KUCHING, Nov 21 — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak stressed today that Malaysia has to adjust its policies or else it will lose its competitive edge and be overtaken by other countries.
“We cannot, and must not, allow that. We knew that if we are to achieve our goal of becoming a high-income status nation by 2020, we had to make changes.
“That is true leadership,” he said at the opening of the 13th World Islamic Economic Forum at the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching here today.
The prime minister cited the Economic Transformation Programmes, implemented in 2010, as an example of a change which has brought 2.26 million jobs, raised Gross National Income by nearly 50 per cent, kept inflation and unemployment rates low, and put Malaysia on the path to reducing the deficit from 6.7 per cent in 2009 to 3 per cent this year.
He said that even though Malaysia has registered years of healthy growth — with the third quarter GDP growth coming in at 6.2 per cent this year — Malaysia cannot stand still.
Najib said that in order to face the disruptive changes brought about by the Fourth Industrial Revolution, Malaysia’s education system must be revamped to prepare for what will swiftly be a different world.
“We must equip our young people with higher order thinking skills, so that they are open-minded, creative and innovative, and ready to adapt to the jobs that are not yet even in existence today,” he said.
The prime minister said sadly, much of the Muslim world lack the right kind of quality education.
“Indeed, there is a vast amount of people who do not even have access to basic necessities, like water, healthcare and even basic education,” he said.
Najib also took a swipe at the Opposition for objecting to the Goods and Services Tax (GST).
He said those in the Opposition who claim that they want to get rid of GST are deceiving the people and are deploying fantasy economics.
“We knew it would not be popular but it would have been irresponsible not to have brought in GST,” he said.
Najib also hit out at former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad for trying to force disruptive changes.
“Don’t worry, Sarawak is not for him,” he said.