Below is the list of top 27 rankings of Global Competitiveness Index(2012-2013) compiled by the World Economic Forum. For the full report, click here.
Malaysia is not doing too bad, being ranked 25 out of 144 countries. Malaysia’s GCI score remains at 5.1, same as last year. So in a way we did neither regress, nor progress, which may seem on the surface to be not a too bad thing . However, while our score has remained at 5.1, 4 countries has moved ahead of us, forcing us to drop from our position of No. 21 last year.
South Korea, Luxembourg, New Zealand, United Arabs EMirates has overtaken us, to be exact. This is despite our government channelling considerable resources into transforming our economy since the present PM has taken over. We have not only not moved forward, but has remained stagnant , despite setting up various think-tank labs in Pemandu, employing many of the so-called top brains in trying to develop policies to lift us out of the middle income trap.
Perhaps it is time that we look at how other people view us, especially our weak areas, instead of just debating among ourselves how to transform our policies.
What are the problem areas in our global competitiveness, especially when compared to others?
The report by WEF in fact highlighted out problems. Look at the WEF graph below on our problematic areas:
In case the readers cannot read clearly the graph above, the top 2 problematic areas are these:
1. inefficient government bureaucracy
It is clear that our main problem and main impediment to our competitiveness is none other than our government. It is not only inefficient, but corrupt as well.
Then the next 2 problem areas are:
3. inadequately educated workforce
4. poor work ethic in national labour force
3 and 4 are the results of our education system. Again these 2 problems point to our government who is responsible for formulating our education policy, which has ostensibly produced many A’s students, but many of these are not competitive once they start competing globally.
There is something grossly wrong with our policy which has produced not only inadequately trained workforce, but work force with ‘tidak apa’ attitude, as we Malaysians know all along. Who can blame employers opting to employ foreign workers? Not only they are cheap, they are hardworking, with better work ethics, to say the least.
In a nutshell, and looking deeper, I think that if we want to become more competitive, to make our workforce more productive with better ethics, and our civil service more efficient, we have no other choice but to introduce more liberal and broader based education system. We need to do away with affirmative-action-based policies, and curb corruption.
In September 2009, I wrote an article about this Global Competitiveness Index too, and one of my frequent commentators, klm, has made a comment which I think is still relevant. I would like to post his comment here:
Dr. Hsu. If you take a look at the list above Malaysia (Editor: the list refers to the 2009 list not 2012), other than Qatar and UAE, these countries are the so called developed countries of the world, the tier 1 countries. Malaysia had done well in reaching the doorway. But crossing this door way is a very different thing from what Malaysia had done in the past. Malaysia is having great difficulties in make the crossover. The characteristics of these countries are:
1. Liberal and open economy
2. Other than a few, a vigorous and democratic government system
3. Strong governance, transparency and accountability
4. Little or no public corruption
5. Quality education system
6. Knowledge industries
Strong nurturing of talent
7. open immigration
These are many things Malaysia do not have. Without the political will to make the changes needed, Malaysia will still be at the doorway 10 years from now.
Three years from that last article on our competitiveness, we are still at the doorway, unable to move out and up into the top ranked nations.
Even though I wish my country well, I think klm may be right that Malaysia will still at the doorway 7 years from now.