In 1990, Malaysia formalised its intentions of becoming an advanced nation by the year 2020.
The central focus of Vision 2020 is to take Malaysia out of its dependence on basic raw material production and emerge as an economy that is progressive, prosperous and robust.
In 2010, the administration refined the national plan by introducing concerted road maps and initiatives and streamlining the various economic sectors to ensure that they follow a development route specific to their industrial needs, with a mind set towards becoming a high income nation.
This was the central concept behind the formation of the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) and Government Transformation Programme (GTP) as part of Malaysia’s National Transformation Programme.
One of the transformation agendas within the ETP was the establishment of a strategic reform initiative called Competition, Standards and Liberalization (CSL).
Championed by three ministries, including the International Trade and Industry Ministry, CSL outlined the implementation of legislation, standards and practices that aimed to push Malaysia’s economy towards liberalisation to ensure our competitiveness at the global stage.
With respect to the automotive industry, a key strategic move was the establishment of the Malaysia Automotive Institute to redirect the automotive industry’s focus towards becoming a regional hub of energy efficient vehicles by 2020.
This direction was a key component of the latest revision of the National Automotive Policy 2014 (NAP 2014).
Just like the revision of the National Education Blueprint, which caters towards the development of Malaysia’s overall human capital needs, the NAP 2014 became the central direction for Malaysia’s automotive industrialization agenda.
It outlined the key areas of enhancement, such as technology acquisition, human capital development and after market reform, to ensure that Malaysia is not left behind in becoming a player in the globally liberalised arena of sustainable mobility.
Whether we realise it or not, the liberalisation has always been a central tenet of the national agendas mentioned above. They both call for Malaysia,and Malaysians to be a fully-developed economy and society.
The definition of a fully -eveloped nation or an advanced nation must be understood by all Malaysians. It must develop the strength to achieve economic, social and psychological liberation and independence, so that it has equal footing and recognition as a leader in the new world.
It entails a higher order thinking capacity that can innovate and adapt to the ever-changing complexities of global market forces.
Despite the extensively discussed benefits of liberalisation, all governments realise that we can never jump into the liberalisation bandwagon without proper planning and stakeholder engagement.
It must be carried out at a pace based on a clear understanding of each industry's scenarios and conditions, and with a detailed implementation plan that ensures no stakeholders are left out of the benefits of an economically liberalised sector.
The liberalisation of the automotive industry has been carried out gradually over the last decade.
Despite challenges of an uncertain global economy, we have seen a persevered performance of the industry as a whole, with improving capabilities of original equipment manufacturers and vendors, increased job opportunities and an unprecedented amount of choice for consumers.
Liberalisation is not to be feared, but to be intelligently embraced.
This is the first part of a two-part series commemorating Malaysia’s independence month. The writer is chief executive officer of Malaysia Automotive Institute.