Congratulations in order for Malaysia moving up two spots in global competitiveness ranking but commiserations also for “perfect storm” of crisis of confidence with no light at end of tunnel

Congratulations are in order for Malaysia moving up two spots in terms of global competitiveness, ranking 18th from last year’s 20th position in the Global Competitiveness Report 2015-2016 released by World Economic Forum (WEF).

Malaysia is now ranked ahead of Belgium (ranked No. 19 ) and Luxembourg (No. 20). Malaysia was ranked No. 20 last year with a score of 5.16, behind Belgium (ranked No. l8 with score of 5.18) and Luxembourg (ranked No. 19 with score of 5.17).

There is a confusion however as according to the World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Competitiveness Report 2015-2016, although Malaysia is placed No. 18, it shares the same score of 5.2 with Belgium and Luxembourg both of whom also scored 5.2.

Be that as it may, congratulations should not be begrudged Malaysia’s ranking, although commiserations are also in order for Malaysia’s “perfect storm” of a crisis of confidence in the government with no light at the end of the tunnel.

There is a lengthening list of factors to accentuate the “perfect storm” of a crisis of confidence, such as:

  • The ringgit tumbled to a 17-year low yesterday to 4.48 to the US greenback, with the Malaysian ringgit heading for its biggest quarterly loss since 1997 – losing some 16 per cent since the Cabinet reshuffle at the end of July.
  • The country’s reserves declined the most among Southeast Asia’s five biggest economies this year and Moody’s Investors Service said last month while they were sufficient, their adequacy was the weakest in the region. Malaysia’s foreign exchange reserves are 18 per cent lower than at the end of last year.
  • With about RM11 billion worth of government bonds due to mature this week, the concerns that foreign investors could pull up to another billion dollars out of embattled Malaysia’s bond markets this week, pushing country a step closer to a currency reserves crisis.
  • The twin mega scandals of the RM50 billion 1MDB and RM2.6 billion “donation” in Najib’s personal banking accounts, and Najib as the first serving Prime Minister or President in Asia/Pacific to be investigated by US Department of Justice (DOJ) under its Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative since 2010k. Has Malaysia ended up with a kleptocrat as Prime Minister?
  • The abandonment of Najib’s key policies of 1Malaysia, Global Movement of Moderates initiative and the National Transformation Programme particularly to fight corruption and uphold principles of accountability, transparency and good governance;
  • The rise of extremism, bigotry and racial hate politics as illustrated by the Sept. 16 Red Shirts Rally purportedly to counter the DAP-masterminded Chinese “show-of-force” in the 34-hour Bersih 4 rally, when the Bersih 4 Rally had nothing to do with DAP, race or partisan politics but a peaceful and Carnival-like gathering of hundreds of thousands of patriotic Malaysians, regardless of race, religion, region, gender, age or politics for a common cause of good governance and free, fair, clean elections which completely transcended issues of race or politics.
  • The crisis of confidence is so prolonged and serious that for the first time in nation’s history, the issue of no-confidence motion against the Prime Minister has become a subject of serious public debate, although it is still a great conundrum not amenable to easy solution.

The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Abdul Wahid Omar, has described the economic quandary Najib has placed the country in as “an almost perfect storm”, but claimed that Malaysia was better placed than in the 1990s Asian financial crisis to ride out the hard times.

But there is one great difference in the “almost perfect storm” today than the crisis the country faced in the late 90s – that Malaysia has now not only a minority, but the most unpopular, Prime Minister in history heading a fractured nation, a fractured government and a fractured UMNO.

If Malaysia is to ride out this “almost perfect storm”, Malaysians must unite and transcend race, religion, region and politics as one Malaysian people to save Malaysia from becoming a rogue and failed state, where there is a collapse of the rule of law, continued breakdown of the independence and professionalism of key national institutions and rampant corruption and abuses of power.

The question is whether there are enough Malaysians to save Malaysia – for Malaysians to come together, not as Malays, Chinese, Indians, Kadazans, Dayaks, or Muslims, Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Sikhs and Taoists, but as Malaysians to save the Malaysian nation from the fate of a rogue and failed state.

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Gelang Patah