PETALING JAYA, Oct 1 — Malaysians, especially Malays, have failed to grasp and emulate the ‘Look East’ policy started during his administration, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad admitted today.
The nation’s longest-serving prime also lamented that Malays have not picked up moral values from the Japanese, and remained ‘shameless’ even after committing crimes.
“The "Look East"policy will not succeed until we change the life values we hold.
“We will not be ‘less Malay’ by holding to their noble values,” said Dr Mahathir, who headed the Barisan Nasional (BN) government from 1981 to 2003.
He added: “In the 22 years I was prime minister, I could not witness many changes.”
Dr Mahathir claimed that the policy has only focused on trade relations between Malaysia and Japan, but not on emulating values such as diligence and shame of failure.
“When we have shame, we don’t do bad things, even when there is no one watching,” he said, agreeing that Malays remain “shameless” even in criminal cases such as graft.
“In Japan, if a plane crashes down [sic], the transport minister will resign. Here, a minister will never resign,” he said, giving an example of such cases.
In July, Malaysia and Japan agreed to continue with the "Look East" policy, and agreed that it should not be limited to training and education, but should be more forward-looking with better focus and more economic-oriented.
Both governments also pledged to encourage further partnerships between Malaysian companies and multinational corporations and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the areas of green technology and renewable energy.
The other areas include key technical services, institutional support and other high valued-added sectors to promote Malaysia as an investment hub within the region and to cultivate research and development and commercialisation among Malaysian SMEs aided by their Japanese counterparts.
The original "Look East" policy was advocated by Dr Mahathir when he took office in 1981, to encourage Malaysian students in Japan who can bring back knowledge and acquire Japanese cultural virtues such as work ethics, discipline and punctuality.