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Election Watch

Malaysia's Commendable Improvement in World Bank Ranking in the Ease of Doing Business

Malaysians can take pride that Malaysia   has made commendable progress in  the   World Bank Ranking in the Ease of  doing  Business.

This   is  a  well earned   bouquet  to the  Pemudah  led by   the former  Chief  Secretary   Tan Sri  Mohd  Sidek and  Co-Chairman of  Pemudah Tan Sri Yong Poh Kon and  all  its  members for  their drive  and dedication  in achieving  this  progress in  the  World Bank Ranking.  As a former  Secretary  General, I am  sure my former  colleagues  are also encouraged  that  the Public  Service is seen to be  performing much better, especially  after receiving  many  brickbats.  The perception of the Public Service will now hopefully improve too!

The public will now expect  even better  quality of service   from  the public  service  as  they  have   shown that Malaysia Boleh! It is  therefore hoped  that the  Government will use more  innovative  measures, including  more  incentives and disciplinary action, to attain a higher    quality of  service to  the  public.

The best way forward  is for the Public  Sector  to adopt  more  best  practices  from the  private sector  which  is forced   by  global  competition  to  perform more competitively  all  the  time  or face the prospects of  losing  its  profits  and  business  opportunities for  growth.

Thus it has  to be  recognised  that  this   World  Bank Ranking   focuses  on  the  Ease  of  Doing  Business only. It is  therefore concerned  essentially with  the  business  sector  and not  necessarily   the  whole range of  public   services for the  non business  sectors  of  society. Thus the  vital areas  of public  Education, Health, Security, Environment, Transport   and   Inflation and meeting  the  Basic  Needs of the Poor,  the  Quality  of Life and  National Unity  of ordinary  Malaysians,  are  not  fully  included in  the   World Bank Rankings .

Furthermore  this  World  Bank Ranking   does  not  refer  to  the  Attractiveness  of  Investment   in  Malaysia, but  only  the  Ease  of  doing  business. Hence  for  example, the  overall policies    on  trade  and  investment, continuing growth  in  trade investment, the  widening  income  distribution,  research and  development,   the large  outflow flow  of private  capital  and  the  severe   brain  drain and rising  graduate unemployment , and  Corruption, are  not reflected       in  this ranking.  In fact these weaknesses  discourage businesses and   investment  from coming,  staying and  growing, however  easy  it is  to start  businesses!

Additionally, we  must ask why, despite of some progress, our  ranking for Starting of  Business   and Dealing  with  Construction Permits are relatively low at 54 and 96 respectively,  out of a total   of 185 countries. Is it because  there are still too many unnecessary and outdated  procedures  and processes that  are slowing  down  the  approvals? Is it  because  some  of  our  policies governing  approval  criteria  have lost  their  relevance?

Although  our  overall  ranking has  thankfully  improved, we cannot  afford  to  rest on our  laurels and  worse  still become  complacent. There  has  to  be  an  effective  Monitoring    system  that will keep  track of    our   performance  on a  continuing and sustainable  basis. In  this  regard, we  are fortunate  that  we  can  benchmark our  progress   against   our neighbours such as  the  City  State  of  Singapore and Korea  from  whose experiences we can learn and improve even further, to become a better Malaysia!

Finally, we must  now  go beyond  the  stage of assessing  the  Ease  of  Doing  Business  and  ensure that once  businesses    appreciate   the Ease  of  Doing  Business in Malaysia , they  will  want  to  do more  business and  will  stay on a long term  basis, to carry on doing more  business in Malaysia, despite  the  fierce  global competition.

We  must  also extend the World  Bank Ranking and  other  international ranking  to all  other  aspects of  our socio-economic and political life, including the advancement in our  Human Rights and in meeting our  Basic Needs to promote  a better  Quality  of Life  for all  Malaysians.

Then we can all be even prouder of  the World Bank  ranking  of the Ease of Doing Business in our country.   

Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam
Chairman Asli Center of Public  Policy  Studies
October 25th , 2013

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