In the competition, rules and regulations are practically disallowed. The only rule is that there should be no rules, no rules about qualifying categories, no rules about the methods used by the competitors. But this is not completely true. While Governments may not restrict and protect, Governments must uphold the rights of the rich and the powerful to literally strangle the poor and the weak. It does not take a genius to see that the dice is loaded against the weak and the poor. They must rely on whatever little competitive advantage that they may have just to survive. But mostly they would lose the competition and they would go under. In Malaysia unions and workers understand that high pay is meaningless if the cost of living rises with the pay increase. In some developing countries all workers are millionaires but the money they earn cannot give them a decent living because all goods are priced in tens or hundreds of thousand of the currency unit. Higher wages are only worthwhile if there is no resulting inflation.
This can happen when productivity rises higher than wage increases. Besides we are competing against low wage countries with good productivity levels. Any increase in wages without productivity increase will reduce investments, not only by foreign investors but also local investors. With no new jobs being created there will be more unemployment. And a large unemployed population will force wages down. So we must always ensure that wage rises will not make us uncompetitive, raise the cost of living and drive away job-creating investments. Businesses should endeavour to bring down costs. If they examine carefully their cost of production or service they are bound to find cost items which can be reduced. Targeting a definite percentage for reduction of costs is very effective. Technology is a problem. The rich with their greater expenditure on research and development are bound to be ahead.
Buying technology from them would increase costs. But much of the technology is probably non-essential. Motor vehicles of today are over- engineered. We have to find a niche where basic needs are met by our products. In some cases the value can be enhanced without too much increase in costs. This high quality products will fetch prices higher than the cost involved in upgrading quality. The old Asian belief in cheap poor quality products as a way to penetrate markets should be forgotten. Good durable products are more likely to establish a permanent market. World class does not mean top class all the time. There are products which will be so high in quality that they will establish a class by themselves. But they are not for the main market, the big number of average consumers. For the biggest main consumer market competitive pricing for reasonable world class quality would be sufficient. While we try to compete in this unfair trading environment, we must continue to fight for a fairer global trade. It is going to be difficult but that is how life is. We have to resign ourselves to this, work hard and make use of whatever competitive advantage that we may have.