The Shared Prosperity Vision 2030 (WKB 2030), which will be launched by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad tomorrow, is poised to be the strategic driving force of the government in its endeavour to make Malaysia a developed and competitive nation.
The sustainable economic growth envisaged in its vision is set to plug the disparities in – as well as elevate – the incomes and living standards of the people.
This is in line with the government’s commitment to continue fostering unity among the people and strengthening political stability.
In May, Dr Mahathir announced the shared prosperity initiative which will have seven strategic thrusts, namely:
- Restructuring and improving the business and industrial ecosystem to drive transformation for the adoption of Industrial Revolution 4.0, digital economy and intellectual economy elements capable of yielding high-value industries.
- Generating new growth sectors through strategic investments to turn Malaysia into a bigger producer of world-class products.
- Restructuring and reforming the nation’s human capital to produce talents who are highly skilled, knowledgeable, competitive and productive, as well as relevant to the needs of the industry.
- Improving the labour market and incomes, and reducing dependence on foreign manpower by ensuring that industries shift to high-value jobs and services that offer opportunities for higher incomes.
- Strengthening social well-being through more comprehensive needs-based policies and programmes aimed at building the capacity of marginalised groups and lifting them out of relative poverty.
- Enhancing inclusive regional development by developing comprehensive economic centres throughout the nation to ensure equitable growth whilst reducing inter-regional economic disparities.
- Improving social capital in tandem with economic growth and development through a strong social mechanism.
Dr Syed Agil Alsagoff, a lecturer at Universiti Putra Malaysia’s Department of Communications, described WKB as a strategic plan that would steer Malaysia towards attaining developed nation status by taking into account all aspects that support the nation state’s strengths and ensuring that no one is marginalised.
He views the initiative as a farsighted vision that would enhance the social well-being of the people through the inculcation of social and civilisation values among the people of all races.
“The government must pay attention to building an identity for this nation-state that is not based entirely on its economic achievements and status but also social civilisation values in order to steer the nation forward more comprehensively.
“In relation to this, more initiatives should be taken to produce a society that has a high level of civilisation and the capacity to compete in the context of the global technological development taking place now and in the future without sacrificing their sense of identity and patriotism,” he told Bernama.
Considering WKB as a continuation of Vision 2020 that was introduced by Dr Mahathir, Syed Agil said the government should strive to create a more structured and conducive political, economic and social environment, as well as provide more job opportunities to the people.
He said there should also be extensive efforts to provide the people with a comprehensive explanation of the new vision and its benefits so that they would know and realise what the government intends to achieve through the initiative.
“The people need a strategic plan that is based on realistic achievement values which can lead the nation towards attaining developed nation status one day,” he said.
To reduce dependence on foreign labour, Syed Agil suggested that the government empower technical and vocational education and training for the benefit of the nation’s youths.
“Creative and innovative job avenues should be created for them in line with the rapid pace of development in information technology today,” he added.
Share, Leverage Resources
Commenting on the existence of income disparities between states, Syed Agil said this problem can be resolved if the achievements of the nation’s sustainable economic development are channelled equitably to all the states. At the same time, the states should also contribute their energy and natural resources to the nation’s main economic branches.
“This is being done in Thailand, Japan, South Korea and European Union nations,” he said, adding that by plugging the economic gap between the states, the economic disparities among the various races in this country would also shrink.
Pointing out that the government can use existing or new mechanisms to evaluate the standard of living of every stratum of society, he said what was more important was its willingness to drive strategies to rectify the imbalance in the living standards between urban and rural populations.
He also urged the government to formulate strategies to provide more conducive infrastructure to the people, control prices of houses meant for the common people and provide for more equitable economic development without overly focusing on urban areas.
Efforts must also be made to spur industrial development in rural areas to create more job opportunities and prevent the migration of too many people from rural to urban areas which will have an impact on disparities in living standards.
Balanced Economic, Social Well-Being
Principal fellow at the Institute of Ethnic Studies at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Datuk Dr Teo Kok Seong said WKB deserved to be supported by all parties as it is aimed at improving the people’s well-being.
However, he pointed out, attention should be given to creating a balance between the economic and social well-being of the people.
To achieve this balance, he said, people from all segments of society must have access to high-quality education. The government should also ensure the ability of each generation to help their children to enjoy a higher quality of life in terms of their economic status.
“This vision is not just an idea of the current government but it is also a legacy they wish to build for the people and the nation… (the move by the government to prioritise) economic development is one of the ways to nurture unity,” he said.
On the government’s focus on narrowing the income gap between states, rich and poor, and urban and rural communities, Teo said it was a good approach as it would ensure that no race, gender or geographical region was marginalised.
Teo is also confident that WKB’s inclusive nature would enable the government to attain the targets it would set in the subsequent 12th Malaysia Plan (2021 to 2025) and 13th Malaysia Plan (2026 to 2030).
“What is important here is the implementation document, the commitment of the government machinery and support of the private sector… (all three) must move concomitantly and ensure that this concept of shared prosperity is truly enjoyed by people of all walks of life throughout the country,” he added.