Malaysia, The Gateway to 640 Million ASEAN Consumers

As published in the April Issue of the Malaysian Petroleum Club Resource Magazine “Malaysia, The Gateway to 640 Million ASEAN Consumers”

This is the positive analysis and outlook of Mr Bernhard Schutte, the Chairman of TAPiO Management Advisory Sdn Bhd. He is currently one of the advisors to the East Coast Economic Region (ECER) Malaysia, to help bring in investors from Europe, especially from Germany and Bavaria. Bavaria is the most competitive industrial state in Germany, as well as in Europe, with a pronounced specialization on the automotive industries, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering automation and robotics.

Mr Bernhard is also the Country Manager for the State of Bavaria, and the advisor for BMW in Malaysia. He has been doing business in Malaysia for 15 years, and living permanently in Malaysia for 10 years. Mr Bernhard was invited to come to Malaysia by MITI, under the then Minister of International Trade, Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz, and the Ambassador of Malaysia to USA, Tan Sri Ghazzali Sheikh Abdul Khalid. He is currently specializing in the petrochemicals, automobile and medical industries.

Bernhard Schutte :

Bernhard Schutte Chairman

Before I came to Malaysia, I was staying in the USA. When I told my friends and colleagues that I am relocating to Malaysia, they all said I was making a big mistake. In fact, coming to Malaysia was and still is, the best decision I have ever made.

Malaysia has huge potential. Malaysia is really the gateway into the ASEAN and Asian region. I really like what I am doing for the ECER. It has a lot of similarity with the history of Bavaria after the second World War.

Bavaria at that time was mainly an agricultural region, much like Terengganu and Kelantan now. It was the poorest state in Germany at that time, today it is the richest state in Germany. The reason for the rise of Bavaria is its unrelenting emphasis on technology and education.

Technologies of the Future

So the first thing we are doing for the East Coast region is to bring in one of the best technology universities in the world called the Technical University of Munich. This university will be located in the East Coast and it will be a game-changer for Malaysia. The difference between this university and other universities is that the Technical University of Munich teaches the technologies of the future.

If you were to study engineering in Malaysia, firstly, the textbooks may be, let’s say 5 years old. Then you spent 3 years studying. By the time you graduate and go into the workplace, that knowledge you have in 8 years time, is already obsolete as the world has moved forward. Instead, the Technical University of Munich will teach you technology that is 4 or 5 years into the future; the technology of tomorrow. So when you graduate, your knowledge is current and you will be productive and sought-after by companies. We also want Malaysian companies to team up with this university to produce the workforce of the future. This was and still is the strategy of Bavaria.

We want Malaysia to be at the forefront of technology, business and manufacturing. When Malaysia collaborates with Germany, it will elevate Malaysia above all the ASEAN countries, maybe even above many Asian countries. This university will be operational in mid-2018. This is the vision of the CEO of ECER, Dato Seri Jebasingam Issace, to team up with the best, hence with Bavaria and the Technical University of Munich.

The Youth of Malaysia is the Key

While I am very confident that Malaysia has immense potential, the only thing that may be an obstacle is that the older generation is holding back the young Malaysians. They are overprotective of their children, they are not allowing these young educated Malaysians the freedom to grow, to make mistakes, to forge ahead. They spend so much on their children’s education yet holding them back at the same time. Trust the young professionals. Inspire them to soar.

These young Malaysians can drive the growth of the nation. Malaysians speak all the languages of the ASEAN regions. Historically, their great grandfathers emigrated from all these countries to settle here in Malaysia. Where else in ASEAN can you find such a melting-pot of cultures and races?

Any Western country or company that wants to penetrate the ASEAN markets, which have a total population of 640 million people, out of which 400 million are middle-class with high disposable income, has to use Malaysia as the gateway.

Malaysia can take its rightful place as one of the top countries in Asia if it embraces Industry 4.0, the fourth industrial revolution, and focuses on technology, automation, specialized engineering and robotics.

Welcome Other High-Value Industries

I was introduced to the Malaysian Petroleum Club by Dato Seri Issace, and I think the MPC is a wonderful place to meet up with many industry captains and professionals. I bring foreign guests here and they are impressed by it. But MPC seems under-utilized.

Maybe MPC should open up its membership to other high-value industries like the automobile industry. So even the oil & gas members would look forward to networking with other high-value professionals from other industries. Organizing weekly or fortnightly focused groups amongst different high-value industries could ensure MPC is fully utilized.

The personnel of MPC are all very friendly and professional. They address you by your name and make you feel as comfortable as they can. They are definitely an asset to MPC.

Malaysia, The Gateway to 640 Million ASEAN Consumers