Institut Darul Ridzuan (IDR), the Perak government and the Northern Corridor Implementation Authority jointly organised the Pangkor International Development Dialogue (PIDD) 2015 in Ipoh from Oct 19 to 21.

PIDD promotes the exchange and transfer of knowledge and ideas in the areas of global, regional, national and state development. 

PIDD is the brainchild of Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zamry Abd Kadir, who established the dialogue in 2009. As nations have visions and drive knowledge-based transformation, states and communities also develop their own vision in alignment with or beyond national visions. Community-driven development will be the basis for impactful and relevant development, which reach the people.

As one can be held spellbound by movie dramas or National Geographic documentaries, so can one be spellbound by the unique success stories told by each of the presenters, whether from Turkey, United States, Brazil or Malaysia. Presenters, including Jamling Tenzing Norgay (son of Sherpa Tenzing),
Filipe Balestra, co-founder and chief executive officer of Urban Nouveau from Brazil provided refreshing perspectives. Mohd Yunus, the Noble Prize winner, gave a tele-video presentation followed by Nurjahan Begum, the managing director of Grameen Bank. It is clear PIDD attracts leaders from a range of interesting backgrounds with dynamic records of accomplishments.

There is the articulated development principle “None forsaken, none left behind”. Such ideals have to be demonstrated by not forsaking and leaving behind marginalised groups, the poor, the handicapped, the gifted and Orang Asli. The caring should be extended to the endangered species of wildlife, flora and fauna.

Nations dream to have their own Davos. The World Economic Forum at Davos is certainly an important international forum. It is reported that there are over 1,700 private flights with many private jets of global elites. Anyone who is anyone would like to keep abreast of new ideas presented at the forum. Many renowned academicians were present in previous WEF. In WEF, PIDD has a global benchmark.

In development terms, PIDD raised the fundamental goal of development: the happiness of the people. Measures of World Happiness Report and Happy Planet Index indicate that the Happiest European Nations are Denmark (agricultural and excellence); Canada (housing quality, health, good education, personal safety); Norway (strong economy, good healthcare); Switzerland (excellent health and long life expectancy); Sweden (great air, strong civic engagement); Netherlands (goodness of Life overall); Australia (good government and quality of health and housing); Israel (longer than average life expectancy and high income); Finland (good social-work balance and best schools); Ireland (strong social connections); Austria (low crime rates); United States (good government, high income, education); New Zealand (strong citizenry bond, little pollution, good local government);
Luxembourg (luxurious living) and United Kingdom (a strong sense of community).

Asean nations, which are in the high, middle and lower band of Happiest Nations Ranking are Brunei, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia. Among the 10 least happy countries are Togo, Burundi, Syria, Benin, Rwanda, Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Guinea and Chad.

The insights, know-how, contacts and networking established at PIDD are not just for Perak but for other states and the nation as a whole.

The initiative by Perak, if followed through by others, will ensure the long-awaited dream that intelligence, ideas and knowledge power will not be concentrated in Putrajaya, Kuala Lumpur or Klang Valley but will be distributed nationwide.

Stakeholders in the development agenda must master and be guided by the varieties of global indexes which include: Ecological Footprint, Environmental Efficiency In Supporting Wellbeing; Subjective Life Expectation, Human Development Index, Life Expectancy at Birth, Mean and Expected Years of Schooling, Gross National Income Per Capita, and Happy Life Expectancy.

Excellent education system, good healthcare, good housing, efficient use of the environment, low air or water pollution, respect for and bonding with fellow citizens, trust of government and government leaders, authentic personal freedoms, close relations with local government, low unemployment and least corruptions, leisure edutainment are the fundamentals for happiness.

For a Better Life Initiative in development, there has to be conceptualisation and strategic focus on Social Capital and Cultural Capital Assessment in alignment with all the materialistic and economic success indicators.

Kamarul Bahrin, who elegantly emceed the conference, poetically summed up his impression of the conference theme thus:

“In diversity, there is strength and beauty. In inclusivity, I feel the art of thinking independently together, in sustainability I see myself in all things and all people around us”.

There is the expectation that PIDD will continue in future years.

The writer is president of Malaysian
Association for Education