I’ve attended the Segambut MCA Installation dinner 2 nights ago. I said that 2009 could be a very tough year for Malaysia, especially on the aspect of economy and politics.
On the economy front, the U.S. financial crisis has become a global problem, affecting a lot of countries including Malaysia.
Malaysia is very dependent on trade, export of manufacture goods and primary commodities. Hence, all sectors will be affected. Bank Negara is optimistic that we can achieve 5% growth in Malaysia, which is quite commendable in view of many countries go into recession.
Next year, we predicted to achieve 3% growth. Going into 2010, it will be anybody’s guess.
It is obvious that we are unable to achieve an economic growth of 6% per year under the 9th Malaysia Plan. As rightly pointed out by Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohammed, this will definitely affect the 2020 vision.
Oil contributes about 40% of the country’s revenue. The 2009 budget is based on USD120 per barrel. Today, oil is trading at less than USD50 per barrel. Hence, our national revenue will be badly affected in 2009. However, the 2010 country’s revenue may be even worse than 2009 if the country’s primary commodity and oil remain depressed.
The economy slowdown will definitely cause reduction of new jobs (there are about 200, 000 new jobs every year). There will be increase in retrenchment and unemployment rate will go up next year.
The MCA Government Policy Monitoring Bureau has said 3 weeks ago that government should come out with mechanism to monitor any retrenchment exercise. This is a good opportunity to reduce our dependency on foreign workers.
The training scheme announced by the government should be publicized and that the training scheme should be as what I’ve said in my previous post in this blog titled “Dependence on Foreign Workers”
How the government handles the downturn can make or breaks the government. This will be the Achilles heel to test the BN leadership, especially the Deputy Prime Minister.
People want the government to:
1) Reduce the burden and suffering of rakyat, especially the poor in view of inflation;
2) Reduce the cost of doing business
3) Help all sectors affected by economic downturn
4) Continue to strengthen the competitiveness of Malaysia economy, which is a very open system.
Malaysia is too dependent on trade and investment. Hence, it is important to continue to liberalize investment climate and ensure a friendly economy business environment. Hence, there is the need to reduce bureaucracy. This is very important in order to continue to enjoy economic growth despite the slowdown.
As for political front, of course we have to face the by-election in Terengganu. A win will be a moral booster for BN. A lost could be very demoralizing.
I share with the audience what I say in the BN meeting that to reinvent BN is not just statement and slogans. There has to be positive action; state leaders and the grassroots should also be involved.
Often there is hardly any meeting at state and division level. So, BN leaders become strangers despite having common objectives. We may not be in the best of friendship but we are not enemies since we have common agenda to serve and win the hearts of rakyat.
I talked about UMNO wakil rakyat, both Parliament and State Assemblyman who hardly visit Chinese area after the election and did not give peruntukan to them. As a result, this leads to disillusion.
Hence, they find that there is no difference, at least at the local level to vote for PAS. When Chinese vote for PAS, it is not an endorsement of PAS agenda but rather a protest vote.
Therefore, it is important that UMNO leaders at all levels must engage with non-Malays. This makes sense since the President and Deputy President become Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister and not just leaders for Malays and UMNO.
In the same way, MCA should not talk all about Chinese problems. It should have a more multiracial approach towards problem solving. We can be a Chinese based party but with a more multiracial outlook. Ideally, Malaysia politicians should be issue centric and not ethno-centric.