I'd like to emphasise (and as many of you realise already), that I wrote the column as constructive criticism. I like
Malaysia very much. I visit often and have many Malaysian friends of all races. I've also written a lot that is positive
about Malaysia in the past, most notably in a previous book of mine - The Asian Insider: Unconventional Wisdom for
Asian Business, which has no less than five chapters to explain to people outside Malaysia why I feel that Malaysia
should be given more credit than it gets.
There have been many achievements. There is much about which Malaysians can be proud. Malaysia, for example,
is far more politically mature and developed than is Singapore. The media is more open too (but of course not as
open as it could or should be.) Malaysians are more entrepreneurial too. AirAsia started in Malaysia and has
revolutionised air travel across Asia. In Singapore, there is very much a sense that the government has to do
However, the problem as I said in my column, is waste. And also the use of statistics that are blatantly wrong.
Malaysia also has a big problem with transparency. Too little account is made of how other people's money is spent.
The police too are way too corrupt for a country as developed as Malaysia. The rote learning that is practiced in the
schools also needs to be done away with. Generations of Malaysian children are missing out on an education that
should teach them how to be creative and critical - this is what a truly modern, boleh country needs. Again, my
comments are meant to be constructive. And I make them as a non-Malaysian largely because many Malaysians
feel rightly or wrongly that they cannot say these things themselves in their own country.