Malaysia a poster child of Muslim success?
And so I also speculate as to why Malaysia is successful.
A good pertinent question to pose. Whether the thesis has credibility in relation to Pakistan and other Muslim countries interests me and I imagine a lot of other people curious and concerned for the outcomes of such countries.
I would attribute Malaysia's success to many factors, and not just one, two, or three. Malaysia is a second world country now with real per Capita income around $15,000 (2009), and is on target to becoming a first world country by "2020" which is its program name. I think it can achieve this realistically. So why is Malaysia successful, when the vast majority of Muslim countries still slumber in the Third World?
1) I believe Malaysia's present success has a lot to do with its resource wealth. It has a lot of exportable resources, juxtaposed with a small population. But that in itself would not alone explain the countries success.....Zaire or the DRC in Africa also has huge wealth, but is very poor with little development.
2) Malaysia was fortunate to have a good leader. Mohammed Mahatir ruling the country for 22 years. He was not corrupt but loved his country ardently. He was intelligent and understood the basic essentials of economics.He understood global politics far more than the average Third World leader. Through his astute guidance he made Malaysia successful.
3) Malaysia was a colony of the British, and to a great extent how the colonial master behaves towards your country, both overtly and covertly determines how successful a country becomes even after the British let go the reins of power into their chosen successors in that ex-colony.
Looking at Malaysian/British relations there does not seem to have been any great conflict, except for the Communist insurgency by ethnic Chinese in the Malay peninsula. By contrast not too far away in both Pakistan and later Bangladesh the British exercised a very negative posture against both countries covertly, especially Bangladesh, both independently or with collaboration with America. There are various historical factors for this....though certainly not justifiable....but as they say its the luck of the draw...Malaysia is a Muslim country as are Pakistan and Bangladesh, BUT the British applied different standards. My assumption is that the British shielded Malaysia from American Jewish interference and intrigue, and Mahatirs long and successful tenure as PM was not merely the result of his "genius".
4) It is easier for the British or Americans to be benevolent towards 16 million Moslems in Malaysia than the 200 million Muslims in Indonesia, or the 140 million in Bangladesh or the 180 million in Pakistan. It is likewise easy for the British and USA to be benevolent towards the UAE or Kuwait both enjoying high living standards, but not Iran or Turkey......you understand.
5) Malaysia has a sizable ethnic population of Chinese----about 30%. The Chinese are a talented, intelligent, and hard working race, and a considerable determining factor for Malaysia's current success must be attributed to the ethnic Chinese community. Though certainly being biased, as I am from South Asia originally, Bangladesh and Pakistan has many remarkable talented people by GLOBAL standards. But like any cricket team, and especially the Pakistan cricket team, you can have enormous talent in your country but if the team do not play effectively nationally than that national human talent is wasted. And so the best of these countries people are usually always end up working in the USA and UK. ........So the sum total of South Asia exports (1.5 billion) is less than Malaysia's (27 million). This is not because of the lack of ability, there has to be other explanations, and I tend to focus on geo-strategic reasoning's.
6) Your characterization of the troublesome military in Muslim countries is CORRECT, usually without exception. Most are trained by the USA, and in the case of Pakistan and Bangladesh, the British through colonial history also exercise considerable input.
Both of us know that global Islamic terrorism does not exist and is a fiction perpetuated by America and their puppets around the world who have surrendered to American hegemony, or bribes, or out right criminal activity. In the case of Pakistan specifically, the military/ISI have been the main propagators of the al-Qaeda myth and Taliban nuisance. Without the Pakistan military/ISI "cooperation" in this area with America over 30 years, such organizations would not have existed in the first place in peoples imagination or in reality. The Pakistan military are the main source of problems for Pakistani society, and for Pakistan's neighbors INDIA AND AFGHANISTAN.
But how does a sufficiently strong civilian leader rein in the military of such countries?....800,000 men under arms in the case of Pakistan, consuming and controlling large parts of the economy...very hard. Bhutto tried, as did Nawaz Sharif, but the military with the help of the Americans always dominated again.
In the case of Turkey with its even bigger military/MIT, backed by Israel and America, 1.1 million men under arms, you have an example of maybe a Turkish version of Mohammed Mahatir, Erdogan, and he has started an assault against the military by the arrest of many officers and generals linked to extreme groups attempting a coup against the AKP government. Large sections of the Turkish military seem to tacitly approve his actions, BECAUSE he is delivering on the all important economic front providing jobs for Turks, increasing wealth and income for everybody. Turkey is now has the largest Muslim economy, and has the potential to achieve many great things as I have stated before. BUT Erdogan's success is only linked to the economic side, so long as he can deliver on this than all is well......then Erdogan has room to maneuver within Turkey. By contrast far too many Muslim national leaders are thick on rhetoric but thin on real economic achievement. Many are corrupt, or outright agents of America (Musharaf).......or incapable (Karzai).
7) You correctly identify the importance of the Middle Class as the power house and work horse of any successful economy and the significant measures Mahatir took to propagate this class in Malaysia.
8) I am not sure why pulling away from Indonesia was important for Malaysia in order to develop, as argued by some. Rather a sweeping statement devoid of any real argument and evidence. In fact Malaysia being part of ASEAN would in reality mean that the opposite has occurred, and Malaysia at various levels in now closer to Indonesia.
Regional cooperation is an important factor for any countries development. If you do not have regional stability with your neighbors, how than can you focus on the economy and other such vital national issues? Pakistan...and India being classic examples, where there is no real regional cooperation, but you have American/UK backed civilian puppets (Zardari) and military puppets (Busharaf) creating problems for the region. Where you have communication between the two countries through the national and international media, or worse still through the Americans and British, the real back seat trouble makers.
9) Good infrastructure. Malaysia through the good leadership of Mahatir has excellent infrastructure......no infrastructure....no development, simple.
10) Good communal relations, tactfully managing the aspirations of the various communal groups; Again this is the legacy of the "benovolent" British colonial rule who originally imported the Chinese and Indian coolies into the Malay peninsula, and the work of Mohammed Mahatir later. By contrast look at Indonesia and the treatement of minorities, or even Pakistan, or Turkey. Development should mean national development for everybody.