Malaysians must acquire new values

7 September 1998

This summer is rather hot. Thank heavens it is nearly over. Already some 33 million tourists have visited the Big Apple this year up to now.

We, and our neighbours, have entered the second year of economic woes. I was home last in late May and early June and one of the most important pleasures of living abroad is returning to find how much more pleasant one's own home is than wherever one has been staying even if it is in one of the fashionable parts of Manhattan, New York.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad has urged Malaysians to be more united and to act in concert quickly to defend the sliding economy before it becomes worse, which will cause grave consequences for all. National solidarity could be at stake.

Malaysia's future......
Everyone knows our country is rich. It was a remarkably rich nation before the Thai contagion, rich because of abundant natural resources, emerging industries and because of our multi-talented human resources. The wealth was and is still enough to go around for all races.

I believe there are still many rich Malaysians, however, the number is shrinking fast. I regret that, as every where else, there are more poor people that wealthy ones. The good this is that we live in harmony with little visible resentment because everybody is suffering from the Asian (soon-to-be world) recession, and eventually depression, as some people predict.

Malaysians have very typically reacted with great dignity during this economic turndown. Everyone is feeling the efforts of the diluted ringgit. This is something that we can all pat ourselves on the back; we are calmer that most of our neighbours!

The government is striving to revive the economy with our own resources and the ringgit control mechanism is an attempt to end speculation in our currency and revitalise the economy

Of course, there is also an enough number of people who think we should have asked for an IMF bailout - forget self-respect and sovereignty, go on bended knees and bowl in hands to see the demigods at the IMF headquarters in Washington.

It does seem to me if we are to survive this economic hiatus new values are necessary; old habits and traditions must change. This is the inevitable price we must be prepared to pay to reenter the world stage.

It is a great shame that young Malaysians no longer want to stay in the kampung to work in the agriculture sector. They want employment in Kuala Lumpur and other big towns because they are bewitched by the bright - or laser - lights and believe that roads in KL are paved with gold! When they fail to strike good in the cities, resentment slowly grows in their hearts against everybody, Malaysians and foreigners, who appear wealthy and have fun.

Poverty is age old in the world, more so in Africa, Latin American and Asia. Today's young , Malaysians are unlike their forefathers, who coped with poverty. Perhaps because they believed it was preordained, "nasib dan takdir."