Wawasan 2020


The 9 Challenges

Vision 2020

“Many East Asians in the tropical region used to live a comfortable life almost entirely focused on the here and the now. Nature and the climate made it possible not to worry too much about the future. We were able to harvest several times a year and did not have to accumulate food to survive bitterly cold winters. Buildings were wooden and not very durable – it sufficed if they served immediate needs, why build something that would last a hundred years? Although this was, by modern yardsticks, a poor life, most people knew nothing else and were quite satisfied. Poverty is always relative and often it is only when the money economy arrives that people suddenly awake to the fact that they are ‘poor’. This life ‘in the present’ was suitable for a rural nation with only insignificant relations with the surrounding world. But today, with nations participating in a fiercely competitive global economic game, living merely in the present will no longer do. There has to be long-term visions and planning, a goal to move towards to give people a sense of direction.”
Mahathir. [Somun 147]

Wawasan 2020

Almost if not every Malaysian are well acquainted the phrase Wawasan 2020 which means Vision 2020 in English. Vision 2020 was launched by Mahathir in 1990. It was announced as the New Economic Policy (NEP) was coming to end after twenty years.

Vision 2020 was developed to be a long-term goal for the nation, the goal of Malaysia becoming a “fully developed country” by year 2020 [Somun 148]. Generally, the vision is referred as twenty-twenty, which according to Mahathir is connected to having a perfect vision of 20/20. When asked about Vision 2020, Mahathir has jokingly said, “I will not be around to be blamed should we fail to meet the goals.”


The main goals of Vision 2020 is to modernize and develop our country based on its own model and develop that nation economically, politically, socially, spiritually, psychologically and culturally [Somun 148].  In achieving those goals, nine challenges have been listed: [Somun 148-150]

1) Establish a united Malaysian nation with a sense of common and shared destiny. This must be a nation in peace with itself, territorially and ethnically integrated, living in harmony and full and fair partnership, made up of one Malaysian race with political loyalty and dedication towards the nation.

2) Creating a psychologically liberated, secure and developed Malaysian society with faith and confidence in itself, justifiably proud of what it is, of what is has accomplished, an robust enough to face all manner of adversity. This Malaysian society must be distinguished by the pursuit of excellence, fully aware of all its potentials, psychologically subservient to none, and respected by the people of other nations.

3)Fostering a mature, democratic society, practicing a form of consensual, community-oriented Malaysian democracy that can be a model for many developing countries.

4)Establish a fully moral and ethical society, whose citizens are strong in religious and spiritual values and imbued with the highest of ethical standards.

5)Establishing a mature, liberal and tolerant society in which Malaysians of all colors and creeds are free to practice and profess their customs, cultures and religious beliefs, and yet feel a sense of belonging to the nation.

6)Establishment of scientific and progressive society, a society that is innovative and forward-looking, one that is not only a consumer of technology but also a contributor to the scientific and technological civilization of the future.

7)Nurturing a fully caring society and a caring culture, a social system in which society will come before self, in which the welfare of the people will revolve not around the state or the individual but around strong and resilient family system.

8)Ensuring an economically just society in which there is a full partnership in economic progress. Such a society cannot be in place so long as there is the identification of economic backwardness with race.

9)Establishing a prosperous society, with an economy that is fully competitive, dynamic, robust and resilient.

[Lat, Berita Publishing Sdn. Bhd.]

The main emphasis of the Vision is economically related. To realize the Vision, an annual growth rate of 7% is required, which meant that Gross Domestic Product (GDP) had to be doubled every 10 years. During the first six years after the announcement of the Vision, Malaysia indeed recorded an 8.5% growth rate annually before the Asian financial crisis.

Eight years later, Mahathir commented that the Vision’s greatest success is not solely measured upon economic growth but also the fact that the nation were working together towards a common goal [Somun 151].

The projection of Vision 2020 culminated in the popular phrase of ‘Malaysia Boleh’ (Malaysia can) in relation to fostering a stronger sense of unity and common purpose among the people. Thus it is evident that Vision 2020 is not just a goal for economic development but  also a level of maturity to be achieved by Malaysian society.

And as John Hilley wrote, “Vision 2020 is Mahathir’s strategy – economic, political social and ideological – and with it he measures everything that happens in its direction or against it… The Vision represents not only the challenge of economic development, but also the very idealization of national – popular unity: a concept captured in the Vision ideal of Bangsa (one nation) Malaysia.” [Hilley, 4]




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Last Updated Wednesday, April 13, 2009   Contact me at teh20y@mtholyoke.edu
Copyright © 2009 Yen Ping, Teh