It is time for a new development model driven by strong governments, as development becomes harder for Malaysia and similar countries.
While worsened by the pandemic, development has been a challenge even before Covid-19.
The prevailing industrial strategy in manufacturing around low value-added export orientation is becoming less effective in providing adequate jobs to sustain a prosperous and growing middle class. Given the state of technology in replacing human labour, high growth may only be enjoyed by a small segment of society.
Development needs to be informed by the right diagnosis of sectors.
Addressing labour market issues purely by reskilling workers for the service sector will not be sufficient if there is a continued high concentration of elementary and traditional service jobs. There needs to be broader productivity improvements in a wide range of sectors, including in smaller firms.
State capacity is important in driving the new development model.
Governments need to be a catalyst for change, leading efforts in technological innovation rather than leaving it purely to the private sector.
It is possible for Malaysia to bounce back from the Covid-19 crisis, but we need to reframe our approach towards health.
We must invest more in preventive care because without health, nothing else matters.
While Malaysia has a good healthcare system, we have performed below peer countries such as Thailand and Argentina. To achieve better health outcomes, we must look at health more holistically than just medical care, and include social and environmental factors too.
As we move towards Covid-19 becoming endemic in Malaysia, we must put in place strong strategies to remain vigilant.
This includes ensuring that all migrants are covered by our vaccination efforts. We must also put in place a robust testing strategy, including convincing businesses to invest in testing and keeping testing tools at a low cost.
We have big challenges ahead but collaboration across societies could provide solutions.
The pandemic and the looming climate crisis are both driven by human activities which violate planetary limitations. But as we have learned from the Greater Klang Valley Covid-19 experience, collaboration by experts across the government, private sector, and civil society organisations is key to solving major crises.
The fate of human is linked more than ever, as shown by Covid-19, climate change and globalisation of jobs, and we face great uncertainties about what lies ahead.
Covid-19 puts into question much of what we thought we knew about global progress.
Countries that were previously thought to be well-prepared for pandemics such as the US, the UK and the Netherlands, in reality, mismanaged their pandemic response. By contrast, countries that were ranked low in pandemic preparedness such as China, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam have actually performed relatively well at keeping the pandemic at bay.
It is unclear how countries will cooperate to tackle future challenges.
Even with an imminent threat such as Covid-19, many countries, particularly the developed countries, behaved selfishly such as choosing to waste vaccines rather than distributing them to other countries with lower vaccine availability. Will we be able to address the threat of climate change together?
We are at the tip of globalisation in terms of how jobs are interconnected but also increasing unknowns.
With technology, workers have been able to work remotely across borders. This creates new opportunities for workers but also challenges from increased competition. The uncertainty from globalisation is further driven by the emerging “Cold War” resulting from trade disputes between the US and China.