Fast rebuttal on factually wrong claim about Malaysias economy is crucial

SINGAPORE, A fast rebuttal with concrete facts to mitigate any factually wrong claim about Malaysia’s economy, which is currently under the administration of a year-old Pakatan Harapan government, is crucial.

Whichever side the rebutters are from, the honour of a country with 32 million people is at stake if the wrong facts about its economy are spreading like wildfire.

Kudos to Dr Ong Kian Ming, Deputy Minister of International Trade and Industry, who was pretty fast in rebutting with the facts.

Tony Pua, political secretary to the Minister of Finance, had quickly done the same.

These rebuttals were in relation to an interview by Bloomberg TV with Kelvin Tay, chief investment officer for the Southern Asia and Pacific region at UBS Wealth Management based in Singapore who spoke on Malaysia’s economy.

Subsequently, UBS had clarified and said that Tay had inadvertently used some wrong terms given the short duration of the live interview.

Recently, Datuk A Kadir Jasin, special media adviser to Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad took centre stage in Singapore to express disappointment over a series of misinformation about the country’s economy.

We don’t mind if our people are upset with us because the cost of living has gone up or prices of fish have not come down as it is very hard to explain to them about the problems with the whole economy of the world.

It is hard to explain to them that China and America is at war over trade. It is hard to explain to them that Europe is in some trouble as the United Kingdom is leaving. We can’t tell them the stories. It (is) just either they can’t understand or they (are) just not interested. They said, well we don’t have enough money for three square meals a day.

(But) what makes us quite unhappy and sad even is that we are being punished by some of the smartest, cleverest, and swankiest people on earth, said Kadir who was alluding to the fund managers, private bankers and analysts.

We are being downgraded in all areas because to them we are not stable. We are not able to generate growth as they expected us to do so. We are suffering a quite a bit now, he said.

Kadir was here speaking at a seminar on ‘Challenges Facing the New Malaysia’ organised by the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute on April 24.

In its latest Monetary Policy Statement, Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) said the baseline projection is for the Malaysian economy to grow within the projected range of 4.3 per cent to 4.8 per cent this year.

Domestically, stable labour market conditions and capacity expansion in key sectors will continue to drive household and capital spending, it said.

The central bank also said the domestic financial markets have remained resilient, despite periods of volatility primarily due to global developments.

On May 7, BNM cut its Overnight Policy Rate (OPR) by 25 basis points to 3.00 per cent from 3.25 per cent, becoming the first central bank in ASEAN to do so.

Bank Islam Malaysia Bhd chief economist Dr Mohd Afzanizam Abdul Rashid had reportedly said the move would support the revival of mega projects such as the RM44 billion East Coast Rail Link and Bandar Malaysia, which would see higher demand for corporate financing.

Additionally, the lower OPR would mean a slightly lower monthly commitment for the existing mortgages or any financing contract that have variable rate features.

These impact, he said, should also help the ringgit to appreciate over time.

Malaysia’s fiscal policy in 2019 will focus on strengthening the government’s fiscal position with a medium-term plan which targets fiscal balances at -3.4 per cent and -3.0 per cent of gross domestic product for the year and in 2020, respectively.

In its 2018 Annual Report released in March, BNM said this can be achieved through gradual fiscal consolidation, paring down debt and liabilities, as well as promoting economic inclusiveness.

Highlighting on what the PH government had done and will do which many may not realise, Kadir said that this government has come down to the most basic needs.

Citing sugar subsidies for instance, Kadir said the government had done away with it and will later tax sweet drinks’ producers.

Now the government is going to tax Pepsi and Coca Cola and all other sweet drinks. That money will be used to fund breakfast programme for poor children.

In fact, we reckoned that by taxing sweet drinks, we have enough money for breakfast programme for all school children in the country.

These are little little things that we are doing, he said.

Source: BERNAMA (News Agency)