NEW YORK - Malaysia has to make hard and tough choices to become an advanced economy but the right decisions will be made, Datuk Seri Najib Razak assured.
Acknowledging that the road ahead was not going to be easy, the Prime Minister said as a leader he needed to look at the long term.
"I want Malaysia to be at the forefront. There are many things to do and we need to spend prudently and invest wisely as a government.
"It is about making the right decision, not part of expediency or populist in nature.
"As the saying goes, politicians have eyes on the next general election but I believe you must think for the next generation," he said at a dinner for about 200 of the Malaysian diaspora in the United States to mark his trip for the United Nations General Assembly here.
The Prime Minister spoke of his target to reduce the fiscal deficit progressively, from 6.6 per cent of GDP in 2009 to a balanced budget in 2020.
"You can't do it overnight, otherwise there will be a severe shock to the system. Once you have a balanced budget, you will feel very strong.
"Fiscal sustainability is important as you move forward and your economy can withstand shocks and it is resilient," he added.
Najib also said that although 2014 had been a tragic year due to the MH370 and MH17 incidents, there was a silver lining in that Malaysia had become stronger.
He said 26 countries joined in the search for MH370, adding that it was due to the cordial relations Malaysia enjoyed with many countries.
"Tony Abbot calls me every week now. He is my telephone stalker, even when I am overseas he calls me," he quipped, saying he appreciated the Australian Prime Minister's hand of friendship.
"Our foreign policy must be principles-based … What is right we will say is right, what is wrong we will say it's wrong," he added.