KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 19 — A lack of job opportunities and investments has caused Malaysia’s economy to stagnate, says a deputy minister.
Deputy Defence Minister Liew Chin Tong said the current government is looking to jumpstart the economy with the creation of jobs through investments in technology while taking advantage of the trade war between China and the US by placing Malaysia in a strategic position to work with future powerhouses.
“The world is coming to a different era now. In 1989, we saw the fall of the Berlin Wall and the beginning of US dominance in an era driven by neo-liberal ideas in terms of economics.
“In terms of trade, commerce and integration, it was fairly peaceful and overall relatively prosperous without much major war. But in 2019, that era is coming to a full stop,” said Liew during a forum on “Beyond 2020: Fresh Views, New Visions” at Sunway College today.
“We are in strategic competition with China and the US and looking at the situation where, at some point, Iran, China, Russia and maybe North Korea will forge closer ties.
“We will have to deal with more global challenges. Is this a Cold War? I don’t think so but we, as an aspiring power, can make our own decisions, and may not be able to change the entire scenario, but we can change certain events that can change the outcome of the world.”
Liew said the creation of jobs has to be top of the agenda when it comes to making Malaysia a global leader so that larger, more advanced nations take notice of the country.
He said, in the last 10 years, the government did not invest sufficiently in anything due to cutbacks and corruption.
By investing in the well-being of the people, Liew hopes the government will be able to unleash Malaysia’s potential in youth and women in the workforce by eradicating unskilled foreign workers and investing heavily in the idea of shared prosperity.
“Most Malaysians are concerned about the same things, which is the ability to put food on the table, decent pay, the environment, securing a roof over their heads and a secure homeland.
“In this government, we also offer freedom of press where no one will call your editor and say you’ve overstepped your boundaries. Everyone can write whatever they like. It’s the same media that previously was controlled, but now are free,” said Liew to an audience of around 300 people.
“But they’re framing things along the racial perspective. If you ask the Malays, they’ll say this government is controlled by Lim Kit Siang and Lim Guan Eng.
“If you ask the Chinese, they say this government is controlled by ‘that old man’ Mahathir. But actually both are wrong. We’re a coalition government and it is finding that common agenda or ‘meeting in the middle’ that is the challenge we face.
“This is our idea of shared prosperity where we are learning to build empathy and not allowing primordial sentiments to take over.”
Liew then outlined three key components to reactivate the economy, beginning with investments in 5G, IoT (Internet of Things) and Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Second is positioning Malaysia well enough to take advantage of the current and future trade wars in order to increase investments in the economy.
Third is to decentralise power so state authorities have more autonomy from the federal government.
“People think investing in AI means losing jobs but we need to eliminate investments in unskilled foreign workers. Instead of thinking about many jobs paying RM1,100, which requires four or five people to do, you have one person to do the job and they can get paid a higher wage.
“Then we need to figure out how to unleash the potential of the states by decentralisation. This is a game changer across the board in order to bring more jobs, better jobs, and allow the states to govern themselves and build the economy without too much reliance on the federal government,” added Liew.
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