New Straits Times  

Sept 16, 2017

Today, Malaysia celebrates 54 years of nationhood. From Malaya to Malaysia, the nation has taken all the challenges in its stride. Challenges there were aplenty; there will be many more in the future. As we have done all these years, God willing, we shall overcome them all. Our resilience has kept us together as one. We must stay as one for the future. In striving shall our nation’s glory be.

The nation that was born in 1963 has come a long way to be more than half a century old. If we were nine million in number then today we are a closely-knit 30 million people of many ethnicities, languages, cultures and faiths. In 2020 when we become a developed nation with Gross National Income (GNI) of US$12,475 (RM52,351), we will be a country of 32 million. Our pride as a nation is not in the growing number of people alone. We have grown as a nation in other areas too.

After years of high growth, Malaysia recorded a GDP of 4.2 per cent despite a turbulent economic environment the world over. The government is expecting our growth to be slightly higher this year, with GDP rising next year. These GDP figures are higher than the developed economies as estimated by the International Monetary Fund. Poverty level too has dropped to 0.6 per cent.

As far as infrastructure goes, Malaysia is undertaking a major transformation. From the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia to Sabah and Sawarak, people are being connected. When fully implemented in 2019, the East Coast Rail Link in the peninsula will move 5.4 million people and 53 million tonnes of freight while the Pan-Borneo Highway project in East Malaysia will bring Sabah and Sarawak closer together.

The various transformation programs implemented over the years throughout the country within and outside the economic corridors in the peninsula and East Malaysia have begun to show results. From our status as a middle-income country we are on the cusp of becoming a developed nation driven by knowledge-based economy. Malaysia has made significant progress in many areas. To sustain our progress going forward, we need to manage our talent pool to compete with bigger and more agile economies of the world. The government’s emphasis on impact and outcome is the right way forward.

As we grow older as a nation we need to strive together to build an inclusive Malaysia, a Malaysia that does not leave a single Malaysian behind. Every life must have a value, not just in economic terms but a humanitarian value too. It must be our common dream, a national vision to realize a Malaysia that carries along its path of progress the young and old, the able and disadvantaged, and people of all hues and faiths. Yes, we are a nation of a peninsula and islands, but, the sea should not separate us.

Let us not allow geography to stand in our way to be a truly united nation.

May God bless Malaysia.

NST wishes all Malaysians a happy Malaysia Day.

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