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In Razakian pantheon, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, (then not yet a Dato') the Minister of
Education and soon to be Deputy Prime Minister was the revered oligarch. So he was
chosen to give the final eulogy to this splendid man who has become a legend and
an immortal in the dreams of all young Malaysians. Abdul Razak changed Tunku Abdul
Rahman's Malaysia into a "New Order."
Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad has made the "New Order" richer, stronger,
more confident and better known. Mahathir, like Abdul Razak although they have travelled
vastly different routes, captured Malaysia's grandest political prize aged 56. Abdul
Razak was Prime Minister at a relatively young age of 48. Both are to date the nation's
greatest Prime Ministers.
Abdul Razak died less than two weeks before the announcement of a major cabinet reshuffle
and restructuring of Umno headquarters. Mahathir is the longest Prime Minister beating
Tunku Abdul Rahman's record of 15 years (13 years as Prime Minister and two years
as Chief Minister) last year.
Tunku Abdul Rahman was president of Umno for 19 years; Abdul Razak six years, Hussein
Onn five years and Mahathir has been Umno chief since 198l.
The Umno founding president, Datuk Onn bin Ja'afar, held the post between 1945-51
until he suddenly resigned to form the multiracial Independence of Malaya Party (IMP)
which was a gross misjudgment for which he never recovered.
Onn had a noble aim if unworkable; he was well ahead of his time. Several lesser
men made similar political attempts and all failed. Two so-called multiracial parties
Nine months have passed. I have addressed a thousand Malaysian students or more from
Chicago to Arizona Oklahoma, Connecticut, Fiorida, and New York besides attending
my other diplomatic duties.
In the US today high technology is a norm, it is changing every facet of American
life. In the last several months, and as we march towards the new millennium, Malaysians
have discovered a desire or rather a rage for multi-media and high technology. Maiaysia
has advanced from an essentially agricultural country to a manufacturing nation and
now it is geared towards becoming an Asean hub for excellence in multimedia and information
This change is for the good of all Malaysians, it will force continuing changes in
Malaysian economy, education, profession and lifestyle and those who are slow to
seize these inevitable shifts will be left behind, deservedly so.
I told Malaysian students of the rapid changes taking place at home which are faster
than they realize and they had better be well-prepared to face new circumstances
and situations at home.
I genuinely fear for some, who in spite of being in the US for a considerable time,
are still to my mind very much a captive of lethargy created by old habits; I am
aware that such habits die hard, however, it is not too late for them to change to
achieve something worthy even becoming high achievers by combining the Malay gentleness
They can and should be the future shapers if not shakers of the Malaysian Information
Age. Theirs is the future leadership of the private and public sector.
As the Prime Minister said, the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) could not succeed
alone without the knowledgeable workers, scientists and researchers from all over
the world otherwise Malaysia will just be an island instead of a bridge for the new
global high technology and environment. We need both foreign and local participation.
The information technology revolution has brought many advantages but it has also
fathered a monstrously dangerous child: cyberterrorism or information warfare.
This new attack might come from a whiz kid from anywhere and whoever has an access
to the internet knowledge of the operation of intricate computer systems and a little
ingenuity and streak of genius. Once upon a time these supercommunication tools and
wonderful gadgets were only possessed by the intelligence agencies. It is no longer
so. Other spooks now also have them.
The American intelligence community is worried by this threat and has taken action
through the creation of a Commission on Critical Infrastructure Protection to defeat
this new type of aggression.