Malaysian GLCs Must Think Global, Not Competing With Local SMEs In The Country

ByAzleen Abdul Rahim

Every government of the day wishes to build one thing—a stronger Malaysia. A country that is strong enough to survive any economic turmoil, downturn and disaster. A country that is strong enough to fend off any external economic pressure and continue making its citizens live life comfortably in harmony and safely.  This is one of many reasons why Government-Linked Companies or GLCs are created. In the context of Malaysia, the role of GLCs is primarily to run businesses on behalf of the government. The latter needs a vehicle to do this because it can focus on running the country successfully. Millions or perhaps billions were allocated and injected into these GLCs as capital. Many of these GLCs now are becoming giants in their respective industries. There are strugglers too. However, there’s one pressing need all of the GLCs must work on—their priority.


The present priorities are all wrong

Weak leadership tends to showcase a weak direction. This is the very reason why all their priorities are wrong. I believe it is wrong to prioritise their money-making project in the country, pressuring the Malaysian people to squeeze more out of their below-global-average monthly income to pay for necessities provided by these GLCs. This must change. It is wrong to see the people of Malaysia as their source of income. You do not need millions or billions to make money in the country. The reason why you are given a lot of money is to be out of your comfort zone and make money from the global market. Bring that money back to support the Malaysian people. This is what you should be doing. If you are proud of making money in the country, will the people be happy when you as a GLC are pressuring them with services that supposedly are free, as part of the government’s responsibility? Obviously not. From water treatment, sewerage, utilities, and expressways to education, medical and transportation, all these verticals which is just a fraction of it, by right, should be provided by the government to its people at no charge or minimal costs. At the moment this is not the case, thanks to you. This shows that our GLCs are weak. Malaysians in general are earning moderately and the government must ensure that their hard-earned income remains clean at their disposal minus the taxes and other legal deductions.


There is money to be made outside of the country

The way I look at it, the transformation of the present GLCs making them focus on the global market is pretty necessary. Policy reforms should encourage them to immediately zoom into global expansion, innovation, and collaboration. These GLCs no longer need support from the government. As a matter of fact, the financial spoon-feeding must stop. There is not much money that they can make out of the present 30 million people here in the country. They should focus on the global market instead. If they think that is a little bit of a stretch, then work on one continent first—go Asia. Or at the very least, attempt to conquer the Southeast Asian market first. As of November 2023, the current population of Southeast Asia is 689,185,373 based on the latest United Nations estimates, according to Worldometer. That is pretty much equivalent to 8.54% of the total world population. And if we minus 30 million Malaysians, the market potential is still huge. We are talking about 659 million covering other 11 different countries. All you have to do is to provide the right and strategic products, services or platforms.


Encourage SMEs and small businesses to flourish in the country

Transitioning towards a global outlook will automatically allow the growth of local businesses and SME ecosystems. Stop competing with them here, please. GLCs’ dominance in almost all sectors often results in limited market entry for smaller players. Sincerely, the small players will lose. By not getting themselves commercially involved here, they can nurture themselves not only to map their own expansion but also to the overall health and vibrancy of the local entrepreneurial landscape. What the GLCs can do basically is to encourage them to export. These small businesses and SMEs can be groomed through entrepreneurship labs, collaborations or even partnerships with GLCs that already built their presence in the region, continent or global market.



Economically speaking, Malaysia can never be a strong and influential country if we continue to allow these two things to happen. One is the growing appetite for FDIs or foreign direct investments. And two, weak government-link companies to play within the country making money from our own people. Simply look at China and India. Or perhaps Japan and the USA. Do they rely on FDIs or allow their giants to play in the country? The answer is obvious. No.

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