Chin Tong posits that we need to realign Malaysia’s main policy of a country that is heavily dependent on cheap oil.
We have been a nation that has been growing in many ways but some of the assumptions we have been using maybe not useful anymore. For instance, we have sprawled KL to even Seremban as part of KL. And the reason? We have cheap petrol and able to create a private car culture. But the question will be are we able to continue to subsidise petrol? Do we want to maintain a car ownership culture or pay people to take busses?
Bukit Bintang will be an important place especially the space between PNB Tower and TRX: we have to bring back people into the city, but not necessarily owning spaces but renting spaces. Before the model was about access to homes not home ownership. Do we need everyone to own a house? Maybe not.
The importance of oil to the Malaysian economy
1974 discovery of oil let to expansionary policies without threatening/changing existing structures too much including the dawn raid of the London Stock Exchange where the goverment acquired a British Plantation and began the move to turn plantations into real estate plays. Housing in suburbia was ok because we have cheap oil and we can drive to work. Chin Tong posits that we need to rethink that model, perhaps PNB, Sime Darby shift from bulding homes to sell in suburbia to bulding homes for rent in Bukit Bintang.
This then requires rethinking of Government’s role.
In the mid 1980s we became the a leading exporting nation and together with being a mixed economy, it even managed to steer us out of financial crises on 1996. But is the export led model still relevant? It leads to supression of wages to make exports competitive.
So new things to think about: the role of oil, the role of GLCs, the role of property, the role of government, what we think of private car usage, do we export our way out of problems or do we create a society that enriches citizens to spend instead of borrowing to spend.