Friday, September 13, 2019

Vision 2020 - Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad

During the late 1980's Malaysia was experiencing an average growth rate of 8 percent a year. There was a need to articulate this growth and set an ultimate target, hence the idea of Vision 2020 was born. The late Tan Sri Dr Noordin Sopiee of the Institute of Strategic and International Studies developed a blueprint that defined our country's path to social, economic and political development.

"As a doctor, I am attracted to the optometric measurement of vision. 2020 indicates 100 percent vision in both eyes, as it implied a clear idea of where we wanted to go and what we wanted by the year 2020."

To reach Vision 2020, our economy will have to grow at seven percent per annum over a projected period of 30 years and we had to increase the people's annual per capita income to about US$16,000. I presented the Vision 2020 Paper at the first meeting of the Malaysian Business Council on February 8, 1991. Our development, I said had to be more than just economic.

We had to become a nation that was both politically sophisticated, socially and culturally advanced but without losing our spiritual and moral values. We needed to first establish a single united Malaysian nation. Though born of different races, all Malaysians had to see themselves as nationals of one and the same country.

Different though we were in our origins, ours was a common destiny. Economic wise, we needed to develop a strong and diversified economy that would be fully competitive and dynamic, capable of withstanding and perhaps prospering in difficult times. That meant encouraging the growth of a strong middle class, not just economically but in broad social terms.

Information technology was an area we needed to focus on to fuel the country's development. We also needed to create innovative products that we could update regularly so as not to be left behind with dated technology. Without research, we would never discover anything new that might contribute to our wealth.

Malaysia's route to becoming a developed nation was to be achieved according to our own way, with distinctive ethical and moral values intact. We would chart our own journey and become a developed country in our own cultural mould. Over the years, I would repeatedly emphasise that we believe in establishing a fully caring and sharing society, one that is ferociously dynamic but not rapacious. We wanted a society with a human face and a big human heart.

Our people have to be proud of being Malaysians, proud of their country and its achievements. They had to stand tall in the eyes of the world, through among themselves, they also had to always remain modest about their own social and economic status. Ultimately we realised that there could be no modern economy, society or technology unless there were truly modern people at the heart and core of this new Malaysia. New buildings, systems and industries are not enough, the missing part was people. Malaysians, through education and science need to find their way forward while retaining their Asian values and human identities.

If you look at KLIA or Petronas Twin Towers, you will see great manifestations of that brave new Malaysian modernity. They form the tangible and undeniable testimony of what we are capable of. I hope that in time we would be able to transform ourselves in similarly powerful and impressive ways in order to make the Vision 2020 dream come true. 

Malayan Emergency 1950 - 1960

The Malayan Emergency was declared on 18 June 1948 after three estate managers were murdered in Perak, northern Malaya, by guerrillas of the Malayan Communist Party (MCP), an outgrowth of the anti-Japanese guerrilla movement which had emerged during the Second World War. Despite never having had more than a few thousand members, the MCP was able to draw on the support of many disaffected Malayan Chinese, who were upset that British promises of an easier path to full Malayan citizenship had not been fulfilled. The harsh post-war economic and social conditions also contributed to the rise of anti-government activity.

The Malayan government was slow to react to the MCP at first and did not appoint a director of operations to counter the insurgency until March 1950. The new director planned to address the underlying economic, social and political problems facing the Chinese community while at the same time bringing government control to the fringe areas where the MCP received much of its support. Before this plan was fully implemented, however, the situation deteriorated further with the assassination of the British High Commissioner in October 1951. The attack galvanised British resolve to meet the threat posed by the MCP, and the Malayan government, in turn, stepped up counter-insurgency measures. Prolonged operations were undertaken against the communists in an effort to destroy their base of support in local communities and to drive them into the jungle, where it would be difficult for them to receive supplies from supporters.

Australia's involvement in the Emergency began in 1950 with the arrival of RAAF aircraft and personnel in Singapore. Dakotas from 38 Squadron were deployed on cargo runs, troop movements and paratroop and leaflet drops in Malaya, while six Lincoln bombers of 1 Squadron provided the backbone of aerial operations. As the capacity of army and police units operating against the communists improved, however, the need for air power decreased, and by 1952 Lincolns were increasingly used as part of combined air-ground assaults against the communists. One of the major military successes of the conflict was one such coordinated operation in July 1954, east of Ipoh in Perak state. In Operation Termite, as the exercise was known, five RAAF Lincolns and six from a Royal Air Force squadron made simultaneous attacks on two communist camps, followed by paratroop drops, a ground attack and further bombing runs ten days later. The operation destroyed 181 camps and killed thirteen communists; one communist surrendered. 

By October 1955, when the 2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (2 RAR), arrived in Penang, the outcome of the Emergency was no longer in doubt, although a lengthy "mopping up" stage followed, largely undertaken by Australian troops. After several false starts 2 RAR crossed to the mainland in January 1956 to begin anti-communist operations. Over the next 20 months, as part of 28 Commonwealth Brigade, 2 RAR participated in a variety of operations, mainly in Perak, one of the main areas of communist activity. Their work consisted of extensive patrolling, watching for contacts

in the rubber plantations and mounting a perimeter guard on the New Villages, settlements which the government had established to provide infrastructure and services in outlying areas in the hope of denying the guerrillas access to their support base.

Contacts were rare, however, and the battalion had a mixed record, killing two communists in an ambush on 25 June 1956 but losing three of its own troops. 2 RAR left Malaya in October 1957 and was replaced by 3 RAR in the same month. After six weeks of training in jungle warfare 3 RAR began driving the insurgents into the jungle in Perak and Kedah, separating them from food and other supplies. Early successes for the battalion confirmed the growing ascendancy of the security forces over the communists, and by April 1959 one of the main communist centres, Perak, was declared secure. By late 1959 operations against the communists were in their final phase and many communists had crossed Malaya's northern border into Thailand. 3 RAR left Malaya in October 1959 to be replaced by 1 RAR. Although operating in the border region 1 RAR made no contact with the enemy and were forbidden to move into Thailand, even when the presence and location of communists was known.

As the threat continued to dissipate, the Malayan government offically declared the Emergency over on 31 July 1960, though 1 RAR remained in Malaya until October the following year, when 2 RAR returned for a second tour. In August 1962 the battalion was committed to anti-communist operations in Perlis and Kedah, completing its tour in August 1963. In addition to air and infantry forces, Australia also provided artillery and engineering support, and an air-field construction squadron built the main runway for the air force base at Butterworth. Ships of the Royal Australian Navy also served in Malayan waters, and Australian ships had occasion to fire on suspected communist positions in 1956 and 1957. Australian ground forces in Malaya formed part of Australia's contribution to the Far East Strategic Reserve, which was set up in April 1955 primarily to deter external communist aggression against countries in south-east Asia, especially Malaya and Singapore. Lasting 13 years, the Malayan Emergency was the longest continuous military commitment in Australia's history. Thirty-nine Australian servicemen were killed in Malaya, although only 15 of these deaths occurred as a result of operations, and 27 were wounded, most of whom were in the army.