• Madani Sahari

DECISION-MAKING - Pre-conceived bias a deterrent to progress

There has been interesting progress in terms of Malaysia's development of late, particularly on the global front.

From reports of trade surplus to strengthening ties with the world's superpowers, we have been making headlines.

This momentum is not only a result of our progressive economic policies and political stability, but also due to the continuous support and participation of the lowest common denominators in our economy.

The government and the people transitioned into higher value economic activities through forward thinking strategies that allowed us to quickly adapt to the dynamics of global scenarios and trends.

This progressive approach, including the government and economic transformation programmes had earned us the recognition of respected global organisations such as the World Economic Forum and The Economist.

Who would have thought that a developing nation now ranked among the best in the world on several fronts.

We currently have one of the best healthcare systems in the world, and are recognised as one of the best places to invest and to start a business. We are ranked among the top 10 faster-growing economies in the world.

These achievements did not come through mere luck, as they are a testament to our strength as a nation.

The current administration has prepared us better for the liberalised economy. Of course, it is not always a smooth ride, as beautiful destinations are often discovered at the end of the roughest of roads.

Traditional borders and business dealings are rapidly fading away, giving way to a new digital ecosystem that transcend boundaries.

While this lowers barriers to entry for small businesses, it also forces liberalisation - the creative and innovative survive, and those that refuse to budge from protectionist mentalities become irrelevant.

Therefore, the open frontiers of global cyberspace necessitate an open mind to new ideas and bold, strategic approaches. The rapid change mentioned above also allows for emerging possibilities that were deemed impossible before.

This is why pre-conceived bias is a dangerous thing. It becomes a lot more dangerous when sources of information are unfiltered, making it easy to develop pre-conceived bias that tends to overpower credible reporting.

Recently, we have seen these bold approaches in the government's position on the socio-economic front.

Our wealth is now more diversified to include both foreign and domestic investment. We encourage international ventures through startegic alliances with global players, and we are taking a leading role to address humanitarian issues and security concerns in the region.

Nevertheless, these endeavours have not been spared from condemnation. While constructive criticism is most welcome, we must be careful of polemics that may cause the retardaation of progress in society, and leave our nation vulnerable to external threats.

To maintain and elevate our progress, Malaysians must be open minded and unbiases. We must look at the merits of any issue on a case by case basis, based on well-researched facts and sound rationale. There is always two sides of the story, there is always a bigger picture to consider.

For me, discussion and dialogue are an important components of quality decision-making.

There are many platforms to do so, such as the Transformasi Nasional 2050 (TN50) dialogues, and the call for ideas for the annual budget.

It is therefore important that pre-conceived bias is removed, for meaningful dialogue to take place. Let the arguments be understood, analysed and avoid polarised positions.

Not all of us have the luxury to make decisions. To move forward, a decision still has to be made. There will be many opinions, and naturally it is imposible to satisfy everyone. However, decisions that have been made should be supported, despite our disagreements.

To do otherwise would simply be counter-productive.

Leadership has never been about absolute popularity, but making difficult decisions even though they may not be popular.

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