Public Bank Malaysia
September 4, 2011 by staff
But the government wants the economy picks up speed or risk losing its goal of becoming a developed nation by 2020.
Malaysia’s economic performance has been “relatively slow” in the last decade, a government report said. He blames the poor performance in low labor productivity.
The problem was identified over a decade ago, when the country began to face strong competition from exports from low wage countries like China.
At that time, the leaders of Malaysia said that it was necessary to move towards a knowledge-based economy. This led to the construction of a high-tech city near Kuala Lumpur called Cyberjaya.
Billed as the “Silicon Valley East”, this was the first city to fully connected high-speed Internet using fiber optic cables.
Officials also expected tax incentives and a workforce fluent in English to attract foreign companies to help transform Malaysia from low cost producers of high technology.
U.S. Computer maker Dell was one of the companies accepted the offer.
Pang Yee Beng, general manager of Dell Cyberjaya, says it makes sense to be based there.
“Ultimately we are looking for a place where we can get consistent service in terms of infrastructure,” he says.
“We needed a place where political or security-wise is stable, then to set up a complex facility like this you really need government support to make it happen.”
Today, Dell’s operations in Cyberjaya include a call center, customer and technical support for their global operations.
The four-story complex is located in the same group as other multinationals like IBM, Hewlett-Packard and AMD.
But critics say Cyberjaya has not become the success that the leaders of Malaysia had in mind.
A project advisory Cyberjaya, TJ Singh, said the government had originally wanted to attract innovative global giants could in turn mentor companies in Malaysia, especially in the area of?? Software.
“What they wanted were local companies that were world class,” says Singh.
But that did not happen. Singh says that more and more multinational companies took advantage of cheap land and establish Cyberjaya office back to its global operations.
It has created a large service industry, says Mr. Singh, but not exactly the kind of innovation that government leaders would be held in Cyberjaya.
Analysts say many companies end up doing their research and development abroad, in part because they cannot find the right talent.
In 2010, a World Bank report estimated that about one million Malaysians living abroad. A third of them are well educated and mostly ethnic Chinese and Indians.
World Bank economists say that ethnic minorities feel discriminated against by the government’s preferential policies for Malays.
Malaysia practices affirmative action for the Malay majority, giving them priority in college scholarships and government jobs. These efforts to redistribute wealth to the Malays, who are historically poorer than other ethnic groups.
However, in an attempt to help the Malays catch up, politicians in Malaysia have also flip flopped on the language of instruction in science and mathematics, Malaysian change to English and vice versa.
Opposition lawmakers say the system of education has been politicized and makes it difficult for graduates to compete globally.
But there are other reasons students want to leave Malaysia.
“When I graduate, I want to work abroad because they can earn much more with the exchange rate,” says Lew Yen Pei in the Multimedia University.
The campus is built in Cyberjaya and to train and feed their graduates directly in companies based in high-tech city. However, most of the students we spoke to are eager to gain international experience.
It is certainly a challenge that the Mat Rashid says it is not easy to overcome. He is with Cyberview, the government company overseeing the development of Cyberjaya.
But he argues that Cyberjaya is a success.
“Research and development is the core activity done here at this time, but we have not reached our potential yet,” says Mr. Rashid.
He added that Malaysia still has much to offer to multinational investors.
“Our advantage is our multilingual capabilities and talent we have here, is accepted worldwide because of our multicultural mix,” he says.
Prime Minister Najib Razak has ambitious plans to more than double the gross national income per capita and 15,000 (£ 9.300) over the next decade by creating 3.3 million better-paying jobs.
As part of that, the government has continued to invest in construction projects in Cyberjaya. It hopes to build more Cybercities around the country to attract the kind of companies that will stop the exodus of workers.
At the same time, the government has launched a talent agency to recruit Malaysians back.
But someanlysts say fundamental changes are needed, such as the abolition of race-based policies and practice of meritocracy in the economy.
Otherwise, they warn that there may be enough talent left to help Malaysia meet its goal of becoming a developed nation by 2020.
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