In new book on globalisation, Perak Sultan explores ways for silver state to regain lustre

KUALA LUMPUR, July 6 — The Sultan of Perak, Sultan Nazrin Shah’s book Globalisation: Perak’s Rise, Relative Decline, and Regeneration launched today offers some suggestions on what Perak can do to continue to regenerate its economy and improve the welfare of its residents.

The 566-page hardcover book followed His Royal Highness’ in-depth research and analysis of over two centuries of globalisation’s changing impacts — both positive and negative — on Perak and its towns and communities.

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“I compare the state to other regions with abundant natural resources, including Cornwall and Sheffield in the United Kingdom, and Pittsburgh and Scranton in the United States.

“All are places that initially prospered, but then lost their competitiveness and were subsequently blighted by the same forces of globalisation that had previously blessed them. While Sheffield, Pittsburgh, and Cornwall, have all found new ways to thrive, Scranton has yet to recover.

“Perak’s early growth was driven by tin, with inflows of capital, technology, and new ideas from Cornwall in the first decades of the colonial period. By the end of the 19th century, Perak’s production had already overtaken Cornwall’s,” Sultan Nazrin said in his Royal Address at today’s book launch.

Raja Permaisuri of Perak Tuanku Zara Salim was in attendance. Also present were Minister of Communications Fahmi Fadzil, Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Saarani Mohamad and Malaysian National News Agency (Bernama) editor-in-chief Arul Rajoo Durar Raj.

Sultan Nazrin said, also by the end of the 19th century, Perak’s prosperity continued, boosted by the spectacular rubber boom that was sparked by the advent of the mass production of automobiles and its people enjoyed fast-rising standards of living.

His Royal Highness said that new towns and settlements were established, schools and hospitals were built, and Perak’s infrastructure was among the most developed on the peninsula.

“After independence, Perak fared less favourably, however. Still heavily reliant on exports of tin and rubber, it remained exposed to dramatic swings in global demand, as well as competing sources of supply.

“It began to trail behind other Malaysian states, which were better placed to benefit from the globalisation of manufacturing activities that was starting to occur.

“What economists call ‘economies of agglomeration’ favour locations that move first on industrial development, have greater economic density, and possess better transport links to the outside world, all areas in which Perak was lacking,” he said.

His Royal Highness said the state’s skilled youth began to migrate to neighbouring states where more opportunities and higher incomes could be found.

He added the 1985 tin crash, which saw prices halving in just a few years, brought devastation to Perak’s communities and massive job losses and the closure of mines accelerated the outflow of residents.

“Perak’s tin towns lost the skills and ingenuity of those who had been drawn there by the mines and their associated industries. By the early 1990s, the tin and rubber industries — on whose revenues the modern state had been built — were fading into insignificance.

“Since then, Perak has diversified its economy further into manufacturing and services and modernised its agricultural sector in order to rebuild its economic base. Considerable effort has been devoted to this process, and there are many success stories in all sectors,” he said.

Sultan Nazrin also pointed out that while Perak’s history certainly demonstrates some of the vulnerabilities associated with export-led growth, it also highlights the huge potential upside when natural resource endowments coincide with global demand to create comparative advantage.

The ruler said Perak has undoubtedly suffered as global trade patterns have shifted but it has greatly prospered as well.

Sultan Nazrin said he hopes that with a New Vision, Perak can look forward to a period of renewed prosperity.”Some of you may be asking why I have written a book on globalisation and why now? The idea was sparked in part during research for my previous books, as the unique nature of Perak’s experience became apparent.

“I wanted to explore this further, by taking a deeper look at the state’s historical development, and the ways in which it has been shaped by processes of globalisation,” he added.

His Royal Highness said by taking a long-term perspective, he felt that greater insight could be gained into Perak’s current situation, and the various challenges that lie ahead, especially in this period of heightened global uncertainty.

Sultan Nazrin also thanked Professor Tim Harper for coming to Malaysia to participate in the book launch and the team from Oxford University Press for their excellent work in publishing this book.

This is the third book authored by Sultan Nazrin. The first, titled Charting the Economy: Early 20th Century Malaya and Contemporary Malaysian was published in January 2017, while the second was Striving for Inclusive Development: From Pangkor to a Modern Malaysian State and published in July 2019. — Bernama

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