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LETTER

Malaysia - an Asian Tiger that's turned into a weak pet cat

Saleh Mohammed

Published

LETTER | In the 80s, Malaysia was one of the Asian tigers and we have now turned into a pet cat - weak and easily fatigued.

The expanding economy was enough for everybody and life was good. There was no fake news, no hate messages, a high confidence level existed and racial and religious conflicts were rare. Could it be because there were no social media?

The other tigers were Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia. Our level of development was better and joining the league of Singapore or South Korea was not too far.

Then came the regional financial crisis of 1997. Our economy was badly affected coupled with political confrontation a year later. The government of the day suppressed dissidents and cronyism and corruption began to show their ugly heads.

The economic wound did not really heal, even after two changes of prime minister. The glory of the past is gone. During that time China rose and even Vietnam is now forging forward.

An article from the University of Greenwich Business School investigated the causal relationship between financial development and economic growth for Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, China, India and Singapore for the period between 1979 and 2009.

The results suggest that in the case of the rest, financial development leads to economic growth. However, for Malaysia, financial development does not seem to cause economic growth

Now we are stuck with the excesses of the previous government and finding it difficult to find a way out. Apart from inexperienced ministers, daily politicking seems to be the order of the day.

Most of these decision-makers are not seen as our elected representatives and they are making decisions contrary to the wishes of the rakyat - and worse, elbowing for positions. We will be seeing a new group of ‘fat cats’. The high cost of living is hard on the B40 and some M40, but the fat cats will barely notice a dip in their bank accounts.

Forget about fulfilling the election manifesto, there are similarities then and now.

The flavour of the day, apart from infighting in a political party, is the date for the present prime minister (PM) to step down. Actually, it has been the flavour for more than a year.

It seems there was a promise. But that promise was among a few people. How about the promises to the 33 million people in the manifesto? Does it mean the next PM can fulfil them and bring in foreign direct investments in droves?

One of the criteria in making a decision for international investors is political stability. If there are political infighting and the mainstream media shows an overdose of politicking, we will be bypassed.

Dirty laundry will be aired in public when there are open fights and the one heralded as the next PM will have to carry the baggage - and he may be cast aside like dirty laundry.

No matter what their supporters have to say, it is a matter of ‘menang sorak kampung tergadai’ (winning the battle, but losing the war).

It will make more sense if everyone comes back to their senses and thinks about the social and economic future of the country and not about individuals who come and go. It is how one will be remembered and not who to be remembered.

The rakyat would like to hear your roar for the benefit of the country - or else after GE15, from the fringes, you will only meow like a domesticated cat.

What say you…?

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