WHEN we declare Selangor a developed state we are not declaring that our state has achieved perfection and that there are no more faults or problems to solve; instead our declaration recognises an achievement that is plain for all to see.
What is wrong with admitting that we have achieved something to be proud of? Are we to say that for more than 40 years since our independence Malaysia has not progressed?
Is progress only the providence of the Western world? Do Asian nations aspiring to achieve developed status need to be perfect with no faults to be recognised as developed?
Why is it that so-called Western developed nations can be both developed and have homeless people in their parks, whereas Selangor, which has successfully relocated 31,925, or 66.8%, out of 47,781 squatter families (more than 80% will be relocated by August) to low-cost homes with all the basic amenities, cannot declare itself developed?
This is truly a case of myopic assessment.
Consider these facts: Selangor is the most industrialised state in Malaysia with 60.8% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) contributed by the industrial sector, which provides employment to 36.5% of the state's workforce. The second biggest contributor is the services sector (36.5%), which employs 60.8% of the state's workforce.
From 2000 to last year, Selangor received investment from foreign and domestic sources totalling RM28.54bil, creating nearly 100,000 jobs in the manufacturing sub-sector.
This year, Selangor was the top destination for investment in this sector, receiving more than RM6bil in investment, which created 24,146 jobs.
The state's GDP is nearly US$60bil (RM228bil), with Selangorians enjoying a per capita income of US$12,876 (RM48,928.80), measured using the purchasing power parity method.
Selangor’s infant mortality rate at 3.7 per 1,000 live births is better than that of Australia, Austria, New Zealand and Switzerland. Its teacher-to-student ratio for schools is 1:19 for primary schools and 1:16.8 for secondary schools, comparable to Japan.
There is no one body that ascertains or accredits any nation as a developed nation.
In order to ascertain our achievement, we commissioned the National Productivity Corporation (NPC) to conduct a study benchmarking us against 30 nations and regions using 75 indicators developed by the International Institute for Management Development for its World Competitiveness Report measuring economic growth, business, public sector delivery system and infrastructure.
According to the observation of the NPC, a developed nation has attained a minimum ranking of 1st to 20th in 70% of the 75 indicators.
In the initial study in 2003, our achievement was 69.3%; in the second round of study last year our achievement improved to 77.3%.
Coupled with our per-capita income that is in excess of US$10,000 (RM38,000), we are to all intents and purposes a developed state.
If membership in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is the criterion for developed status (there are currently 30 nations) then what about the other 54 high-income countries that are not members but, according to the World Bank, are high-income economies?
One of these non-OECD members but a high-income economy is Singapore. Is Singapore not a developed country?
Turkey is an OECD member, but according to the World Bank it is a lower-middle-income country. Malaysia also is not an OECD member but it is an upper-middle-income economy.
What we are declaring is that we have achieved a certain level of progress – we are entering a new level of development.
We will be doing things differently, more efficiently and more effectively. We want to create an environment in Selangor where each citizen will be able to optimise his potential to the fullest, where we can raise our families peacefully and where hard work, initiative, playing by the rules and being creative will have their own reward.
DR MOHAMAD KHIR TOYO,