Malaysia’s Commendable Improvement in World Bank Ranking in the Ease of Doing Business

Malaysians can take pride that Malaysia has made commendable progress in the World Bank Ranking in the Ease of doing Business.

This is a well earned bouquet to the Pemudah led by the former Chief Secretary Tan Sri Mohd Sidek and Co-Chairman of Pemudah Tan Sri Yong Poh Kon and all its members for their drive and dedication in achieving this progress in the World Bank Ranking. As a former Secretary General, I am sure my former colleagues are also encouraged that the Public Service is seen to be performing much better, especially after receiving many brickbats. The perception of the Public Service will now hopefully improve too!

The public will now expect even better quality of service from the public service as they have shown that Malaysia Boleh! It is therefore hoped that the Government will use more innovative measures, including more incentives and disciplinary action, to attain a higher quality of service to the public.

The best way forward is for the Public Sector to adopt more best practices from the private sector which is forced by global competition to perform more competitively all the time or face the prospects of losing its profits and business opportunities for growth.

Thus it has to be recognised that this World Bank Ranking focuses on the Ease of Doing Business only. It is therefore concerned essentially with the business sector and not necessarily the whole range of public services for the non business sectors of society. Thus the vital areas of public Education, Health, Security, Environment, Transport and Inflation and meeting the Basic Needs of the Poor, the Quality of Life and National Unity of ordinary Malaysians, are not fully included in the World Bank Rankings.

Furthermore this World Bank Ranking does not refer to the Attractiveness of Investment in Malaysia, but only the Ease of doing business. Hence for example, the overall policies on trade and investment, continuing growth in trade investment, the widening income distribution, research and development, the large outflow flow of private capital and the severe brain drain and rising graduate unemployment, and Corruption, are not reflected in this ranking. In fact these weaknesses discourage businesses and investment from coming, staying and growing, however easy it is to start businesses!

Additionally, we must ask why, despite of some progress, our ranking for Starting of Business and Dealing with Construction Permits are relatively low at 54 and 96 respectively, out of a total of 185 countries. Is it because there are still too many unnecessary and outdated procedures and processes that are slowing down the approvals? Is it because some of our policies governing approval criteria have lost their relevance?

Although our overall ranking has thankfully improved, we cannot afford to rest on our laurels and worse still become complacent. There has to be an effective Monitoring system that will keep track of our performance on a continuing and sustainable basis. In this regard, we are fortunate that we can benchmark our progress against our neighbours such as the City State of Singapore and Korea from whose experiences we can learn and improve even further, to become a better Malaysia!

Finally, we must now go beyond the stage of assessing the Ease of Doing Business and ensure that once businesses appreciate the Ease of Doing Business in Malaysia, they will want to do more business and will stay on a long term basis, to carry on doing more business in Malaysia, despite the fierce global competition.

We must also extend the World Bank Ranking and other international rankings to all other aspects of our socio-economic and political life, including the advancement in our Human Rights and in meeting our Basic Needs to promote a better Quality of Life for all Malaysians.

Then we can all be even prouder of the World Bank ranking of the Ease of Doing Business in our country.

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