19-Day Countdown to 13GE Polling Day: Vision 2050 – A Thriving Democratic Nation

On April 11, 2013, I unveiled my Vision 2050 for Malaysia to replace Vision 2020.

I believe that Malaysians need a new vision for a bolder, brighter and better Malaysia especially since the aspirations of Vision 2020 has been tarnished, perhaps irrevocably so, by the actions and words of the very person who outlined this vision, Dr. Mahathir.

I unveiled 10 points for my Vision 2050 which I very much hope can start a national conversation about new aspirations for the country and the course which we must chart in order to achieve these aspirations.

The mother of all election battles which is the Battle of Gelang Patah, where I will face off against the popular Johor Menteri Besar, Abdul Ghani Othman, is more than just a contest to determine the results in one seat.

It is more than just a contest for Johor. And it is most definitely more than just a contest for Putrajaya. It is a contest for the heart, soul and mind of Malaysia.

As such, as part of the 24 day countdown to polling day on May 5, 2013, I want to share my thoughts on each one of these points.

While I most likely will not live to see 2050, I sincerely hope that I will be able to witness our beloved country moving in the right direction. Win or lose, this battle to achieve Vision 2050 must go on.

  1. A thriving democratic nation with new and adaptive forms of public engagement and accountability structures at all levels of government where technology will be harnessed to fundamentally transform the decision making process.

We have waited for more than 50 years to exercise our God-given democratic rights including the right to have a peaceful transition in government.

Other governments in in Africa, South America and other parts of Asia have steadily made themselves accountable to the people but we still allow our public servants and political masters to behave like feudal lords.

We have made it too easy for those in power to say, “We are already accountable to the people. We are listening to you.”

I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the average Malaysian’s great stumbling block toward a thriving democratic nation is not the racist politician spewing bitterness and hatred toward others but the moderate Malaysian who has decided to settle for less: a lesser form of democracy, a diluted version of accountability, a willingness to live with a false sense of stability.

We prefer the absence of political conflict rather than the presence of freedom.

To create an adaptive, accountable government requires citizens — you and me — who are adaptable and willing to make ourselves accountable to others.

Three decades from now, I envision a nation where we exercise effective-decision-making at two levels.

On one hand, there must be constant and meaningful dialogue to strengthen citizen participation at the local level.

Why not make it possible for local resident associations to have the powers to ‘raise’ revenues from their own area to do minor things like repair and resurface roads or to receive an allocation from the local council to do the same?

Such technology by 2050 could be used by local residents to pose problems, propose answers, vote on the decisions, and raise the funds and energy required to implement the solutions.

On the other hand, there must be clear, transparent and courageous decision-making at the higher levels of state and national government.

Not everybody must be involved in every part of the decision making process. In legislation, whoever decides must be empowered to decide on behalf of society.

But there should be new and constantly evolving channels whereby interested stakeholders as well as experts and academics in various fields can positively and meaningfully contribute to the decision making process.

We must not confuse the two.

In Switzerland, a model of modern democracy, too much citizen participation in the form of referendums — which require approval and feedback from its citizens — have overwhelmed the government from truly governing.

In California, the lack of courageous decision-making has resulted in the proliferation of propositions can cause massive legislative problems.

There is no reason why Malaysia cannot create its own uniquely democratic system of governing that harnesses and accentuates the strengths of our diverse people.

There is no reason why this distinct system cannot gain international commendation similar to the much touted ‘Scandinavian’ model. There is no reason why we Malaysians cannot have our day in the sun for the right reasons.

I have traveled the length and breadth of Malaysia. I have seen the yearning for freedom manifest itself in a toddler who runs to his parents saying, “Look, see what I can do.”

I have seen the yearning of freedom flow in conversations between old and young, people of all races, men and women.

The fundamental posture of democracy is evident in all: we want the freedom to decide, and we need the magnanimity to listen.

We want to have a democracy that is mature enough to allow for voices on the extreme but be robust enough never to let these extreme voices become part of the mainstream.

It is my fundamental assumption that new forms of public engagement and accountability in Malaysia must use technology to create dialogue between the central government and the people.

The interactive tools of technology will not be used for surveillance, command and control, but as a tool for listening to people, answering their questions and addressing their concerns.

In a democracy of the future, decision-making by the people will be carried out constantly and in meaningful ways — not just a vote once every five years.

I harbour no illusion about democracy for democracy’s sake.

The ultimate end of a thriving, adaptive democracy is to lift our great nation from fear and prejudice into hope and compassion.

The means to this end is a government who empowers every Malaysian who wants to be active and useful to carry out their aspirations — as good workers, good parents, good children — for the greater good of Malaysia.

  1. #1 by Charsiupao on Tuesday, 16 April 2013 - 3:01 pm

    Words that cut deep into our hearts, YB – I, for one, am guilty as charged. Despite being unhappy with Barisan for the past 15-20 years, I have never, not even once, cast a vote against them. I only voted once out of the 4 elections I was registered to vote in, and even then I voted BN because I was caught off-guard by the serial number on the ballot paper which was recorded next to my IC number in a register. Thank you for sharing your dream with us, and together as a nation may it someday come true. This time, I will make my vote count.

  2. #2 by kg on Tuesday, 16 April 2013 - 3:40 pm

    Kudos to Kit.

  3. #3 by Bigjoe on Tuesday, 16 April 2013 - 4:37 pm

    Its actually pretty contrasting what is UMNO/BN is doing and what PR is doing going into this GE..

    By and large, PR is on the offensive, coming up with more and better ideas and policies even as they deal with short-term political trench-warfare.

    You look at Najib’s manifesto and line-up – they are reaction to PR. Take a good long look at Najib line-up and the verdict can only be – He is Trying but just not good enough..He simply don’t get it, after 4 years of trying, being in charge, you don’t get to pass the buck, make excuses you have problem like Mahathir and Perkasa, you don’t get to say you are trying, you don’t get to ask for more chances. His only choice is to LEAD, to make absolutely clear and even to guarantee – and he is none of that..

  4. #4 by boh-liao on Tuesday, 16 April 2013 - 4:55 pm

    Voters r d BOSSES, don’t b intimidated by UmnoB/BN
    Vote 4 PR with no fear, just do it n kick UmnoB out, ABU

    • #5 by cemerlang on Tuesday, 16 April 2013 - 9:55 pm

      Board of directors. Too many heads spoil the soup.

  5. #6 by yhsiew on Tuesday, 16 April 2013 - 5:01 pm

    Let us restore normal democracy through GE13 and then march on to advanced thriving democracy!

  6. #7 by Bigjoe on Tuesday, 16 April 2013 - 5:55 pm

    It took them just one-day to back to resorting to racist lies in Gelang Patan, So they are leading with Muhiyiddin and guess it will end with Najib and Mahathir much later on probably trapsing through a whole bunch of unsavory characters in between..

  7. #8 by sotong on Tuesday, 16 April 2013 - 6:16 pm

    2050??? Not sure how long to clean up the mess.

  8. #9 by chengho on Tuesday, 16 April 2013 - 7:59 pm

    BN to win, GP is Kit down fall

  9. #10 by Mist on Tuesday, 16 April 2013 - 9:29 pm

    I would like to share this Paradox of our age by Dr.Moorehead. This give a sense of where we are heading as a democratic society. I believe Anwar’s humanistic economic development could be extended to include humanistic democracy or society. I believe the reason we are
    quickly coming face to face with the paradox of our times is that the spiritual dimension is missing from much of our lifes. We are then constantly
    searching for that elusive peace and contentment.


    We have taller buildings but shorter tempers;
    wider freeways but narrower viewpoints;
    we spend more but have less;
    we buy more but enjoy it less;
    we have bigger houses and smaller families;
    more conveniences, yet less time;

    we have more degrees but less sense;
    more knowledge but less judgement;
    more experts, yet more problems;
    we have more gadgets but less satisfaction;
    more medicine, yet less wellness;

    we take more vitamins but see fewer results.
    We drink too much; smoke too much;
    spend too recklessly; laugh too little;
    drive too fast; get too angry quickly;
    stay up too late; get up too tired;
    read too seldom; watch TV too much
    and pray too seldom.

    We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values;
    we fly in faster planes to arrive there quicker,
    to do less and return sooner;
    we sign more contracts only to realize fewer
    we talk too much; love too seldom and lie too

    We’ve learned how to make a living, but not a life;
    we’ve added years to life, not life to years.
    We’ve been all the way to the moon and back,
    but have trouble crossing the street to
    meet the new neighbor.
    We’ve conquered outer space, but not inner
    we’ve done larger things, but not better

    we’ve cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul;
    we’ve split the atom, but not our prejudice;
    we write more, but learn less;
    plan more, but accomplish less;
    we make faster planes, but longer lines;

    we learned to rush, but not to wait;
    we have more weapons, but less peace;
    higher incomes, but lower morals;
    more parties, but less fun;
    more food, but less appeasement;
    more acquaintances, but fewer friends;
    more effort, but less success.

    We build more computers to hold more
    to produce more copies than ever,
    but have less communication;
    drive smaller cars that have bigger problems;
    build larger factories that produce less.
    We’ve become long on quantity,
    but short on quality.

    These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion;
    tall men, but short character;
    steep in profits, but shallow relationships.
    These are times of world peace, but domestic
    more leisure and less fun;
    higher postage, but slower mail;
    more kinds of food, but less nutrition.

    These are days of two incomes, but more divorces;
    these are times of fancier houses,
    but broken homes.
    These are days of quick trips, disposable
    diapers, cartridge living, throw-away
    morality, one-night stands,
    overweight bodies and pills
    that do everything from cheer, to
    prevent, quiet or kill.

    It is a time when there is much in the show window and nothing in the stock room.

    Indeed, these are the times!

  10. #11 by Noble House on Wednesday, 17 April 2013 - 4:42 am

    Complacency is a state of mind that exists only in retrospective: it has to be shattered before being ascertained. Maybe it’s time to try a retrospective. It’s a fundamental vehicle to discover from something we also call “wisdom.”

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