Could 2012 become the year of the tipping point around the world?
Though we are just one month into the New Year, the signs all point to a global rebalancing that has been a long time coming.
Like any tipping point, it has been the contagion effect or coming together of a perfect storm we are witnessing.
In the eye of the storm has been the increasingly volatile discontent worldwide caused by socio-economic imbalance.
As the Euro zone debt crisis plays out, the fate of 17 countries in the Euro zone will affect not only 27 member EU countries, but trade (and worryingly), the aid dispensed by the EU to poor countries in Asia and Africa.
A cut in aid to the poor in these countries - where many of the poorest of the poor live - could set back progress and development in health, education and a host of other badly needed help.
In the United States, the presidential election which happens in November is already heating up, and who ultimately wins will be the person with the best prescription to solve America’s imbalance between the rich and the poor.
It is the same imbalance that we grapple with in our corner of the world. It is clear that this will be a major issue in the upcoming general election that will decide who leads our country for the next four years.
What is clear is that there is a seismic shift in the way citizens and their governments interact, and these are predicated on 5 universal values that are mirrored all over the world.
We have 7 billion people in the world. One billion people go hungry every day.
The rich get richer and the poor get poorer is a model that is economically and more importantly, morally unsustainable. The sheer weight of the challenge threatens to suffocate us; the only way out is to rebalance the equation. The poor don’t want handouts; they want a helping hand and a fair chance to fend for themselves. The current rules in most parts of the world point to the lion’s share of the economic pie go to the wealthy and well-connected is a zero sum game. The rules will change, but whether by design or default depends on the forces at work within each country.
Political leaders have much to gain to work to end poverty, much to lose if they turn a blind eye.
There is enough food to feed everyone on this planet.
There is enough wealth to end poverty.
Big business and politics are suffering from a trust deficit amongst their populations.
In the spirit of the Arab uprising, the Occupy Wall Street movement seemed to suddenly come into our consciousness. It became the poster child of leaderless, public-led movements against economic injustice, and it has spread to key financial capitals from London to Hong Kong.
It isn’t going away anytime soon, and the message is clear.
Trust is in short supply as a more educated population demands more accountability and transparency.
Shareholders and employees will question new business deals that they feel are not in their best interest.
Voters will want to know if their tax dollars are being used wisely by political leaders for the benefit of the nation.
And the information they seek is increasingly harder to restrict, rules notwithstanding.
How money is spent can be tracked and publicized at the click of a button.
There is no hiding or misleading.
Sooner or later, the Internet reveals all.
1 million people (of a population of 70 million) took just over 2 weeks to bring down a 30-year ruler.
The facts of the Arab uprising in Egypt are mind boggling. Almost unbelievable except that we were witness to this amazing feat.
The Arab uprisings last year brought the potent power of direct democracy into hard focus. It tapped into the energy and technological power of the millennial generation, and defined a new wave of democracy that continues to impact events in the Middle East to this day. The rule book of authoritarian regimes, narrow political interests and self-enrichment has turned to ashes. The region has turned a decisive corner, and a new future is being written.
People are reclaiming their power in the true spirit of democracy.
People don’t want to be dictated to. They want to be heard.
They want to tell politicians what’s important to them, not the other way around.
Leaders who don’t understand this fundamental shift risk alienation.
Technology and tools have given the public a voice that is unprecedented, uncensored and unvarnished. There is no controlling information or ‘the message’ in the political or business sphere.
Social media has given everyone a voice, and everyone is making themselves heard on any issue that is close to their heart.
People can pick and choose how they want their news or information, and they are spoilt for choice. In Malaysia, 17 million people are online, that’s almost 65% of the population, with Facebook having a penetration rate of a whopping 75.5%.
Dictating and lecturing is out. Engaging is in.
People don’t trust carefully constructed mainstream messages.
They trust their online community.
And what they’re talking about is what really counts.
The talk about innovation in Malaysia has been too tunnel-visioned. We have largely framed it in the context of innovating products. Yet, the start point of an innovation seems to have been relegated to sound bites. We have put the cart before the horse. How can we ask people to come up with innovative products when our society doesn’t have an innovative mindset?
When our schools are breeding grounds for conformity, how can our children have open minds? How can our graduates come up with innovative products and services when there is little space for critical or creative-thinking in most university curriculums? Our economic future rests on innovation - but we won’t get there if we negate all efforts by making conformity of thought the start point.
The rules of engagement - in business and government - have changed.
The balance has shifted.
The tipping point is here.
Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Paduka Dr Lim Kok Wing, the Founder and President of Limkokwing University of Creative Technology, does not fit into any ordinary mould that would describe most entrepreneurs.
His journey has been closely linked with the economic and social development of Malaysia.
Malaysia’s gross expenditure on R&D as a proportion of GDP in 2006 was 0.64 percent and it targets to increase gross expenditure to 1.5 percent by 2010.
— Malaysian Economic Planning Unit
This website won the 'Best in Class' award under the 'Blog' category in the 2011 Interactive Media Awards organized by the Interactive Media Council, Inc. (IMC)
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