Sunday,22 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1263, (17 - 30 September 2015)
Sunday,22 October, 2017
Issue 1263, (17 - 30 September 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Editorial: Our turn?

Al-Ahram Weekly

President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi’s recent tour of Asia is a reminder of the economic miracles countries such as Singapore, China and Indonesia have achieved. The question that must have occurred to many Egyptians watching is: Can Egypt have its own miracle?

We’ve gone a long way since Al-Sisi came to power. We’re setting the stage for parliamentary elections, corruption is being dealt with at breakneck speed, a natural gas field has been located offshore with immense reserves that will boost the economy, terrorists are losing their grip over North Sinai and, as a nation, we are ready for the next level.

One thing that comes to mind when contemplating Asian achievements is Malaysia’s Vision 2020, introduced by then-Prime Minister Tun Mahathir Mohamad in 1991. The vision involved a plan to double the country’s income every ten years through a seven per cent rate of annual growth.

But it wasn’t just about the economy. It was about everything else that mattered: unifying the nation, eliminating great disparities in wealth, raising the level of education, eliminating corruption and introducing credible levels of democracy.

“By the year 2020, Malaysia can be a united nation, with a confident Malaysian society, infused by strong moral and ethical values, living in a society that is democratic, liberal and tolerant, caring, economically just and equitable, progressive and prosperous, and in full possession of an economy that is competitive, dynamic, robust and resilient,” the Malaysian prime minister said in introducing his plan.

Tun Mahathir Mohamad is out of office now, and is an outspoken critic of the current government. His country didn’t achieve everything Vision 2020 had promised, but the legacy of this vision remains alive, and its nine “central strategic challenges” remain valid to this day.

Those “challenges” were to establish a united Malaysian nation with a sense of common destiny; create a psychologically liberated Malaysian society with faith and confidence in itself; foster and develop a mature democratic society; establish a fully moral society with the highest of moral standards, a liberal and tolerant society for all Malaysians to practice their customs and beliefs, a scientific and progressive society that is innovative and forward-looking, a caring society that tends to the welfare of the people; ensure an economically just society with an equitable distribution of wealth; and establish a prosperous society with a competitive and dynamic economy.

Since the plan was conceived, Malaysia has overhauled its education system, becoming one of the leading nations in promoting smart governments, introducing computers in schools, and conducting business online.

If we want an Egyptian miracle, we will have to do the same. We will have to restructure our education, give a boost to scientific research and shake up our lethargic bureaucracy. We can’t surge forward while our medical care lags behind, our factories are half-idle, and our economists are figuring out loans and seeking grants instead of focusing on developing the resources we already have.

We need a plan that will end our dependency on food imports, restructure our energy resources in a more sustainable manner, give our children a better education, reward our young innovators and scout for technological talent.

We don’t have to live on six per cent of our land, which we now do. We don’t have to abandon our factories in Kafr Al-Dawwar, Al-Mahalla Al-Kobra and Helwan. We don’t have to waste days dealing with red tape that shouldn’t have existed in the first place.

We can do what Malaysia did, and we can even do better.

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