The HistoryI was still in my high school when this policy was first mooted in 1982 by our Prime Minister then, Tun Dr. Mahathir. I couldn't really understand or even bother about it then as it did not have any impact on me. The impression given some thirty (30) years ago was that, we must follow the Japanese, Taiwanese and Koreans. They had succeeded economically because of their positive attitude towards hard work, discipline and excellent ethics.
|Morning Exercise and Punch Card - The Japanese Ways|
Little that I knew that this policy was also part of the nation building exercise which suppose to be translated it into Malaysia's development plan. We've seen co-operative projects were in place to ensure a "transfer of technology and knowledge" to Malaysians. Our national car project, Proton and the Korean Hyundai Engineering technology in constructing the Penang bridge were some of these projects.
There are many literature that talks about the Look East Policy which outline the various objectives and action plans took by the Government to realize this policy. However, I sum up the objectives to only two, namely:-
- To increase productivity and quality of work through instillation of positive values and work culture
- To speed up in becoming net producing country through knowledge and technology transfer
The East and West After 30 YearsNow after 30 years, I wonder if some of the statements made still stand? First, is about the Japanese, Taiwanese and Koreans...Over the past 30 years, we've seen economic domination by these countries. I don't want to go into detail economic figures but merely observation where Japanese, Koreans and Taiwanese products had dominated the household brand itself is a world economic domination.
Prior to mid 80's, Japanese cars and electronic products were still perceived as sub standards. The body of a Toyota car for example was perceived to be of poor quality, soft and being equated with "tin Milo". Japanese electronic products were not household brands then. Brands like Electrolux and Philips among those popular middle upper class household brands instead. Today we have the Toyota, Kia, Hyundai, Panasonic, Samsung etc. Even the Samsung Android is making its way replacing the Iphone....Is it?? :-)
|Shift of Household Brands over 30 Years|
Yes, the east did expanded and spread its wing globally. However, not much of new invention or innovation in any of these expansion activities. Basically the east too took what's already in the west, improvise and market them better. On another front, the east bought the west....
Now, what about the west over the past 30 years? Despite their focus in quality of life rather than hard work, there have been quite a number phenomenal development too in the west. Again, I don't wanna go into the detail economic cycle, numbers and drivers, among the obvious ones - world domination by Microsoft in the 90s, Yahoo in late 90s early 2000 and later Google, Nokia and today we have Iphone, Ipads and the social media spree namely Facebook, Bloggers, Twitters and many others...
Unlike the east, the west domination were predominantly through creation and innovation.
Malaysia after 30 Years?
|Corporations and Brands During Look East Policy|
|MSC a Gift to the World|
|Upin Ipin - A Household Brand in Indonesia|
|Glocal Brands - Corporations 20 Decade after Look East Policy|
Anyway, question goes back to whether does the Look East Policy has anything to do with how AirAsia, CIMB, Axiata, UpinIpin or even Giant Hypermarket manage to spread its market internationally? Personally, I don't think so. My wild guess, leaders of these companies had only minimal exposure to the Japanese, Korean and Taiwanese work culture and values...But that's just my guess...
|Cosplay of Japan and K-Pop of Korea seems to be getting its place in the heart of the new generation|
|Me in my Own version of K-Pops|
Perhaps it's not even the east or the west we should be looking at. What about looking around instead? What about looking at ourselves instead?...less the K-Pop look of course..:-)...
The Japanese, Koreans and Taiwanese or even the Westerners are very proud people. They believe in themselves. They believe what they invented, innovated and produced are the best and gifts to the world. They speak of great passion of their nations, their companies, their people, their tradition and everything they do...Until we as ONE nation called Malaysia and Malaysians carry the same passion and pride, we will continue to be a follower not a leader, a buyer not a seller, a user not an inventor and a developing nation and not a fully developed nation. Until that day, our minds are still being colonized and yet to be a truly "independence"..My 2 cents thoughts....sorait..