A Malaysiakini newsreader commented as follows:
We have perhaps lost the urge to strive for excellence. In the 60s and 70s, Malaysia was not only strong in football, but also in hockey and badminton. We also excelled in our studies. Malaysian students who studied overseas regularly topped their classes in universities and colleges. Even our local universities such as MU and USM had very high academic standings in the world. What has happened to us? We need to gain back the urge to do well, to strive for excellence in all our endeavours, not only in sports and in our studies, but also in our courts, our police force, our industries and our businesses.
I have a business in Malaysia and as I see it, the desire for excellence has been replaced by the desire to get rich and get rich quickly. The 80s and 90s were years of phenomenal growth for Malaysia and many of us in our mid 30s and 40s today benefited most from those years. There was much wealing and dealing and there were many who stood in the middle as “consultants” who merely collected a fee for referrals for projects. Basically people who had no value add but to collect a fee.
Furthermore, we as a people became fascinated with bigness, elegance and style not for any commercial or internal value but so that “they (the west) will respect us”. We build the tallest buildings, the first F1 in Asia, the longest, the widest, the fastest, the deepest whatever that could get us any form of world recognition at the expense of our identity, character and national coffers.
It is true what John Adams said ; “I cannot help suspecting that the more elegance, the less virtue in all times and all countries.” We were in such a hurry to be recognized, we failed to build and invest in our human capital. We lost our sense of identity as a hardworking and productive work force. We instead sought grandeur and mega-ness.
John Adams in advise to his grandson had this to say;
“Have you considered the meaning of the word "worthy"? Weigh it well…I had rather you should be worthy possessors of one thousand pounds honestly acquired by your own labor and industry, than of ten millions by banks and tricks.”
Are all that we have achieved as a nation worthy?
Finally, in closing we should wish for our nation this 49th Birthday what John Adams advised his daughter in choosing a spouse:
Daughter! Get you an honest man for a husband, and keep him honest. No matter whether he is rich, provided he be independent. Regard the honor and moral character of the man more than all other circumstances. Think of no other greatness but that of the soul, no riches but that of the heart. An honest, sensible, humane man, above all littleness of vanity and extravagances of imagination, laboring to do good rather than to be rich, to be useful rather than make a show, living in modest simplicity clearly within his means and free from debts and obligations, is really the most respectable man in society, makes himself and all about him most happy.
God Bless Malaysia on this 49th Birthday!