Vision of a greater Malaysia beyond SDG





11.15am – 12.15pm (1hr including Q&A)



Assalamualaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh and a very good morning.

Yang Berusaha Pengacara Majlis,

  1. Yang Berbahagia Datuk Dr. Mohd Daud Bakar, President of IIUM
  2. Yang Berbahagia Mr Stefan Priesner, UN Resident Coordinator
  3. Yang Berbahagia Encik Muhammad Abida, Acting Head, IsDB Centre of Excellence
  4. Yang Berbahagia Prof Emeritus Tan Sri Dato Dzulkifli Abdul Razak, Rector, IIUM

Distinguished Guests, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

  1. Alhamdulillah, Praise be to Allah, I am happy to be here today, also as a proud alumni of IIUM at this Global Community Builders Summit 2020 themed Unlocking the Soul of Community Builders, Achieving Sustainable Development Goals.
  2. I would like to thank the organisers International Islamic University Malaysia and Philandure, for inviting me to present on the topic of “Vision of A Greater Malaysia Beyond SDG”.

Vision Of A Greater Malaysia Beyond SDG.

  • Sustainable development has been at the heart of Malaysia’s development approach since the 1970s, with an emphasis on eradicating poverty, improving the well-being of the people, providing universal access to education, and caring for the environment.
  • New 21st century challenges will keep arising as we are a fast-developing country, however I believe that our nation has stood solid and united, which has made us to be stronger and responsive citizens, in conquering difficulties.
  • Coronavirus has undoubtedly tested us further and rendered us a wake up call. While COVID-19 has brought us much difficulties and suffering, it has, simultaneously, united us all to think on what’s best for the individuals and society – be it health, income and also social and economic protection and well-being.

  • Starting off today’s presentation with Sustainable development frameworks.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

  • The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was launched in 2015 and sits alongside other global frameworks, and it provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future.
  • The SDGs recognised that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our planetary boundaries.
  • While the Agenda for Humanity is a five-point plan that outlines the changes that are needed to alleviate suffering, reduce risk and lessen vulnerability on a global scale. In the Agenda, humanity—people’s safety, dignity and the right to thrive— is placed at the heart of global decision-making..
  • And the Paris Agreement‘s long-term temperature goal is to keep the increase in global average temperature to well below 2 °C (3.6 °F) above pre-industrial levels; and to pursue efforts to limit the increase to 1.5 °C (2.7 °F), recognising that this would substantially reduce the risks and impacts of climate change.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

  1. I would like to also highlight several other angles of sustainable development beyond those in SDGs that some practitioners refer to for a more in depth and holistic matrix of development like the Ikegai concept in Japan.
  2. Many of you would have heard of the concept of Sejahtera – IIUM being the key proponent of this ideology.  Sejahtera is an indigenous concept in the Malay Archipelago. Today, it is more often associated with the idea of ‘balanced well-being’ or even ‘coexisting with common shared values and prosperity,’ but its essential meaning is ‘beyond well-being of individuals, institutions, organisations and society.’ I congratulate this university and the Rector for being a strong proponent of the Sejahtera concept.
  3. Ubuntu – An African concept of “people planet and prosperity”, where cognisance should be taken of the indigenous culture of ubuntu, both in theory and when determining sustainable development strategies in the country.
  4. And the famous Gross National Happiness (GNH) of Bhutan –  where Indexes explores each persons’ life in nine domains: (1) psychological wellbeing, (2) health, (3) education, (4) time use, (5) cultural diversity (6) good governance, (7) community vitality, (8) ecological diversity and resilience, and lastly (9) living standards.

Sustainable development, within individuals and societies, can be viewed from various angles; but only when these are fully immersed and understood, and become a way of life, can we see sustained success of co-existence with everything around us.


  1. So, how are we doing against the SDGs?

Ladies and Gentlemen,

  1. Malaysia Ranks At No. 60 (Out Of 166) Globally In SDG Achievement With An Index Score Of 71.8. As you can see, while we have make good progress in SDG1, all other indicators remain a work in progress.
  2. But 2020 presented an unprecedented event to the world. According to the Lancet Public Health “Will the COVID-19 pandemic threaten the SDGs?” I quote.
  3. Even before COVID-19 the world was off track to end poverty by 2030 under SDG 1, with projections suggesting that 6% of the global population would still be living in extreme poverty in 2030. Now, an estimated 71 million additional people could be living in extreme poverty due to COVID-19. Although income inequality has been falling in some countries, a global economic recession in the wake of the pandemic could push millions back into poverty and exacerbate inequalities. The most susceptible groups are being hit hardest by the pandemic, threatening SDG 10. Similarly, the ambition under SDG 2 to end hunger was faltering before COVID-19—but the COVID-19 crisis has added to pressure on production, supply chains, and household incomes, with the poorest being most affected. Access to water and sanitation (SDG 6) remains a major health issue. 2·2 billion people remain without safe drinking water and the COVID-19 crisis has highlighted lack of access to sanitation for billions. The aim of SDG 4—to achieve inclusive and equitable access to education—also looks likely to be missed, with a projection that more than 200 million children will still be out of education by 2030. Most of the world’s children have been deprived of formal education during the COVID-19 outbreak—a legacy that could threaten the SDGs’ underlying ambition to leave no one behind. The world has made progress on SDG 5’s gender equality goals, with fewer girls being forced into early marriage and more women entering leadership roles. However, women’s wellbeing has suffered during the COVID-19 outbreak, with incidences of domestic violence increasing by 30% in some countries and a greater demand on women for unpaid care work”. Unquote.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

  1. The following slides summarises Malaysia’s progress with the SDGs, notwithstanding many of these will be adjusted for 2020.

  • Malaysia has achieved one of the 17 SDGs and is on track to achieve a further three.
  • However, challenges of varying degrees are present in all remaining goals.
  • There is stagnation across four of the goals: Quality Education, Climate Action, Life Below Water, and Life on Land.
  • And Partnerships is the only goal that has seen a decreasing trend.
  • Sustainable Development means inculcating the process of maintaining human needs while preserving the environment for future generations.
  • It also means we must use the available resources efficiently so that they will be available for many years to come.

  • We have made notable strides across all SDGs.

For Example –

  • SDG 1 & 2: Absolute Poverty & Hunger – Absolute poverty reduced from 49.3% (1970) to 0.6% (2014), 90% reduction in under-nutrition between 1990 and 2014.
  • SDG 3: Diseases & Mortality Rate – Child and maternal mortality rates are almost at the level of developed countries where 95% of public health service subsidised (2015).
  • SDG 4 & 5: Quality Education & Gender Equality – 97% enrolment rates for primary and 90% of secondary school for both boys and girls in 2016; and 48% enrollment for higher education in 2012 – 70% higher than in 2002).

Ladies and Gentlemen,

  • We also have many more strides to make.
  • Specifically, for SDG 1: On Income Inequality and Social Protection in the current pandemic, we need to consider.
  • Increasing Income and Economic Potential.
  • Addressing Higher Cost of Living and Income Vulnerability.
  • Enhancing Delivery Systems. And
  • Addressing multidimensional needs of the B40.
  • SDG 2: On Food Security and Nutrition, there are opportunities in
  • Tackling New Dimensions of Nutrition and Enhancing Food Security by Improving productivity, biotechnology, R&D, Strengthening the food supply chain, amongst others.
  • What is the role of the Government, Businesses and CSOs in sustainable development?
  • Government, Businesses, Civil Society need to do more as individuals and collectives to achieve sustainable development.
  • Governments can influence change through appropriate target setting, incentive alignment, and social innovation.
  • Some Actions that could be taken:
  • Measuring the right things, Setting bold targets for social and environmental progress and adopting new measures to track how well the economy is delivering them.
  • Aligning incentives to support better outcomes by Using regulation and fiscal policy to pursue environmental and social goals and support sustainable business models. And
  • Opportunity to create drivers and incentives for innovation aligned with core sustainability goals and should exemplify and enable sustainable business.

  • Businesses too need to set the right targets and ensure that incentives are aligned through finance & business models.
  • Business could consider the following Actions:
  • Ensure capital acts for the long term – Investors of capital can demand more from their money, using their influence to drive long-term, socially useful value creation in the economy.
  • Price capital according to the true costs of business by reflecting social and environmental risk factors in the cost of capital.
  • Apply their influence to Innovate financial structures to better serve sustainable business that serve society’s interests.
  • Set evidence-based targets, measure and be transparent by contributing to a sustainable future by setting bold evidence-based targets, measuring the right things and reporting progress.
  • Embed sustainability in practices and decisions includingnew ways of thinking in their operational practices and decision making.
  • Align organisational purpose, strategy and business models that explicitly set out to improve people’s lives whilst operating within the natural boundaries set by the planet.

  • Finally, Civil Society play a key role in implementing innovative, localized solutions and acts as the conduit across all parties.
  • Some key Actions to be taken include:
  • CSOs can complement government poverty alleviation programs with community-based, tailored assistance using evidence-based, innovative, and sustained solutions to lift people out of poverty.
  • Data is key to measuring progress, but collection and reporting systems are lacking. In view of its extensive presence on the ground, CSOs can contribute to localizing the SDGs, and monitoring progress.
  • In Promoting citizen-centric, collaborative governance – Most CSOs in developing countries in Asia operate at grassroots levels, and thus in general have active engagement with local actors and citizens. They can capitalise on their social mobilization competencies and strong presence in the local social network to draw feedback from citizens on the delivery of public services.
  • For Cross-sectoral coordination and collaborations – Public-Private-CSO Collaboration can help to achieve a holistic view of supply and demand of aid & support across the system. It is also able to leverage on the strengths of each organization for capacity building.

  • What is  Yayasan Hasanah’s role in nation building and social progress

Ladies and Gentlemen,

  • SDGs and other models of sustainable development apply to multiple facets of our country.
  • Now that we have visited the SDGs and other frameworks of sustainable development – let us think on how they may apply to Malaysia.
  • I’ve framed it based on the core impact areas of Yayasan Hasanah, also seen as key levers to social justice and progress. These are – Investing in Talent Development & Education, Building Community Leadership and  Empowerment, Celebrating Arts & Cultural Heritage as the soul of the nation, Respecting planetary boundaries and taking climate action more seriously and urgently; and finally all of these will not be possible without a transformative and courageous leadership.
  • When we think about education, there is a tendency to only limit ourselves to pre-school, primary, secondary, and tertiary education whilst in reality learning is a life-long journey. Malaysia has made some inroads in lifelong learning through its Blueprint on Enculturation of Lifelong Learning for Malaysia (2011–2020). The essence of the Blueprint is broadly represented by its use of the term ‘enculturation’, which attempts to reinforce even Islamic teachings to seek knowledge as part of one’s life.  Education is thus considered not just as a vocation or an obligatory phase in one’s life, but a culture and a lifestyle. In addition to the approx. 5mn students in primary, secondary or tertiary education, it is estimated that more than 20mn adults could participate in lifelong learning programmes (University of Malaya Centre for Continuing Education).
  • To support efforts in education, YH and YK have awarded almost 1,000 scholarships including over 400 for students receiving a place in top 10 institutions globally. We have also pioneered system interventions in our public schools through the trust school programmes that looks at improving school leadership, pedagogy, maximizing student potential and parents and community involvement.
  • Community empowerment is key to ensuring participation from all segments of society in the journey of our country.  However, those from marginalised communities are less likely to be active which in return can further reduce their representation in political or economic decisions. A survey by UPM in 2017 of over 5,000 youths found that those from marginalised communities were less likely to participate civic and political actions.
  • Barriers to community empowerment are complex and often multi-faceted. At YH, we tackle such issues through a community-based approach where multiple interventions across economic, social, and/or environmental areas are used to drive leadership at grass roots level. An example of such a support is where we worked in PPR Lembah Subang with three organisations – Women of Will, Mereka, and Smart Parents Network. In this programme, B40 women were given microloans and were placed on an Entrepreneurial Development Programme and parenting skills sessions and youth digital training. Collectively, these resulted in an income for over 50% of beneficiaries.
  • The arts contribute meaningfully to our GDP. In 2016, according to a CENDANA report, Kuala Lumpur cultural and creative industry alone contributed RM11.2 billion to the country. However, the arts & our cultural heritage goes beyond being an engine of economic growth. Arts are central to the national conversation identity, because of their ability to inform our sense of who we are, how we work and why we value what we do. Local art is not based on how others see us but how we see ourselves. Our differences are pivotal to our identity; identifying them requires confident and intelligent self-reflection.
  • At YH, we want to make arts accessible to all. To-date, our efforts have allowed over 60,000 Malaysians to partake in various shows, screenings and exhibitions.
  • Protecting the environment and improving climate resilience is a global effort but in Malaysia we have a special role to play as we are the custodians of the world’s oldest and biodiverse rainforest. There are about 15,000 species of flowering plants with 3,000 species of trees, 221 species of terrestrial mammals and 420 species of resident birds in the forests of Sabah & Sarawak. Unfortunately, a study (Uni of Maryland) found that some 2.3 million square kilometers forest was lost between 2,000 and 2012. This makes Malaysia one of the countries with the highest deforestation rates in the world.
  • Environmental protection and livelihoods are not incompatible. We have run successful programmes with our partners that marries the two aspects. For example, we have trained OAs to be forest rangers in Pahang – this has helped provide jobs and at the same time protected tigers from poachers. Other examples include the Beyond Bins project that strives for a sustainable and circular economy by giving waste a newfound value while promoting alternative sources of income to underprivileged communities.
  • A key to a cohesive Malaysia in achieving greater social justice and progress is moral, courageous and transformative leaders and leadership required to tackle 21st century challenges of climate crisis, food security, scarcity,  displacements, wars and others. We need transformative leaders who are willing to challenge the status quo and who are willing to adopt a new way of working to solve challenges of the future.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

  • Corporate foundations such as Yayasan Hasanah straddle across business & civil society and have unique levers to accelerate social progress towards building a better Malaysia, a step forward to building a better world.  
  • We are delighted to Influence businesses on holistic sustainability management – As Corporate foundations can act as trailblazers by ensuring that their portfolio adheres to sustainability standards.
  • We also believe in investing in research and evidence-based policy making by combining the capabilities and insights of both sectors to develop proposals that drives social progress without compromising on economic outcomes.
  • Governance and accountability are the core of the institution – A robust governance structure will help build social capital, trust and investor/or stakeholder confidence.
  • There is a great opportunity for us to set the standards for the Third Sector as partners of growth and inclusive development.

(SLIDE 19/last/Thank you)

  • Ladies and gentlemen, in conclusion, let me sum up my presentation in these key three take always:
    • The SDG as a guiding sustainable framework is facing risk.
    • Government, business and finance and civil society have a key role to play to drive the sustainability agenda across their networks.
    • YH as a national philanthropic institution will continue to invest in key levers of social progress and justice – education, community empowerment and leadership, managing planetary boundaries and environmental protection, preserving and conserving through action our arts and cultural heritage as well as remain a strong proponent of transformative and courageous leadership.
    •  I would like to once again thank the organisers for inviting me to share our thoughts on Building a Greater Malaysia Beyond the SDGS. As you can see, which much progress has been achieved, a lot more remain to be done.
  • Malaysia will rely on its pragmatic citizens to demand for inclusive, sustainable, multidimensional, and participative approaches to development, social justice and progress. And I am very confident, together, we can ensure we leave no one behind.
  • Thank you.