Open Letter to PM, Ministers and MPs

Open Letter By Bruce Lim

To our beloved Prime Minister of Malaysia, Members of the Cabinet and all Members of Parliament,

I am writing to each of you, as all of you collectively, will control the destiny of this country and its people, for the immediate and near future.

On this dawn of a new year, I wish all of you “Happy New Year, and may all of you and your family be happy, enjoy good health and prosperity for Year 2010 !”

Some recent personal and profound experiences, prompted me to write to each of you. I might share these experiences, which saddened and embarrassed me, with you on another occasion.

For now, I wish to merely forward to you a short article which was published in the Star newspaper on 21.12.2009, reproduced below. The article contains amongst others, figures and charts, which I think, can hardly be disputed. The fact is, our country is lagging behind many other countries. The average Malaysian is so far behind in terms of quality of life, relative to the countries in comparison. Our well-being is at stake. Please study the figures, and ask yourselves :-

  1. Why is Malaysia lagging behind?

  2. What can we do to arrest the decline?

  3. What is going to happen if we can’t arrest this decline? Will we or our children end up like in the Philippines?

Everyone of you will have your own ideas and answers. For me, I think the article provides a short but good insight to some of the reasons and answers.

As the political masters, I feel that it is incumbent upon each of you to do what is the best for the well-being of all Malaysians. This should be the single most important objective. Please work towards ensuring that all Malaysians have a good quality of life, to be able to hold our heads up high when we travel abroad, to be knowledgeable and well-educated. I appreciate it is difficult to govern a country, and I laud the 1-Malaysia concept and the current efforts to improve the country, but there appears to be insufficient conviction and consistency.

Personally, I feel that Education is crucial. For Year 2010, I appeal and pray that the government will revert to PPSMI. Otherwise, the scrapping of PPSMI will go down in history as a monumental disaster for the country, and I am speaking in the context of towards arresting the decline of the country, and towards improving the quality of life in the long run. Scrapping PPSMI is simply not in the roadmap towards a high income society or developed nation status.

I write with no intention to offend. Any judgemental errors here are purely mine.

Thank you and Happy New Year again.

Bruce Lim
Vexed Parent, and Concerned Patriot


This article is from The Star Online ( :-

Monday December 21, 2009
Arresting Malaysia’s relative decline
Hock’s Viewpoint – By Choong Khuat Hock

THE book, The global financial crisis and the Malaysian economy, written by Datuk Dr Mahani Zainal Abidin, director-general of ISIS Malaysia, and Professor Dr Rajah Rasiah, dean of the Faculty of Economics and Administration at Universiti Malaya, in collaboration with UNDP and ISIS makes interesting reading.

In particular, it highlights the declining trend in manufacturing labour productivity in Malaysia due to lack of technological upgrading, making it difficult for our manufacturing sector to compete with those in South Korea, Taiwan, China and Singapore.

It further highlights it has been difficult for existing firms to shift towards higher value-added activities due to a lack of focus on research and development (R&D). Malaysia’s R&D is pitifully low against those in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore (see table on R&D expenditure in GDP).

The authors suggest that a combination of factors may be to blame: a scarce supply of engineers and R&D scientists and technicians, the poor quality of those leaving universities in the country, low R&D investment, and the reluctance of most qualified Malaysians to return home from foreign countries.

Lack of competitiveness

Malaysia’s lack of competitiveness is highlighted by the extremely small number of researchers and engineers per million persons in the country. The number of engineers also fell sharply over the period 2004–2006 (see table on researchers and engineers per million population).

A survey shows graduates from local institutions earn 15% less than foreign graduates while in Singapore local and foreign graduates earn broadly similar salaries.

This indicates that something is indeed wrong with our education system. On paper, we seem to churn out many graduates but the poor quality of local graduates is reflected by their relatively lower salaries.

Perhaps it is our tertiary education beset by racial quotas and lax qualification standards. Applying racial quotas for university places treat the symptoms rather than the root cause. If this has not worked for over 50 years after independence, perhaps it is time we address the root cause.

The root cause probably started much earlier in the primary and secondary schooling system. The problem probably lies with an inadequate standard of teaching. For example, if teachers have a poor command of English, how can they teach Mathematics and Science properly in English?

Khazanah Nasional Bhd and government-linked companies (GLCs) have adopted 165 rural schools and proved that given sufficient teaching support, the rural Malay students can perform as well or even better than more racially mixed urban schools.

The proposal to give schools flexibility to choose their own curriculum and placing emphasis on English should be supported as it allows capable students to excel.

It is rather tragic that the rural, mainly Malay, students are left behind through inadequate teaching resources. As the pilot project on 165 rural schools has succeeded, all schools should have access to better teaching. If there is a shortage of teachers with specific skills, import them if need be, while resources are being invested to boost teaching standards.

Lastly, never compromise on qualification standards, something that may be possible if the foundation is strong. Education has an equalising effect and will serve as a long-term sustainable solution to narrow the racial and rural-urban divide.

Perhaps, another important factor that enabled countries like Sotuh Korea and Taiwan to escape the middle-income trap is the adoption of meritocracy to determine how resources are allocated.

A World Bank report highlighted that 13 economies (including Malaysia’s) managed to grow by 7% a year for at least 25 years since 1950. In Asia, growth stalled in Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia while Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan and Japan made it into the ranks of higher income countries with per capita incomes exceeding US$12,000 a year as defined by the World Bank.

Malaysia’s gross domestic product (GDP) per capita at slightly above US$5,000 a year requires a skilled workforce focusing on knowledge-based high value-added industries or services before its high income aspirations can be realised (see chart above).

Many of the successful Asian countries have interventionist policies but allowed market forces and meritocracy to reward companies that were globally competitive while culling losers. Cases in point: Proton versus Hyundai and Toyota or Perwaja versus POSCO, a successful South Korean steel company.

Malaysia has been falling behind in relative terms. The chart above shows the per capita GDP of selected countries as a multiple of Malaysia’s per capita GDP (at constant 2000 US dollar prices) since 1960.

In 1965, when Singapore separated from Malaysia, its GDP was 2.8 times higher than Malaysia’s but in 2008, its GDP was 5.4 times higher. South Korea and Hong Kong’s GDP per capita have also grown faster than that of Malaysia’s. Malaysia has performed better than countries like the Philippines but then our aspiration is to be a high-income country and not another Philippines.

Malaysia may have strong macroeconomic fundamentals like a sound banking system and a current account surplus. This may lull us into complacency as we savour the cheap subsidies arising from our depleting oil reserves. Subsidies to select groups, like cheap fuel for fishermen, have led to smuggling.

Rather than creating a complicated system of selective subsidies, a simpler system like cash for the needy would be less susceptible to abuse. Indeed in the longer term, a social safety net for all Malaysians should be considered, a financeable dream if we become a high-income nation.

Subsidies ought to be used to create new industries, e.g. wind and solar in Europe and ethanol in Brazil. In Malaysia, we cannot even get our biodiesel policy right, reducing the biodiesel target from 5% to 3% of diesel even as Brazil has successfully used incentives to run its cars purely on ethanol (alcohol). World-class industries in Malaysia like rubber glove companies should be nurtured and not be held back by the lack of natural gas supply.

1Malaysia Breakthrough

The 1Malaysia is a refreshing breakthrough concept that aims to unite Malaysia and ensure that everyone has a place under the Malaysian sun. Only when there is a sense of belonging can we expect Malaysians to invest long term in R&D and make Malaysia the preferred venue for their business and family rather than joining the brain-drain bandwagon.

Such hopes are not pipedreams; another multiracial country, America, despite all its faults and weaknesses, is still the richest and strongest nation on earth. It is a country of equal opportunity that seeks and attracts global talent and where all citizens are Americans first.

For 1Malaysia to succeed, the concept has to move from rhetoric to implementation in substance rather than form. For example, in form, courses under the National Civics Bureau (NCB) may look fine but in substance, its alleged racist overtones are divisive.

Rather than the spirit of “them versus us”, it has to be the spirit of “all of us” working together to arrest the relative decline of Malaysia, if not for us, then for our children. Only education and meritocracy can arrest Malaysia’s relative decline while treating the symptoms can only enhance dependency and mire us in the middle income trap.

Choong Khuat Hock is head of research at Kumpulan Sentiasa Cemerlang Sdn Bhd.

  1. #1 by Bigjoe on Monday, 4 January 2010 - 12:39 pm

    My 1Malaysia concept is simple: Najib goes to jail! Only then will the message be clear that no one will be protected for corruption and institutions of checks and balance are not convenience of those in power…

  2. #2 by k1980 on Monday, 4 January 2010 - 12:50 pm

    Choong Khuat Hock and Bruce Lim, have you really passed your UPSR exam? You both must get your brains checked if you really believe Jib’s 1malaysia is to advance the welfare of the rakyat.

    Its objective is to perpetuate umno’s grip on power by hook or by crook by regaining the state govts of Perak (accomplished), Selangor, Penang, Kedah and Kelantan! Pure and simple so much so kindergarten kiddies can see through it!

  3. #3 by Onlooker Politics on Monday, 4 January 2010 - 12:51 pm

    “Only education and meritocracy can arrest Malaysia’s relative decline while treating the symptoms can only enhance dependency and mire us in the middle income trap.” (Choong Khuat Hock)

    Investing in education is a long-term investment which will render profitability only after 15 years’ period of time. Najib will not have the patience to wait for 15 years to see money coming into his own pocket.

    Investing in a system of meritocracy will mess up the cronyist system of the Umnoputras and render Najib be ousted from the PM post by Umno warlords.

    It is much better for us to vote Pakatan Rakyat into the Federal Government by the 13th General Election instead of harping the false hope on Umno. The election campaign should start from now on until Pakatan Rakyat has really been elected into the Federal Government. This is the only hope for us, the only viable hope!

  4. #4 by boh-liao on Monday, 4 January 2010 - 1:54 pm

    D flip-flop in our education policy, once in 5 to 6 years, will b enuf 2 mess up our lives
    Anyway, PM n Umnoputras n their BN cronies no worry abt d future of d nation
    What problemo, what decline, what hardship
    Get drunk n high on 1M’sia slogan lah
    No money, no problemo
    Just look 4 1 or more engines 2 eBay off 2 d highest bidder
    E’rything kaw dim, jiak bei liao

  5. #5 by Winston on Monday, 4 January 2010 - 3:05 pm

    2. What can we do to arrest the decline?
    3. What is going to happen if we can’t arrest this decline? Will we or our children end up like in the Philippines?

    Bruce Lim, with regard to question two, MALAYSIANS would have arrested the decline IF THEY DUMP UMNO/BN a quarter century ago!!!
    Why it took so long to see through their ploy? All through UMNO/BN’s reign, it has been one slogan after another, nothing else – the people can rot as far as they are concerned. And this apply to the Malays as well! Don’t for one moment thing that they are championing the cause of the Malays! They are only championing their own cause!
    As for question number 3, if you continue to vote for UMNO/BN, your children will end up like those in the Philippines. Sure. They’ll live on rubbish dumps seven storeys high. Have you seen any documentaries of their lives?
    I have, and they are more, much more than pitiful!!!!
    And know how the ruling party lives? They have the best of ALL WORLDS!!!
    That’s why I have always said and will continue saying that THE FIRST THING ANY GOOD GOVERNMENT M-U -S-T DO IS TO RESCUE THE POOR FROM POVERTY!!! That’s the first priority!
    If not, whatever so-called advance made by the country rings hollow.
    I hope more Malaysians will wake up to this reality.

  6. #6 by k1980 on Monday, 4 January 2010 - 3:40 pm

    //Will we or our children end up like in the Philippines?//

    Yes, but then our children will be proud that we have sent an angkasawan to space. They belong to a great space-faring nation. The Philippines is not able to send up any angkasawan. Boo to them!

  7. #7 by taiking on Monday, 4 January 2010 - 4:38 pm

    Ladies & Gentlement,
    and here is the Jibby Jibby Jib Jib song.

    Where’s your mama gone?
    Where’s your mama mama gone?
    Far, far away.
    Where’s your papa gone?
    Where’s your papa gone?
    Far, far away.
    Jibby jibby jib, jib, jib.

    Spot on k1980. At least we still hv angkasawan! That counts a lot. Canais flipped in space is fluffier and tastier. Filipinos will never understand that! Hip Hip Boleh.

  8. #8 by katdog on Monday, 4 January 2010 - 7:16 pm

    Sigh! The problem is, the time for looking for answers is way past. EVERYONE knows what Malaysia needs to do. The problem is no one in the government is willing to do what needs to be done as it would effect their rice bowl and their political future.

  9. #9 by chowkw on Monday, 4 January 2010 - 7:47 pm

    Friends- it is only human to give a chance or a few chances to others to change. This is generosity or being fair. However, in the political history of Malaysia, the present administration had been given some 28 years to govern this country since 1981. No where in the world except in Malaysia has our voters been so generous in giving the mandate to BN to rule for so long. In 2004, under PM Pak Lah, the voters once again gave the biggest mandate to BN – winning 198 out of 222 Parliament seats – that is 89%. The opposition only manage to win a miserable 24 seats. With such a massive mandate given , any Malaysian would expect things to change for better. Alas, our Mr CLean fumbled and failed the nation miserably. A golden opportunity to start a new chapter in the political history was missed. So in March 2008, the voters gave the opposition a handsome gift. Under the PAKATAN pact, they won 82 Parliament seats and 5 States which is a historical moment in the political history of Malaysia, thus denying BN of the customary 2/3 majority in Parliament . Today, We are living in the 21st century and not in the 60;s. The days of the telex and facsimile machines era are over. What we have now is laptop and the emails. No business organisations can function without these tools. Sadly, Malaysia is still stucked in her old ways with her unsustainable and inward looking policies > history ( with time ) has now proven correctly that her previous policies had failed due to poor and indecisive and sheer incompetent leadership. There was hardly any political will nor conviction to change and put the nation priorities right. Instead policies were taken to benefit a few> Privatisation becomes a quick get rich scheme and when concessionaires failed , the State came and brought the venture back as in the case of the 2 LRT lines in KL. Another failed project is in Jalan Pudu , KL where the project is still abandoned for some 13 years. Our national debt in 2009 ( source- economic reports ) is some RM 414 billions and is expected to rise further. Our economy contracted by some 2% in 2009 according to MIER . None of this issues of national importance were articulated or raised in our subservient media Crime rate is increasing and no one feel safe to walk on the street. Housing estates are employing private security services and convert it to a guarded community. Some 2- 3 million illegals ( aliens from MARS ) have made Malaysia my second home bringing along their diseases, social problems and their so called skills.
    It was reported in the media some 300,000 talented Malaysians left our shores in 2009 and the cumulative number is some 2 million WHY ? No media is honest to articulate this issue . Instead insignificant and petty news dot the headlines of our media. What happened to our right thinking journalists who are supposedly trained to be fair and objective in their duties> Do you think Malaysia can produce honest journalists who report without fear nor favor? In America, you remember the Watergate scandal. the result of honest and courageous people? As a senior citizen , I have seen enough of nonsense in our nation. WE are the best in manufacturing slogans since 1981 with the LOOK EAST POLICY and now 1 Malaysia. History has proven our leadership does
    not have the political to change even though the whole world is changing. Change is impossible as many of the present cabinet members were in the 2 previous administration. So what Malaysia and her citizens are facing today are the legacy left behind by the 2 previous administration. This is the new Malaysia in 2010. I hope all Malaysians will arise and become agents for change for a better Malaysia

  10. #10 by Ken G on Tuesday, 5 January 2010 - 1:46 pm

    Will we become another Philippines? Yes and even worse we’ll become another Indonesia exporting maids and labourers to other countries. In fact these countries may overtake in the next 10 years. Our factories will manufacture slogans instead of goods. No chance to escape this fate as long as BN rules Malaysia.

  11. #11 by hibou on Friday, 8 January 2010 - 4:09 pm

    pulau_sibu, Jeffery,

    There is already a very powerful racist, terrorist group in this country. No prizes for guessing who.

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