PETALING JAYA: Vision 2020 was doomed decades ago and it is wrong to place the blame entirely on the administration of former prime minister Najib Razak, according to two social critics.
Political scientist Chandra Muzaffar and sociology professor Syed Farid Alatas told FMT it was apparent even during Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s previous tenure as prime minister that challenges to the agenda could not be surmounted by the year 2020.
Vision 2020, an ideal covering various aspects of life, was first articulated by Mahathir in 1991. He visualised Malaysia becoming an industrialised and self-sufficient nation by 2020.
In a speech last Monday, Mahathir said Vision 2020 could no longer be realised and he blamed alleged abuse of power by the Najib government.
Chandra said abuse of power was only one of many factors that had failed the vision, adding that a proper evaluation would entail looking at all the challenges together. These would include political and economic challenges as well as ethical considerations, he said.
He spoke of a review held five years after the agenda was launched and said the result showed signs that the objectives could not be met by 2020.
“Even if a review was done 10 years later, in 2001, I think it would have shown we were still lagging behind,” he said.
He recalled that he was asked to evaluate how far the nation had gone towards becoming an ethical society.
“My analysis was that we were already behind on the idea of an ethical society,” he said, adding that this was “before 1MDB happened”.
“Corruption was the problem and integrity was not being upheld, even back in 1996.”
However, he acknowledged that the challenge to build an ethical society became much greater during Najib’s tenure as prime minister.
Syed Farid spoke of “structural problems in the civil service and even in the private sector” but was particularly critical of the education system.
“We are not able to create a technology-intensive society and to develop the full potential of our human resources,” he said.
He alleged that the education system had been deteriorating gradually since the 1970s and said this was why it would be incorrect to blame a specific administration for the failure of Vision 2020.