Capitalism needs strong state, higher tax and decent wages to survive, says deputy minister

by NG MIN SHEN / pic by BERNAMA

FOR Asian economies to have a clear path ahead, capitalists should campaign for a strong state with integrity and a fair regulatory framework that allows good industries to grow through productivity gain, said Deputy Defence Minister Liew Chin Tong.

“We must regulate businesses so that they pay workers decent wages. We must also facilitate world-class education to serve as a catalyst for science and technological research — which is often costly and not easy to fund privately — and safeguard our environment from destruction,” he said at the launch of the Good Capitalism Forum (GCF) 2019 in Kuala Lumpur (KL) yesterday.

Liew said the low wage model of Asian economies that began in the 1980s is still intact, therefore, most of the consumption comes through debt.

Asian countries are also increasingly dependent on domestic consumption to drive growth.

“In order to sustain the low wage structure, low end workers from Singapore work in Australia, low end workers from Malaysia work in Singapore, and Malaysia imports a huge number of unskilled labour from Bangladesh.

This scenario will have to change to ensure the survival of capitalism in these societies,” he said.

Distribution should not be done only through welfare and handouts, but it should instead take place through jobs, wages and the provision of public services.

Societal issues such as poverty, unemployment and lack of healthcare would be more effectively addressed through collaboration between the public and private sectors.

“It is hoped that the redefinition of what is good for capitalism will encourage a generation of enlightened capitalists who will campaign for strong states, a just regulatory framework, higher tax, controlled financialisation and a decent-wages-decent-work model in order for capitalism to continue to survive,” Liew added.

The inaugural GCF 2019 is a three-day conference which will be held in December 2019 in KL and will be attended by past and current world leaders, global business personalities, thought leaders and celebrities. Its patron is PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

The forum hopes to highlight current working examples of how the social capitalism approach to doing business is solving socio-economic problems faced by various communities worldwide.

Meanwhile, chairman and group CEO of technology conglomerate The Petra Group Datuk Dr Vinod Sekhar — who founded the Good Capitalism Forum Council — said social capitalism is about how companies operate that allows for wealth creation which is consistent, sustainable and has the power to elevate people out of poverty.

“Making profits is what commerce is all about, and if we can create a culture where a portion of those profits can be put towards real societal development, then economies are strengthened and there will be more profits to go around,” Vinod said.