Being an Asian Tiger about more than just the economy, say panellists

Chandra Muzaffar.

SHAH ALAM: Panellists in a forum at the Rise of the Asian Tiger Convention today spoke on the criteria to earn that title, following an economist’s remarks that Malaysia was only ever a “little tiger”.

Political scientist Chandra Muzaffar said becoming an Asian Tiger requires not only rapid development and industrialisation, but also the development of high culture.

He said Malaysia lacks integrity, which should be a core value at all levels of society.

He attributed the lack of integrity to the prioritisation of position and power, the abuse of wealth and luxury, and the excesses of individualism.

Anti-corruption activist Anis Yusal Yusoff agreed, saying Malaysians have become obsessed with pursuing their own interests.

He claimed the country’s lack of integrity had led to the “cancer” of rampant corruption, and reiterated the importance of instilling integrity in the younger generation.

Historian Ahmad Murad Merican meanwhile said there are problems with how Malaysian history is interpreted, saying only certain angles are presented and some facts ignored.

He called for a national perspective instead of one based on ethnicity.

“History is our future,” he said, stressing the importance of public education in expanding people’s understanding of Malaysia’s shared history.

Novellist Siti Zainon said Malaysians appeared to have made culture synonymous with stage performances, adding that it no longer has a place in national education.

Giving the examples of Indonesia and Thailand, she said culture must be a part of national education, even as early as kindergarten.