Developmentalism and Dependency in Southeast Asia: The Case of the Automotive Industry

By Jason P. Abbott | Go to book overview

4

Malaysia: managing foreign capital

Introduction

After Thailand, Malaysia was the most successful of the so-called second wave of NIEs. Between 1971 and 1990 growth rates averaged 6.7 per cent per year, a rate that accelerated to an average 8.8 per cent between 1989 and the 1997 Asian financial crisis (DTI, 1997). Practically written off by some observers in the mid-1980s (Robison et al., 1987), the Malaysian economy has been transformed with the share of manufacturing in GDP rising from 14 per cent in 1971 to 33 per cent by 2000 (Eighth Malaysia Plan, 2001). Diversifying away from raw material production and traditional manufactured exports to goods such as semiconductors, diskdrives, telecommunication apparatus, calculators, colour televisions, airconditioners and AV equipment, Malaysia was in 1997 the nineteenth leading exporter of world merchandise. Furthermore, Malaysia was ranked fourteenth in terms of international competitiveness and third among non-OECD countries after Singapore and Hong Kong (World Competitiveness Yearbook, 2001). Among the three economies examined in this book Malaysia perhaps more than Thailand or Indonesia, has sought to deliberately emulate the developmental experience of Japan and, among the NIEs, South Korea.

Like Japan, under the direction of Prime Minister Mahathir, Malaysia adopted a notion of Malaysia Incorporated, symbolising a commitment to a collaborative relationship between the public and private sector and between foreign and domestic capital towards long-term strategic goals (Hilley, 2000, p. 255). Like South Korea, Malaysia launched a heavy industrialisation import-substitution drive in order to deepen the country's economic structure particularly in automobile production, high technology exports and more recently aerospace.

As noted in Chapter 1, in order to assess whether or not the developmental experiences of Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand conform to a state-led development paradigm Deans' (2000) five-fold definition of the ideal characteristics of the CDS in East Asia will be used. Having considered the extent to which Malaysia conforms or deviates from this 'model',

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