Malaysia has announced a plan to build a ‘green economy’ and ‘smart cities’, enlisting the help of a panel of international luminaries to help develop a plan for the future.

Prime Minister Najib Razak was in New York to convene the 42-member Global Science and Innovation Advisory Council, which includes economist Jeffrey Sachs, tycoon Steve Forbes and chairman of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Rajendra Pachauri.

The new Malaysian economy should focus on energy efficiency, science and technology, as well as educating and training its workforce to create more entrepreneurs and innovators. As well as chasing ‘quick wins’ in proven local industries like palm oil, Malaysia would also strive to create ‘smart cities’ and ‘smart towns’, with access to the internet as well as basic services like electricity and water. All would be provided efficiently with information technology.

This piece from Channel NewsAsia is cautious in its support for the new proposals and of Malaysia’s grand economic projects in general. Citigroup economist Kit Wei Zheng said that while Najib’s government had been successful at attracting more foreign investment, overall results were slower and did not match the announcements being made. Others, like Gurmit Singh of the Centre for Environment, Technology and Development Malaysia, questioned the meaning of ‘green economy’ and wondered if it meant just a ‘repackaging of products’.