Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak addressing youth during the 2050 National Transformation Dialogue in Kuala Lumpur in January.

CONSTRUCTING the nation requires constant revamping and thorough accountability to ensure relevance. Such an effort requires one to set the direction of a nation with the correct philosophy and reinforced with realistic long-term policies. Simply put, a double-pronged insertion of ideas and actions. However, it can be a common mistake when most are focusing only on actions and policies, but neglecting the essence that drives it. Such is the view held by most Malaysian students studying overseas.

The biggest appeal in carrying forward Transformation National 2050 (TN50) has always been the programme’s inclusiveness and grassroots approach. It brings the promise that anyone can have a say in navigating its course. Should that be the case, the youth, especially students overseas, find that most appealing and will want to be at its forefront. Plus, many programmes such as The Malaysian Initiative and Projek Amanat Negara were championing initiatives as such by producing reports submitted to the ministry. It should have been the perfect scenario in what is considered a very exciting phase in the political empowerment of Malaysian youth. But, the two initiatives did not quite turn out as expected. Voices and opinions were gathered and heard, but it was the same simple demand and supply rhetoric. Students were expected to show how brilliant they were by suggesting baseless ideas. The playing field was with or against the government. It was a choice of which flag-bearer you were rallying behind. Too little was done to find out why our nation was not fulfilling its potential. Even if they were on the flagless side, they failed to recognise that a shift in approach was required.

A solidified postulation of TN50 can be done among students overseas if it is driven by a discussion of the fundamentals, with the right support and openness. What is meant by fundamentals are the philosophy and reasoning behind a particular policy. This is vital as the engagement is step one of canvassing the opinions of future stakeholders in 2050. Most will feel that this is difficult and too abstract and what is needed is a good, old dissection. To draft the nation’s most important agenda, it cannot be a competition of what would be most efficient when the why is unknown. Worse, the pretentious claim of dealing with the philosophy superficially, creates pseudo-intellectualism and baseless solutions. For instance, opinions on nation building and identity cannot be without a proper understanding of what a nation state is.

Dialogues on the concepts of what constitutes nationalism and the identity of a nation state is very much needed. It would involve consideration of elements such as religion, race and social disparity, driven by justice and human rights.

Thus, proper support in direction and vision must be initiated by the ones in charge. This will be the main narration in order for students to utilise vast and extensive sources overseas in the likes of advanced discourses and leading scholars. A guided safe zone is needed.

The hopes of TN50 is one that is very much alive, but it must be done under proper support. TN50 must serve as the beacon of hope for our nation.


University of Manchester, the United Kingdom

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