Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, standing tall in the night - Erik Winther 2012
My colleague Angelica and I visited Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur, KL, last weekend (and our friend Johanna of course!). Despite the fact that Malaysia’s labour force is just a third of Thailand’s, their economy (GDP) is almost as big. The difference is obvious when strolling downtown; Thailand’s sidewalk-life with hawker stalls and salesmen all over is completely gone.

Just as Norway and unlike Thailand, nature gave Malaysia oil. Black, shiny liquid gold. It rarely get as obvious as on the border between oil-rich Brunei and rural Sabah; even though Sabah belongs to Malaysia. But what characterizes non-renewable finite resources, such as oil, is that today’s consumption rates are in practice borrowing wealth from coming generations as the resources’ reproduction rates are much slower.

Thus a great deal of consideration should be made when regulating the usage of natural resources. In that sense is Malaysia far behind Norway, as they spend 30% of the oil’s value as soon as is pumped up to the surface. Norway, indeed having far higher living standard and a GDP per capita ten times as high as Malaysia, are spending barely 2% of the value and put the remaining value in two sovereign wealth funds (known as the Oil Fund); which happen to be the world’s most valuable funds.

Picture from a previous KL-visit in December 2011.

Petroleum

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