SINGAPORE (Jan 21): Why do I say this? There has been much talk and discussion about how New Malaysia should move forward from hereon. We know that government finances are stretched and, therefore, can no longer prop up the economy with huge spending. We also know that the people are struggling, with sluggish income growth and rising cost of living. Therefore, we cannot expect a big boost from consumer spending either. Case in point: Retailers are having a tough time and sales for big-ticket items such as cars and homes are slow.

I have some ideas. In fact, I have written about this subject several times. I believe the government should let the private sector take the lead. Embrace technology and digitalisation to drive innovation and investments, enhance assets utilisation and productivity. All these will, in turn, underpin sustainable and quality growth as well as create higher paying jobs that will lift overall income levels.

Detractors may contend that Malaysia does not have that capability, that we are lagging in knowledge capital. We compare ourselves to our neighbours in Singapore and decide we come up short. I do not believe this is true. Perhaps it is in our mindset. I travel a lot. That gives me a pretty good perspective on the efficiency of the immigration process in different countries. And I can say that the Malaysian immigration system is one of the most efficient and advanced in the world. The facial recognition technology installed at auto gates at the airport can process passport entry/exit within seconds.

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