ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Malaysia launches green economy
The initiative is one of a number of economic reforms instituted by Prime Minister Najib Razak since taking power two years ago, aimed at pushing the Southeast Asian country toward developed-nation status by 2020.
His administration has already promised major infrastructure projects and financial market liberalization to attract foreign investment and boost growth, but critics say the results have been limited.
Najib on Tuesday convened the first meeting of an eminent 42-member Global Science and Innovation Advisory Council in New York to help the nation achieve ambitions of becoming a science and technology innovation destination.
Malaysia’s vision of a “green economy” would see it move beyond its status as a manufacturing hub, and establish “low carbon emissions, highly efficient use of resources, and a healthy, well-educated populace.”
As well as Sachs and Rajendra Pachauri, the chairman of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the panel also includes media tycoon Steve Forbes and two Nobel laureates.
Najib said the council would aim to “raise the number of scientifically and technically-trained individuals, entrepreneurs and innovators in our country.”
Malaysia also hopes to develop smart cities and villages, where the Internet is available and resources, such as water and electricity, are managed efficiently through information technology.
Currently, the middle-income nation of 27 million people suffers from urban sprawl and traffic congestion in its capital Kuala Lumpur, and a lack of basic services in rural areas.
Kit Wei Zheng, a Singapore-based economist with Citigroup, said Najib’s administration had achieved some successes including boosting foreign direct investment, but was under pressure to deliver ahead of elections to be called within a year.
The export-dependent Southeast Asian nation saw a sharp decline in foreign direct investment in 2009, tumbling 81 percent to $1.4 billion from $7.3 billion in 2008.
However, FDI jumped 141 percent to 17.1 billion ringgit ($5.5 billion) in the first nine months of 2010, in a rebound partly attributed to the reforms.
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