Malaysia is more secure than its own people give it credit for
FALLING one step down the Global Peace Index (GPI) from 19th place last year to 20th currently keeps Malaysia in the top score of the more than 150 nations surveyed, and so we are still deserving of a pat in the back. The high performance, in a world that has been forced to become only slightly less violent overall by austerity and recession, is attributable in large part to the drop in street crimes. This is indicative of the effectiveness of the results-based approach to governance taken by the administration. Obviously, focusing policy according to specific metrics in National Key Result Areas (NKRAs) -- with crime-fighting high on the priority list after the economy -- has been a transformatory experience. Not only are actions taken in line with targets but these, too, are monitored for accuracy and levels of actual achievement. The Key Performance Index (KPI), which measures the degree of efficiency of the policies pursued, makes for easier corrective procedures to ensure that objectives are met within specified timelines.
What is even more impressive is that Malaysia is ahead of Singapore and Australia, countries well known for a high degree of public safety. Strangely then, and as the prime minister pointed out on his blog, there is a gap between perception and reality. In other words, why would Malaysians be feeling unsafe in the country and more secure walking the streets in Australia and Singapore? Many others have noticed how Malaysians have a dimmer view of their own country than more knowledgeable and better travelled foreigners.
It is time that the people learned to be less cynical -- the probable cause of the perception gap. They should value and not take for granted the qualities that have made Malaysia a top 20 GPI country. Moreover, Malaysia is no laggard on many global indices, especially economically. It is not rocket science to realise that being rated highly in international rankings is strong evidence of Malaysia's accomplishments as a modern nation. In just over 50 years of independence, the nation has defied the odds against it to succeed where many other contemporaries have failed. Overcoming prejudices has been a major factor in building the economy and galvanising the nation. Most likely also, the desire for health, wealth and prosperity -- no matter how clichéd -- has been the perfect enabler for the socio-economic aspirations of a disparate people brought together by destiny. However, it would be a pity if Malaysians refuse to recognise their pragmatism, forgoing it for myths conjured elsewhere.