Jury still out on Malaysia's fourth quarter recovery, say experts

Martin Vengadesan

Modified 7 Dec 2020, 6:32 am

Malaysians began 2020 expecting a year of transition with the anticipation of ex-premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad handing over power to PM-in-waiting Anwar Ibrahim. This was meant to go hand in hand with law reforms and a move towards a more progressive and prosperous society.

Instead, there has been endless uncertainty and manoeuvring on the political front. At the same time, the economy took an enormous hit as Malaysia joined the rest of the world in coping with the Covid-19 pandemic, which has claimed at least 1.5 million lives globally and 380 in Malaysia.

At times this year, it has almost seemed like a cruel joke that the dream of a fully developed nation under the Wawasan 2020 has seen Malaysia enter a recession following two consecutive quarters of negative growth.

Indeed while the government's Budget 2021 was planned on the basis of a swift rebounding of the economy with gross domestic product (GDP) growth of up to 7.5 percent, detractors are claiming this recession could prove to be as long-lasting and of greater impact than the mid-1980s recession and the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997.

In recent days, rating agency Fitch Ratings downgraded Malaysia's long-term foreign-currency issuer default rating (IDR) from A- to BBB+, potentially...

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