Speechs in the year
Tarikh/Date	:	09/01/2003
Versi 		:	ENGLISH
Penyampai	:  	PM 

      Competition is endemic in human society throughout
   history.  There is the competition between individuals,
   between  societies, between cities and states,  between
   nations   and   races.   The  original  Olympic   Games
   personifies this competition.  It was between the Greek
   cities as represented by their athletes.
   2.    But  the  essence  of  competition  is  that  the
   competitors   possess  certain  qualifying   qualities.
   Cities do not compete with villages, nor adult athletes
   with  children.  To compete fairly the competitors must
   belong to distinct categories.
   3.    In a globalised world we have to compete in order
   to   succeed.   But  according  to  present  rules   of
   competing,  there  are  no  distinct  categories.   The
   smallest  and  poorest nations must  compete  with  the
   biggest  and  the richest nations.  The smallest  local
   businesses must compete with the multi-national giants.
   The  technologically  backward must  compete  with  the
   technologically advanced.
   4.    In  the  competition, rules and  regulations  are
   practically  disallowed.  The only rule is  that  there
   should   be   no  rules,  no  rules  about   qualifying
   categories,  no  rules about the methods  used  by  the
   competitors.  But this is not completely  true.   While
   Governments  may not restrict and protect,  Governments
   must uphold the rights of the rich and the powerful  to
   literally strangle the poor and the weak.  It does  not
   take  a  genius to see that the dice is loaded  against
   the  weak  and  the poor.  They must rely  on  whatever
   little competitive advantage that they may have just to
   survive.   But  mostly they would lose the  competition
   and they would go under.
   5.    Perhaps  this is not the kind of  keynote  speech
   that  you'd expect at a forum entitled "Competition  in
   the  Globalised World - Becoming a World Class Player".
   But  I  believe in calling a spade a spade.   The  idea
   about globalisation is fine but the interpretation  and
   the  prescription  for a globalised world  need  to  be
   scrutinised closely.
   6.   I say this because the developed countries did not
   develop  and  become  as  prosperous  as  they  are  by
   practising  free  trade, borderlessness,  deregulation,
   and  non-protectionist policies.  What  they  did  when
   they were as undeveloped as the developing countries of
   today are was quite different from what we are told  is
   the  formula  that we must accept in  order  to  become
   7.    Free trade for example was rejected by the  great
   trading  nations of Europe.  Instead they  divided  the
   world  into regions with each monopolising one  or  two
   regions.   The  Spaniards were  allocated  the  Western
   hemisphere,  while  the  Portuguese  took  the  Eastern
   hemisphere.   Nevertheless  the  Portuguese   conquered
   Brazil while the Spaniards took the Philippines.
   8.    The  other  European countries  then  were  given
   licences  to buccaneer and rob the ships of  Spain  and
   Portugal.   Using  military  force  they  ejected   the
   Spaniards  and the Portuguese from strategic  locations
   where  they  set  up what was called trading  stations.
   These were basically fortresses set up in the countries
   with  whom they traded in order to monopolise the trade
   with  these countries.  Wars in Europe determine  which
   European country would own which trading fortress.
   9.     Monopolistic  trading  companies  were  set  up,
   invested  in  by prominent people and backed  by  their
   Governments.   After setting up the  trading  stations,
   companies such as the East India Company, and the Dutch
   East  India  Company went on to conquer  the  countries
   they  were  trading with.  And so the Indian continent,
   Burma, and Malaysia became a part of the British Empire
   while  the Dutch with their spice trade colonised  what
   was named as the Dutch East Indies.
   10.  Other parts of Asia, Africa and South America were
   also  colonised  and monopolised.  There  was  no  free
   trade,  only  exclusive trade by the  colonial  powers.
   The  colonised countries had no say in the exploitation
   of their resources.
   11.   To  maximise  the profit slave labour  was  often
   used.   In  fact the slave trade was one  of  the  most
   important contributor to the wealth of these nations.
   12.  One might say that all these happened long ago and
   are  not  relevant today.  But the fact  still  remains
   that the monopolistic and restrictive, unfree, strictly
   regulated  trade  was what enabled these  countries  to
   progress  from being poor and developing to being  rich
   and  developed.  Had they practised free trade and open
   competition it is unlikely that they would progress the
   way they do.
   13.   But  even the claim that the new regime  involves
   deregulation  and free trade is not  true.   The  World
   Trade  Organisation is about imposing  what  is  called
   Rule-based   trading.   This  is  what  the   developed
   countries  are  demanding that everyone complies  with.
   The  problem is that the rule, favour the big  and  the
   financially rich corporations and discriminates against
   the  small  and the poor businesses from the developing
   countries.   So  the dice is still loaded  against  the
   poor   developing   countries.   There   is   no   fair
   competition.  Not only must the small business from the
   developing  countries be required to compete  with  the
   merged  giants from the rich countries, but  the  rules
   are against the small and weak.  The competition is not
   within class or categories based on the capabilities of
   the  class, but it is between the strong and  the  rich
   (and  the technologically advanced) and the weak,  poor
   and  backwards.  We can all guess as to who  will  win.
   But  of  course the line taken is that the big and  the
   rich  will  help the poor and small countries  and  the
   people to prosper - through FDI and high quality,  low-
   cost   products  resulting  from  efficiency  and   the
   economies  of scale.  This may be so but we  have  seen
   how  many  of these giants have fallen.  Enron,  United
   Airlines, Global Crossing, Arthur Andersen, the  second
   biggest  insurance  company in the world  and  numerous
   others have all failed, largely through cheating by the
   management.   There  is really no  guarantee  that  big
   means  success.  In fact the bigger they are the harder
   they  fall  and  they drag down with them  hundreds  of
   other companies and their workers.
   14.   Big  does  not mean efficiency and success.   And
   when  they are in a position to monopolise it  is  most
   likely  that  they will abuse their power.   Since  the
   Governments may not interfere there is no limit to  the
   kind of abuse that they can perpetrate.
   15.  The globalised world that we have to compete in to
   become  a world class player is not going to be a  very
   orderly world.  It is going to be a world in which fair
   competition is not possible, especially for  the  small
   player.  They are likely to be swallowed up or to  just
   16.   So  what  do we do to try and salvage  our  small
   businesses, small in relative terms?  Well, we can  try
   to  change the interpretation of Globalisation.  Is  it
   necessary that borders be widely open all at  the  same
   time?   Is  it  necessary  that  weak  countries   stop
   protecting their industries now?  Is it necessary  that
   Governments   all   abstain   from   supporting   their
   countries'  businesses?  Is it necessary that  business
   practices  be completely standardised?  Is it necessary
   that  foreign  companies be given  national  status  in
   every country?
   17.  If all the developing countries stand together  we
   can  prevent  the rules in favour of the rich  and  the
   strong  from  being  adopted  by  the  WTO.   But  most
   developing  countries are in no position to oppose  the
   rich  countries.  They owe money or they need help from
   the  rich  and these provide leverage for the  rich  to
   break  up  any  concerted attempt by the poor  to  help
   themselves.  There is therefore not much hope for us to
   promote the rules of trade which favour us.
   18.   But we can do something for ourselves if pressure
   is  not brought to bear upon us to cease and desist  in
   carrying out our own policies for self-preservation.
   19.  Malaysia had followed a strategy that has saved it
   from  going under in a hostile world.  Our approach  is
   simple.   We try to keep costs in Malaysia low so  that
   our  products  are competitive but our people  enjoy  a
   reasonable  standard of living.  This we do  by  having
   price control and curbing profiteering.  The wages  are
   low  compared  to  those  of  developed  countries  but
   somewhat high compared to other developing countries.
   20.   We  keep  the  Ringgit exchange  rate  low.   Its
   purchasing  power within the country is  still  largely
   the  same.  Indeed in terms of purchasing power  it  is
   about  the same as one US Dollar in America.   So,  low
   wages  in Malaysia does not mean low purchasing  power.
   This  ensures  that  low wages does  not  lower  living
   standards  too  much.   In  fact,  Malaysians  live   a
   comfortable life earning less than one-third the  wages
   of people in developed countries.
   21.   However  imported goods and foreign travel  costs
   more.   But  this affect only the higher income  group.
   Low  income people are not too much affected.  Also the
   Government  fixed  the prices of essential  items  like
   fuel and sugar which helps lower the cost of living.
   22.   In  Malaysia  unions and workers understand  that
   high  pay  is  meaningless if the cost of living  rises
   with  the  pay increase.  In some developing  countries
   all  workers are millionaires but the money  they  earn
   cannot give them a decent living because all goods  are
   priced  in tens or hundreds of thousand of the currency
   unit.  Higher wages are only worthwhile if there is  no
   resulting inflation.  This can happen when productivity
   rises higher than wage increases.
   23.    Besides  we  are  competing  against  low   wage
   countries with good productivity levels.  Any  increase
   in  wages  without  productivity increase  will  reduce
   investments,  not  only by foreign investors  but  also
   local  investors.  With no new jobs being created there
   will  be  more  unemployment.  And a  large  unemployed
   population will force wages down.
   24.   So we must always ensure that wage rises will not
   make  us  uncompetitive, raise the cost of  living  and
   drive away job-creating investments.
   25.   Businesses should endeavour to bring down  costs.
   If  they examine carefully their cost of production  or
   service they are bound to find cost items which can  be
   reduced.  Targeting a definite percentage for reduction
   of costs is very effective.
   26.   Technology  is a problem.  The  rich  with  their
   greater  expenditure  on research and  development  are
   bound  to be ahead.  Buying technology from them  would
   increase costs.  But much of the technology is probably
   non-essential.   Motor  vehicles  of  today  are  over-
   engineered.  We have to find a niche where basic  needs
   are  met by our products.  In some cases the value  can
   be  enhanced without too much increase in costs.   This
   high quality products will fetch prices higher than the
   cost  involved  in upgrading quality.   The  old  Asian
   belief  in  cheap poor quality products  as  a  way  to
   penetrate  markets should be forgotten.   Good  durable
   products  are  more  likely to  establish  a  permanent
   27.   World class does not mean top class all the time.
   There  are  products which will be so high  in  quality
   that  they  will establish a class by themselves.   But
   they  are  not for the main market, the big  number  of
   average  consumers.   For  the  biggest  main  consumer
   market  competitive pricing for reasonable world  class
   quality would be sufficient.
   28.   While  we  try to compete in this unfair  trading
   environment,  we must continue to fight  for  a  fairer
   global trade.  It is going to be difficult but that  is
   how life is.  We have to resign ourselves to this, work
   hard  and  make  use of whatever competitive  advantage
   that we may have.
   29.  I hope your seminar will come up with pointers  on
   how  you can become world class players in a globalised
   world.  I wish you every success.

   Sumber : Pejabat Perdana Menteri