Initially, Malaysians may have braced themselves for a trying year in 2017, but the country's accomplishments have certainly provided the much needed change of tone and progress to set the pace of development as the nation achieves various milestones within the economy.
Let's take a look at how far Malaysia has come as a developed country in 2017.
Transportation and infrastructure
Transportation and productivity has improved immensely in the Klang Valley and its surrounding areas, as thousands of Malaysians enjoy the services of the country's first Mass Rapid Transit (MRT)
Part of the Klang Valley Integrated system, the MRT significantly boosts the effectiveness of the existing rail networks and integrates into the other systems to ensure a seamless travel. Offering an alternative way around traffic congestion, it was unveiled in July 2017
with its first line offering links from Sungai Buloh to Kajang.
The MRT described the efficient train service as a game changer and help underserved areas while complementing existing urban rail lines. The second phase of the MRT is being constructed and will carry passengers across these destinations, Sungai Buloh to Serdang to Putrajaya. It is expected to be completed in 2022.
A third line, called the Circle Line, is in the works where the service loops around Kuala Lumpur city covering a 20km radius in the southeast-northwest direction from the city centre, serving high-density areas not covered by existing systems.
Malaysia's coastal links is set to improve too as 2017 marks the ground-breaking ceremony of the construction of the East Coast Rail Link
in Kuantan. The 688-km long East Coast Rail Link (ECRL)
is expected to upgrade public transport infrastructure in the east coast, jointly built with China under the Belt and Road initiative.
The ECRL is expected to boost economic transformation and balance the economic development across Peninsular Malaysia, as it will cross Selangor, Pahang, Terengganu and Kelantan. Construction is expected to be completed by 2024.
Not only rail links are improved, but Malaysians in East Malaysia will benefit from a RM900mil project to build the sixth Pan Borneo Highway Sabah
that brings better connectivity to 700,000 residents and cuts down on traffic congestion at rapidly progressing areas.
The project, known as the Kota Kinabalu Outer Ring Road will stretch from Putatan to Inanam, passing through the city.
A huge win for the children and families of the Malaysian society, as the government unveiled, in 2017, a special court to tackle sex crimes against children
, strengthening its systems to protect children from abuse.
It is a unique criminal court that expedites hearings in cases related to sexual abuse of children but more importantly, it provides a safe and conducive environment for minors to testify against offenders. The court had heard its first case in July after this special court was launched a month earlier.
Malaysia sets an example for its peers to follow as this court is believed to be the first of its kind, not only in the country but in the region. The aim of the court is not only to prevent future abuses but the system is designed to spare young victims and witnesses from the long-winded and often bureaucratic investigation and legal procedures.
Protection for them is priority as often these investigations forces them to relive their traumatic experiences. The court is set up under the Sexual Offences Against Children Bill 2017
passed in April and will hear cases involving child grooming, child pornography and cases where people in authority such as teachers or relatives commit or aid such crimes.
The new court features a live video link, child witness screens, a recording transcription system and disabled friendly amenities.
Trade and technology
Malaysia's Digital Free Trade Zone (DFTZ)
was launched in November with more than 1,900 export-ready Small-Medium Enterprises (SMEs) onboard. This is the world’s first DFTZ and its objective is to drive Malaysia’s digital economy.
The DFTZ will facilitate SMEs to capitalise on the convergence of exponential growth of the internet economy and cross-border trade. The DFTZ was unveiled by Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib Tun Abdul Razak and Jack Ma
, founder and Executive Chairman of Alibaba Group.
DFTZ is expected to raise the SMEs goods exports to US$38bil (RM151bil), create over 60,000 jobs and support US$65bil (RM258bil) worth of goods moving through DFTZ by 2025.
The primary purpose of DFTZ is to simplify e-commerce by bringing together government agencies, online marketplaces, logistic and payment providers on one platform.
MATRADE supports SMEs on DFTZ through the TRADE Programme - a programme where Malaysian companies are encouraged to adopt cross-border eCommerce to accelerate exports by participating in leading international eMarketplaces.
It was a year of sporting gold for Malaysia as it topped the medal tally chart at the 29th Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games)
with 323 medals.
As SEA Games hosts, Malaysian athletes took home 145 gold medals, 92 silver and 86 bronze. Some of the highlights of the games include a gold medal
victory by Sultan of Terengganu, Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin, in an equestrian endurance race.
The country's first gold medal
was won by the Malaysian sepak takraw team made up of Faiz Roslan, Kamal Aizat Azmi, Abdul Muhaimi Che Bongsu, Putera Aidil Israfi Kamaruzaman, Asyraaf Abdul Hadi, Nazuha Nadzli, and Iskandar Zulkarnain Salim. The boys beat the Philippines in the chinlone linking event.
Other than nabbing golds in squash, netball, wushu and cycling, the Malaysian team made the country proud in petanque as Kota Bahru lad Hafizuddin Mat Daud won the gold medal in the petanque men's singles after defeating Thailand.
In the 2017 KL Asean Para Games
, Malaysian athletes took home 259 medals, consisting of 90 gold, 85 silver and 84 bronze. Notable wins from this instalment of the games include a gold medal for Malaysian runner Muhamad Ashraf Muhammad Hisham in the men's 1,500-meter race – setting a new record of 4:24.73 seconds.
Other gold medals were won by Shamli Waidi in men’s javelin, Siti Noor Iasah Mohamad Ariffin in women’s 400-meter race and S. Thavanesvaran in men’s 100-meter race.
Aside from the SEA Games, Malaysian runner Khairul Hafiz Jantan
clocked a personal best of 20.90 seconds to break the men's 200-meter national record at the Malaysian Open Athletics Championships, erasing the 49-year-old record
of 20.92 seconds set by Tan Sri Dr M. Jegathesan in the semi-finals of the 1968 Mexico Olympics Games.
National cyclist Azizul Hasni Awang
brought home the gold medal in keirin at the 2017 Track Cycling World Championships in Hong Kong. Nicknamed the ‘Pocket Rocket Man’, Azizul has marked his title as Malaysian’s best ever Keirin rider
The year 2017 marks a milestone for women's participation as more than 35 per cent
of decision-making positions in the public sector have been filled by women. That means that the country has exceeded its target of having at least 30% of women in those posts.
In the corporate sector, the number of women in similar positions is at 29.9 per cent. The increased participation shows progress as women are more involved in economics, politics, education, health science and arts.
International data showed that Malaysia's women participation in the labour force itself has risen from 47 per cent in 2015 to 52 per cent in 2016.
The Global Gender Report in 2016 also pointed out that Malaysia had reached gender parity levels
almost equal to that of developed markets.
To date there are over 700,000 women in the workforce whose impact accounts for 0.3 per cent in contribution to the country's gross domestic product.
With these achievements, 2017 has been quite a good year for Malaysia.
Despite all the challenges we faced, these moments prove that we Malaysians can stand together and achieve wonderful things.
So, what’s your best – or your favourite – #MyThrowbaek2017 moment?