08.10.2019 (New Straits Times Online) - KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia needs to safeguard its commodity exports, amid intensive controversy in the palm oil industry.
Economist and former Council of Eminent Persons member Dr Jomo Kwame Sundaram said the country’s export market for palm oil had declined over the years, further exacerbated by ongoing negative propaganda in Europe.
“We cannot bury our heads in the sand, pretending not to acknowledge the problem. We have to do something about it,” Jomo said on the sidelines of Khazanah Megatrends Forum 2019, here today.
“We have to pay attention to criticism and the challenges that we are facing including land grabbing, environmental disruption and labour issues,” he added.
Jomo also said the country’s role in growing the manufacturing sector had been declining due to the increase level of low services sector in the last 20 years.
“This is because we are bringing in a lot of foreign workers with almost five million (undocumented) and more than two million documented foreign workers.
“We are going for labour-intensive job, a low income type of job. We should not be focusing on this, while competing with Vietnam and Bangladesh.”
Instead, he said Malaysia should aim high in attracting and incentivising investments that generate high-skilled and high-income jobs.