Great na­tions are built on econ­omy and hu­man­ity

New Straits Times - - Business / News - The writer is the chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of the Malaysia Au­to­mo­tive In­sti­tute.

THIS week­end, we close the year’s sea­son in the cel­e­bra­tion of free­dom and na­tion­al­ism. For me, it also serves as a re­minder of how far we, as a na­tion, have pro­gressed.

Al­though progress is of­ten judged through eco­nomic in­di­ca­tors, cap­i­tal­ist ideals of per­sonal wealth pos­ses­sion can in no way be a yard­stick for true progress. It is dif­fi­cult to fathom the so­cial ac­cep­tance of be­ing only rich by bank ac­count, and bank­rupt morally and prin­ci­pally.

From the eco­nomic stand­point, the last few years have been chal­leng­ing. We felt the pinch of drop­ping oil prices, un­favourable cur­rency ex­change rates and ris­ing costs of liv­ing.

We had to make some tough de­ci­sions that in­cluded tax re­struc­tur­ing and bud­get re-pri­ori­ti­sa­tion for the sake of sus­tain­abil­ity.

Ap­par­ently, so­cial me­dia and eco­nomic un­cer­tainty is not a good mix. Tough times can bring the harsh­est of emo­tions and mud­dle mean­ing­ful dis­cus­sions.

Pos­i­tive in­di­ca­tors are of­ten at high risk of be­ing spe­cial­ist knowl­edge, such as be­ing ranked among the top 25 coun­tries in the World Eco­nomic Fo­rum’s Global Com­pet­i­tive­ness Re­port, or The Econ­o­mist’s rank­ing Malaysia as the 8th fastest grow­ing econ­omy for last year.

We have also been ranked within the top five coun­tries in terms of health­care, and best coun­tries to in­vest or start a busi­ness in.

Eco­nom­i­cally, we have per­formed well on many ac­counts de­spite the dif­fi­cul­ties we have had to face. As hum­ble as Malaysians are known to be, we should be proud of our re­silience.

This col­umn has al­ways ad­vo­cated fair judg­ment, and defin­ing progress must be done holis­ti­cally in or­der to be fair.

As men­tioned above, great civil­i­sa­tions have the abil­ity to ad­vance for­ward while mit­i­gat­ing the risk of bank­ruptcy of our moral val­ues, com­pas­sion and pas­sion. So­ci­eties that have hu­man com­pas­sion tend to have bet­ter wealth dis­tri­bu­tion, ex­em­pli­fied by a sig­nif­i­cant mid­dle class.

Since in­de­pen­dence and the for­ma­tion of our na­tion, this has al­ways been our guid­ing prin­ci­ple. We have de­vel­oped this ecosys­tem of op­por­tu­nity through the lever­ag­ing of our multi-cul­tural dif­fer­ence, and peace­fully over­come dis­putes.

Our com­pas­sion and hu­mane na­ture have re­sulted in a low poverty rate, com­pared with re­gional coun­ter­parts.

When one of the worst floods hit the state of Ke­lan­tan in 2015, Malaysia Au­to­mo­tive In­sti­tute (MAI) or­gan­ised a flood re­lief drive with the au­to­mo­tive in­dus­try to al­le­vi­ate the suf­fer­ing of our coun­try­men in the north­east.

To our sur­prise, the sup­port we re­ceived was very over­whelm­ing, we re­ceived more than we our­selves could carry.

Re­cently, we have taken the next step to­wards re­gional lead­er­ship in hu­man­i­tar­ian ef­forts.

I ap­plaud the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s courage in lead­ing hu­man­i­tar­ian ef­forts in ad­dress­ing the suf­fer­ing of the Ro­hingya.

Along with In­done­sia, we have agreed to pro­vide tem­po­rary shel­ter to the mi­grants, to al­low the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity to ad­dress such a com­plex hu­man­i­tar­ian is­sue.

This Malaysia Day, let us re­align our thoughts to what it means to be a great na­tion. We are not per­fect, and we may have our own is­sues to work on.

How­ever, as long as we are smart about our prob­lems, and we have that hu­man touch, I be­lieve that would be the for­mula to not just eco­nomic great­ness, but a sus­tain­able eco­nomic re­silience.

Let us be known not only as a na­tion of great wealth, but also great com­pas­sion.

Eco­nom­i­cally, we have per­formed well on many ac­counts de­spite the dif­fi­cul­ties we have had to face. As hum­ble as Malaysians are known to be, we should be proud of our re­silience.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.