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Media Statement by Lim Kit Siang in Parliament on Thursday, 3rd December 2009: 

Can Malaysia rise from the lost “decade of stagnation”?

Second Finance Minister Datuk Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah’s speech at Malaysian Institute of Economic Research (MIER) National Economic Outlook Conference 2010-2011 on Tuesday that Malaysia has lost ground to neighbours such as Indonesia in the race for foreign investment and the imperative need to rebuild confidence by building the highest standards of governance did not say anything new as they have been repeatedly raised by DAP and Pakatan Rakyat leaders inside and outside Parliament.

It is nonetheless unusually refreshing as it is the first admission by a top government leader of a lost decade of “stagnation” after the 1998 Asian financial crisis.

Just like the pledge by the former Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to declare war on corruption when he came into office in six years ago and the pledge by the present Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak just eight months ago to lead a government committed to the concept of “1Malaysia. People First. Performance Now” but which have not followed by action and the political will to “walk the talk”, will Husni’s remarkably frank speech end up as the latest addition to a mountainous pile of high-sounding speeches of government leaders never translated into deed and policy?

The first eight months of Najib premiership provide more than ample grounds for skepticism as to whether it will be different from previous Barisan Nasional administrations in conducting a wholesale reform of government policies if Malaysia is to rise from the last decade of stagnation.

It is not good enough for Husni to admit that Malaysia is “trapped in a low-value-added, low-wage and low-productivity structure", that our private investment is now half of what it was since before the Asian crisis while both manufacturing and service sectors have become less capital intensive; or that “the long-term success of the nation’s economy must take precedence over the short-term interests of a few protected groups”.

The issue at stake is whether there is the political will to carry out long-needed reforms and not just to admit to a lost decade of stagnation.

Parliament this week was give two stark facts about the aggravation of the national situation, viz:

  • that a total of 304,358 Malaysians left the country between March last year and August this year for better education, career and business prospects, working out to some 630 Malaysians leaving the country every day – a big leap from the 139,696 Malaysians who migrated to other countries in 2007.

  • the number of Malaysians who surrendered their citizenship has almost doubled in this year - about 3,800 Malaysians have given up their citizenships to date compared to 2,000 last year.

How can Malaysia succeed in securing international confidence when there is an increasing tide of Malaysians registering their lack of confidence by voting with their feet?

Can Malaysia rise from the lost “decade of stagnation”?

*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor



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