PETALING JAYA: Malaysia needs to step up its game to improve its economic competitiveness in the region, according to Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed.
“When we measure ourselves against some of the regional peers, it is true that we need to buck up in terms of investments and the quality of human capital, among others,” the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Economy) said.
The statement was made about a week after Senior Minister and International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali told the Parliament that Malaysia remains competitive in attracting foreign investors post-Covid-19.
Azmin reportedly said that the withdrawal of foreign investments out of Malaysia was not due to the country’s unconducive environment but rather the rationalisation plan made by the foreign companies.
Elaborating on the aspirations of the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP) yesterday, Mustapa also highlighted the need to achieve “development for all”.
“We want to reduce the regional gaps and achieve a more united and prosperous Malaysia,” he said during the UOB Kay Hian Wealth Advisors’ “Malaysia Economic Direction – What to Expect Next” webinar.
“We still have not only inter-racial challenges in terms of income but also intra-racial challenges within various races.
“There are very rich Malays and very poor Malays. Similarly, there are very rich Indians and very poor Indians.
“We are all Malaysians but the reality is we still have such (race-related) challenges at this point in time,” Mustapa said.
Moving forward, Mustapa said the country needs to undertake structural reforms, including several “basic” reforms such as a better database for poverty and addressing the supply and demand mismatch for technical and vocational education and training institutions.
Echoing a similar stance, Academy of Sciences Malaysia fellow Datuk Dr Madeline Berma noted the need for an improved and dynamic database to avoid leaving anyone behind.
In the aftermath of the Covid-19 outbreak, Madeline said some Malaysians were not qualified for government handouts, despite losing their jobs and businesses.
“A woman, who used to be in the middle 40% (M40) income group but has lost her job, told me that she did not qualify for government assistance just because her name is not in the database for poor people.
“The Penan people (of Sarawak) definitely do not exist in “e-Kasih” (national poverty database) because they do not know they have to register in the system,” she said, pointing out the urgent need to reform the national database.
Commenting on the 12MP, Madeline said the five-year plan has taken into account the realities on the ground.