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Malaysia’s New Economic Model:
Risks and Rewards
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AseanAffairs Magazine May - June 2010

Prime Minister Najib Razak vows to take Malaysia forward and transform it into a high income nation through economic and social reforms. Initial responses to this ambitious drive are mixed, details are scarce and investors play wait-and-see.Yet, Najib insists he’s got support to push ahead.

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Corporate Profile: A leading banking group in South East Asia, Maybank claims it is the number one bank in terms of reach, assets, loans, net profit and market cap, as well as leaders in the fast-growing Islamic banking market.

The bank focuses on capturing high growth opportunities while taking a proactive and conservative approach to capital management by continuing to establish our presence in high growth markets. Its strong track record of financial strengths and high credit ratings allow us to keep our momentum and continue with robust performance even amidst the current environment.

• Total assets of RM331 billion
Total Shareholders’ funds of RM26.7 billion
More than 39,000 Maybankers serving over 16.3 million Customer

Interview with
Mr Khairussaleh Ramli Chief Financial Officer
of Maybank


Q: How would you define ‘an Asean company’ and why is it necessary to build the ‘Asean’ brand?

I would define an Asean company as one which is headquartered in an Asean country, has a significant portion of its operations in Asean, and which is increasingly doing business with other centres beyond Asean.

Building an Asean brand in increasingly important as the Asean market is one which cannot be ignored given its growth potential, market and population size of more than 575 million. With an Asean brand, there can be greater recognition and loyalty within the region, giving an advantage over other brands that may be unfamiliar to the consumer. Having said that, the Asean brand must be able to deliver on its stakeholder expectations to survive and flourish not only in the region but internationally.  

Q: What are the opportunities and challenges Asean companies should expect as the global trade and investment focus shifts to Asia-Pacific?

As global trade and investment focus shifts to Asia Pacific, Asean companies can definitely leverage better on the growth that can be generated in this region. Given that Asia Pacific which includes China and India offers an immense market size with a burgeoning middle class, the scope for intra-Asian trade is enormous. With a familiarity of the market, its people and practices, opportunities abound for Asean countries to leverage on their affinity with countries within the region to develop business linkages that will boost their own growth potential.

On the other hand, challenges that Asean companies will face include greater competition in the Asia Pacific region especially from global players who are increasingly tapping the same markets, as well as the need to match global players in the area of product and service innovation, marketing and branding and access to technology and capital.

Q: What kind of support does the Asean private sector need from the policy makers to stay competitive as Asean accelerates its liberalisation drive?

Notwithstanding the much-touted benefits, liberalisation has its costs. As protective tariff and non-tariff barriers are removed and reduced, policy makers can support the private sector to stay competitive in terms of assistance for structural adjustments to liberalisation and competition such as incentives for marketing, promotion, R&D, productivity enhancement and human capital development. In addition, Governments will also be able to contribute via greater efficiency of the delivery systems to bolster the ease of doing business and investing. 

Q: How crucial is private sector involvement in developing a truly single market in Asean?

Asean Governments can only go as far as providing an “enabling environment” for the creation of single markets, namely the reduction in tariffs and removal of non-tariff barriers to spur trade and investment flows. Beyond that, it’s really up to the private sector to take advantage of these catalysts to conduct and undertake cross-border businesses and investments in the regional market.


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