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Malaysian Knowledge Society and the Global Knowledge Gap

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Knowledge has been widely recognised as the most important factor of production in a "new economy". The production, dissemination and utilisation of knowledge are therefore essential for development. Some countries, Malaysia among others, have embarked on an ambitious plan to use knowledge as a base for economic development, by-passing earlier stages of industrialisation. Some commentators have, in contrast, asserted "that it is doubtful that the knowledge revolution will let developing countries leapfrog to higher levels of development" as "the knowledge economy will actually expand the gap between rich and poor" (Persaud, 2001:108). The paper discusses this controversy by arguing that the knowledge-gap (k-gap) is in fact a precondition for development. It is, however, no natural phenomenon but it is constructed by experts and governments. Socio-economic indicators are used to show that the existing global knowledge gap is widening between Southeast Asia and the OECD countries and within ASEAN. Malaysia, whose government has pursued a vigorous strategy of knowledge development is moving ahead of other ASEAN nations, but falling behind industrialised countries. Factors explaining the situation are outlined in this article.


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