By Abdirizak A Ibrahim
Saturday August 19, 2023
When I first set foot on Malaysian soil, the
vibrancy of its bustling streets and the hum of its advancing infrastructure
instantly captured my attention. As part of Somalia's dedicated delegation, I
had journeyed to Malaysia filled with hope, aiming to unravel the intricacies
of this Southeast Asian nation's compelling tapestry of socio-economic
"Stepping into Malaysia," I thought to
myself, "is like opening a book brimming with tales of
transformation." Within Malaysia's historical chapters, I discerned a
narrative of a nation transitioning from an agrarian backdrop to becoming a
shining beacon of technology, infrastructure, and socio-economic dynamism. It
became clear that this wasn't just due to Malaysia's resourcefulness, but also
the vision of its leaders, the resilience of its communities, and the
influential partnerships that had steered its course.
His Excellency Hamza Abdi, the Prime Minister of
Somalia, has been the driving force behind an ambitious vision for our nation.
He's committed to leading a 'whole-government and whole-nation approach,' a
cohesive strategy designed to spur sustainable economic and social development.
This proactive leadership stems from the belief that Somalia, much like
Malaysia in its early days, is poised at the cusp of change. Our potential is
vast, but realizing it requires not just vision but decisive action.
Currently, Somalia's leadership is addressing the
foundational stones for prosperity, with security being paramount. Prime
Minister Hamza Abdi and President Hassan Sheekh Mohamud’s dedications to this
cause is unyielding. Strengthening security isn’t just about maintaining peace;
it's about crafting an environment conducive to growth, investments, and
Throughout the study tour, I was driven by a mix of
admiration and curiosity. I frequently voiced to my colleagues, "Our
aim is not to mirror Malaysia's journey, but to understand its essence, and
find avenues through which those insights might be woven into the fabric of
Somalia's future." For me, this trip went beyond observing
tangible development; it was about internalizing principles, values, and
strategies that could be judiciously adapted to Somalia's unique context.
Every interaction, site visit, and dialogue deepened
my conviction that this expedition to Malaysia would become a cornerstone in
Somalia's roadmap to progress. Reflecting on the journey, I realized,
"This isn't merely the culmination of a study tour; it's a vibrant chapter
in Somalia's ongoing narrative of aspiration and determination."
A Tale of Two Federations: Engaging with
My engagements in Malaysia were extensive, but
meetings with the Ministry of Youth and Sports, Ministry of Finance, and the
Ministry of Human Resource Management proved particularly enlightening. Their
operations, while distinctly Malaysian, offered insightful reflections for
With the Ministry of Youth and Sports, I saw a
clear, merit-based approach. The ministry, given Malaysia's rich ethnic mosaic,
was a testament to how a nation can value talent and capability over ethnic or
racial affiliations. I found myself pondering, "Could such an approach be
Somalia’s antidote to the prevailing nepotism and clan favoritism?"
The Ministry of Finance's fiscal discipline,
transparency, and streamlined revenue mechanisms were another revelation. In
the polished conference rooms, as Malaysian officials detailed their financial
strategies, I couldn't help but draw parallels to Somalia’s fiscal landscape.
We, too, have vast resources and potential, but our fiscal path is clouded by a
myriad of challenges. Could we adopt Malaysia's blend of modernity and
tradition in our fiscal structures? Could we benefit from their strategic
The discussions with the Ministry of Human Resource
Management illuminated the importance of manpower planning and how it can align
with a country's broader vision. Their strategic approach to managing human
resources, by identifying, nurturing, and deploying talent where it's most
impactful, was an eye-opener. I thought of Somalia’s young, vibrant population,
often touted as our greatest asset. Could we, by emulating Malaysia, channel
this asset more effectively?
Throughout these interactions, I couldn’t help but
contrast Malaysia's vibrant tapestry of success with Somalia's challenges and
aspirations. It was clear that while our contexts are different, the principles
of good governance, meritocracy, and strategic planning are universal. The
challenge—and opportunity—for Somalia lies in adapting these insights to our
One cannot discuss Malaysia’s urban success stories
without acknowledging Prasarana Malaysia Berhad. As we explored their
operations, I was enamored by the precision with which they managed the
nation's public transport. Their approach went beyond logistics; it
encapsulated urban planning, environmental sustainability, and citizen-centric
design. It was here that I recognized the symbiotic relationship between
transportation, urban development, and economic growth. In Prasarana 40 seconds
is a delay time. Alas! I grew up in an environment where 1 hour delay is normal
and could digest 40 seconds as delay time. For Somalia, an efficient public
transportation system might be the linchpin that connects regions, boosts
trade, and stimulates economic corridors.
Each meeting, each dialogue was a window into the
mechanics of Malaysia's successes. However, beyond the structures and systems,
what resonated with me was the ethos of the people steering these institutions:
a blend of humility, purpose, and unyielding commitment to the Malaysian dream.
An Ethos of Excellence: Meritocracy,
Pragmatism, and Honesty
One of the most resounding lessons from our
exploration in Malaysia was its unwavering commitment to the tenets of
meritocracy, pragmatism, and honesty. These aren't merely abstract concepts but
entrenched values that have shaped Malaysia's policies, governance, and society
Meritocracy, as observed, is deeply embedded within
the Malaysian ethos. In an environment where talent, capability, and drive are
recognized and rewarded, it's clear that Malaysia prioritizes performance and
potential over privilege or pedigree. This approach has not only led to robust
economic and infrastructural growth but has also cultivated a sense of
inclusiveness and equity within its diverse populace. It's a testament to the
nation's belief that in the crucible of competition, the best should rise - not
by virtue of birth or connection but by sheer merit.
Pragmatism in Malaysia's approach reflects in their
ability to adapt, innovate, and evolve. Whether it was in their economic
policies or infrastructural development, Malaysia showcased a keen
understanding of ground realities, global trends, and future trajectories. They
are not averse to recalibrating strategies or adopting new paradigms if it
aligns with the larger goal of national progress.
And finally, the element of honesty. Transparent
governance, integrity in administration, and a genuine commitment to public
welfare underscore the Malaysian narrative. This integrity is palpable in their
bureaucratic processes, public projects, and the accountability mechanisms they
For Somalia, these principles resonate with profound
implications. As a nation rebuilding its foundations, we are at a pivotal
juncture where the core values we embrace will define our trajectory.
Malaysia’s adherence to these principles offers Somalia a blueprint for
sustainable growth. Adopting meritocracy can catalyze a cultural and systemic
shift from entrenched clannism to a more inclusive and performance-driven
society. Embracing pragmatism would mean creating policies that reflect our unique
challenges and opportunities while staying adaptable to global shifts. And
prioritizing honesty can bolster public trust, inviting both domestic and
international investments, collaborations, and partnerships.
Somalia’s Path Forward: Envisioning Life
Beyond the HIPC Completion Point
December 2023 beckons for Somalia as a significant
turning point—the post-Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) completion point.
This juncture is not merely a statistical or financial milestone; it symbolizes
the culmination of strenuous efforts, the dawn of newfound economic promise,
and the responsibility of steering the nation towards sustainable prosperity.
Drawing parallels with Malaysia's trajectory, it's
invigorating to see how a nation, once grappling with its own set of
developmental challenges, metamorphosed into a thriving economic powerhouse in
Asia. Malaysia's story is marked by strategic visioning, sustained reforms, and
the agility to adapt to global economic currents. For Somalia, this serves as
both an inspiration and a case study.
Beyond the HIPC completion point, Somalia stands at
an economic crossroads. The choices we make now will determine our standing in
the global arena. Our engagements with Malaysia illuminated the power of
economic diversification, technology-driven solutions, and an emphasis on
education and youth empowerment. It's evident that a mono-focused economy is
vulnerable to global shifts; thus, diversifying our sectors, investing in
burgeoning industries like technology and renewable energy, and tapping into
our vast natural resources are lessons we can internalize.
Furthermore, the anticipated completion point also
signifies the potential for elevated international collaborations. The world
will be watching, and the economic narratives we craft will influence
international perceptions and partnerships. By drawing from Malaysia’s
blueprint and fostering bilateral collaborations rooted in mutual growth and
respect, Somalia can attract global investors, secure beneficial trade
agreements, and participate more actively in international consortiums.
In essence, the post-HIPC era for Somalia is not
just about debt relief; it's an opportunity to reimagine our economic
narrative. With lessons from Malaysia in our arsenal, the promise of a
prosperous Somalia is not a distant dream but a tangible reality we can
In Retrospect: A Journey Beyond
My journey, as Abdirizak, accompanying the Somali
delegation to Malaysia, was far more profound than the exchange of diplomatic
pleasantries. It was an enriching tapestry of experiences, learnings, and
introspections. To tread the pathways of a nation that had successfully
navigated through challenges and emerged triumphant was akin to beholding a
beacon for Somalia's own transformative journey.
Each engagement, discussion, and observation in
Malaysia was a brushstroke in painting a broader picture of possibilities. The
intricate interplay of Malaysia's ethnicities, its ability to rise above
divisive forces, and its emphasis on meritocracy and inclusive development
imparted invaluable lessons. In the face of our own struggles with clannism and
nepotism, Malaysia's example resonated deeply, offering both reflection and
Yet, this voyage wasn't just about drawing parallels
or seeking templates to replicate. It was also about recognizing the
distinctiveness of Somalia's challenges, aspirations, and potentials. Every
nation's journey is unique, sculpted by its history, culture, and vision. While
we gleaned insights from Malaysia, the responsibility of tailoring those to
Somalia's unique fabric rests upon us.
The concluding phase of this study tour also ushered
in introspection on the modalities of international relations. Diplomacy is not
merely about formal engagements; it's also about fostering genuine
relationships based on mutual respect, shared goals, and collaborative growth.
The bonds formed with Malaysia are not ephemeral. They're the foundation for a
lasting partnership, one that transcends beyond ministries and permeates the
grassroots, benefiting the very core of our societies.
In sum, this expedition
to Malaysia was more than just a study tour—it was a transformative experience.
It symbolized Somalia's tenacity to seek knowledge, adapt, and envision a
brighter future. It's a testament to our commitment to our nation's progress,
acknowledging the challenges but always steering towards the beacon of hope and
Author: Abdirizak A Ibrahim
E-mail: [email protected]