Visionary Targets Need Visionary Plans
Malaysian leaders are fond of setting visionary targets. Mahathir Mohamad is primarily known for his Wawasan 2020 — a vision of Malaysia as a developed nation by 2020.
Recently, our current Prime Minister, Abdullah Badawi, came out with his own vision of Malaysia in 2057. I can't be bothered to reprint its useless highlights, but I remember mumbo jumbo about Nobel Prize winners and Ivy League/Oxbridge students.
For some reason, Malaysians get a high off our leaders acting like morons and spewing tripe like this. It doesn't matter that neither leader ever provided a blueprint for achieving their goals, or gave us solid metrics to measure how far we've come.
In fact, the latter was probably a good idea, since it allows them to continually pull the wool over our eyes. Malaysians continue to be deceived in thinking we're known on the world stage, when countries that matter (e.g. the United States, our largest trading partner) generally have no idea who the hell we are. (I often have to introduce our country to Americans as the piece of land just north of Singapore.)
Malaysian leaders continue to suggest they have done something grand by achieving meaningless accomplishments. Who cares that we have the tallest twin towers in the world? What use is a metric like that when even I and probably most Malaysians don't know where the tallest tower in the world is?
Worse still, Malaysian leaders often seem to think their targets are accomplishments in themselves. It is enough to announce you want Malaysians to dominate the world's top universities; never mind actually setting in motion a policy plan to accomplish this!
As long as our leaders continue to ignore the structural problems that get in the way of our success, and focus on mouthing meaningless goals, none of these objectives will ever be achieved.
Even more frighteningly, some day our leaders might actually believe these goals have been accomplished. It was not too long ago that the Selangor Menteri Besar proclaimed Selangor to be a "developed state" — never mind the fact that some of its busiest roads are full of potholes and its crime rate being about twice that of Johor's, where foreign investors are infamously afraid of treading for fear of being robbed.
Malaysians cannot afford to allow this foolishness to be unpunished. The opposition is not my cup of tea — I think it is not even close to the ideal government for many of its members — but at least thus far they have refrained from the idiocy which marks the discourse of our current government. Maybe that's why we should all vote Barisan Nasional in the next election.