In the report, other than taking a position of being above politics and taking a non committal position in the power struggle in KL, the Sultan did not want to be seen to be taking sides. And in a major shift in thinking, the Sultan said he found it ‘hard to understand the rationale or irrationality of my Malaysian leader who wants Malaysia to quarrel with Singapore. There is so much we can learn from Singapore. They have done well, let’s be honest here…We don’t have to go on expensive study trips to Europe or the United States – just go across the causeway to Singapore; they have done so many things that are correct and efficient.’
This change of tone is unprecedented coming from the Malaysian leaders and coming from the Royal House of Johore. The new leaders are starting to chart a course very different from the days of Mahathir when everything is about politics and muddled with a history of political baggages. Even Najib, though still playing with the politics of race and religion has departed from the policy of no need to learn English. He is talking about learning English as the international language of commerce.
The profound change is in the thinking of the Sultan of Johore that is very pragmatic and development biased. With his development priority in place, Johore is going to develop rapidly and runaway from the other Malaysian states unless his legs are tripped by the Federal govt in KL.
For a start the Johore state govt may want to engage some Singaporean state planners to assist in the redevelopment of Johore Bahru. We have plenty of experienced civil servants available to offer our expertise. And not to worry about the expensive trips Singapore is sending to the West to learn from them. I can bet they learn nothing much as we are much better organized and developed than the West in city planning and management other than one or two obvious areas that we are still scrambling for cover. Learn only the good stuff.
Actually Singapore is very worried that all the Malaysian states would put aside their obsession with politics and start to think progressively and objectively. Singapore would be in real trouble with a competitive and development minded Malaysian govt. We would not be able to compete with a new Malaysia withthe low productivity of today due to the foreigners here.
It is a frightening thought and a frightening reality. All the million dollar pay will be gone with the wind.