Monday, May 17, 2010

Malaysia Should Expand Geographical Scope of Look East Policy

When Prime Minister Najib returned to Malaysia from his official trip to Japan, he said he was impressed by the Japanese's meticulous, detailed and serious working attitude. He said the sharp precision of the characteristics of the Japanese society was the attribute that led to the success for Japan. Prime Minister Najib said such characteristics of the Japanese society should be a model for Malaysians to emulate. Prime Minister Najib also called on Malaysians to abandon the easy going attitude and learn the positive working attitude of the Japanese in order to become an advanced country.

Moreover, Prime Minister Najib said that both the Japanese and Malaysian government felt the need to revive and revamp the Look East Policy and in the new and innovative fields, strengthen bilateral exchange cooperation and opportunities in what all world nations consider as cutting edge technologies, green industries and other bio-technological fields.
Therefore, there is a need and urgency for Malaysia and Japan to strengthen new cooperation projects. He said on international commitment to resist global warming, it was particularly important for Malaysia and Japan to work together and make commitment to reduce gas emission and to conserve energy. He said such cooperation with Japan should help Malaysia to accelerate the pace in development of low-carbon green industries.

Cooperation Mechanism
As a matter of fact, Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama also suggested that Malaysia and Japan should establish new exchange mechanism in the university and academic fields. In response, Prime Minister Najib welcomed the Japan national leader's suggestion and described such a cooperation mechanism could become the sustainable legacy of both countries. He added that as Malaysia is now going through the process of economic transformation, Japan's suggestion to deepen the bi-lateral academic exchange mechanism to enhance research and development in various academic fields would carry with it significant meaning.

In the 80's the Look East policy as a familiar slogan for all Malaysians. This Look East policy encouraged Malaysians to learn from Japan. Since former premier Mahathir Mohamed mooted this Look East Policy in 1982, this policy has already produced as many as 15,000 Malaysian graduates from Japanese and South Korean universities.

Many Malaysians have also gone to these two countries to receive all types of technical trainings. Under this Look East policy, Malaysia has, in the pasts 28 years, succeeded to attract many leading Japan and South Korea corporations to invest and set up their plants in Malaysia. These Japan and South Korea corporations have benefited Malaysia's industrial development. Among them there were many large scale joint venture projects between Malaysia and the Japanese or South Korean firms. Such joint venture has given birth to Malaysia's Proton, the national car project.

Najib's Visit to Japan
After Prime Minister Najib's visit to Japan, in addition to Malaysia and Japan's cooperation in industrial, commercial and academic fields, we feel there is also a need for the Malaysian Government to deepen the learning process of Japanese style of high efficient management and Japanese workers' disciplined and highly responsible work ethic as well as the Japanese's commitment to strive forth for progressive innovation. Japan's noble moral concept and its people's courageous spirit to venture and explore into new fields can help to reinforce the implementation of Prime Minister Najib's economic restructuring model and to put emphasis on Najib Government's national building motto that stresses on performance first.

Moreover, Malaysian Government should further explore the way how we can implement the essence of the good qualities of the Japanese and Koreans and inject these good qualities into the local universities and the massive civil workforce. These good qualities can help to stimulate the creativity and momentum of Malaysians in various research and development fields and to ensure that Malaysia can fulfill its vision objective to become an advanced country in 2020 as planned.

In addition, the implant of the good qualities of the people in Japan and South Korea can also help Malaysia to build a public administration mechanism that is highly effective, serious in the management and with macro and open mindset workforce. Through this process, Malaysia can hope to get rid of the unhealthy bureaucratic culture, corrupt practice and a civil workforce with outdated mindset but without a good disciple to work hard diligently.

Role of China
The target of Malaysian Government's Look East policy is Japan and South Korea. However, with the change in time, Malaysian Government should begin to explore and expand the geographical scope of this Look East Policy beyond Japan and South Korea. This is especially so now that China has emerged as the world largest economy and on international trade and economy, military affairs and diplomatic arena, the role of China has become more and more important and influential with the advance in time.

Similarly, in the case of Taiwan, the research and development of Taiwan's computer hardware and software and the production of them are at a world leading standard. The success of Taiwan and China in many research and development fields can serve as learning models for Malaysia to follow. As Malaysia's enterprises are now facing critical global challenge, Malaysia absolutely cannot ignore the importance of the China and Taiwan platforms.

Repositioning Look East Policy
In the process of globalization, China plays an important role and part. As a matter of fact, the Indian Government is also gradually pushing ahead and gradually implementing its own forward-looking "Look East" policy. Through India's cooperative attitude and competitiveness, the Indian Government now focuses in strengthening its Look East process by engaging China in the cooperation in science and technology, culture, education, security, and exchanges in diverse areas so as to create a mutually beneficial balance with China.

China and India's economy have entered a rapid development stage. These two countries assume important role in Asian region's economic integration process. Since the ASEAN Ten Plus China Free Trade Area was formally established at the beginning of this year, this free trade agreement signifies that the greater East Asia economic integration age with ASEAN as hub of economic activities has arrived.

As Malaysia explores and repositioning its Look East policy, the step to include China, Taiwan and Hong Kong into the geographical scope of the Look East policy will help the Malaysia-China bilateral relationship to enter a more dynamic and lively phase. Through cooperation and understanding of China, Taiwan and Hong Kong's economic development, Malaysia can come out with a more forward looking new economic layout to effectively deal with the enormous economic integration, challenges and opportunities within the region.

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