Malaysia was prepared to lose talent “in order to maintain the dominance of one race”, said Singapore’s founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew in his latest book.
In the 400-page book titled “One Man’s View of the World”, which was launched on Tuesday, the former minister mentor shares his views on international politics, the global economy, climate change and more.
He noted that Malaysia’s “race-based politics place the country at a disadvantage” and was “voluntarily shrinking the talent pool”.
While the government there is now “somewhat more willing to acknowledge this loss” by trying to lure Malaysians back, their efforts may be “too little, too late”, he said.
It was mentioned in the book that in the last 40 over years, the ratio of Chinese and Indian Malaysians dropped significantly. In 1970, the Chinese made up 35.6 per cent of the population- the number shrunk to 24.6 per cent in 2010. The Indian population fell from 10.8 to 7.3 over the same period.
Lee believes that in the competition for skills and brainpower, Malaysia is “losing ground” and “giving other countries a head start”, he added.
He also thinks that it is “impossible for (Prime Minister Najib) to win votes from the Chinese and Indians without losing votes from his party’s core supporters—the Malays”.
He also touched on how Singapore and Malaysia have taken different paths, and that there is now a “live and let live” understanding.
For example, in 1965, when the countries separated, English was a common language. Subsequently, Malaysia chose to drop the language. Years later, in 2003, English was reintroduced for the teaching of science and mathematics.
Lee said: “When the (Malaysian) government concluded that it was a disadvantage to lose English, they reintroduced (it…).”
This, however, was opposed by the Malays, “especially those from rural areas”, and the policy reverted six years later.
“Singapore and Malaysia have chosen two entirely different ways of organising our societies,” he noted.
“But we have each come to the understanding that there is no need to try to influence the other to your own point of view. We cannot change them. They cannot change us,” he said.
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