Innovation & Talent

KL STREETWISE: KL’s young talent — shaping our future

I have often been told by MNCs that having diverse talent is what sets Greater KL apart from other cities
I would like to take this opportunity to wish all readers “Selamat Hari Merdeka”. Our 60th Merdeka anniversary is a great occasion to celebrate the stability, peace and unity in the country. It's also great that we have done so well in the 2017 SEA Games. Seeing Malaysians from all walks of life coming together to cheer on our home grown talent is in itself a heartening moment worth celebrating, medals aside.

Speaking of talent, at InvestKL, we recently took on the opportunity to do something different by showcasing our young Malaysian talents from various multinational corporations (MNCs) to engage top officials from our two overseeing ministries — International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed and Federal Territories Deputy Minister Senator Datuk Dr Loga Bala Mohan — as well as Pemandu Associates Sdn Bhd president and CEO Datuk Seri Idris Jala. The three spoke in a no holds barred open panel session with 300 young talents employed by MNCs based in Greater Kuala Lumpur (Greater KL).

While the discussion ranged from governance and transparency, education, crime and safety, all the way to geopolitics and mental health, the message was clear: Our young talents are invested in making Malaysia and Greater KL better places to live and work in, and key to that, as aptly put by Mustapa, is moderation and communication.
Governance, Transparency
Asked what could be done better for the country, our young talents overwhelmingly chose greater governance and transparency — over public infrastructure or even job security — the latter a mark of confidence in InvestKL and other agencies’ efforts in that sphere. As we continue to attract more multinationals to invest in Greater KL, it is reassuring to know that the highskilled jobs created by MNCs have allayed immediate concerns on job security.

I conclude that the sentiment of the youth here mirrors the latest of the government efforts such as creating a comfortable and convenient way to commute to work itself — via the newly launched mass rapid transit and having an integrated public transport system overall. Besides job creation, keeping our talent in touch and updated is an ongoing effort and critical towards promoting transparency and trust in our government.

While the influx of investors into the country is proof of existing governance and transparency, I believe that communication between the government and its people, especially the young talent, is key to take this further.
Quality of Education, Talent
As we continue to attract more multinationals into Greater KL, we want to ensure that quality talent birthed by a good education system in Malaysia is readily available and on par with global talent. The dinner was attended by about 300 highly-skilled and articulate young talent, who communicated through a live poll that they would prefer to continue their careers in Malaysia, given enough international exposure.

Coupled with seeing returning talent into the country, this proves that the MNCs that choose to set up hubs in Greater KL can continue to rely on quality local graduates, as well as the returning talent with international experience. Our education system, both public and private, continues to produce high quality talent, but not enough in numbers to meet the increasing demand and needs of MNCs, especially for high-skilled positions. Thus, the challenge now is to increase the quantity to a “critical mass” of 30%.
Propelling Greater KL Forward
Another poll on factors needed to propel Greater KL forward received more votes highlighting the need to reduce crime rate and improve safety, while attracting international investments into the city came in second. It was encouraging to see that there was less urgency for improved connectivity and traffic. This is a nod to what the government has been doing to reduce major congestion in Greater KL via implementing an integrated public transport system.

However, an interesting point brought up by Idris is that Malaysia’s crime rate is exactly the same as Singapore’s (300 incidents daily per 100,000 population). In fact, compared to other cities which are not spared by crimes such as terrorism, Malaysia has it on a lesser scale — with petty crimes being the main concern compared to larger national security threats like terrorism attacks.

I believe that the Kuala Lumpur City Hall, our Special Branch and police force have done a great job, especially to reduce or lessen the crime rate in Greater KL. Furthermore, the companies and expats who continue to come to Malaysia prove that our cities and country are still relatively safe to live and work in. Having said that, this is a continuous and ongoing effort.
Promoting Values, Peace and Diversity
Merdeka has always been about promoting unity between every Malaysians. During the dinner, I was amazed by the energy of the 300 young Malaysians who are multiracial and multicultural. In fact, I have often been told by MNCs that having a diverse talent is what sets Greater KL apart from other cities — as our talent are not only valuable in what they do, but also prized for their multilingual abilities.

Promoting values such as unity and inclusion would ideally lead to a more tolerant society — which in turn adds to the country’s attractiveness as an investment destination. By the end of the night, I was proud of Malaysia’s young talents wanting to do right and more for
their country. After all, the influx of MNCs and investments must translate to more benefits for the people, irrespective of colour, creed or economic background.

A prosperous Malaysia must also be an inclusive Malaysia with a sustainable future, not built on short-term goals but long-term ideas that will keep our country abreast with global developments. I am heartened that the youth — the future of Malaysia — are just like me, in it for the long-haul.

Datuk Zainal Amanshah, InvestKL CEO since 2011, brings with him 20 years of private sector experience in senior positions at MNCs, Malaysian companies and startups. You can follow Zainal on Twitter: @Zainalamanshah.
Source: The Malaysian Reserve