As the leaders of the world including Prime Minister Najib Razak attending the “Belt and Road Forum” in Beijing, Dr Mahathir and his cohorts are actively undermining the incentives that could provide opportunities for trade which amounted to USD900 billion. Among others who were also present are President of the UN General Assembly, President of the World Bank, World Trade Organization Director-General and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, besides heads of more than 60 nations.As stated by the Prime Minister in his article published by the South China Morning Post that;
“It may seem ridiculous to readers in China or other visitors at the forum, but there are some opposition politicians in my country who say we are selling our sovereignty by agreeing to such projects. But I make no apologies for wanting to build a world-class infrastructure for Malaysia that will, with local ownership being preserved, open up huge swathes of our country, bringing more trade and opportunity to our people, thousands of new jobs, improved living standards and prosperity.”
If criticisms coming from the opposition bloc that is unlikely in the federal government administration, we understand when they have no in-depth experiences but when criticisms and accusations initiated by a former Prime Minister and a former Deputy Prime Minister who apprehend the need for the present government to improve the country’s economy and the livelihood of its people, their criticisms are mainly politically motivated.
Tun Mahathir dan Muhyiddin Yassin have made anti-China assertions, such as blaming Chinese nationals for taking away the rice bowl of Malaysians, criticising the Government for compromising national sovereignty and claiming that 700,000 Chinese nationals would be made Malaysian citizens. These are the consequences when they do not understand what the China’s “One Belt One Road” incentives are but simply jumped into warped and erroneous views.
Imagine when with this OBOR incentives, they have successfully constructed infrastructure projects such as the China-Laos railway; the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway; the Bangkok-Nakhon Ratchasima high-speed railway; and now our government is planning the East Coast Rail Link that will drive connectivity and economic growth for Malaysia’s underdeveloped east coast as a time-efficient transport.
As Malaysia continues the journey to becoming a high-income nation, the OBOR initiative will give us a tremendous advantage in the growing global competitive market. Malaysia is already in the process of taking advantage of this initiative, through the implementation of two key Belt and Road initiatives – the Singapore-Kunming Rail Link and the Melaka Gateway to connect China’s Yunnan province to Singapore via Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.
Hence, a key drive to our very own High-Speed Rail (HSR) project that indeed opens up opportunities for trade, investment, economic growth and jobs. Whilst the Melaka Gateway that will be expected to be completed by 2025 will offer more maritime activities and opportunities and the Malacca Straits is expected to increase the number of ships passing through by more than 40% in 2020. Eventually, the Melaka Gateway will position itself as a significant global trading port.
Instead of applying a personal political agenda, the present government under PM Najib has none other but to look to the future and make far-sighted decisions although at times they are quite considerably tough for the benefit and future of the nation. These are not white elephant projects as criticised by certain quarters but a powerful economic vehicle waiting to be unleashed to unlock Malaysia’s true potential.