I am honoured to be appointed a member of the Perak State economy advisory council. To fulfil my obligation, I have written this article which can help improve Perak’s economy.
Just after independence until 1970, Perak was the most industrialized state in Malaysia with a thriving SMI sector. Residents had one of the highest standards of living in the country.
Today Perak is one of the poorer states in Malaysia after the continuous mismanagement of the BN state government.
Recently Perak’s socio-economic situation has gone from bad to worse. The government owned Khazanah Research Centre report shows that Perak is now the second poorest state after Kelantan Darul Naim. This may appear shocking and unbelievable. But it is true.
According to the statistics, 2/3 of the people in Perak earn less than RM5,000 per month and the state household income is less than the national average income.
The pathetic state of affair is made worse by the fact that according to the 10th Malaysia Plan, Perak is now the state with the most number of poor families. 122,000 households in Perak earned less than RM2380.00 per month and they comprised 12.2% of the national figure. This poverty figure is even worse than Sabah & Sarawak.
To correct this, the following factors are necessary:
- strong political leadership which does not pander to racial bias and favouritism. It is a fact that the great majority of Perak’s entrepreneurs come from the non-Malay community. They must not be discriminated against in the socio-economic sector. Whatever growth from their efforts will benefit the Malays as much as them
- a meritocratic culture. The state civil service in charge of development must be comprised of the best professionals and must include non-Malays at the highest level.
- crackdown on cronyism and corruption which was rampant in the BN state administration
- attract Perak talent and entrepreneurs from abroad and other states back to Perak with incentives
- ensure that FDI from whatever source – China, Singapore, Europe, US, etc. – is facilitated with the necessary infrastructure
- prioritize SMI and SME in state development since they have the greatest employment and income generating impact
- close down state corporations and enterprises which have become liabilities and will drag the state’s treasury into bankruptcy if no action is taken. For example; the State Government has lost more than Rm 300 million in the little Disney park project. It will continue to lose money because there so few visitors and the collection is not enough for maintenance.
- Since Tun Dr Mahathir wants private investors to start a new car manufacture, Perak Government should invite BYD, the largest electric vehicle manufacturer in China to open a factory to manufacture electric cars. BYD car can travel 250 miles and it takes 2 hours to recharge its battery.
- Pomelos from Perak is one of the best in the world because of its limestone and water. The Perak Government should allocate more land for pomelo growers so that Perak can become the largest exporter of pomelos.
Since Perak has many used mining ponds, the Government should lease out these ponds for fish raring so that Perak can become the largest producers of fresh water fish for export.
- The port in Lumut must be improved to be a container port and a highway from Ipoh to Lumut port must be constructed to facilitate export of manufactured products. Currently, all our manufactured products have to travel a longer distance to Port Klang.
- The State Government must improve the Ipoh airport and its runway so that larger planes can land. The airport building is like one of those in Africa. It needs renovation immediately. This improvement will encourage more tourists. Perhaps building a completely new airport somewhere nearby Lumut port on State land. Selling all the land of the old airport, may be enough to cover the construction cost of the new airport.
- The Government should invite the Chinese from China to invest in Perak, like what Johore has done. For a start, since Ipoh does not have a 5-star hotel, the Government should invite open competitive tender for a piece of suitable land to build a top-class hotel. The former Government had demolished a few Government quarters along Jalan Tambun, Ipoh for what purpose I do not know but it is surely suitable a top class hotel.
- As you know, most people cannot find work in Perak and they have to go to Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and other places to work. To create more job opportunity, the Government should allocate some money to give out soft loan to help start-up companies because they cannot get loan from commercial banks as they do not have adequate collateral.
I suggest the Government invite a few experienced business men to be committee members to select suitable loan applicants.