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Economic Transformation Program (ETP) : Malaysia as the Hub of Entertainment

According to the plan of the Economic Transformation Program (ETP), which was released a few days ago, the administration of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak wants to make Malaysia as the hub of evening entertainment to spur the tourism industry. This will be through the establishment of several popular entertainment clubs, organizing a major concert, relaxing the guidelines to be followed by international performers and repackaging international events such as Formula 1 and MotoGP. ETP has also recommended for the establishment of entertainment zones in five states, including the Klang Valley which will see at least 10 entertainment clubs by 2014.

As expected, the government’s action by the Economic Transformation Program (ETP) has received opposition and objection from various parties including Islamic NGOs, the Muslim Consumers Association Malaysia (PPIM), the Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia (ABIM), the Muslim Lawyers Association of Malaysia (PPPM), politicians, intellectuals, and even the public.

I strongly protest and express disagreement with the government's intention to make Malaysia a hub of entertainment in an effort to spur the tourism industry in Malaysia. I view that the government’s action is not reasonably practicable because it is inconsistent with the principles of the National Principles (Rukun Negara) which is of civility and decency. I would like to suggest to the government to withdraw and reconsider this matter as many adverse effects will be faced in the near future which includes the impact on social welfare, economic matters, safety or even the image of Malaysia as a country that often leads the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC).

If it is seen regarding the social problems especially those affecting young people, I am worried and uncomfortable to see this problem persisting. Implementation of this entertainment hub will promote the social and moral decadence in the society. The establishment of this entertainment hub will only give a negative impact on the future of Malaysia, including a high probability of increased statistics on the transmission of HIV and AIDS, increase of crime rates such as drug trafficking, ecstasy pills consuming, prostitution and gangsterism. This is very dangerous and critical if the entertainment hub is actually implemented.

I do not see any positive input that will be acquired by the country with the implementation of the entertainment hub because I view that there are many more steps that should be deemed relevant by the government. This is because the tourism sector has not been fully exploited. More can be done to spur the industry in attracting new markets from Europe, the United States and other regional countries. Among them, exploiting the forests which are rich in flora and fauna and utilising attractive diving areas for tourism purposes. I am confident that Malaysia can lead in providing a sustainable, exclusive and valuable eco-tourism. The future of Malaysia's tourism industry will grow brighter if we have the vision and creativity to support the potential of its growth that is vast and diverse.

As the lead nation of the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC), it is more relevant and reasonable if the government of Malaysia explores other sectors to improve the economy, for example, in making Malaysia a hub for Islamic financial services. This is because Malaysia is now a leading banking and capital market as well as a takaful industry in the world. This measure has the potential to make Malaysia the hub of an integrated Islamic financial services hub. For example, the National Bank is currently in the process of finalising the establishment of a centre of Islamic finance and the approval of licenses for two mega Islamic banks. As an Islamic country, the government should develop a tourism industry that provides opportunities for visitors to recognise the heritage of Islam, including the economic sector. The use of gold dinar as the currency is seen as able to give a big advantage on the economy. Thus, I see that Malaysia has a large space and the opportunity to spur the economy, including the tourism industry but it should coincide with the norms and ethics of the society.

The issue of this entertainment hub should be given serious attention by the government to develop Malaysia into a country that is healthy in terms of social development. Establishment of the National Economic Advisory Council (NEAC), which is an independent body tasked to review in detail the country’s economy should be maximized as possible.


Mohammad Firwan Norliza
President,
Students' Representatives Council
International Islamic University Malaysia.

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