Malaysia has revealed exactly what it had in mind when a government think tank requested US$444 billion in investment from the local private sector and government-linked companies (GLCs). On the drawing board are plans for a nuclear energy industry, a mass-transit system for Kuala Lumpur, an upmarket urban shopping district and a massive regional oil products hub close to Singapore.

Idris Jala, CEO of the Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu) and minister in the Prime Minister’s department, drew attention to the way South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore transformed their economies over the past decades and continued to advance. Representatives from over 200 of Malaysia’s private and government-owned sectors spent two months on the plans, identifying 131 projects in 11 key economic areas requiring large-scale investment. The announcement was part of Pemandu’s Economic Transformation Programme, and it will present its initiatives at a series of open days across the country starting today.

Analysts welcomed the plans, saying they were achievable but waiting to see how they would be executed. The World Bank was quoted as saying the plans were “conceptually right” but that more was needed. Others said the government must look at other reforms, with speed and scale a factor in determining how long the prosperity could last.

Malaysia dominated the region in attracting private sector investment, foreign and local, but has fallen down the rankings in recent years thanks to competition from powerhouse economies in neighboring countries. The government, which currently provides around half of all investment in Malaysia’s economy, would like to cut its share dramatically and transform Malaysia’s economy into something more modern and service driven, reaching ‘developed nation’ status by 2020.

sources & articles: Bloomberg and Business Times

Pemandu’s Open Day presentation: (PDF link)