KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia must examine the growth strategies and models of China, Japan, and South Korea to accelerate its own economic development, said former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
He emphasised that the Look East Policy, introduced in 1982 during his tenure as prime minister, can serve as a platform to explore the development models of the Asian giants, chart new possibilities and opportunities as the government addresses the setbacks caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Dr Mahathir said the Look East policy is not limited to Japan, but also South Korea and China, as well as other entities in East Asia. Therefore, Malaysia should adopt good practices from these countries while dismissing practices that are unsuitable for Malaysia.
“We discarded those that were unsuitable, but those which were suitable for Malaysia, we took and we tred to benefit from the waves of development that are seen in those countries, in particular Japan,” he said, noting that Japan rebuilt itself after the Second World War to become the second largest economy in the world before the rise of China in recent years.
“Therefore, there must be some merit to Japan’s actions. We desired to gain knowledge from Japan. To accomplish this, we have this Look East policy,“ he said today during a question-and-answer session commemorating the 40th anniversary of Malaysia’s Look East Policy.
Dr Mahathir said the Look East Policy had been a success and should remain a cornerstone of Malaysia’s development strategies and programmes.
“In my opinion, brilliant policies and effective programmes can only be fully implemented and their goals attained if their executors have the proper attitude and sense of responsibility,“ he added.
Today, over 400,000 Malaysians are employed by close to 1,500 Japanese companies operating in Malaysia. The Look East Policy has been instrumental to Malaysia’s industrialisation efforts and has contributed significantly to the country’s overall economic growth.
Dr Mahathir expressed his hope that the 40th anniversary would provide a new impetus to the Look East Policy and Malaysia-Japan relations as a whole, as well as an opportunity to examine the Japanese education system from pre-kindergarten to university level. — Bernama