Walking the last mile of equitable and inclusive growth
Over the past five decades, Malaysia has achieved significant results in its implementation of the growth-with-distribution strategy, reducing the incidence of poverty in Malaysian households dramatically from almost 50% of the population in 1970 to 1.7% in 2012 as well as notably narrowing inter-ethnic inequality through a range of affirmative action policies since 1971.
- As this is Malaysia’s first NHDR, the entire process has helped to build national capacities in developing such a report in line with international best practices. With such capacities built, it opens the doors for future reports to be undertaken and also the possibility of developing the HDRs at regional or sub-national levels on issues that demand focus at a more disaggregated level.
- Generated a wide range of interests from government and civil society on the human development issues highlighted and paving the way for further discussions on the policy recommendations from the report.
- Created a common platform for multi-stakeholder consultations by bringing together diverse (and sometimes conflicting and competing groups) and reducing silos when deliberating on some of these common human development issues that require collective action.
- Through its robust consultation process, the preparation of the report culminated with the NHDR Public Seminar in July 2013, attended by over 180 participants from diverse backgrounds, both public and private sectors.
- The NHDR is expected to have a wider reach and impact when the report is followed with a series of effective advocacy and follow-up activities in 2014.
However, there are remaining gaps and issues that require specific attention by the government and relevant stakeholders, which among others includes issues such as pockets of poverty (among certain ethnic sub-groups), vulnerable groups in urban settings, gender inequalities, spatial disparities (between states and also between urban and rural communities) and vertical inequalities (intra-ethnic). Although the government has allocated a significant portion of the budget on social issues through its 5 year development plans and continues to implement a range of programmes both at the national and sub-national levels, there are still avenues for strengthening and further refining the programmatic approaches in addressing these remaining challenges.
Human Development Reports (HDRs) are UNDP’s flagship products, putting human beings at the centre of the development discourse and encouraging new ways of thinking and measuring development at the global, regional and national levels. In line with the aspirations of the country to ensure and enable inclusive growth to benefit all sectors of the population, UNDP Malaysia initiated the National Human Development Report initiative (NHDR) which seeks to emphasize inclusive growth as both an outcome for the nation as well as a process of engagement with national stakeholders in charting the future development blueprint for the country.
The NHDR initiative which will lead towards the development of an independent report and analysis aims to provide a coherent analytical policy framework by focusing on achieving high economic growth and underpinned by the principles of inclusiveness. This framework also enables a multidimensional human development approach to take center stage and strengthen the country’s policy discourse. By embarking on its first NHDR, the report will assist in highlighting new elements such as inequality in wealth and capabilities as well as promoting a multidimensional approach and relative poverty measurement as complements to Malaysia’s existing poverty line income (PLI). The entire report is independently researched and written by a team of Malaysian experts with strong support from national counterparts
Upon the final development of the NHDR, the Economic Planning Unit in the Prime Minister’s Department (EPU) will be submitting the NHDR to the National Development Planning Committee (NDPC) for Malaysia’s medium-term planning purposes. The NHDR will also be used by EPU as inputs to the 11th Malaysia Plan formulation and policy dialogues. By serving as inputs to the 11th Malaysia Plan, which is the country’s main document for its medium-term development planning from 2016-2020, the NHDR will potentially strengthen the considerations of the government in its policy design, budgetary allocations, enhancing public service delivery mechanisms and monitoring and evaluation frameworks in the country.
Beyond being a policy oriented document, the NHDR’s emphasis on participatory process has created a policy dialogue space for stakeholders from government, civil society and academia to discuss and deliberate with the Government on the common issues of inclusive growth facing the country. Upon the publication of the report in 2014, it will also be used as a platform and tool to engage youths, civil society groups, government agencies, the, private sector and the general public on the issues raised in the report.
The NHDR provides a reaffirmation of the remaining challenges in the country and highlights emerging trends through new conceptualization and measurement approaches, which has the potential to raise fresh impetus for actions and innovative solutions. Through the advocacy and follow-up activities planned, the NHDR can be further used as an instrument to create awareness and generate interest and ownership in the issues raised in the report for further actions in the coming years as Malaysia seeks to achieve its Vision 2020 of an advanced and developed country.