My Impossible Grand Plan To Help Malaysia Fulfill Its Full Potential, Or Is It?
When I came back from Singapore in 2009, one of the main reasons was because I wanted to help Malaysia fulfill its full potential.
(Read more here)
The biggest question is of course, how? Who am I to think that I can do that?
Is it even possible?
WHAT IF BILL GATES OR WARREN BUFFET WERE MALAYSIAN?
Then I figured, if Bill Gates or Warren Buffet were Malaysian, with their personal fortune of between 40-80 billion USD each, they could have a good chance of impacting Malaysia in a significant enough way to help us fulfill our full potential leveraging on their personal wealth alone!
Call me naïve, but I actually think that it is possible.
MONEY: EVIL, OR SIMPLY A TOOL THAT AMPLIFIES THE INFLUENCE OF THE OWNER?
I believe that money, wealth and economic influence is neither evil nor good, nor is it the root of it. It is the love of money that is the root of evil, not money itself.
Money & wealth is simply a neutral tool that amplifies the influence of its owner. In the hands of good people, it can be used to do a great deal of good; in the hands of bad people, it can be used to do a great deal of bad.
Ultimately, all governments and authorities, even that of the USA, are in some way or another influenced by corporations with the most financial influence, isn’t it?
Why else would the USA have such a hard time reducing its carbon footprint?
Basically, money and wealth is a powerful enabler, but it in itself is neutral.
THERE IS NO REASON FOR BILL GATES OR WARREN BUFFET TO HELP MALAYSIA
Now, while Malaysia has much that it can improve on, we are still a very fortunate country. We are blessed to be in a land with rich natural resources, no natural disasters and no wars. We are also not terribly poor or starving to death every day.
So there would be no incentive for people like Bill Gates or Warren Buffet to help Malaysia in any way. Their efforts, through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, should, and are rightly so, focused on helping the people in really poor countries where kids and families are dying of diseases and starvation every single day.
BUT WHAT IF A MALAYSIAN BECAME THE NEXT BILL GATES OR WARREN BUFFET?
However, if someone from Malaysia who is passionate & patriotic enough to want to make a difference in Malaysia and somehow managed to amass a personal fortune to rival that of Bill Gates or Warren Buffet (the wealth amassed should also be fully independent, global, from the private sector & not linked with any government), then that person has a very real chance of being able to help Malaysia fulfill its full potential leveraging on his or her financial & economic influence.
BUILDING A MATURE ELECTORATE SO EVERYTHING ELSE FALLS INTO PLACE
I sincerely believe that the first step towards fulfilling a country’s full potential starts with having a mature & well-informed electorate, in other words, it all starts with the people and citizens of the country.
This is because a country’s infrastructure, elected government, polices & direction is ultimately reflective of that of the majority of its electorate. Sure, there might be some discrepancies or delay in reflection due to various factors, but if the majority of the electorate is united on one front, things will slowly but surely correct itself to reflect that of the electorate.
THE POWER LIES IN THE HANDS OF THE PEOPLE
Ultimately, the power lies in the hands of the people.
But right now, Malaysia’s electorate is far from being mature. Sure, there are factions of it that are, but many of them have already left or are planning to leave the country.
Another significant portion of our electorate is in the process of maturing, but are still predominantly influenced by emotional triggers. Then there is the significant portion of our electorate in the rural areas who do not have access to knowledge and information and are largely oblivious to what is actually happening in the world and around them.
WHAT’S THE PLAN?
So, being such a naïve dreamer that I am, I dreamt up these steps that I’d have to take to help Malaysia fulfill its full potential.
STEP 1: BUILDING A MULTI-BILLION USD COMPANY
To have any chance of amassing the financial and economic influence that Bill Gates or Warren Buffet has, you’d either have to go into commodity, infrastructural or finance based conventional businesses like Robert Kuok & other Asian tycoons did, or start a tech start-up that would change the world.
THE PROBLEM WITH CONVENTIONAL BUSINESSES
The problem with starting conventional businesses is that it takes a very very long time to build it into a multi-billion dollar empire due to the nature of conventional businesses, by which time most founders would usually be well-past 60 by the time they become billionaires. This would not be viable because you won’ t have the energy and stamina needed to put into motion the subsequent steps to help Malaysia fulfill its full potential at that age.
Furthermore, these businesses require huge start-up costs and usually only works if you come from an already wealthy family in the industry or if you started at a time where the country’s infrastructure was non-existent and just starting out (e.g post-independence or post war).
THE TECH START-UP ROUTE
That would mean that the best bet would be to learn how to build a multi-billion dollar tech company from start-up to exit in 5-20 years.
A GLOBAL COMPANY THAT SOLVES A FUNDAMENTAL PROBLEM EVERYONE IN THE WORLD FACES THOROUGHLY
The catch here is that, in order to build a multi-billion dollar tech company, you CANNOT go in wanting to build one. You will most definitely fail.
You will need to be genuinely passionate about entrepreneurship and in solving a problem thoroughly. None of the really successful founders of multi-billion dollar tech companies started what they started because they wanted to be billionaires.
They were just really passionate about solving a problem or strongly feel that certain things should exist or be done differently.
Fortunately for me, I happen to be genuinely inspired by the power of entrepreneurship and am very passionate about solving problems as well. I enjoy the thrill, risks & journey in doing so.
I love bringing talented people together to build something amazing that would positively impact the world in a significant way.
(Read more on 5 Things Multi-Billion USD Companies Have In Common)
RESULT: SIGNIFICANT FINANCIAL & ECONOMIC INFLUENCE
Once you’ve built the company to a certain stage and have thoroughly solved the problem, you’ll be able to exit by way of an IPO or an acquisition.
USING THAT FINANCIAL & ECONOMIC INFLUENCE GAINED FOR STEPS 2-4
You probably only own around 10% of the company you’ve built by the time you exit due to dilution, but if the exit is big enough it would generate enough financial & economic influence to carry out steps 2 through 4.
(Read more on The Power of Entrepreneurship)
STEP 2: INSPIRE THE YOUNG , ESPECIALLY THOSE IN RURAL AREAS
The next thing that needs to be done once you have the financial & economic means required at your disposal is to bridge the rural-urban divide so that the entire electorate can make rational & well-informed decisions.
HOW TO TRANSFORM A VILLAGE INTO A CITY
Research has shown that you can transform a village into a city just by putting a game console that is connected to the internet in the village.
In 20 years, the village will become a city.
THE POWER OF INCEPTION
Why? Simply because the kids in the village would be playing the games and be fascinated and curious about the things they see in it, they would be interested to know more about those fancy cars and aeroplanes in the video games they play.
Curiosity is a seed. Once implanted into someone’s mind, it will grow, and slowly but surely drive them to be more inquisitive and set them on a journey of lifelong learning and discovery.
It is inception.
CURIOUSITY GROWS LIKE A SEED
As the children get more curious and motivated to learn about the outside world, they will gradually get their hands on more knowledge and trigger a chain of events that would slowly but surely transform the village into a city.
AN X-MEN-LIKE MANSION TO INSPIRE THE YOUNG
Personally, I am a very simple and easily contented person. I strive for the best in business and the things I do but for my personal life, I am contented and grateful for the simple fact that I am alive. I do not need things like Ferraris and private jets and yachts, although I don’t mind being on them once in a while just for the experience.
But what if I could share these experiences with people so that they would be inspired?
Imagine a mansion just like Professor X’s school for mutants.
What if I could build one just like that with private jets, yachts, fancy cars and facilities and turn it into a place to inspire an entire generation of rural kids!
TED TALKS & EXPERIENCES
A place where rural kids living in longhouses would be given a chance to experience flying in a private jet, living in a mansion and attend TED talks from inspiring people all over the world in 4 month batches, where they would spend the first month learning basic English and spend the rest of it going on various experiences and getting inspired by people doing amazing things all around the world.
When they go back to their long houses after spending 4 months in the mansion, they would be inspired and curious about the world, and would spread that spirit to their friends in their villages who haven’t had the chance to visit the mansion yet.
With a batch rotation system, the aim is to allow as many rural kids to experience the outside world and get inspired as possible.
RESULT: A GENERATION OF CURIOUS, INSPIRED & MOTIVATED MALAYSIANS HUNGRY FOR KNOWLEDGE
Once someone is inspired, it sets that person on a lifelong journey or learning. It is like a spark that starts a huge fire that would keep burning throughout that person’s life.
STEP 3: PROVIDE AN ACTIONABLE PATH TO GAIN KNOWLEDGE & SUCCESS
However, getting inspired isn’t enough.
You’ll also need actionable steps for inspired people to take to charge of their destiny and pursue their passion & dreams.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am perfectly fine with someone wanting to have a simple life staying in a village milking cows. I personally would love to retire to that kind of life. But I feel that if someone wants to be a lawyer, a scientist, an astronaut or travel and see the world, there should be a path for them to be able to do so, and that is what I want to build.
EDUCATION SEARCH ENGINE, CONTENT & CSR
One of the ventures I am planning to start in the future is an education search engine that would revolutionize education, and I plan to make it available for free to the rural kids in Malaysia. Furthermore, I’d also build the infrastructure needed for them to access all the educational materials, TED Talks, and troves of educational information on the internet through various CSR initiatives.
You could either collect 2nd hand computers that big corporations would throw away when they upgrade their hardware or buy it off them at a discounted price, build a simple computer room in the villages and a diesel power generator (or a solarcity panel & tesla powerwall/packs), install the content and TADA!
You’ve built the infrastructure required for rural kids to have access to education and information needed to pursue their passions & dreams!
RESULT: A GENERATION OF EDUCATED & ANALYTICAL MALAYSIANS
I believe that this would slowly but surely result in a generation of educated & analytical Malaysians that would be able to make rational & well-informed decisions.
STEP 4: INVEST IN CULTURE & THE PERFORMING ARTS
I’ve also realized that all countries with a mature electorate have a vibrant performing arts scene.
(Read more about my journey in the performing arts here)
I suspect that the reason is because the performing arts teaches us how to have an open mind, explore and experience different ideas from different perspectives, not take ourselves too seriously, learn to accept each other’s views, learn from our past and present, and laugh at ourselves.
Malaysia has a small but growing performing arts scene, but much much more could be done to spur and promote it to the masses.
RESULT: A MATURE ELECTORATE THAT IS ABLE TO RATIONALLY ANALYSE ISSUES, ACCEPT & LAUGH AT EACH OTHER’S DIFFERENCES & MAKE WELL-INFORMED DECISIONS
Plays & musicals like Juno & The PayCock, Les Miserables and other forms of art speaks to our emotions, and moves people. It teaches us to have the emotional capacity to understand others and explore complex issues in a real but light hearted manner.
It would slowly give our electorate the emotional ability to understand, explore and accept various views in a courteous and civilized manner.
If a significant portion of our electorate can do that, we would have a mature electorate.
THE CHAIN OF EVENTS THAT WILL FOLLOW A MATURE ELECTORATE
So what’s going to happen once we have a mature electorate?
If you ask me, this is what is going to happen, and everything is going to eventually fall into place.
1. A MATURE ELECTORATE WILL NATURALLY ELECT INTO POWER A CAPABLE GOVERNMENT
If the electorate is mature and able to make well-informed decisions, there is no way they would tolerate an inefficient & incapable government, they would naturally elect into power a government that is capable.
If there is a problem with the electoral mechanism, they would slowly but surely make sure that it is fixed over time.
2. A GENERATION OF CAPABLE LEADERS WILL NATURALLY EMERGE
If our electorate consists of educated, passionate & well-informed people; it is natural that a generation of capable leaders would slowly start to emerge.
3. A CAPABLE GOVERNMENT WILL NATURALLY IMPLEMENT SOUND ECONOMIC, EDUCATION & LEGAL POLICIES
A capable government with smart people in the cabinet and parliament would then naturally put their great minds and expertise to work to come up with the best policies for the country.
4. MARKET FORCES & NATURAL PROGRESSION WILL BRING OUR COUNTRY FORWARD NATURALLY
With the right policies and an electorate that is mature, educated & well informed; market forces will naturally take over to drive progression and growth for the nation and everyone in it.
At this point, I know most of you will be thinking that this is impossible, that I must be hallucinating, naïve and over-ambitious.
Even the first step in building a multi-billion dollar tech start-up that would change the world is hard enough. 9 out of 10 venture backed start-ups fail, and 95% of new conventional businesses fail within the first 5 years, that is just how it is in reality.
Even if I did manage to build a billion dollar company, I might be too old by then to do anything else.
There are also so many obstacles and challenges that would prevent me from implementing steps 2-4.
Furthermore, such things usually take generations, and probably can’t be done in someone’s lifetime, unless you’re fortunate enough to be a founding father of a newly independent country.
Guess what, I totally agree.
It is impossible for all the above to happen. If it does, it would have taken a hell load of luck, hard work & determination; but seriously, a hell load of luck, it’s like all the stars would have to align for this miracle to happen.
I must be dreaming, and I am fully aware that I am dreaming.
But you know, they say that if you aim for the moon, you’ll at least land among the stars even if you miss right? Even if I have been trying for my entire life and only managed to build a small company, at least I’ll still have a small company and live a normal comfortable life right?
Or maybe I would just be able to build a billion dollar company by the time I am 80, but I could put all that wealth in a trust fund to start the ball rolling right?
If I could carry out steps 1-4 and see it through in my lifetime, that would be wonderful, but if not, I hope that I can at least start the ball rolling.
I DREAM A DREAM
Am I dreaming?
And to those of you who want to tell me to dream on because this is impossible and will never happen, don’t worry, I will, every single day and every waking hour of my life, because I am a dreamer.
“All men dream, but not equally.
Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses
of the night wake in the day to find that it was vanity;
but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men,
for they may act their dreams
with open eyes to make it possible.”
– T.E Lawrence
“The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do”
– Steve Jobs
This piece is purely meant to explore a seemingly impossible, over-ambitious, naïve, and probably unnecessary hallucination of the author and is in no way implying anything about anybody, organization or situation in Malaysia. Malaysia is a great and beautiful country as it is today. This is just a random hallucination by the overly concerned and probably perfectionist author on what can be done to bring Malaysia to even greater heights and stay awesome in the distant future. The author is a dreamer and is just dreaming, everything is and will just remain an innocent dream.