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Kausern Hieu, Country Manager of Nuffnang Malaysia

Before we get there, let’s step back in time for a moment. 


Back in the 1980s and 90s, Malaysia's economy had been growing at more than 9 per cent annually for nine straight years, breaching the 10 per cent mark in 1996. Compared to our neighbours Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines, Malaysia had the smallest population but was performing at its highest level of development.


Malaysia in the 1990s was reminiscent of South Korea in the 1980s. We could be an Asian Tiger (Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan). We were optimistic.


Then the regional financial crisis of 1997 hit us. Many Malaysian companies collapsed. There were mass retrenchments, our Ringgit plummeted, and our national economy nose-dived. Thereafter, the government of the day suppressed those that object them and as a result, cronyism and corruption began to rear its ugly head.   


Sadly, these series of setbacks disrupted our momentum and we never returned to our glorious past. Today, Malaysia remains a stunted tiger cub which is unable to realise her full potential.


However, I believe we can claw our way back to be on track to become contenders to join the prestigious Asian Tigers club. I’m not sure if I will see it in my lifetime but I’m surely going to do what I can within my own sphere of influence to try to close a substantial gap.


So, where do we start? We start here: Malaysia needs strong leaders badly. 


We have a leadership crisis. I am convinced we have a leadership deficit in our nation in every domain of influence – politics, business, media, family, education, science and technology, sports, and arts. 


Leaders are the lid of a nation. A nation is only as good as its leaders. A company is only as good as its leaders. What this simply means is that an organization cannot grow beyond its leadership. If our leaders are not pushing themselves to see how far they can go, they are effectively slamming the lid shut on everyone they are leading. 


So, my wish for Malaysia Day is for our current leaders to intentionally invest in tomorrow’s leaders, today. 


Good leaders are multipliers. They can scale their employees’ intelligence and capabilities. According to leadership guru John C. Maxwell, “The single biggest way to impact an organization (and ultimately the nation) is to focus on leadership development.”


To all my fellow Malaysians, Selamat Menyambut Hari Kemerdekaan yang ke-63 and Happy Malaysia Day!

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