The recent hullabaloo over negative foreign direct investment (FDI) trends in Malaysia has, understandably, generated a lot of excitement.
Some have trivialised the negative FDI trend, saying that it's not a big deal for Malaysia.
Others have called time on the negative FDI trend, saying that Malaysia is headed for trouble.
Some other people have pointed to the negative FDI trend as an indicia of a confident and robust set of Malaysian corporates who have embarked offshore to make some money.
And, there are also others who say that the negative FDI trend is tantamount to capital flight.
Which view is true?
It does sound terribly like one of those stupid multiple choice questions inflicted on Malaysian students, doesn't it?
As I have pointed out in previous blog postings, Malaysia is in a "middle-income trap". The negative FDI trend is indicative of that.
It cannot be our local politics because multinational companies are completely amoral. They have invested in apartheid South Africa and strongman dictatorial states. They obviously have no problems with corrupt states. That explains why Thailand is still an attractive destination for FDIs.
The challenge is how to get out from the middle-income trap.
Getting out from the middle-income trap
Some have pointed to the need for innovation and creativity as the catalyst for positive economic change.
Others have agreed and, point to the prior need for a robust education system to feed the innovative and creative human capital required for positive economic change.
I agree with those views.
I only add a caveat (a fancy word for "but").
To be innovative and creative, one needs to read, read, read and read.
Then, one must make every effort to understand what one has read.
This means asking a lot of questions to more experienced people.
The creative spark can only come from that level of intense commitment and passion.
The question is, are enough Malaysians hungry enough for knowledge and self-made success?
Or, are most Malaysians still happy to sit under a tree laden with low-hanging fruits?
This is the challenge Malaysia faces.
Creativity, innovativeness and fire-in-the-belly must come from within each Malaysian.
So, are we, each, hungry enough?