Miti Blog

Ministry of International Trade and Industry Malaysia Official Blog

Inclusivity will take us to greater heights

Posted by admin2 on June 23, 2015 at 10:57 am
This is an excerpt of the opening address delivered by International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed at the United Kingdom & Eire Council of Malaysian Students’ Projek Amanat Negara Conference in London on Saturday

WHEN  Datuk Seri Najib  Razak assumed office as the sixth prime minister, he recognised that the days of “business as usual” for the government of Malaysia were over. Malaysians were now expecting more from their government. They wanted higher standards of transparency and accountability, as well as better governance and efficiency. The government had to become more responsive to the people’s needs.Clearly, there was a need to redefine the role of government and how it carried out its responsibilities to meet the ever-increasing expectations.

It must be said that Najib embodied this transformation in the way he went about his business. He immediately went about engaging the newly-resurgent social media by organising events based around its most prominent platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook. But this was only the beginning of a bold transformation in how the government changed how it communicated with the people.

In an unprecedented masterstroke, he introduced a transformation plan built on three pillars, each symbolising a key reform agenda.The first pillar was the Government Transformation Plan (GTP). The second was the Economic Transformation Plan (ETP) and the third was a comprehensive political transformation.The basis for Malaysia’s economic transformation was articulated in the New Economic Model (NEM), a report by the National Economic Action Council, whose members included members of the public and private sectors, academics and other thought leaders. This report was also finalised by many months of engagement with stakeholders, reflecting a commitment to inclusiveness in the formulation of major initiatives.

The NEM bravely conceded that Malaysia’s economy faced systemic problems.To wit: “Malaysia has still much further to go this next decade before it can be an advanced nation with high income”.It warned that Malaysia risked being stuck in a middle-income trap without reform.

The report, however, also convincingly argued that Malaysia had tremendous potential and inherent advantages that could see it through such challenges. Its ultimate goals are simple and realistic: to double Malaysia’s gross national income per capita by 2020 and to ensure inclusivity as well as sustainability in achieving growth.

Najib’s commitment to bold reform was once again proven by the establishment of Pemandu, the Performance and Delivery Unit, which coordinates the ETP and the GTP.Led by top executives from the public and private sectors, the setting up of such an organisation was an unprecedented move.Its methodology of coming up with solutions to national problems was also unique.
Labs and public open days were carried out stretching over many weeks to gather feedback and new ideas. The private sector was extensively engaged to ensure the new policies were industry-friendly, result-driven and people-oriented.

Of course, these three pillars had to stand on a solid foundation in the form of a powerful social fabric. Najib, from the beginning of his tenure, advanced the concept of “1Malaysia” which promoted inclusivity across religion, race, gender as well as geographical origins. Indeed, the government’s approach has always been inclusive from independence and this spirit has carried our nation to where it is today.

Indeed, the 1Malaysia concept can also be seen in our cabinet, whose 33 members include five Buddhists, five Christians and two Hindus. Seven of them are also from Sabah and Sarawak.
I, for one, wholeheartedly support the principles of 1Malaysia and inclusivity. When I was the higher education minister, I appointed three female vice-chancellors to universities.
I also appointed four non-Bumiputera deputy vice-chancellors to major institutions of higher learning.

Today, a female non-Malay civil servant is the secretary-general of the International Trade and Industry Ministry. Inclusivity, ultimately, can be judged only by your deeds and not your rhetoric.
Of course, many critics were sceptical of whether this transformation plan was going to work, but the results are there for everyone to see.The GTP was formulated after extensive pinpointing of key problem areas and identifying the desired outcomes. A multi-pronged approached was adopted, including surveys, labs with public and private sector members and open days in cities like Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu and Kuching.

At the end of this extensive consultation exercise, the government formulated the GTP roadmap. This is a detailed plan to transform the government machinery to achieve specific goals termed the National Key Results Areas, of which there are seven.The results have, thus far, been positive. Transparency International reported significant improvements for Malaysia in its corruption barometer and our crime index has also improved.Red tape in government has been identified and gradually removed. The World Bank indicated that Malaysia had improved tremendously in “Ease of Doing Business”, from 23rd to 18th spot in the world this year.

Furthermore, according to the World Economic Forum in its Global Competitiveness Report 2011-2012, Malaysia  moved up five places to be ranked 21st out of more than 150 countries rated for their competitiveness.This is due to growing investor confidence, business-friendly initiatives as well as the government’s strong emphasis on inclusivity and sustainability in achieving growth. There are certainly lingering challenges, but these facts and figures clearly indicate that we are on the right track to become more competitive.
More importantly, the GTP signalled that there’s political will to make Malaysia more open and transparent. The government is not only adapting to new times, but reinventing its delivery system.

The ETP, which emerged from the New Economic Model, is a plan to boost the economy to achieve high-income status by 2020.Its implementation will bring about extensive “real” changes to the economy and is projected to create some 3.3 million jobs, with active participation by the private sector.

Moreover, we are now on track to exceed the targeted private investments of RM83 billion for last year as our third quarter results show private investments exceeding RM70 billion.
In attracting companies to invest in Malaysia, the government is taking care to select companies that are knowledge-driven and which bring in added value to production and services.
This is indeed different from the past where additional investments required massive inflow of foreign labour. While foreign labour continues to be important, we want to move up the value chain and attract quality investments.

These quality investments, in turn, will create high-income job opportunities for Malaysians. Companies like Shell, which has committed RM5.1 billion to  upstream oil and gas business and IBM, which has committed RM1 billion to build its Global Delivery Centre, will  want and need to employ talented graduates and professionals.
On top of that, companies such as Shell, Citibank and Schlumberger, multinationals that have been operating in Malaysia for many years, offer high-income jobs even to entry-level graduates. This has spurred government-linked companies such as Petronas, Khazanah and CIMB to match such offers to attract good talent.
As part of the broader effort to retain Malaysian talent, the government had set up Talent Corp, which is mandated to attract the Malaysian diaspora back home.
A number of fiscal incentives have been introduced to win back Malaysian professionals to our shores. For example, the Returning Experts Programme (REP) has brought home 680 Malaysians to take up senior management roles in local and multinational companies. This was double the number of returning expatriates in 2010.

Indeed, the future looks promising under the ETP. While I agree that external forces might dampen our short-term performance, we need everybody to look at this plan within its 10-year time frame.But Malaysia’s transformation is not just limited to its economy. Change in Malaysia also requires reshaping the political landscape and requires political will. It has to be said that many doubted whether Najib possessed this key ingredient to bring about such reforms, but he has time and time again proven his critics wrong.

Upon taking office, he released 13 people held under the Internal Security Act. He followed this on Sept 16 last year    by announcing the abolishment of the Emergency Ordinance, the Banishment Act, and the controversial Internal Security Act.He also abolished the annual renewal requirement for publishing of newspapers under the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984. These historic announcements represented the biggest shake-up of Malaysia’s political system since 1957.

The decision was made on the premise that Malaysians deserve greater accountability, transparency and freedom. While there continues to be sceptics about the wisdom of these moves, the larger public and even the ever-critical foreign press have lauded Najib’s actions.But his commitment to reforms did not end there.  On Nov 29, Parliament passed the Peaceful Assembly Act 2011, which seeks to increase freedom of assembly while maintaining public safety and security.Furthermore, a bipartisan Select Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reforms was formed. The report of this committee was lauded by many Malaysians, including those who had been critical of the government.

The government is fully committed to continuing its reform agenda and this is just the beginning of political reforms in our country.Malaysia’s transformation is a work in progress. While change cannot come overnight, the intentions of the government are genuine. I am hopeful and confident that 2020 will witness a Malaysia that is a vibrant and thriving democracy where every citizen has a crucial role to play in nation-building.The year 2020 will see Malaysia as a preferred business centre for global companies and investors due to its business-friendly policies, talented locals and bullish domestic economy as well as the Asean region.The future Malaysian generation will be capable and confident; members of a nation that is fully-integrated to the world.
By 2020, I am also hopeful that the income deferential between different classes of society  will be narrowed and that all Malaysians will share an expanding economic cake.

Inclusivity brought us to where we are today and it is the key to taking us to new heights.This will  materialise only if Malaysia remains focused on its transformation plan. We owe it to ourselves to ensure a better tomorrow for our children and their children.We owe it to ourselves to ensure Malaysia is transformed by 2020 by staying the course.

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