Look East Policy still relevant, 37 years later, says PM

Dr Mahathir Mohamad at the launch of the Malaysia Future Leaders School (MFLS) at Universiti Malaya today.

KUALA LUMPUR: The Look East Policy introduced in 1982 is still very much relevant today, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad said.

Mahathir, who first introduced this policy in his first tenure as prime minister, said Japan and South Korea were two countries which have rapidly developed and, in some fields, are far more advanced than Western countries.

“Malaysia can take a leaf out of the success stories of these two countries, and weave it into our own culture,” he said in his speech during the launch of the Malaysia Future Leaders School (MFLS) at Universiti Malaya today.

Also present were Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman and his deputy, Steven Sim Chee Keong.

Mahathir said the recipe for success of these two countries was founded on discipline, loyalty to the country, priority towards the community, emphasis on quality and always practising positive values in their daily lives.

He said social and cultural foundations are at the core of their work culture, aside from a patriotic spirit to keep them going.

“For instance, workers in Japan are very meticulous in carrying out their jobs, with the aim of producing products and services of high quality.

“This culture of being meticulous is very much part of their daily lives, not just in their work,” he said.

The Pakatan Harapan (PH) chairman said the Japanese also feel a high degree of shame. He said Japanese would feel ashamed if they are lazy, and ashamed if they could not achieve what they set out to do.

“This personal values also show they are always working towards perfection and success in their work. This is the result of noble values inculcated in them since they were young,” he said.

Mahathir hoped such noble values will be inculcated through the MFLS to raise future leaders with high personality values in terms of their integrity, excellence, volunteerism, responsibility and competitiveness.

“I believe we can produce future leaders who are of an international standing, but still maintaining eastern values. I also believe that the best leadership values will produce individuals who are excellent in various fields,” he said.

Mahathir said in August last year, as with the years before since 2003, he had been invited to give lectures on noble values to the youths in Japan, at the Japan Future Leaders School (JFLS).

“Each time I am asked to go, I speak on certain topics, but everything is usually centred on leadership for the future, with good values needed as a leader.

“I am of the view that we should have such programmes in Malaysia as these can create future-ready leaders who will be leaders in various sectors and fields.

“This is why I proposed to the youth and sports minister to start the MFLS, based on the JFLS concept but adapted to the Malaysian mould and landscape,” he added.

The MFLS is a new programme created to produce young leaders who can contribute as strategic partners in the nation’s development.

The programme combines high-impact indoor and outdoor activities to bring out the potential in youths to contribute to nation building.

The programme targets those aged between 15 and 17.