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Malaysia 2020: Social and foreign policy challenges

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KUALA LUMPUR: While Malaysia is progressing well to become a developed nation by 2020, there are other challenges the nation must face to receive recognition from the international community.

Institute of Diplomacy and Foreign Relations (IDFR) director of training Syed Bakri Syed Abd Rahman said this at the NST-ASM Forum, themed “Think, Share and Act”, held on June 2 at the New Straits Times headquarters in Bangsar.

In his topic entitled “Foreign Policy & Security: Where are we heading”, Syed Bakri said that Malaysia may face challenges in terms of its domestic policies and how it may not sync with the norms practised by developed nations.

Among the practises of developed nations include:

  • Practises good governance and transparency
  • Proponents of trade liberalisation
  • Champion human rights issues
  • Provide aid to underdeveloped nations

“For example, Malaysia’s affirmative action policy under Article 153 of the Federal Constitution. It provides special privileges to the majority bumiputeras.

“However, the international community understands affirmative action as a temporary measure accorded to the minority groups in a country,” he said.

Syed Bakri also said that as per World Bank’s standard, a developed nation must contribute at least 0.7% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to help underdeveloped nations.

“Malaysia's GDP in 2013 was USD 313 billion. Based on that figure, are we prepared to part ways with USD 2.2 billion or RM7.8 billion of our GDP?” he asked.

Malaysia: A model nation for diversity

Syed Bakri added that Malaysia, under the stewardship of Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Mohd Najib Tun Abdul Razak, is positioning itself as moderate Muslim nation at the international arena but developed nations may not see Malaysia as “moderate enough”.

“This is because we still have a law which criminalises sodomy. We also have laws against apostasy,” he said.

On social order, Institute of Ethnic Studies’ (KITA) Ethnic and Workplace Cluster head Professor Dr Mansor Mohd Noor said Malaysians should be proud of the nation’s multi-ethnic fabric.

“Forget about the news reports on how our race relations are deteriorating. Based on the Global Peace Index, we rank number 33 in 2014.

“Among Asian countries, we rank number six for the same year,” he said.

Dr Mansor added that Malaysian government strives to ensure national harmony is maintained, while investing heavily on cultural and religious diversity.

“That is why we have various unity based programmes. We have evolved from Bangsa Melayu to Bangsa Malaysia. Now, we have gone further to 1Malaysia,” he said.

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