Every great things and impressive achievements start with a great vision. In my understanding, vision means what we foreseen and aimed to achieve in a specific period of time. What is the vision of this beloved nation of Malaysia? Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad while being the Prime Minister of Malaysia in the year 1991 has loudly announced to the whole country and to the world that Malaysia will become a fully advanced country by the year 2020. He proudly announced that Malaysia now has a great vision and he named the vision as Vision 2020. Our beloved ex-Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad envisioned Malaysia to be advanced country by the year 2020. He did outline the nine challenges that we need to overcome to achieve the vision by the year 2020. However, Tun Dr Mahathir never specifically mentioned the style of advanced country that Malaysia wants to be. He did mention that advanced country that Malaysia aims to be shall not be like the present advanced countries of the western world, but advanced country of its own unique style. What is exactly the style of advanced country that Malaysia aims to achieve? Only Tun Dr Mahathir knows.
Our present Prime Minister, Dato’ Seri Najib Tun Razak’s understanding of Malaysia as advanced country is Malaysia with a GNI per capita of US$15,000 a year by the year 2020; which is thought to be at par with the per capita income of the current advanced countries. What is being understood by Dato’ Seri Najib is similar to what the Americans and many others understand what advanced country is. People all over the world generally accepted that one of the basic features of advanced country is a country that has high per capita income. By this definition, Malaysia will be regarded and accepted by the world as advanced country when Malaysia managed to achieve high per capita income that is at par with the other known advanced countries. Thus, Dato’ Seri Najib is trying to move the country to become a country with high per capita income. He simply wants Malaysia to be regarded as advanced country by this definition. To move people with him, Dato‘ Seri Najib should expound clearly his understanding of Malaysia as advanced country and make it known to all citizens. But will a country with high per capita income makes majority of the citizens to have high income?
Before Dato’ Seri Najib, Tun Abdullah Haji Ahmad Badawi, the immediate successor to Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had come up with his concepts of Islam Hadhari. Unfortunately he never seemed to explain clearly and convincingly in simple words what he meant by Islam Hadhari. When he said Islam Hadhari means progressive Islam, many immediately disagreed with him since they always understand and believe that Islam by itself is indeed already progressive. Why Tun Abdullah wanted to make Islam to be more progressive and modern? This clearly showed that Tun Abdullah and his advisors did not really understand the difference between Islam and the Muslims and they did not really know what they wanted to achieve.
In simple words, we can explain that Islam is the orders of Allah and Muslims are the people who adhere to the orders of Allah. When Muslims do not adhere strictly to the orders of Allah, Muslims will become backward and primitive. Similarly, when the Muslims adhere strongly to wrongly understood orders of Allah, they will also become backward and primitive. Whereas when the Muslims understand the orders of Allah correctly and they adhere strictly to them, they will become progressive and modern.
Tun Abdullah had asked his advisors to write books on Islam Hadhari and tried to build Malaysia along with his concepts of Islam Hadhari. Other than writings and slogans, I did not see anything conclusive on the achievement of Tun Abdullah’s vision of Islam Hadhari. It was a mere waste of time and a mockery to Islam. Tun Abdullah Haji Ahmad Badawi could be seen as telling the world that Islam revealed to the Prophet Muhammad by Allah is not Hadhari and he made an effort to make it Hadhari or progressive. It was a great shame to tell the world that we were making Islam Hadhari when in fact Islam revealed to Prophet Muhammad s.a.w more than one thousand four hundred years ago is already perfect and Hadhari. Indeed, what Tun Abdullah Haji Ahmad Badawi really envisioned was actually Muslim Hadhari and not Islam Hadhari as proclaimed. Such mistake should not be committed by a national leader like Tun Abdullah.
Then, Dato’ Seri Najib came with the concept of One Malaysia. However, his concept of One Malaysia has not been clearly explained to the citizens of Malaysia. Different people now have different interpretations of the meaning of One Malaysia. Some people believe that One Malaysia means equality to all regardless of one’s race and thus the Malays and the other Bumiputra groups will no longer have the special rights conferred to them by the Constitutions. Many non-Bumiputra like this idea of One Malaysia while many Bumiputras particularly the Malays are against it.
Dato’ Seri Najib has been using words that connote that everybody in Malaysia belong to one race and the name of that race shall be Bangsa Malaysia, whereby everybody ultimately will be having the same rights and privileges. Bangsa Malaysia is said to be in the making and it does not yet exist and I do not know whether it will ever exist. Dato’ Seri Najib must realize that One Malaysia does not mean unity or one race; and the slogan of One Malaysia will not make Malaysians to be united. The slogan of One Malaysia is only causing confusions and havoc among the citizens and I am afraid the slogan, instead of being a mean to unite the people of various races, becomes a cause of disunity. Dato’ Seri Najib should not dream and not simply use any slogan when the time is not yet suitable to use such slogan. Our leaders are so fond of using slogans without knowing what words to be used to promote unity among the various races in Malaysia. Indeed, it is love and good qualities among the various races that can make them unite together.
We can conclude that Dato’ Seri Najib and Tun Abdullah Haji Ahmad Badawi have different understandings of advanced country compare to Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s understanding. What is understood by Tun Dr Mahathir as advanced country was not cascading to his previous cabinet ministers and not even to his deputies, Tun Abdullah Haji Ahmad Badawi and Dato’ Seri Najib Tun Razak; thus Tun Abdullah came up with another new vision, Islam Hadhari and then Dato’ Seri Najib coined another vision of One Malaysia. How these different visions link and relate to one another was not explained and was not understood by the nations. While the successive Prime Ministers claimed that they are sticking to and is working on the original Vision 2020, no one seems to know how to link the different visions together and to see them as one single vision that originated from the Vision 2020 that was first announced by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad twenty years ago.
I believe that in order for Vision 2020 to materialize, the whole nation must have the same understanding of what advanced country is. Initially we have to clearly define what we mean by advanced country. What kind of advanced country that we want Malaysia to be. Is there a model that we can emulate? All Malaysians must know and have the same vision of what we want Malaysia to be. Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad should clearly defined what he meant by advanced country. In the mind of Tun Dr Mahathir, Malaysia should become advanced country not like the so called advanced countries of the West. I completely agree with Tun Dr Mahathir that the western countries are not the model of advanced country that we want to be. In my opinion the western countries are not advanced countries and that none in the world has ever achieved the status of advanced country in the true sense of the words. In my opinion advanced means maturity. An advanced country is a country that has reached maturity in all aspect of life. An advanced country is a country with financial, social, political, governmental, religious and physical maturity. A person regarded as matured when his or her judgments are sound. In all circumstances, he or she can act or react with sound judgment and behavior. The present guidelines used by the western countries to define an advanced country are not holistic. The definition of advanced country accepted by the Western countries is based solely on financial maturity. No one can deny that financial maturity is an important aspect of advanced country but it should not be the only quality used to define a certain country as advanced country.
Malaysia should strive to be the standard of a truly advanced country. Malaysia should be the first country in the world to become a truly advanced country and to be followed by other countries. Advanced country should be a country with peace and tranquility with citizens that are socially cohesive and united in diversity. In a truly advanced country, the citizens are healthy and prosperous and there is no epidemic of any disease. Advanced country is free from natural calamities and disasters. The citizens of a truly advanced country are educated, generous, tolerance and co-operative. The United States of America is not a truly advanced country since many Americans are sick and many are still living in poverty. There are high levels of crimes in America and peoples are living in constant fear. Behavioral abnormality will lead to stress and stress will finally lead to many diseases. In America many people are living with constant stress and prolonged uncontrolled stress has led many Americans to live with many types of diseases. Although the Americans seem to be highly advanced in medical technologies but many diseases are still incurable. A truly advanced country is a country with peace and people are healthy and living in peace and free from fear. A truly advanced country is like the nation that existed during the time of our Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. During those time people were living in peace and tranquility. The people lived with no fear and they were all healthy and it was so peaceful that a woman could walk alone from Baghdad to Mecca without fear of being disturbed.
Dr. Nasoha Saabin
Dean of Faculty of Optometry
International University College of Technology Twintech
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia