South Korea, starting with a lower per
capita income in 1981 when Mahathir became Prime Minister, took 15 years to
become a fully developed nation in 1996 while this goal is still elusive to
Malaysia after 22 years and need 40 years to reach the goal
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Thursday): The parliamentary debate on the Mid-Term Review of the Eighth Malaysia Plan, presented by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad as his last parliamentary task this morning, must be an appraisal of the government’s economic performance and development record not only of the past two-and-a-half years of the Eighth Malaysia Plan but also the past 22 years of Mahathir’s premiership.
Although credit must be given to Mahathir for presiding over considerable development success in his 22 years as Prime Minister, two questions that should be considered are: firstly whether Malaysia could have achieved greater economic progress during this period; and secondly, whether other important human development measures, such as the rule of law, democracy, human rights, a free press, accountability, transparency, public integrity and good governance should have been allowed to suffer so grievously during this period.
In debating the Eighth Malaysia Plan Mid-Term Review, Parliament should probe one important question – why Malaysia has lagged so behind South Korea, not only in economic development but also in other human development measures on democracy and human rights.
South Korea, starting with a lower per capita income in 1981 when Mahathir became Prime Minister, took 15 years to become a fully developed nation in 1996 when it joined the OECD while this goal is still elusive to Malaysia after 22 years – and would require 40 years if the Vision 2020 of Malaysia becoming a fully developed nation status is achieved.
When Mahathir became Prime Minister in
1981, Malaysia had a higher per capita income of US$1,840 than South Korea
which lagged behind with US$1,700. Two decades later, South Korea's per
capita income had increased by leaps and bounds at the annual rate of 9.36
per cent, while Malaysia lagged behind with a slower growth at 3.96% per
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman