KUALA LUMPUR: Bad values among certain quarters prevented the country from tapping into its actual potential in achieving greater economic growth.
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said actions by certain groups relying on ‘foreigners’ hindered the progress of the nation.
“I used to tell people this – if you have gold in the ground under your house, you need to dig (the ground) before the gold loses its value to become rich.
“However, if you are unwilling to do so, the other person who digs the gold will eventually become rich.
“Malaysia is a very rich country. But if you do not know how to exploit your wealth, you can never be rich.
“The country also has a lot of wealth. However, today, we are asking foreigners to take away our wealth from us because we are not willing to dig (work hard),” Dr Mahathir said during a panel session held in conjunction with Bank Rakyat Integrity Forum 2020 here today.
The Bank Rakyat Conversation Session 1: Legacies in Transition – Reinvent or Retain was moderated by the bank’s chairman Datuk Noripah Kamso.
Earlier, Dr Mahathir said the potential and capability of a nation depended on the character and value system upheld by people of the respective countries.
He cited how Japan had become one of the powerful economies around the world after the World War II as an example where people determined the progress of a nation.
Dr Mahathir shared with the audience his trip to Japan in 1961 to support his point.
“In the early stages, workers in Japan were willing to work for a bowl of rice and some soya sauce because they knew their bosses were unable to provide handsome salaries.
“They did not demand so much but worked very hard. As a result, Japan recovered very quickly compared to many other countries that were crippled by war.
“As you know, Japan was the only nation devastated by a nuclear bomb. They, however, recovered to the extent that they became one of the biggest economies in the world.
“Even after the strong economy of the West forced them to revalue their Yen (currency), it was only after a short period of time that Japan rebounded and was able to compete in the world market,” he said.
Dr Mahathir also urged people in the country to emulate the values of people in Japan, South Korea as well as China.
“These people (Japan, South Korea and China) work very hard. They are relatively more honest than some of us are. We have too many cases of dishonesty in the country.
“And because of all these bad values, we (Malaysia) are unable to grow as fast as we should,” he said.
Dr Mahathir also assured all quarters that the current Pakatan Harapan administration was working towards reducing the income gap among people under the Shared Prosperity Vision 2030 (SPV 2030) economic blueprint.
He said the wealth gap, if left unchecked, would result in the existence of socialism and communism that had taken place in some other countries around the world.
“SPV 2030 is aimed at narrowing the income gap between the rich and the poor. And in Malaysia, such situations related to race, and whether you are in the urban or rural areas.
“That is why the government is ready and wants to do all that it can to develop the rural areas to ensure that no one is left behind,” he said.