Sustainability Becomes Reality – Aired January 2010
Malaysia. A country on the move. From an economy once dependent on agriculture and primary commodities, Malaysia has today become an export-driven economy spurred on by high technology, and industries both knowledge-based and capital-intensive. Supported by a market-oriented economy and pro-business Government policies, Malaysia offers investors a dynamic and vibrant business environment with the ideal prerequisites for growth and profits. It is also one of the fastest-growing tourism destinations in Asia.
Malaysia is strategically located in the heart of South East Asia. It has only existed in its present form since 1963, when the federation of the eleven Peninsular states were joined by the Bornean territories of Sarawak and Sabah. Its closest neighbors are Thailand and Singapore in West Malaysia, and Brunei and Indonesia in East Malaysia. The capital city is Kuala Lumpur.
Malaysia’s success as an Asian economy was due in part to the visionary policies of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysia’s prime minister from 1981 until 2003. Known as the father of modern Malaysia, Tun Mahathir is the most dominant figure in Malaysian politics since its independence.
Tun Mahathir’s protectionist tactics during the Asian Financial crisis of 1997, that were considered so controversial at the time, have now acted as a model for countries all over the world in the current economic crisis. Under Tun Mahathir, industrialization changed the landscape of the country, manufacturing eclipsed agriculture in economic output, and huge prestige projects like the Petronas Towers and Kuala Lumpur International Airport were completed.
Malaysia aims to become a developed country by 2020, and progress is clearly being made. Economic growth is steady, Islamic fundamentalism is held in check, corruption is far less than in many Asian states, and race relations are generally harmonious.
Part of Malaysia’s Vision 2020 strategy includes focusing on sustainability and green technology. The Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water is the key coordinator and facilitator for the green technology roadmap and has already taken a lead in going green.
The Malaysian government has allocated billions towards companies that have enacted green technologies and environmentally sustainable initiatives. Thus far, the government is sending out preliminary signals that incentives will be the way to go to promote the national green agenda.
EDUCATION AND SUSTAINABILITY
The higher education sector in Malaysia is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Higher Education and has always enjoyed the highest national development budget . This symbolizes the commitment of the Malaysian government towards education. Higher education has grown tremendously during the past decade and Malaysia is fast becoming a centre of educational excellence in the region. Besides the relatively low cost of education, many choose to study here because Malaysia as an ideal gateway to develop Asian networks and relationships. They are also able to learn from Malaysia’s great diversity and rapid economic development.
Higher education institutions in Malaysia are aware of challenging global issues and want to produce students that make a lasting difference at all levels. Sustainability is now a focal platform to create a new future.
The starting point is to integrate sustainable development into the educational system so that future generations can be nurtured and imbued with the need to embrace ecological protection, conservation of resources, and human development based on the virtues of equity, accessibility, and quality.
The education strategies for sustainable development in the new century call for a total commitment from all Malaysians under the One Malaysia agenda, with a sense of urgency in the face of increasing competition. Education development plays an ever important role in building a sustainable, resilient and competitive society. Malaysia is ready to face these challenges in this new century in the field of education, both internally and externally, with the advent of globalization, trade liberalization, and the development of ICT.
TOURISM AND SUSTAINABILITY
“Malaysia, Truly Asia” captures and defines the essence of the country’s unique diversity. It sums up the distinctiveness and allure of Malaysia that make it an exceptional tourist destination. Malaysia is a welcome assault on the senses, a testament to its strong historical influences. The government of Malaysia is focusing more than ever on its tourism industry, which could soon become the nation’s number-one source of foreign exchange.
The bustling capital city of Kuala Lumpur. This is the youngest of Southeast Asia’s capitals, and is reflected in its metropolises dedicated both to multiculturalism and capitalism. Over the last few years, the number of expatriates living in Malaysia have increased.
Six hundred kilometres across the South China Sea from Kuala Lumpur and the Asian mainland is the East Malaysian state of Sarawak. A more different place to Peninsular Malaysia is hard to imagine.
Sarawak’s capital and most populous city is Kuching. The city has grown rapidly and is now home to some world-class hotels and conference facilities. Many international companies are now considering Sarawak as a more interesting destination compared to Hong Kong or Singapore for their business meetings and conventions.
Sarawak is a good example to the rest of Asia for sustainable tourism. Sarawak’s indigenous peoples have for centuries lived in multi-doored longhouses, visits to which are among the highlight of many travelers’ trips to Sarawak. Responsible tour operators in Sarawak bring back to the communities by paying certain longhouses an annual stipend in exchange for bringing in visitors, both Malay and foreign, sums which pay for structural renovations, medical expenses, and travel and education costs for longhouse children. It is an unforgettable and life-changing experience.
Every nation has a bright future if it harnesses all its resources towards economic, social and political success, in-line with global trends. When its leaders have a clear mission and vision. And racial and religious harmony and economic viability are a constant. And sustainability becomes a reality. By this definition, Malaysia is a success story. Selamat detang ke Malaysia. Welcome to Malaysia.