Malaysia must double our talent pool of professionals that will help grow knowledge-based industries which are creative, innovative and globally competitive to successfully transform into a high-income economy. The only economic model that works is people-centric and human resources-based. Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore are sterling examples of natural resource scarce countries who have succeeded in transforming themselves into developed nations merely by unleashing the potential of their people.
There is no reason why Malaysia can not succeed when we have both natural and human resources that is superior to either Singapore, Korea or Hong Kong. If Malaysia is to double the per capita income of the people over the next 10 years to USD 15,000 by 2020 and join the ranks of high-income economy, there must be a new economic model that boldly promotes merit, performance, integrity and human dignity.
Areas that critically needs attention are education, crime and public safety, integrity and corruption, rule of law and abuses of power, infrastructure works in public utilities, an excellent maintenance culture, managing diversity and a shared society, transportation and improving broadband connectivity. Malaysia should boldly invest billions of rinngit in broadband connectivity including providing free wifi, as the World Bank estimated that a 10% rise in broadband penetration correlates to a 1.3% Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increase.
Malaysia can no longer rely on labour-intensive and low-wage foreign workers to sustain economic growth. Neither can we allow brain drain and lose our best and brightest to neighbouring countries. Nor depend on our rapidly depleting natural resources in oil and gas. We must have the courage to trust our people to use their energy, expertise and entrepreneurship to complete the transformation into a high-income economy or else end up seeing countries like Thailand, Vietnam and even Indonesia overtaking us.
There is no substitute for training, retraining and attracting the best brains and talents with excellent schools, crime free environment, good communications and public transportation, broadband connectivity that is easily accessible and affordable, rule of law, good quality of life that is sustainable and green as well as a level playing field that rewards hard work and performance. Malaysia should work towards a people-resource economy that based on the knowledge industry that drives creativitiy, innovation and help grow great minds and great ideas.