THE MALAYSIAN URBAN FORUM 2021

A company under the Ministry of Housing and Local Government Malaysia, Urbanice Malaysia is a Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Cities and Community Wellbeing. In line with this mission, one of the hallmarks of Urbanice’s calendar is the Malaysian Urban Forum (MUF), where discussions and debates are held on sustainable urbanisation. International Business Review brings you the highlights of the High-Level Dialogue on Pathway for Inclusive Growth and Resilient Economy Recovery during MUF 2021.

Entrepreneurship for Inclusive Growth

Datuk Suriani Datuk Ahmad – Secretary General of the Ministry of Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives, spoke on how the Malaysian government is aiming to bring about inclusive growth through narrowing the economic gap and increasing economic participation. This, she said, is being done by encouraging entrepreneurship through the National Entrepreneurship Policy (NEP) 2030, which aims to make Malaysia an entrepreneurial country by developing an entrepreneurship ecosystem that is sustainable, balanced and inclusive. This is in line with the Shared Prosperity Vision (SPV) 2030, which is the national socio-economic development agenda. 

The Importance of Digitalisation

 

In his presentation, Datuk Seri Hasnol Zam Zam Ahmad – Secretary General of the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs – highlighted the efforts being made to reopen economic sectors as part of the national COVID recovery plan. He also spoke on the importance of businesses being more resilient in the post COVID situation, and how they need to embrace digitalisation and e-commerce in order to shift from what they have been previously used to doing to being ready for the new normal. 

Structured Solutions to Urbanisation

 

In her presentation, Datuk Beatrice Nirmala – CEO of The IBR Asia Group – highlighted the challenges brought about by rapid urban population growth such as increased pollution. She called for more sustainable methods of energy production such as building waste-to-energy facilities as well as encouraging the use of electric vehicles by reducing tariffs and taxes. Furthermore, town planners should make provisions for more walking and cycling paths so that more people can partake in these zero carbon activities. Also, more satellite cities should be built containing affordable housing and proper transport networks to give people ease of living and travel.

Call for Compassionate Capitalism

Distinguished Professor Pervaiz K Ahmed – Director of the Institute for Global Strategy and Competitiveness at Sunway University – spoke on how the suddenness and magnitude of the COVID-19 pandemic has helped speed up the rate of digitalisation. He also called for a shift to a compassionate capitalism model, where the focus is on enhancing business and economic value through doing good, and that strong communications, strong coordination, and strong collaboration as well as strong leadership are needed to achieve these aims.

Focus on Innovation

For Girish Ramachandran – Executive Director of 27 Advisory – innovation is needed to tackle the societal challenges that cities in Malaysia are facing, in particular the need to create jobs as many have been lost owing to COVID-19. He proposed the setting up of innovation districts which have high concentrations of knowledge-intensive industries to help spur innovation that will help tackle these and other problems that cities face.

 

While MUF 2021 was focused on the challenges of urbanisation in Malaysia, as Datuk Beatrice noted, it is not just a Malaysian problem but an ASEAN oneas well. Therefore, to reiterate what she said in her presentation, an ASEAN-wide dialogue needs to be held to exchange ideas and best practices on this matter. And this is something for which our new venture – VOICE OF ASEAN – is ready to provide a platform

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