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publication October 28, 2019

Development Digest: Approaching New Frontiers


The Digest begins with a look at Malaysia’s development fundamentals including how the country’s public sector can be re-energized for growth and development, and how we can begin to understand and address the country’s official poverty standards. We also go deeper to delve into a range of key issues surrounding Malaysia’s development experience, including: the role of national development planning, the country’s efforts at establishing a labor market shortage list, promoting better economic opportunities for women, regulatory action in the digital economy, enforcing sustainability through new financing tools, the growth of Islamic sustainable finance, improving governance through citizen engagement, and assessing the effect of public capital on growth. Finally, we highlight stories of Malaysians on the ground, including innovators battling plastic waste in Malaysia, youths working to aid foreign domestic workers in the country, and some of our youngest key stakeholders who are working to make public policy accessible to all.

  1. Foreword - Toward Better Country Outcomes by Mara K. Warwick
  2. Foreword - A Year of Transitions by Firas Raad
  3. Re-energizing the Public Service in Malaysia 
    In most countries, the public service is the largest spender and employer and it sets the policy environment for the rest of the economy. The effectiveness and efficiency of a country’s public sector is vital to its success of development activities. For over 60 years, Malaysia’s public service has carved an admirable track record, as evidenced by the country’s level of development today.
    Author: Rajni Bajpai 
  4. An Idea Whose Time Has Come – Increasing Malaysia’s Poverty Line
    In recent months, the debate on redefining Malaysia’s poverty line and what it encompasses were reignited in the nation’s headlines, following the United Nations Special Rapporteur’s remarks on the country’s poverty rate. Being present in Malaysia, we had the opportunity to interact with stakeholders who were invested in the country’s poverty outcomes to help the  bottom 40% and drive more inclusive development. We delve into the matter to analyze Malaysia’s official poverty standards.
    Author: Kenneth Simler
  5. National Development Planning in Malaysia: Learning from the Past to Chart the Future

    Ascertaining the role of national development planning in supporting Malaysia’s aspirations to become a high income and developed country can be an enormous feat – given the complexities and challenges tied to remaining competitive in the global environment as well as meeting rising citizen expectations. National development plans and strategies have been implemented with varying levels of success in countries around the world - with the goal of promoting growth and shared prosperity for its citizens.
    Authors: Deryck Brown and Jeevakumar Govindasamy
  6. Malaysia’s Most Wanted: The Critical Occupations List
    New technologies, digitization, and automation are having a profound impact on the demand for workers across the world. New types of work are emerging, expectations of workers’ skills are changing, and some jobs are disappearing. In this environment, policymakers need to be a bit like football managers in the offseason: identifying where last year’s team came up short and working to fill gaps through training and new hires.
    Author: Harry Edmund Moroz
  7. Breaking Barriers: Toward Better Economic Opportunities for Women in Malaysia
    Greater gender parity in the labor market is more than a core development priority. In fact, the promotion of economic opportunities for women is one of the most promising avenues for Malaysia’s future development. But in order to do so, policymakers, employees and families alike must work to create more economic enablers for women.
    Authors: Achim Schmillen and Mei Ling Tan
  8. Malaysia’s Need for Speed: How Regulatory Action is Unleashing Ultrafast Internet
    In Malaysia, regulatory reforms are beginning to shape the trajectory of the digital economy to unleash ultrafast internet. The result has been beneficial to Malaysians, especially within the confines of a market with low adoption of fiber internet services in the past decade, compared to its regional peers. But now things are changing. The country’s broadband market is rapidly moving to become more accessible, with increased competition and better quality services - which could potentially expand the digital economy to provide the benefits of economic growth, job creation and social inclusion.
    Authors: Siddhartha Raja and Richard Record
  9. Defining Green: Malaysia’s Big Step Towards Sustainability
    How do banks decide where to lend if they don’t know what is green, environment- or climate-friendly? How do financial institutions quantify the financial risks associated with climate change? How can corporates issue green bonds if they cannot distinguish between green and non-green? How can asset managers respond to their clients’ preferences if there is no formal and agreed-upon definition?
    Authors: Farah Imrana Hussain, Rekha Reddy and Ahmad Hafiz Abdul Aziz
  10. How Malaysia Created a Conducive Ecosystem for Islamic Sustainable Finance
    Malaysia is largely seen as a global leader in Islamic Finance and has a strong agenda for green and climate-friendly investments. But this outcome did not happen overnight. It has taken many players – ranging from the country’s capital markets regulators, government bodies to the private sector.
    Authors: Ahmad Hafiz Abdul Aziz and Wei Zhang
  11. Improving Malaysia’s Governance through Enhanced Citizen Engagement
    In Malaysia, governance initiatives and reforms have almost entirely been focused on the supply side. However, it is important to pay attention to the demand side of governance. Malaysia’s civil service reforms to improve the efficiency of public service delivery needs to be supplemented by making officials more directly accountable to citizens. Improving governance by engaging citizens and strengthening local institutions is a policy implication that has lessons not only for Malaysia, but also for other countries around the world.
    Authors: Shahridan Faiez and Vijayendra Rao
  12. Assessing the Effect of Public Capital on Growth
    The Long-Term Growth Model Public Capital Extension (LTGMPC) extends the World Bank’s Long-Term Growth Model (LTGM) or the Standard LTGM, by separating total capital stock into private and public portions, with the former adjusted for quality. The LTGM-PC is used to analyze the effect of an increase in the quantity or quality of public investment on growth. It contains a new infrastructure efficiency index (IEI) that combines quality indicators for power, roads, and water, as a cardinal measure of the quality of public capital in each country. 
    Authors: Sharmila Devadas and Steven Pennings
  13. Meet the Innovator Battling Plastic Waste in Malaysia: Yasmin Rasyid
    Marine plastics have put our oceans in danger. By 2050, it is estimated the volume of plastic will be greater than that of fish in the sea. Countries in East Asia and the Pacific contribute the most to marine plastic pollution. For World Oceans Day 2019, we are shining a spotlight on innovators working to stem the tide of marine debris in the epicenter of this crisis.
  14. How a World Bank Youth Summit Winner is Helping Domestic Workers in Malaysia
    In 2017, Zenna Law won the Audience Award at the World Bank Youth Summit for her pitch on Pinkcollar, a social enterprise aimed at using technology to help migrant domestic workers in Malaysia gain safer and better access to work.
    Author: Min Hui Lee
  15. Youth of the Nation
    As the World Bank Group Global Knowledge and Research Hub looks toward approaching new frontiers, a major cornerstone of our work has been engaging the youth to be more involved in policy analysis, and allowing space for their voices to create impact on issues that matter. To that end, we have worked with various student and youth groups to facilitate knowledge-sharing on policy issues relevant to Malaysia and the globe. We speak to some of our youngest key stakeholders on their experiences.