Malaysia in 2030

Liew Chin Tong
The Malaysian Insider
October 16, 2013

In discussing the issues we face in 2013, it will be instructive for us to find new perspective by looking beyond the horizon to consider the possibilities that 2030 holds.

Both Tun Abdullah Badawi who was Prime Minister from October 2003 till April 2009 and Dato’ Seri Najib Razak who took over from him since then have missed the boat to reform Malaysia. Likewise, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s Vision 2020 is just a distant dream, a castle in the sky.

Post-13th General Election, discussions about Malaysia’s future is no longer depending on Barisan Nasional. The government-in-waiting Pakatan Rakyat and the rakyat (people) need a broader horizon as a reference for this kind of conversation.

What will 2030 look like?

Barring any unforeseen circumstances, Malaysia’s population is expected to increase in tandem with the rise in world population. Coupled with the rising life expectancy rate, this will increase Malaysia’s median age and leave us with an aging population.

The resulting demands of a population increase deserve conscientious deliberation – the needs of food security, housing, transport, water, energy, healthcare and aged care, and education – all these must be considered.

Currently the BN government’s approach towards energy and water management appears to be a race to build more water facilities and infrastructure to meet the so-called future demand. However I would argue that this is in fact the demand of cronies.

In the long run, a supply oriented water management system alone will not be sustainable without water conservation efforts. Population increase will give rise to unlimited demand but those in power have yet to recognise that the earth’s natural resources are limited.

Fundamentally, demand management is the long range goal of water conservation efforts. In the context of Selangor’s water woes, do the people really benefit from creating new water sources such as the Pahang-Selangor water transfer project? Or are such infrastructure projects a cash cow for federal government-appointed contractors?

Instead, a forward-thinking government should strive to reduce the percentage of non-revenue water (source water lost due to pipe leakage, pilferage, or spillage) from 35% to at least the 15% benchmark set by Penang, as well as implement other water conservation strategies.

By 2030 when global warming severity increases, resource conservation and carbon emission reduction will be the inevitable steps we must take, not only in Malaysia but the world over. Our approach towards energy management also requires input from a demand-management angle.

Unless we rethink our traffic system and cities, the surge in private vehicle ownership will turn our highways into car parks. In other words, building more roads will not solve the problem of traffic congestion.

Urban sprawl grows as housing developers continue to build further into the suburbs and expand cities’ borders. Forced by rising house prices to live further away, consumers will become economic victims of rising fuel prices in a private vehicle oriented transport system.

Moving away from outdated models

Malaysia’s development model has always been capital city-centric, marginalising other states, particularly Sabah and Sarawak. The peninsular North-South highway (built with private vehicles in mind) reduced the usage of and planning for our railway system, precipitating the “hibernation” of many once-bustling railway towns.

We must build an affordable national public transport system, which should be mostly bus-based (for affordability) but also comes with a new vision for the railway. Our railway has not expanded much since independence. It is still essentially a north-south link with very little “branches” and loops to more cities and towns. The railway can be a viable mode of transportation for people and cargo.

With a bigger population in Malaysia and the world, food security is highly crucial for the stability of the nation. Hence there is a dire need to make the agriculture sector more vibrant.

With an aging population, Malaysia needs to think about the quality and economics of our healthcare system. Education and research have important roles to play as drivers of our economy.

We must also be alarmed by the fact that the current low-income environment would result in a very poor cohort of senior citizens as retirement needs are almost determined by one’s saving with very little state or collective support. Therefore, we must address the question of inequality and low-income now to avoid a societal breakdown.

Evaluating 2013 in the light of 2030, much deconstruction and reconstruction of our current train of thought are needed. We have to move away from outdated models of development. Unfortunately the BN government is not prepared to do so, putting our not-too-distant future at a serious risk.

We need a new way of seeing Malaysia and the world. We need to understand the challenges ahead of us. When we start to think in the new framework or terms of reference, we shall see beyond the old racial perspectives and work on our common agenda. – October 16, 2013.

  1. #1 by yhsiew on Wednesday, 16 October 2013 - 11:54 am

    The peninsular North-South highway was built with PROTON in mind – to encourage more people buy Tun Dr M’s national cars.

    One worrying future development is the adoption of nuclear power generation. Will Malaysia become the next Japan beset with radioactivity fallout problems like what is happening to Fukushima?

  2. #2 by Sallang on Wednesday, 16 October 2013 - 12:53 pm

    What you have written may be true. However, what can you do about it?
    BN also have people who can think. That’s why they introduce the MRT, Southern terminal and so forth.
    What you have suggested will be implemented later, but your name will not be published.
    Wait-lah! When they have found the right crony, or RM2 company, your suggestions will be looked into.
    Show it by example in Penang.
    Re-introduce the TRAM, extend the railway from Seberang Prai to Bukit Kayu Hitam.

  3. #3 by Winston on Wednesday, 16 October 2013 - 1:41 pm

    2020 is just a bloody scam!
    Why do we have to wait until then to become a first world nation?
    Our nation should be a very rich nation with its various natural resources in abundance.
    Far lesser endowed countries like Singapore and Hong Kong have already achieved that goal long, long ago.
    What’s even more galling is whether our country is not even close to resembling a first world country.
    Even now those ruling this country, instead of uniting it, is splitting it in whatever ways it can!!
    With race and religion as a wedge instead of a uniting force!!
    The lack of security, health facilities, housing policy among others which can make this a first world country is completely missing!
    Even our water supply is polluted to the extent that we need individual water filters in order to get clean water!
    And roads, even in Kuala Lumpur, are in a bad state of disrepair!!
    Most of our drains are still the uncovered ones; a legacy from British colonial times!!!
    So, after fifty over years of continuous UMNO/BN rule, we are still far, far away from being a first world country.
    But in the meantime, the wealth of a nation rich in natural resources is replaced by a Nation Debt of hundreds of billions of Ringgit!!
    And keeps increasing!!!

    • #4 by cemerlang on Wednesday, 16 October 2013 - 4:17 pm

      Again it is the wisdom in handling money. The nation’s money in your hands. Billions, trillions, zillions, whateverllions of ringgit malaysia. Hardcore poor. Unsupported handicapped. Jobless. How do you define a first world nation ? As of this year, Qatar is the richest nation in the world. Yet by status, can you call her a first world nation ?

  4. #5 by TheWrathOfGrapes on Wednesday, 16 October 2013 - 2:15 pm

    2020 – Malaysia achieves Mahathir’s Developed Country status.
    2025 – Malaysia sends its Malu-naut to the moon.
    2030 – Malaysia achieves Ultra Developed Country status.
    2030 – Malaysia sends its Malu-naut to the sun (going there at night, of course).

  5. #6 by cinaindiamelayubersatu on Wednesday, 16 October 2013 - 7:46 pm

    Hari ini dalam sejarah – umno terkubur 12 tahun. Mari sama sama kita jayakan.

  6. #7 by Noble House on Thursday, 17 October 2013 - 4:10 am

    Singapore’s first water masterplan was drawn up in 1972. In 1974, PUB built a pilot plant to turn used water into potable water. This was the precursor of today’s NEWater factories. But it was ahead of its time. The costs were astronomical and the membranes were unreliable, so the idea was shelved to await further technological advancement.

    In 1998, the necessary technology had matured and driven production costs down. In May 2000, the first NEWater plant was completed. The aim was to determine if NEWater was a viable source of raw water for Singapore’s needs. NEWater and desalination both were explored to reduce reliance on water imported from Malaysia, which has long been a source of friction.

    Currently, there are 4 NEWater plants in Singapore. The latest and the largest NEWater plant at Changi with a capacity of 50mgd was opened in May 2010. With this addition, coupled with the expansion of the existing plants, NEWater now meets 30% of Singapore’s total water demand. By 2060, NEWater is projected to meet 50% of Singapore’s future water demand. The quality of NEWater consistently exceeds the requirements set by USEPA and WHO guidelines and ironically is cleaner than Singapore’s other water sources.

    The history of NEWater may sound like an overnight success for Singapore. But its evolution is a journey that spanned 3 decades.

  7. #8 by hvpl on Thursday, 17 October 2013 - 6:24 pm

    I hope Liew Chin Tong has a strong technical team to explore 2030.

    I could find only one but significant flaw in his article. The emphasis should be less on healthcare but more public health. Public health is the key to reduce the cost of healthcare because the majority population is suffering from non-contagious chronic/lifestyle diseases (heart, diabetes, cancer & obesity) NOT infectious diseases.

    Chronic diseases is related to poor nutrition & poor diet/lifestyle (i.e. uncontrolled consumption of sodium, sugar and highly processed foods & little physical exercise). Thus, these diseases may be controlled by educating and providing the right environment to consume healthy whole foods as opposed to convenience-highly processed products and providing space for physical exercise.

    The evidence is all out there, where the typical American diet is dominant – United States, Mexico, UK, South America, etc.

    Please look at/ask for the evidence-based data from such sources as: University of California, San Francisco or “The Centre for a Livable Future”, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University or Jamie Oliver, among others.

    Talk to nutritionists instead of dispensers of drugs & medicines for the answer to a healthy population that will automatically result in a significant reduction of healthcare costs.

You must be logged in to post a comment.