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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.

COVER STORY 

Testimonials – What our Readers are saying about us
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Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Dr. Jeffrey Cheah

Sunway Group & ASLI Malaysia
Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam

Group Adviser, Sunway Group,
Chairman, ASLI’s CPPS. Malaysia
Dato’ Sri Jamaludin Ibrahim

Managing Director / President & Group CEO,
Axiata Group Berhad, Malaysia
Dato’ Michael Yeoh

Chief Executive Officer
Asian Strategy & Leadership Institute (ASLI), Malaysia
Rajiv Biswas

Director, Southeast Asia, Corporate
Network, Economist Intelligence Unit,
The Economist, Singapore
Dato’ Mohamed Iqbal Rawther
Vice President,
ASEAN Business Forum, Malaysia
Group Executive Director
Farlim Group Malaysia BHD
Asean Affairs presents a symposium on Malaysia’s ambitious drive to transform itself into a high-income economy through a new wave of social-economic reforms, critical issues facing the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) less than five years before the advent of an Asean Economic Community, and the evolution of US-Asean relationship, etc. Opinions and insights on the dual topics came from exclusive interviews given to Asean Affairs by Malaysia’s top executives from the government and private sector organisations, as well as diplomats and global analysts who participated in the 7th Asean Leadership Forum in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia early April.

On Malaysia’s Socio - Economic Reforms

Jeffrey Cheah

The economic transformation being taken by Prime Minister Najib will bring about a more dynamic and competitive economy. It will ensure greater prosperity for all Malaysians whilst ensuring that the disadvantaged groups are not left behind.

Ramon Navaratnam

Having been involved in Malaysian government’s economic planning for a long time, I am looking forward with great expectations to see the second stage of the new economic model. The first stage that has been launched by the prime minister has been impressive. However, we are waiting for the details and the specific proposals. It is important that the proposals are acceptable to all, and they should be fair, progressive and pragmatic. Proper implementation is vital.

Jamaludin Ibrahim

The NEM encourages investment promotion, the development of our knowledge industries and competition for the best talent. Its policies will be market friendly, merit based, transparent and needs based. That is precisely the ingredients needed to help us, and many aspiring Malaysian companies, to become regional champions, and that is what we expect from the reforms.

Michael Yeoh

I believe these reforms will successfully transform Malaysia and enhance our global competitiveness. It will address many key issues to push Malaysia forward and achieve a quantum leap. The new economic model places emphasis on sustainability and inclusiveness. This will ensure balanced, sustainable and inclusive growth. These are principles which Asean can benefit from.

Rajiv Biswas

I applaud Prime Minister Najib Razak’s initiatives to push forward the pace of economic reform in Malaysia. Malaysia is a great nation that has competitive strengths, including abundant natural resources, good physical infrastructure and a relatively skilled workforce. However, it needs to go the extra mile in order to become a globally competitive destination for foreign direct investment – it is not there yet, and PM Najib has recognized that in outlining his vision for a New Economic Model for Malaysia.

Mohamed Iqbal Rawther

Malaysia is a plural democracy, with different racial, linguistic and religious identities. Forging a national identity of oneness is a great challenge. The catch phrase “One Malaysia” is an attempt to attract the nation of being a Malaysian, in spite of the differences.

There are policy weaknesses and more importantly, shortcomings in the implementation of policy measures introduced earlier. As a result, there are signs of discontent within each racial component and on an intra-racial basis. These aberrations have been or will be politically exploited. That is the reason for economic and social reforms. It is a welcome and desirable initiative, because it recognises weaknesses and at the same time prescribes remedies or redresses measures.


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