YOURSAY | M'sia’s 'tiger' economy an exercise in myth-making


Modified 16 Jan 2021, 11:29 pm

YOURSAY | ‘There is a crisis of confidence among foreign investors...’

Zafrul's post on high foreign investment invites backlash, ridicule

Manjit Bhatia: Ahh, Malaysia - the "miracle economy", the "tiger economy", etc. It never was. It never will be. It was and still is a mouse with a tiger's roar.

It's nice to rejoice in myth-making, no doubt led by the "miracle economy" - the neoclassical economics school of thought, replete with its composition of fallacies and explanandum.

It is seriously doubtful that Malaysia's competitiveness is better than Indonesia's or Vietnam's. That's the old story. The relatively new story, though, is whether Malaysia can compete with the likes of Laos, Cambodia and perhaps even Myanmar, whose economies are enjoying a gush of Chinese capital.

Given their low technological ladder and a much larger younger population, the growth trajectories of these countries will be tremendous post-Covid-19, if we ever get to the post-Covid stage.

Arguably these countries, including the Philippines, once touted as Southeast Asia's basket-case banana republic, are better placed to attract far greater foreign direct investment (FDI) than Malaysia.

Even the UN's Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (Escap), in its December 2020 report, says the Asia-Pacific region has suffered a decline in FDI inflows and outflows from 45 percent to 35 percent and that these trends will likely continue throughout 2021 when few, if anybody, is predicting a turnaround in world trade and investment on account of depressed global aggregate demand and global supply chains still in a slowdown.

With 140,000 jobs lost recently in the US, that economy is spiralling into a severe recession. Don't be fooled by what you see on the Dow Jones index hitting a record high. The structural problems in the US are painfully enormous.

So they are also in Malaysia, which has rebuffed every opportunity at real economic reforms since the Asian financial crisis in the late 1990s, besides the obvious tinkering at the edges for Dr Mahathir Mohamad to make it look as if he's doing something "fundamental" for the Malaysian economy.

He did nothing of the sort. No more than Abdullah Ahmad Badawi or Najib Abdul Razak did. All three dithered when the opportunities for reforms presented themselves, again in 2008 and in 2018. Najib screwed up. So did Mahathir. And now Muhyiddin Yassin is also screwing up.

Which is why Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz is the finance minister. He may have been a banker one time in his life. He is now a standard Malay Malaysian politician who has adopted the lies of Malay Malaysian politicians as their gospel.

Zafrul's claims of spectacular growth in FDI and FDI-financed can only be believed if he and the regime he serves produced un-redacted hard evidence to back his claims. Otherwise, it's just another Malaysian fairy-tale no different to the one spun of the Malaysian "tiger" economy.

OceanMaster: Firstly, Zafrul is not qualified to be the finance minister. He’s a parachuted Malay elite with links to political patronage in high places with no exposure in macroeconomics and public policies. So don't expect much from him nor the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government.

With such an individual helming the Finance Ministry, there is a crisis of confidence for foreign investors to look at Malaysia as an investment destination. It's compounded by the pandemic in the near term and political instability in the mid-term.

Within the Asean neighbourhood, countries like Vietnam and Indonesia have taken off by reinventing themselves as a competitive destination versus even China!

Also, I am not sure who does what in this PN cabinet. What is Senior Minister (Economy) Azmin Ali doing?

Mcgreen: Over 55 percent of FDIs to the region goes to Singapore. Malaysia gets about five percent. Indonesia and Vietnam are now our major competitors in Asean.

Surely, Malaysia can do better. Unfortunately, we are not able to take the necessary steps to push through with much-needed economic reforms and reduce unnecessary delays in approving investment applications from domestic and foreign investors.

Are we happy to only receive five percent of FDIs coming into Asean?

Ex-Wfw: If you are involved in any way with international trade, you will know the reasons why multinational corporations are reluctant to invest in this country. Across all ministries, you would need to call at the highest level to get things done.

After that, at every level, you still need to get a "clearance pass". In today’s trades, time is a major factor in all procedures, and here you very often come across: "Oh! we are short of staff.”

Would you believe it? The nation with the greatest number of civil servants against its population and we are short of them! Our overall logistics cost isn't more competitive around in Asean, let alone the world.

GMOD: Seriously, this government is so unfriendly to foreigners and foreign investors. They have a toxic mix of race, religion and royalty (3R).

They do not follow meritocracy, the rule of law and the horrendous corruption and placed politicians in key roles in government-linked companies (GLCs) as well as poor quality politicians and government officials. It’s just shocking.

Zafrul makes ridiculous inflated FDI claims, and not a single person believes him. Why would anyone believe anything said by this government?

Malaysia will spiral further down and down for as long as 3R is the basis of politics and life in this country.

Please people, wake up and vote all these corrupt and inept politicians out of office, and get back to the original manifesto. And this time keep Mahathir away.

YellowKancil0051: Blasted by investors from the European Union. Sigh. Where to put our face?

Zafrul thinks he can fool foreign investors like they are simpletons and the yes-men the government are so used to dealing with?

So far, investor groups and credit rating agencies already call out this ‘ace’ backdoor finance minister. I am not sure how much worse it can get.

Doc: The previous finance minister that bankrupted Malaysia thanks to his global money laundering stunt and that kleptomaniac persona is now calling the present finance minister a liar and incompetent.

Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

Bad Feng Shui: Speaking of FDI, what has happened to the RM82 billion investments Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali brought back from Turkey, as claimed by Umno leader Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim?

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