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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Malaysia’s Transformation Programmes: A Success Story


Salleh Said Keruak 

When we speak about development, Malaysia needs to be dissected into urban, semi-urban and rural. And each has its own needs when it comes to planning its development such as in the National Transformation Programme (NTP) and the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) that were launched more then five years ago in October 2010. 

The normal complaint is that while the majority of Malaysians live in the rural areas, the majority of the development is concentrated in the urban areas. Hence the people in the towns and cities receive all the money while the people in the villages receive very little. 

This is not entirely true. The problem is one can see the development in the urban areas while development in the rural areas is not so visible. This is because of the nature of development in the rural areas compared to that in the urban areas. Furthermore, the needs of those living in the rural areas differ from those living in the urban areas. 

For example, in the urban areas, the problem is with traffic congestion and the need to improve public transport. So this is the focus of the government, on how to ease the living in the big and busy towns and cities. And this is being done in the heart of Kuala Lumpur with train services extended to the fringes of Kuala Lumpur in the areas surrounding the Kelang Valley plus with the building of more highways. 

Facilities and services that are taken for granted in the urban areas may not be too available to those living in the rural areas. So while this is of not much concern to those living in the urban areas, those living in the rural areas need the basic amenities such as water and electricity, which those living in the urban areas have been enjoying for decades. And this has been one of the priorities of the government for those living in Sabah and Sarawak in particular. 

Take the example of Bario in Sarawak, which did not have a 24-hour electricity supply until quite recently. Due to the Rural Development NKRA under the Government Transformation Programme, Bario now has proper electricity supply. 

In terms of communications, over the last five years, the government has managed to link three million rural citizens via 5,300 kilometres of roads. These roads have enabled the rural economy to grow and have improved the quality of village life. Medical facilities and markets are also now within a manageable range. 

A further 5.5 million Malaysians living in the outskirts have also benefitted through the transformation programme via provision of clean water and reliable electricity. Through the National Transformation Programme, it has funded the rebuilding and restoration of 80,000 homes for 412,000 rural Malaysians. 

Over the last decade, Malaysia’s growth rate was about 4.7%. Sabah and Sarawak saw a growth rate of 3.0% and 4.2% respectively. According to the 2014 report, Sabah and Sarawak also led in terms of agricultural output at 16.8% and 15.2% respectively. What may be surprising to many is that Sarawak’s GDP per capita (RM41,000) is higher than Penang (RM38,000) and Selangor (RM37,000). So these figures speak for themselves. 

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