Wong Chen: Market liberalisation now will do more harm than good

WHILE several economists have called for the Government to implement market liberalisation to revitalise the economy, a lawmaker seems to disagree with the idea.

“Market liberalisation is not the solution for now. It will only create more unemployment problems as our Government linked companies (GLC) and the civil service will have to shed jobs.

“Market liberalisation should be considered when the market is hot,” Parliamentary Select Committee for International Relations and Trade chairman Wong Chen told FocusM.

In October last year, K Konsult Group CEO Koong Lin Loong said that the current economic climate that was ravaged by the COVID-19, provides great opportunity for Malaysia to embrace free market practices.

“The Government should not be involved in business. Instead, it should facilitate businesses and adopt market friendly policies to boost investors’ confidence and create jobs,” he was reported saying.

Koong’s views was supported Tricor Malaysia Sdn Bhd chairman Veerinderjeet Singh. However, he cautioned that some strategic economic sectors needed to remain under local control for national security purposes.

“We cannot allow foreigners to take control of sectors such as food production. In my view, the energy sector should also be kept under our control but air carrier industry can be liberalised,” he stated.

Address underemployment, as well as unemployment

Touching on job losses due to the pandemic, Wong Chen lauded the Government’s initiative to create 500,000 jobs under the Jaminan Penjanaan Pekerjaan (JanaKerja) scheme.

However, the PKR MP reiterated his stand that the Government need to work hand in hand with the private sector to realise the aspiration.

Wong Chen added that the Government’s flip-flop in decision making and the Emergency proclamation were driving investors away, both local and foreign.

“The Government must end the Emergency, improve governance, fight corruption, be more transparent and accountable in order to re-attract domestic and foreign investments to create jobs,” he stressed.

Wong Chen then added that the Government should also address another problem which is not spoken of as much as unemployment, which is underemployment.

“Underemployment is caused by a mismatch between market demand and supply of workers from institutions of higher learning.

“To resolve the matter, we must instill closer ties between industries and educational institutions to bridge the mismatch,” he opined.

According to Department of Statistics Malaysia, the number of graduates working below their academic qualification has soared to 22%, or 1.89 million, as of end 2020, compared to the same period in 2019.

The situation was exacerbated with COVID-19 triggered economic downturn, which made engineers, aircraft pilots and other professionals taking small jobs after losing their employment.

As per the data, about 894,000 individuals between the age of 25 and 24 are underemployed; whereas another 445,200 people are aged between 35 and 44. – Mar 11, 2021.

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