As we approach the Lunar New Year, we are now facing difficult challenges for economic survival. The dreaded word for 2011 and beyond will be inflation. Inflation eats away our disposable income. It eats away company profits. High price of goods and services relative to income. It devalues productivity and dampens productivity. For the year ahead, i shall foresee that prices of essential goods such as petrol and sugar will increase. In fact ROM 97 fuel price have just been increased by 10 cents from RM 2.40 to RM 2.50. RON 95 will be followed soon but with smaller amount. I believe they will time it just before or after the GE. If they decide to time it before GE, they will use it as an issue with positive to their own camp. As for rice, i am not so sure about this since this is a very tightly controlled item. BERNAS will mop up any additional supply in the market, paying farmers even if there is over supply in the market. But i foresee that in the long run, population will grow, land will be more scarce. Weather effects also do play a role. Rain and drought will affect padi supply in the market. As for electricity supply, i know TENAGA is keep on pushing for a revaluation of the tariff, which should be higher tariff. But perhaps it will not be a blanket increase, perhaps affecting only the high end residential users. Locally, i have seen many construction sites in KL (near Pudu for example) where the construction is dead. There are many abandoned projects in KL and also empty office buildings. For comparison, i did not see a single abandoned construction projects in Singapore. It is quite clear that we have failed to move our economic from basic manufacturing to high end electronics manufacturing. The only exception i see is Penang. International companies just do not want to open their factory here. Maybe it is because of red-tape and many others. Countries like Taiwan and Singapore have been successful in transitioning their economy from basic manufacturing to electronics manufacturing to high end electronics assembly. In that process, they have been able to tap up the local brain power of their graduates and work force to come up with innovations and IP. To put it simple, they have managed to invent stuff. Stuff like electronics (HTC, ACER, etc). Stuff like biotechnology which Singapore have been successful. All this requires careful thought and planning from their government. To plan strategically t their own strengths. To identify areas which they are most efficient. And to enter areas which they know have potential, not only locally but also globally. Areas like biotechnology. I believe in order for my country, Malaysia to go forward, we have to improve our education. To improve our basic skills like Math and English (also Mandarin). Remove unnecessary subjects like Moral and History. Improve our Math and language skills. Start from the beginning. Also we have to teach our children to think out of the box. To think creatively in all areas. Yes, some subjects we have to memorize but not all. Simply, we need to overhaul our education for the challenges ahead of our country. In 2020, our teens will be entering the work force and enter the struggle. They will not only face the challenges locally but also globally as events in other parts of the world will impact on their lives. On their livelihood. We cannot simply stand here and see other countries like Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, to move ahead of us. If a big international company sees more potential in tapping up graduates in those countries instead of ours, then we will continue to struggle. Continue to lose. And the aim of these companies is not only to employ robots but thinking employees. A worker that is independent in his/her own thinking and be able to solve problems that no robot can solve. Our education have been very good at producing robots. Robots are for manufacturing, industrialized economies. It have been for 200-300 years. The near future will see that such scenarios will be less emphasizing on such criteria. I believe our education and corporate industries need to work better together in order to improve our chances of succeeding in the world economy of tomorrow. Our future workforce is now a student. Teach our students the thing they do not need will make then unfit for work in the future industry.