Whenever Malaysia unveil an economic plan, scant regard is paid to the human factor. We only focus on the money factor and almost nothing else.

By Art Harun

Gentlemen, welcome to 1AcronymMalaysia.

In case you are left puzzled by the title of this article, do not adjust your screen.

It simply is the combination of the various acronyms which our government has conjured in the past year or so in order to identify the various transformational methodology which will be relied on  to propel Malaysia into a high income nation by year 2020.

They are:

  • GTP – Government Transformation Programme
  • 10MP –  the 10th Malaysia Plan (10MP)
  • ETP –  the Economic Transformation Programme
  • NKRA – the National Key Result Areas
  • NKEA –  the National Key Economic Areas
  • NEM –  the New Economic Model, and
  • SRI – the Strategic Reform Initiatives

Note: Susu1Malaysia is not included, just in case you are wonderBra…sorry, wondering.

Basically, the plan is to steroid-drive the Malaysian economy by inundating it with mega projects which are projected to increase  GNI per capita income from RM20,770 (US$6,700) to at least RM46,500 (US$15,000), meeting the World Bank’s high-income benchmark by 2020. By doing that, it is hoped that Malaysia would triple its Gross National Income (GNI) from RM660 billion (2009) to RM1.7 trillion in 2020.

To do that, Malaysia would need to sustain a 6% GNI growth between 2011 and 2020 and a total  funding of over RM1.4 trillion, much of it would apparently come from the private sector.

Following are the key sectors:

  • OIL AND GAS: It will see investments of RM218 billion over the next 10 years, starting with liquefied natural gas facilities in peninsular Malaysia by 2013. A 10-million tonne regional oil storage hub will be built in Johor state, next to Singapore, by 2015 to turn Malaysia-Singapore into an Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp type hub.
    By 2017, Malaysia will be the number one oil services hub in Asia and by 2020, there will be 5 gigawatts (GW) of hydro capacity, 1.25GW of solar and a nuclear plant.
  • PALM OIL: It will see investments worth RM124 billion by 2020. This will help boost fresh fruit bunch yields to 23 percent from 20.5 percent and there will be a move into oleochemicals and more downstream industry. This will be led by Sime Darby, IOI, Kuala Lumpur Kepong and state plantations agency Felda.
  • FINANCIAL SERVICES: This will see investments worth RM211 billion, mainly through leveraging Malaysia’s lead in Islamic finance to target markets like Turkey, Indonesia and Egypt.
  • KUALA LUMPUR: The city will see investments worth RM172 billion, mainly in the Kuala Lumpur Mass Transit which includes 141km of tunnels built in the largest infrastructure project in Malaysia.
  • TOURISM: It will see investments worth RM204 billion with plans to join up Kuala Lumpur’s shopping malls in an Singapore “Orchard Road” type development using walkways. There will be a “Malaysia Truly Asia” cultural centre to pull in the tourist dollar with “Broadway quality” traditional song and dance.
  • ELECTRICAL AND ELECTRONICS: It will see investments worth RM78 billion. Malaysia plans to become the world’s second largest solar panel maker by 2020 and to boost semiconductors, LEDs and industrial electronics.
  • AGRICULTURE requires RM22 billion in investment.
  • HEALTH will see RM23 billion of investments and will see a Kuala Lumpur suburb become a “health metropolis”.
  • RETAIL AND WHOLESALE will see investments of RM255 billion.
  • CREATIVE INDUSTRIES will add RM51 billion in investment.
  • EDUCATION will see RM20 billion in investment.
  • BUSINESS SERVICES will see RM41 billion invested.


I note however, that amidst the billions which are to be spent for electronics, transportation, financial centres and whatever, only 23 billions are to be spent for health services. And education will only see a 20 billion spending. Agriculture, the bedrock of our rural socio-economics scene in turn would only see 22 billion of  “investment”.

Hell, even “creative industries” – the LimKokWing-naisation of the nation – would get 51 billion of investments, more than double the amount of each of the “neglected sectors.”

That screams of major imbalances in our socio-economics engineering (or re-engineering) processes.

What ever happen to organic growth – as opposed to the turbo-charging or steroid-driven growth? Everybody knows, I presume, the negative impacts of steroid, no? Just look at Chris Benoit out-of-proportion body and the resultant murder-suicide of himself, his son and wife. Yes. That’s the problem with steroid. As for turbo charging, suffice if I say that if a host of things are not upgraded in line with the turbo-charging needs, the engine would eventually explode.

Economically we have seen steroid-driven projects failing. Take Proton for example.

When Malaysia embarked on this ambitious project, it had absolutely no industrial culture. Malaysia, at that time, had not even learned to make a sewing machine. But Dr Mahathir thought he could pump up the industrialisation  of Malaysia by jumping into car manufacturing.

The result is for all to see. Mitsubishi, the technological partner, used Proton to dump it’s 4 cylinder carburetor engine (the then outdated Magma engine) for the Saga when in fact every manufacturer was jumping for multi-valves fuel injection engines  during the time. That prompted Dr Mahathir to quip that the technological transfer was taking more time than expected.

Duties and taxes on non-national cars were increased so that Proton could survive. That continues till today. Had that been taken away, who would buy a Gen-2 or whatever as opposed to a Honda City, Toyota Vios or even a second hand BMW 3 series?

The same was done in the steel industry, by the introduction of Perwaja. Hundreds of millions of ringgits were spent and when the steel was finally rolled out, it was below acceptable quality. And the rest, as they say, is history. And history in Malaysia, is only good for the archives. Not to be analysed and learnt from.

The thing is, Malaysia had no, notable or at all, industrial culture. One cannot start a culture by simply cutting a pink ribbon to a large industrial factory or plant. The support industries must be there. The whole infrastructure must be there. The human resources must be there. The experience from being knocked down and learning the hard way must be there. The whole networking must be there.

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