• Madani Sahari

FREEDOM AND NATIONALISM - Malaysia on track towards well-grounded progress

If we were to analogize Malaysia's economic growth as a business entity, it has been a very successful venture. Since our independence, our natural resources and fertile soil gave us the seeds to progress.

While the high exports of resources such as rubber, tin, palm and crude oil made us global players for these commodities, we soon realised that high dependence on raw materials exports subjected us to the high risk of market fluctuation.

The total collapse of the global tin industry in the mid 1980s was an eye opener - and in order to keep business afloat we adapted quickly to manufacturing.

Fast forward to the turn of the century, we are at the next stage of progress - the all-important growth stage and advancing our preparation towards a fully liberalised global market.

For most countries on their way to emerge as a global economic player, the key is to move from an inward-looking economy and to become a player that can compete in new and bigger markets.

To grow further, we need to look at the fundamentals we have developed thus far. Just like any expanding business, we cannot rest solely on the leadership.

It requires a nationwide belief and confidence that we can expand beyond our current capacities.

However, our progressive economic growth, as demonstrated by numerous international indicators, is not spared from speculation that breeds economic anxiety.

The examples of such growth are aplenty.

The ASEAN Development Bank's (ADB) recent report placed Malaysia among the best growing economies in Asia.

We are now ranked among the top 25 most competitive nations in the world. PWC forecasts Malaysia to be the world's 24th biggest economic powerhouse by 2050.

Just like any growing economy, we have and will continue to have occasional setbacks.

The more important question is: would we be able to address those setbacks, or will we take the easy way out?

When the price of crude oil fell in 2015, the implementation of Goods and Services Tax and rationalisation of subsidies by the government allowed us to sustain our momentum.

During that period of uncertainty, the natural consequences, which included cost of living and financial constraints for businesses did not deter our economy, rather the Malaysian economy strengthened further, despite speculation, rumours and negative vibes being played.

The next step is clear - to be part of the global economy, we must have an open market mind set, and the acumen to work with others.Business should never be a zero-sum game, it should never be about one entity winning over the other.

In order for us to compete, we must seek healthy competition, and we will never access world markets if we are reluctant to open our borders to the world.

Strategically, we should view new partnerships and ventures as opportunities, and not confining ourselves to our comfort zones.

Growth is exciting and challenges are overcome with calculated risk.

Spread the belief that we are ready to penetrate the global markets.

"A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him"

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