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Two black marks  of the 2006  Umno general assemblies – (i) racialist and seditious speeches  and keris-wielding undermining national unity and scaring away foreign investment and (ii) total disregard by Umno delegates about Malaysia’s losing battle for international competitiveness to face the challenges of globalization


Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang  


(Ipoh, Sunday) : The 2006 Umno general assemblies have two blots:


  • the racialist and seditious speeches, coupled with the insensitive keris-wielding second year in succession by the Umno Youth leader and Education Minister, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein,  undermining national unity and scaring away foreign investment; and


  • the  total disregard by Umno delegates about Malaysia’s losing battle for international competitiveness to face the challenges of globalization.


Recently, more and more countries are catching up and surpassing Malaysia in the various indicators denoting international competitiveness. I will give three examples.


  • In the sixties and seventies, the  premier universities of Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong ranked among the world’s top universities.  Today, the top  Singapore and Hong Kong universities have maintained their world ranking while Malaysian universities have virtually disappeared out of sight, with Malaysia’s once premier university, University of Malaya struggling to remain inside the 200 Top World Universities in the Times Higher Education Supplement (THES) annual ranking, while totally omitted in the Shanghai University Jiao Tong University’s Top 500 Wrold Universities ranking.  What is most humiliating to national pride and dignity is that Thailand’s Chulalongkorn University have for two consecutive years surpassed  Malaysian universities in the THES 200 Best Universities Ranking.


  • Recently, the Unctad  World Investment Report 2006 revealed the bad news that Foreign direct investment (FDI) in Malaysia dipped to US$3.97 billion last year from US$4.62 billion in 2004 and that for the first time since 1990, Indonesia had overtaken  Malaysia in drawing FDIs.


  • Malaysia’s plunge to the lowest ranking in 12 years in the Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perception Index (CPI) 2006, falling five places from 39th place last year to 44th place, or six places in the three years of Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi  as Prime Minister or 21 places since the first TI CPI in 1995 when Malaysia was ranked No. 23.  It hid another tragic story of Malaysia’s decline in international competitiveness – being overtaken by another country in the TI CPI.   For the first 11 years of TI CPI, Malaysia had always a better ranking than South Korea, and in 1998, Malaysia was 18 rankings higher than South Korea, being ranked No. 32 and No. 50 respectively.  In the TI CPI 2006, however, South Korea had overtaken Malaysia, being ranked No. 42 or two places higher than Malaysia’s No. 44.


In his press conference after the close of the Umno general assembly on Friday, Abdullah  regretted  that Umno delegates did not debate enough about corruption.


It is the regret of the nation and  26 million Malaysians that on the eve of the  celebrations for half-a-century of nationhood next year, the five-day Umno general assemblies had been such a negative and divisive experience for Malaysians, constituting a major setback for Malaysian nation-building and the Vision 2020 objective of achieving a Bangsa Malaysia.


*  Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman

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