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Malaysia: PBM’s ‘Great Reset’ Narrative Needs Deeper Scrutiny – Analysis

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Another political party aligned to the Malay polity? 

The newly created Parti Bangsa Malaysia (PBM), or Malaysian National Party launched its policy platform on 21st December. The launch didn’t get too much publicity at the time due to the flood crisis and the platform escaped any deep analysis. 

The policy platform launched by Nor Hizwan, a former political secretary for the plantation industries and commodities minister, Zuraida Kamaruddin titled “The Great Reset 2030” is strikingly similar to the “The Great Reset” initiatives espoused last year at the World Economic Forum (WEF), held at the elite skiing resort village of Davos, Switzerland.

Nor Hizwan espoused that “The Great Reset 2030” should be embraced by ordinary Malaysians. He used the emotive arguments that Malaysia is now far behind its neighbour Singapore because of “systemic” socio-political, economic, technological, and education issues. In addition, Nor Hizwan condemned racial and religious based politics that has divided the nation. 

These arguments many will agree with, where Nor Hizwan specifically targets the Millennial and Zoomer generation, who will be able to vote for the first time during the next general election. 

PBM’s solutions to Malaysia’s problems closely follow some of the WEF Great Reset ideology. Hizwan identified five technological disruptions that are putting Malaysia behind the rest of the world. These include artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, genome sequencing, blockchain, and clean energy. Hizwan’s solution is Malaysia embracing Industry 4.0. 

This is unsuitable for the majority of Malaysia’s 1,151,339 cash-strapped micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

Industry 4.0 is the latest buzzword the current government has already allocated RM45 billion over the next five years. Most of the funds so far have gone to large corporations to undertake Readiness Assessment Programs (RAP) on the premise of increasing current worker productivity by 30 percent. The beneficiaries of this scheme have been a small group of connected elite consulting companies. 

Industry 4.0 requires extremely high capital investment, long learning curves, and long payback periods that will take years. Very few of Malaysia’s current MSMEs can afford to do this. 

Many Industry 4.0 systems are not agile as claimed. The vast majority of Malaysian MSMEs still rely on manual labour, utilize rudimentary production methods, and operate on shoestring finance, with spasmodic customer bases. 

Consequently, there are going to be few multiplier effects from the large elite companies that take up Industry 4.0, subsidized by the taxpayers. 

PBM might be better to focus on the 5.6 percent of the population in poverty, that effects one in twenty Malaysians, or 1.7 million people. There is a greater need for the transformation of rural industries and SMEs in the Malay heartlands, and urban areas that aspire to increase their revenues and incomes. 

It appears the new paradigm that PBM advocates is best suited to the elite, rather than the masses. PBM needs to offer a policy that will benefit all of the people across the demographic spectrums of Malaysian society. PBMs policy is just the same as the current Ismail Sabri government. 

In addition to PBM’s plagiarising of the WEF’s ‘Great Reset’ narrative, there are a number of other issues that need to be further investigated. These may put the party’s six pillars of comprising young people’s aspirations, being multiracial, representing women, education, economy, and technology into question.

There are deep suspicions that PBM is a vehicle being readied for the Azmin Ali and Zuraida group, along with the other PKR defectors. They announced the setting up of a new party last June. The 53,000 members from the Penggerak Kommuniti Negara (PKN) that were reported to have pledged allegiance to PBM, was an organization formed by Zuraida, and now led by Nor Hizwan. Even though PKN is an NGO, there have been question over the organization’s close links to the Ismail Sabri government. 

This is consistent with PBM’s own pledge of support to the current government, hardly an independent position supporting the narrative of the party launch on 21st December. The current Ismail Sabri government has been heavily criticized by NGOs and political commentators over racial bias in both the 12th Malaysia Plan and budget. 

Murray Hunter’s blog can be accessed here 

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Murray Hunter

Murray Hunter has been involved in Asia-Pacific business for the last 30 years as an entrepreneur, consultant, academic, and researcher. As an entrepreneur he was involved in numerous start-ups, developing a lot of patented technology, where one of his enterprises was listed in 1992 as the 5th fastest going company on the BRW/Price Waterhouse Fast100 list in Australia. Murray is now an associate professor at the University Malaysia Perlis, spending a lot of time consulting to Asian governments on community development and village biotechnology, both at the strategic level and “on the ground”. He is also a visiting professor at a number of universities and regular speaker at conferences and workshops in the region. Murray is the author of a number of books, numerous research and conceptual papers in referred journals, and commentator on the issues of entrepreneurship, development, and politics in a number of magazines and online news sites around the world. Murray takes a trans-disciplinary view of issues and events, trying to relate this to the enrichment and empowerment of people in the region.

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