THE newly-formed Economic Action Council (EAC) should introduce a national inclusive and sustainable economic policy (Nisep) to prepare Malaysia to face the challenges of a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) world.
VUCA requires new thinking, strategies and policies. The Kingsley Strategic Institute, an independent think tank is proposing five strategic thrusts:
SUSTAINABLE ECONOMIC GROWTH
Malaysia needs a macro-economic policy that promotes robust albeit sustainable economic growth. The policy must put the country on a strong growth trajectory taking into account its strengths, weaknesses and unique propositions. There must be a strong focus on deregulation to make the private sector a strong engine of growth. This will reduce the crowding out effect and make the sector more competitive.
The policy must empower and encourage the growth of small- and medium-sized enterprises and start-ups. It should embrace digital-driven growth from big data, robotics, artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) to spur digital transformation.
Greater focus must be given to eradicating inequalities. The national economic policy should prioritise inclusive development. Greater attention must be accorded to urban poverty such as the B40 (Bottom 40) income group and Orang Asli. No one should be left behind.
To ensure the success of inclusive development, higher standards of human rights should be set. A needs-based poverty alleviation strategy should be emphasised. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) should be given attention — promote tripartite performance between government, business and civil society to achieve the SDGs by 2030.
This is important, especially for future jobs. More programmes should be developed to reskill and retrain workers.
On-the-job training and certification should be implemented on a larger scale.
Technical and vocational education and training needs to be restructured with a higher pay structure for trained skilled workers. To reduce graduate unemployment, soft skills should be included in the university curriculum, such as communications, problem-solving and critical thinking skills.
We should encourage Malays-ians to be multilingual in Bahasa Melayu, English and either Mandarin, Tamil, Japanese or a European language like German, French or Spanish.
To prepare the next generation for Industry 4.0, coding should be taught in schools. Emphasis should be placed on AI, robotics and IoT to create more jobs of the future. We need also a big push in productivity.
Strategies, policies and plans should be developed to support the development of entrepre- neurs, in particular among youth and women. We need a dynamic and conducive ecosystem to foster entrepreneurial growth and start-ups. Micro enterprises should be given more encouragement and incentives.
Social enterprises should be encouraged and promoted, while companies should be encouraged to realign their corporate social responsibility programmes to support social enterprises that can contribute to social good and community wellbeing.
Underpinning the new national economic policy should be a strong commitment to ethical leadership and integrity. There should be zero tolerance for corruption in public and private sectors.
An all-out war against corruption is necessary.
Institutional reforms should be expedited to establish good governance, integrity, accountability and transparency.
The proposed Nisep should be grounded on six core objectives:
ACHIEVING national unity and harmony;
PROMOTING sustainability with a strong focus on the sustainable development goals;
CREATING an inclusive and caring society where no one is left behind;
DEVELOPING a values-based society upholding integrity and ethical leadership;
PREPARINGMalaysia to face the challenges of the VUCA world and Industry 4.0; and
PROMOTING the 3Is (integrity, inclusiveness, innovation) to achieve the 3Ps (peace, progress, prosperity).
TAN SRI MICHAEL YEOH OON KHENG
President, Kingsley Strategic Institute