KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, AP
In his first National Day speech since taking power, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi on Monday urged Malaysians to strive for progress so their country could “stand tall with other developed nations.”
“We are the only ones who will determine whether this country rises or falls,” Abdullah said in a nationally televised speech on the eve of Malaysia’s 47th anniversary of its independence from Britain, which will be celebrated Tuesday.
Abdullah took over last October from retired leader Mahathir Mohamad, who nurtured Malaysia’s growth from a tin- and rubber-producing backwater into one of Asia’s wealthiest countries with a vibrant manufacturing sector and gleaming skyscrapers in major cities.
Abdullah has pledged to continue Mahathir’s efforts to build a modern society, as well as to maintain harmonious relations between Malaysia’s ethnic Malay Muslim majority and its large Chinese and Indian communities.
Abdullah called on Malaysians to work together — regardless of their race — to ensure development.
“Our country is small, not just in terms of our size but also in terms of our resources, including human resources,” Abdullah said. “So in order for us to stand tall with other developed nations, we need to make use of our human resources as much as possible.”
Malaysia last week announced its gross domestic product surged 8 percent in the second quarter of this year compared to the same period in 2003, led by the manufacturing and services sectors.
However, Abdullah has voiced fears that a global economic shock could undermine performance — particularly if skyrocketing oil prices raise the prospect of a recession in Malaysia’s major export markets.