By Shelley Flenniken, ’15
Wawasan 2020 or “Vison” 2020 was introduced by the former Prime Minister, Mahathir bin Mohamad, in 1991 and calls for Malaysia to be a self-sufficient industrialized nation by the year 2020. Now, only six years away from 2020 how close is Malaysia to reaching its goal? So many of the factors that would define a self-sufficient industrialized nation are debatable, but it is evident over the past 23 years Malaysia has come a long way. One of the most remarkable strides is their unemployment rate, which is around 3.3%, which is considered full employment. While unemployment rates are only one of the factors that define industrialized nations it is impressive nonetheless, especially in a time when so many nations are battling with increasingly high unemployment. Malaysia also has one of the highest per capita incomes in the region as well.
This week we had the unique opportunity to meet with executives from the Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC) and get a glimpse into how the government is working with the private sector to improve things like infrastructure and policies to attract the top global technology companies as well as groom the local Information Communication Technology (ITC) sector. We traveled about 45 minutes outside of downtown Kuala Lumpur to CyberJaya, which is next to PutraJaya, the seat of the Malaysian Government. (Interesting Fact: Putra means son of and Jaya means victory or success). MDeC is owned and funded by the Malaysian Government and was created to attract global technology companies while grooming the local Information Communication Technology (ICT) sector and is one of the major initiatives of Wawasan 2020.
MDeC had worked with the Malaysian Government to create a 10-pronged approach to bringing world-class technology businesses to Malaysia. These policies created incentives such as tax breaks, immigration assistance to ensure that the companies can bring whatever talent they need that is not available in Malaysia, infrastructure support, and much more. They are also working with the education system to better prepare Malaysians for the workforce.
Our next company visit will be with IBM, which has worked closely with MDeC. It will be interesting to see from their perspective working in the Malaysian Business environment and how it is contributing to their success as well as the success of Malaysia.
But don’t worry, it’s not all work over here! About two weeks before the Holi festival on campus several of us here were able to participate in a Holi event here in KL, the only difference was our colors took about a week to come off! Last weekend a large portion of our group headed off to Singapore to explore our neighbor to the south. Thanks to the efforts of Kirk Stokes we were able to meet some T-bird Alumi living in Singapore. And this weekend I headed off to the Island of Ko Lanta, Thailand in the Krabi province for a break from the hustle and bustle of Kuala Lumpur. Others traveled to Bangkok, Phuket, Bali, Perth, and many other locations! I was able to go island hopping and see some of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen including Maya Bay which was the set of the movie “The Beach”, eat some amazing food, swim with the fish and meet some incredible people.
I can’t believe there are only three weeks left in this module (and tri for that matter!), but I am looking forward to seeing what adventures are around the next corner!