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20/20 Vision on Growth

Mustapa Mohamed, Minister of International Trade and Industry

Since it gained independence in 1957, Malaysia has undergone a remarkable transition from an agricultural economy to a dynamic manufacturing and services-driven economy, a feat that has consolidated its reputation as one of Southeast Asia’s economic powerhouses.

With more than 28 million people, Malaysia’s success is a result of hard work, wisdom, and as resilience of our leadership and our multi-ethnic, multi-religious people.

It is my firm belief that Malaysia is and will remain a beacon of what a nation can achieve by adopting the principles of moderation and cooperation. It is a testament to the truth that diversity — whether cultural, linguistic or religious — is a strength that advances a nation.

At the same time, Malaysia has never rested on its laurels. Our government is conscious of the fact that while countries grow more prosperous, with the advent of globalization, societies also become more complex.

Malaysia’s government — led by our Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak — has therefore sought to embark on a path of national transformation to improve the quality of life for all Malaysians through sustainable growth.

Shortly after taking office in 2010, the Najib administration launched two comprehensive schemes: the Economic Transformation Program (ETP) and the Government Transformation Program (GTP).

The ETP seeks to turn Malaysia into a high-income nation by 2020, and raise gross national income per capita from 6,700 U.S. dollars in 2009 to more than 15,000 U.S. dollars by 2020.

Powered by specific sectors, such as tourism and oil and gas, GNI growth of six percent per year will allow us to reach the targets set in Vision 2020 of our former prime minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamed.

On the other hand, the GTP is an ambitious, broad-based program to transform government into an efficient and people-centred institution. The goals of the GTP is encapsulated in seven National Key Results Areas (NKRAs): reducing crime, fighting corruption, improving student performance, raising living standards of low-income households, improving rural development, improving urban public transport, and addressing the cost of living.

The GTP also includes Ministerial Key Results Areas (MKRA), which addresses developmental goals that are not covered by the NKRAs. So far, the government’s efforts have already shown clear results.

As Prime Minister Najib reported recently, Malaysia’s GNI now stands at 9,970 U.S. dollars, a 48.8 percent jump from 2009. There has also been an overall reduction in the crime index from 26.8 percent to 40.9 percent since the introduction of the GTP.

Also, 99.9 percent of Malaysia’s poorest households have left this category through skills training programs and the development of some 43,000 women entrepreneurs.

Malaysia has also opened 2,054 new pre-schools across the nation, built roads in 98.6 percent of peninsula Malaysia, as well as in 88.7 percent in Sabah and 82.7 percent in Sarawak. Meanwhile, 99.8 percent of peninsular Malaysia enjoys 24- hour electricity, while coverage has reached 88.7 percent in Sabah and 82.7 percent in Sarawak.

In trade, Malaysia generated about 51.9 billion U.S. dollars in investments in 2012, exceeding official targets by nine percent. Of that, around 40.5 billion U.S. dollars (78%) came from domestic investments and 11.4 billion U.S. dollars (22%) came from foreign investments.

From 2011 to 2012, around 50 million tourists spent about 32 billion U.S. dollars in the country.And after growing 5.6 percent last year, the economy is projected to reach between 4.5 and 5.5 percentfor 2013.

These figures are very encouraging especially after considering the gloom outlook of the global economy. It is a sign not only of continued investor confidence in Malaysia’s fundamental strengths, but also that the government’s transformation program has been bearing fruit.

- Note: This Special Report on Malaysia originally appeared in Foreign Affairs in July 2014.

Malaysia 2013 was prepared for and originally printed in Foreign Affairs magazine.

PDF of the printed report

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