Malaysia has always been compared to 2 countries, Singapore and South Korea. Singapore because at one time, we were one country. And we are also compared with South Korea because in the sixties, Malaysia was booming economically, while South Korea was a laggard – but today we have swapped roles. From IMF 2012 figures:
|Country||Average Income (USD)|
Given that Malaysia has the fallen behind economically compared to Singapore and South Korea, it is a pleasant surprise that the latest Global Dynamism Index puts Malaysia on par with South Korea, tied at 13th, and just behind Singapore. Last year (2012), Malaysia was 23rd, South Korea 8th, and Singapore 1st.
I have always felt there were 2 Malaysias: One forward looking and dynamic – world beaters if given a chance, and another one inward looking and conservative. I suspect that the Global Dynamism Index only measures the forward looking part, and misses the conservative part.
I’m not saying the inward looking elements are all bad. Malaysia is still a conservative society, and many people find it difficult to cope in a fast changing environment. This conservatism provides some social stability, and cuts across all races in Malaysia: for example, the strong opposition to teaching Maths and Sciences in English by segments of both the Chinese and Malay population.
But there is no doubt that these conservative elements have held us back economically. Is that necessarily the price of stability? This index suggests that we have the potential to do much better.
The Global Dynamism Index was created by the accountancy firm Grant Thornton in conjunction with the Economist Intelligence Unit. It ranks 60 countries based on 22 business and economic factors.
Source: FT.com (requires registration to view).