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M. Bakri Musa

Seeing Malaysia My Way

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Location: Morgan Hill, California, United States

Malaysian-born Bakri Musa writes frequently on issues affecting his native land. His essays have appeared in the Far Eastern Economic Review, Asiaweek, International Herald Tribune, Education Quarterly, SIngapore's Straits Times, and The New Straits Times. His commentary has aired on National Public Radio's Marketplace. His regular column Seeing It My Way appears in Malaysiakini. Bakri is also a regular contributor to th eSun (Malaysia). He has previously written "The Malay Dilemma Revisited: Race Dynamics in Modern Malaysia" as well as "Malaysia in the Era of Globalization," "An Education System Worthy of Malaysia," "Seeing Malaysia My Way," and "With Love, From Malaysia." Bakri's day job (and frequently night time too!) is as a surgeon in private practice in Silicon Valley, California. He and his wife Karen live on a ranch in Morgan Hill. This website is updated twice a week on Sundays and Wednesdays at 5 PM California time.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Malaysia in the Era of Globalization #5

Malaysia in the Era of Globalization #5

Introduction and Overview

The Outline


This book has two parts. The first, “Perspectives on Development,” begins with the chapter exploring why some societies progress while others regress. The chapter following recaps the lessons of past societies that successfully overcame their stagnant conditions and then went on a trajectory of progress. The examples I choose are early Islam, the European Reformation, and the Meiji Restoration. The chapter after that covers three contemporary model states: two are positive examples—the “Asian tiger” (South Korea) and the “Celtic tiger” (Ireland) – while the third is a negative one, Argentina. I conclude this first part with a chapter on globalization, the prevailing and dominant force shaping the world today.

Globalization is now a reality. While there are many imperfections and inequities with the system, nonetheless for small nations like Malaysia it is best not to dwell on them. Suffice that Malaysia should concentrate on avoiding and minimizing the pitfalls, and on better preparing her citizens to face this new reality and its associated challenges. Once Malaysia is a full and active participant in globalization, then it will be in a better position to improve the system. Until then it would be presumptuous for Malaysians to presume to preach to the larger world. Besides, there are greater minds elsewhere now addressing the many inequities and translocations associated with globalization.

The second part, “Transforming Malaysia,” deals specifically with how Malaysia can best position itself for the next stage of development by taking full advantage of the many opportunities afforded through globalization and free trade. I begin with Chapter VI by taking stock of the nation, its assets and liabilities, paying particular attention to those factors that must of necessity be either assets or by default, they will become liabilities. For example, Malaysia’s plurality can be considered an asset if we leverage that to prepare our citizens to be tolerant of and adapt to the different cultures. That would prepare our citizens for globalization. On the other hand, our multiracial society could easily trip the nation into becoming another Bosnia if we allow our differences to divide us.

The chapter following that deals with how best to enhance our most precious asset – our human capital. The chapter “Culture, Institutions, and Leadership” examines how those elements could be enhanced in preparation for globalization. As Islam is a major influence on Malay culture, I have a separate chapter examining its impact on law, education, and the economy. Because of the centrality of the institution of law, I devote an entire chapter on Freedom, Justice, and The Law. The last but one chapter is my plea for Malaysia to adopt the only economic system that has proven to be successful in alleviating poverty in the greatest number of people: free enterprise. I conclude with my specific prescription on how best to transform Malaysia. This is in the format of an open letter to Prime Minister Mahathir.

Malaysia’s goal at this stage should be a modest one. That is, how best to prepare its citizens to meet the challenges of and to benefit from globalization. This book is my small contribution towards this goal.

Next: Part I: Perspectives on Development

Chapter 2: Why Some Societies Progress, Others Regress

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