What would it take for Malaysia to achieve high human development levels and become a more equitable, sustainable and successful nation, wonders Wandering Malaysian.
Two unconnected events inspired me to start writing as a 2015 resolution.
The first ever Malaysia Human Development Report (MHDR) 2013: Redesigning an Inclusive Future, published by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) was launched in Kuala Lumpur in November 2014. An effort that started in mid-2012, the report was published in January 2014 but the formal launch was inexplicably delayed by a year.
Sadly, what is probably the most comprehensive assessment of the Malaysian development story from 1971-2012 was almost completely ignored by the mainstream media. Go figure. You can download the report and view video clips here.
The other event was the worst floods experienced in Malaysia in recent decades which left five dead and more than a 100,000 mostly poor displaced with damage to property and infrastructure estimated at RM1bn. Is this a random occurrence or a more systemic climate change phenomenon arising from the development model being pursued by Malaysians? More on this subject in future pieces.
Turning back to the MHDR, this is a well-researched study written by highly respected Malaysian economists: Kamal Salih and Lee Hwok-Aun from University of Malaya and Muhammed Abdul Khalid from the Khazanah Research Institute. The report draws upon background papers from a veritable Who’s Who of eminent Malaysian scholars including one who was charged with sedition in 2014 on an unrelated matter. 🙂
The innovative consultation process involving youth and online dissemination of the report including video clips of Nicol David talking about inclusiveness and her experience visiting an Orang Asli community were very refreshing indeed. Congratulations, UNDP!
As Kamal Salih acknowledges at the outset of the report, the team was given access to the largest set of unprocessed data and unpublished statistics from the government that had not been accessible to non-official entities before. Dare we interpret this as a hopeful sign of increasing openness in sharing information?
But I am digressing. The underlying theme of this report is inclusive growth or the lack thereof in Malaysia. In other words, what would it take for Malaysia to achieve high human development levels and become a more equitable, sustainable and successful nation? The timing and theme of this report could not be better given the current shrill national discourse fractured along ethnic, social, political and religious fault lines.
Inclusiveness itself is under attack from some quarters as something undesirable in Malaysia. For one, ethno-centric or religious political entities and agendas may find inclusiveness threatening their very reason to exist.