Assessing the Look East Policy: Moving Beyond Work Culture and Ethic

Kartini Aboo Talib, Nidzam Sulaiman, Suzanna Mohammed Isa, Suhana Saad


The Look East Policy (LEP) was introduced in 1981 after former Prime Minister Mahathir’s East and West competing perspectives contributed to a nationalist enthusiasm to turn Malaysia into a new industrialized country using Japan and Korea as models. This paper reassesses LEP within the framework of policy evaluation and addresses its long-term impact, with a few twists. For the purpose of this article, only Japan will be discussed as a model for LEP. This article argues that LEP has contributed to Malaysia’s progress in becoming an industrialized country. This research applies assessment indicators such as input, output, processes, performance, and cost considerations to evaluate the achievements made by LEP in terms of work culture, ethics, investments, and human capital development. Intensive interviews were conducted with 30 respondents from various organizations with similar profiles, each contributing experience such as studying, living, working, co-operating and collaborating with Japanese counterparts. Themes were developed based on sequential questions occurring in the narrative interviews’ transcriptions. This study shares respondents’ voices and it reports them as they are. The findings show that LEP produced both advantages and disadvantages, but the former seem to blend in better in organizations, individuals’ lives, and an incremental effort to establish a strong industrialized state.

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Asian Social Science   ISSN 1911-2017 (Print)   ISSN 1911-2025 (Online)    Email: 

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