t give you free reign on speeding. And for all drivers in Malaysia, emergency lanes are called that for a reason. No matter what type of car you drive, your life isn’t that big of an emergency.
4. We DHL Our Things with Better Packaging Than We Give Our Kids
It’s time to think about the most precious cargo in all the world; our children. It’s way past the point in time for all Malaysian children to be safely secured into their child safety seats, something I think I have only seen once since I moved here. And while you are out buying your child safety seat, pick up a few child-size helmets for your neighbour’s kids.
5. The Lung You Save Might Be Your Own
Like I said earlier, Malaysia has the look of a fully developed country with its stylish cityscapes, but it's way past time to take old polluting cars and lorries off the roads and make them the latest addition to rubbish heaps everywhere.
6. Trash Talking Might Be Okay for Sports Stars, But…
And speaking of rubbish heaps, and this is addressed to a very small percentage of the citizenry, Malaysia is not your personal trash bin. Your car window doesn’t magically connect to a top secret trash bin, so don’t act like it does. And no more haze. Ever. Stop blaming other countries for the occasional haze problem and come clean about all the internal causes for the haze and get them cleaned up.
7. Some Like It Hot, So Don’t Make My Partner Wait
When it comes to service, there are just two things that all Westerners wish for and I bet a lot of Malaysians do, too. First, whether I’m paying for a Big Mac at McDonald’s or nasi lemak from a roadside stand, please try just a little harder to serve the food hot; the way it was meant to be served. And try; just try, to serve my food at the same time that you serve my eating partners food. Is that too much to ask?
8. Help Make the Less Fortunate Feel More Fortunate
And finally, for those less fortunate than most of us, the physically and mentally challenged of our society, don’t make their lives, and the lives of their loved ones any more challenging than it already is. It’s time to make everything that is built handicapped accessible and begin retro-fitting all older buildings for the same.
Beauty (and Developed Nation Status) Is In the Eye of the Beholder
While things like the evolving KL skyline and expanding public transport, together with the “giving” attitude of Malaysians may not quite yet add up to meet the accepted definition of “fully developed” nation status, to me, and countless others, it definitely meets the definition of “beautiful nation status”. And at this point in time in world history, maybe that’s the most important “status” any country could ever wish for.