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CHARTING A NEW ECONOMIC ROADMAP: Inclusive Development and Democratization

The workshop will put together perspectives that harness the potential for development in the 21st century Asia. By identifying critical elements that make up a progressive economic roadmap for Malaysia and similar middle-income countries, it hopes to provide strategies for progressive, inclusive and sustainable economic development in the context of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

The workshop will evaluate the new Malaysian government’s (under the Pakatan Harapan coalition) long-term plans for overhauling the country’s economy to make it more inclusive and at the same time highly competitive in the era of Fourth Industrial Revolution, anchored by Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) and automation. It will further evaluate the premise, direction, implementation and viability of the 'Membina Negara, Memenuhi Harapan' (Rebuilding The Nation, Fulfilling Dreams) 194-page manifesto in the new government’s first 100 days in office, and its broader aim to transform Malaysia into a vibrant 21st century democracy.

It will look at the status of implementation of key economic policy proposals, including the introduction of 'Skim Peduli Sihat' for communities in need, review of all mega infrastructure projects potentially saddled by corruption, setting up of a Royal Commissions of Inquiry into scandal-ridden institutions, easing of the burden of National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) on loan borrowers; standardization of the monthly minimum wages of employees across the whole country; reintroduction of fuel subsidies, elimination of unnecessary debts that were forced on FELDA settlers, and abolition of Goods and Services Tax (GST), among others.

Looking forward and at the macro-picture, the workshop aims to provide an avenue for evaluation of best practices in other countries across the region in the realm of economic development strategy. What are the lessons to be drawn from progressive reforms in other countries, including the introduction of participatory budgeting (PB), establishment and strengthening of anti-corruption and anti-trust commissions and agencies, (the proposal for) universal basic income (UBI), labor rights, education and health care reform, energy shift, innovation in the economic sector, among others, which are reshaping the economic landscape of developing countries across the world.

The workshop builds on the Kathmandu conference earlier this year, entitled “An Economy for Progress and Justice: Digitalization, 4th Industrial Revolution and a Progressive Roadmap for the Economy of the Future,” which explored the paucity of overreliance on Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as a measure of economic development and individual wellbeing of citizens in favor of new progressive indicators and policy measures.
By bringing together progressives from Malaysia and across the region, the goal of the workshop is to continue fleshing out ways to realize an economic order, which protects the dignity of each citizen, upholds egalitarianism without sacrificing productivity per se, and amend imbalances within existing economies, particularly in terms of rising inequality as well as concentration of wealth in the top one percent. Ultimately, the economy should provide the material conditions for progress based in justice, where the interests of the weakest and most vulnerable sections of the society are upheld.
1. Discuss the significance of social and redistributive justice to economic development and provide platform to share experiences from different agencies and/or countries;
2. Examine prospects for economic development in Malaysia by tracing it’s economic milestones, setbacks, and opportunities under a new government;
3. Identify critical and strategic elements that makes up a progressive economic roadmap fit for Malaysia and similar middle-income countries;
4. Provide strategies for progressive inclusive and sustainable economic development in the ASEAN context.