Malaysia Outlook Conference 2023

Malaysia’s Turning Point: Opportunity Amidst Volatility
IDEAS Malaysia Outlook Conference 2023
© Institute of Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS)

The Malaysia Outlook Conference (MOC) is a platform for researchers, businesses, experts, and policymakers to come together to discuss and debate national public policies toward creating a better Malaysia while treading uncertainties in the new year. This year, MOC will again gather more than 100 experts. 

Hosted by IDEAS Malaysia since 2021, it has a strong following among policymakers, policy analysts, economists, civil society, and academics, as a platform to engage in robust discussions on issues impacting on nation and region, including economic issues, trade, human capital, political movement in Malaysia and socio-politics. Since then, MOC has expanded to encompass economic sustainability, socio-politics and societal development.

This year, with the theme “Malaysia’s Turning Point: Opportunity Amidst Volatility”,  MOC covers relevant issues vis-a-vis Malaysia’s political movements, including the new government’s priorities and the economic outlook in 2023 and beyond in Malaysia. MOC will deliberate on what the new government’s direction is after GE15, especially in the areas of policy direction, race relations and politics, as well as the rivalry between secular and religious political visions in Malaysia.

In terms of Malaysia’s economic outlook in 2023 and beyond, with the current ratification of CPTPP and RCEP, what steps can Malaysia take to guarantee that its economy will be more creative, future-proof, sustainable, and inclusive? However, while thriving for sustainable economic growth, as Malaysia is transitioning from an ageing society to an aged society by 2044, MOC will also explore what it means to strengthen the linkages between social protection and health on long-term policies and practices to improve the health and welfare of our ageing population to build a sustainable nation.

Session 1 – The new dawn of coalition politics

This session will discuss the impact of the new government coalition on policy direction, race relations and politics, as well as the rivalry between secular and religious political visions in Malaysia. The highly anticipated 15th General Election (GE15) resulted in the formation of a unity government which had previously been political rivals. This raises not only a question of the durability of the coalition, but also its policy direction, including whether the unity government led by Anwar Ibrahim would be able to deliver institutional reforms that Pakatan Harapan has committed to as a coalition that brings  together diverse political forces, would race relations, ethno-religious politics and attention to East Malaysia’s issues turn over a new leaf? Will rivalry between secular and religious political visions for Malaysia intensify further?

Session 2 – Global Trade and Regional Integration

With the ratification of the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) in 2022, Malaysia now enjoys greater linkages to the economies of the Asia-Pacific as well as the Pacific Rim. As an upper-middle-income economy built upon foreign direct investment and export-oriented manufacturing, economic openness remains crucial for Malaysia in facilitating its ongoing development and transition towards high-income status. Recognising this, the Malaysian government has sought to further expand its economic partners, having signed the EU-Malaysia Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (EU-MY PCA) in December 2022, which is hoped will pave a path towards recommencing discussions on the long dormant EU-Malaysia Free Trade Agreement (MEUFTA). Nevertheless, Malaysia seeks to build greater economic linkages during a major decoupling in the world economy. How will Malaysia navigate a global trade system in flux, with protectionism, friend-shoring, and geopolitical tensions a new normal to contend with? How will this determine the country’s ongoing development and ability to meet its citizens’ aspirations? This session intends to explore the benefits and challenges of existing trade platforms while weighing in on the pros and cons of expanding economic collaboration with new partners like the United States of America through IPEF and the EU through the EU-ASEAN FTA. 

Session 3 – Economic Outlook 2023 and Beyond: Weathering the Storm

With the projection of a global economic slowdown to begin in early 2023, the resilience of a small, open economy like Malaysia is key to weather the uncertain terrain of global malaise. Given such external shocks, what would be Malaysia’s economic growth outlook in 2023 and the next few years to come? Will the global recession be a short and shallow one? What are the upside and downside risks that should be highlighted? Experts will examine both macro and micro-economic challenges that the country will face in the short term while sharing their thoughts on remedies for the near and medium term to remain resilient to absorb potential shocks.

Session 4 – Malaysia in Transition: Rethinking Social Protection for a Healthier Ageing Society

As Malaysia transitions from an ageing society to an aged society by 2044, with over 14% of its population above the age of 65 based on latest projections, the health and welfare of older persons must be prioritised in efforts to build up a sustainable nation. Given that health is a powerful lever for achieving social protection and inclusion for the ageing generation,  how ready is Malaysia’s social protection and healthcare system for its ageing population? In this session, the experts will explore what it means to strengthen the linkages between social protection and health and share their thoughts on long-term policies and practices on improving the health and welfare of our ageing population.