IT is time to put aside differences and celebrate similarities among Malaysians of all races and religions as we enter 2020, says 94-year-old Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
Vision 2020 is significant in PM's heart
“The year 2020 is quite significant in my heart. When I headed the administration of Malaysia the first time, it was through Vision 2020 that the government had then targeted this year as the year we would be considered a developed country.
Replaced by Shared Prosperity Vision 2030
“However, in the past few years, we realised that the target could not be achieved fully and due to that, we prepared a blueprint known as Shared Prosperity Vision 2030, ” he said.
Peaceful and developed
He also said that there is a need for that extension as it is the duty of the government to ensure a peaceful and developed country.
Farmers to diversify
Dr Mahathir pointed out that the price of palm oil is now at its highest but said the government has to continue to encourage the farmers to diversify to shield themselves for when the price goes down again.
PM defended recent KL Summit
He also defended the recent Kuala Lumpur Summit held on Dec 18 as a necessary platform for international co-operation that would also benefit non-Muslims.
“The KL Summit was an opportunity to look into new critical and necessary fields, not only for Muslims but also for Malaysians of all other religions.
Showing off to the world
“We may not realise that every time we hold international conferences such as the KL Summit, Malaysia is actually showing off to the world how we have successfully lived peacefully with all our diversity.
Laws which ostracise people or migrants based on race and religion
“It has never crossed our minds to come up with laws which ostracise people or migrants based on race and religion.
Bumiputra's allocations not meant to deny rights of the others
“Even though we have allocations for bumiputras, it is to ensure their survival and not meant to deny or take away the rights of the others.
Riches of the nation
“This is why the riches of the nation are not only held by bumiputras but also shared and in many other instances, held by other races, ” Dr Mahathir said in his New Year's address to the nation that was telecast live on New Year's Eve.
Work hard and prepare for global political uncertainty
He further urged Malaysians to work hard to ensure their independence and prepare for global political uncertainty.
“The turmoil due to the trade war between big powers and quick technological advances are factors which will decide the direction of the world and this country.
Handle changes and challenges
“We have to accept this situation and work to develop ourselves to handle these changes and challenges. Those who understand these changes have found opportunities for jobs and incomes. Those who do not change will lose their source of livelihood, ” he warned.
Dr Mahathir said that the government will however assist those who work to better themselves.
"When they succeed, we too are happy, ” he added.
Noble, common value
Dr Mahathir also said that noble, common values are part of the criteria to be a developed nation.
“Values such as being hardworking, being disciplined, cleanliness, tolerance, respect, being well mannered and big-hearted are what differentiates us from those who are not advanced and (who are) backward.
“These values represent all cultures, religions and races, and diversity.
Celebrate similarities, put aside differences
“Let us celebrate our similarities and put aside our differences. Happy New Year, ” said the premier.

by Fauzi Abdul Kadir  
for Permadu Malaysia
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