The fall of the Berlin Wall
in November 1989 was the symbolic start that paved the way to eventual German
Reunification process, that took place about a year later.
The idea of reunification,
championed by then chancellor Helmut Kohl, was naturally met with opposition,
fearing negative economic impacts on West Germany – in fact, even met with
scepticism from ally nations of the United States of America, Britain and France.
although a minority, pointed to the possible impacts of East German immigration
to economic growth, unemployment rates and so fourth.
Looking back at the history
of the reunification process, the ones that revered the unification the most
were the East German populace.
Perhaps it was a no-brainer
given their dire economic situation, but everybody knew that the East Germans
were not used to liberalised economic structures and the tough competition of
the modern western capitalist economy.
Fast forward three decades
later, unified Germany has emerged into a European economic powerhouse.
It is seen as the economic
leader of the European Union (EU) – those within the EU turn first to Germany
in times of need.
Last year, Germany’s gross
domestic product stood at US$3.5 trillion (RM13.6 trillion), compared with
US$1.7 trillion in 1990.
There were of course times
of turmoil, particularly due to the vast difference in wealth and skills
between the West and East Germans at the time of reunification.
However, the German nation
saw opportunity first, and worked on shortfalls – income disparities are
narrowing, and the country as a whole has seen more gain than losses.
Today, portions of the
Berlin wall still stand to remind us of the fall of the barriers that hold us
back and the aspirations to live in a world of equal competition and a change
towards competitive mindsets.
For Malaysia to walk in the
same steps as the advanced nations of the world, it is not enough for us to
merely stand in awe of current achievements, and brush off the stories in
reaching those historical milestones.
As the saying goes,
“Success is a journey, not a destination”.
To be successful, we need
to take the mindset of learning from the success of those ahead of us.
While it is perfectly fine
to learn from our own mistakes, there are numerous resources easily available
to us that allow us to learn from the experiences of others.
Such is the power of
willingness to work towards becoming competitive in a liberalised economy.
strategies are valid for infant industries to bloom, they must always be seen
as temporary measures, and a model towards competition based business must be
One interesting thing I
learned during my visit to Berlin was the circumstances surrounding the fall of
the Berlin Wall.
The historical moment was a
result of an accident – the announcement of the relaxation of immigration
between the East and West was meant to be implemented over a longer period of
However, the government
spokesperson at the time mistakenly implied that the new regulations would take
Within the next few hours,
thousands of East Germans came to the border wall, and the rest was history.
Most interestingly though,
was the chancellor’s reaction. He took advantage of the “accident” and used the
momentum to gain the support of the international community – and a united
Germany was announced just a year later.
It just goes to show that
opportunities can arise when you least expect and often they stem from problems
Every cloud has a silver lining, it is our mindset that
teaches us to spot them, or cloud our view from ever noticing.
The writer is the chief
executive officer of Malaysia Automotive Institute.