The five advantages of Japan

Opinion  |  Phar Kim Beng
Published:  |  Modified:

COMMENT | There are three Japanese policies embedded into Malaysia. The Look East Policy is but one. Even then, Look East involves learning from the rapid economic developments of South Korea and China as well.

Thus, the Look East Policy alone, while necessary, is not sufficient to understand what Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad seems to want to achieve by making three trips to Japan over the last six months.

The other two policies are Malaysian Incorporated, abbreviated as Malaysian Inc, and the policy of sogososha (huge conglomerates).

The existence of Khazanah, PNB, LTAT, KWSP, EPF and Ministry of Finance Incorporated are not analogous to the Japanese sogososha in their entirety since entities like Mitsui, Mitsubishi, Sumitomo and Itochu are global business giants many times the size of the above government-linked investment companies in Malaysia.

Nevertheless, the willingness to learn from the Japanese or Japan Incorporated (thus Japan Inc) brings into sharp relief the extent to which Mahathir wants to transform Malaysia into a developed country, not unlike Japan.

Look East, sogososha and Malaysia Inc, are all signature attempts to lock Malaysia into a template where tradition can be balanced with modernity at all times. Islam, after all, is a religion that believes in preserving the balance of tradition and progress.

In his speeches on Japan, both before and after he became the seventh prime minister of Malaysia, it has always been clear to Mahathir that Japan provides five advantages...

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