DAVOS – The opposition claim that the Malaysian economy is in crisis is absurd and irresponsible, says International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed.
He said the baseless accusation made by the opposition, which compared the country’s current economic situation to the likes of the 1997/1998 economic financial crisis, was not based on facts and indepth research.
“In actual fact, in matters concerning core issues such as the nation’s economy, racial ties and religion, we must think as one.
“In this aspect, it is clear that the opposition is attempting to shake the confidence of people and the international community of Malaysia’s economic prospects.
“This is an irresponsible action,” he told Malaysian reporters on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum which began here on Tuesday.
Describing the current economic situation as challenging, Mustapa said the situation today was far different from what occurred during the 1997/1998 crisis.
“We admit that the value of our currency (ringgit) has depreciated between 10 and 11 per cent (now) but it eroded steeply from RM2.50 to almost RM5.00 against the US dollar during the 1997/98 crisis.
“Back then, our reserves dwindled but now it is still hovering around US$100 billion. Our financial institutions were in trouble but today they are strong and resilient with hefty reserves and surplus liquidity,” he added.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, in a special address to the nation, said Malaysia was neither in a recession nor a crisis as claimed recently by some opposition leaders.
He announced several proactive measures aimed at making the necessary adjustments following the challenging external developments which were beyond the government’s control.
Mustapa said the measures announced were not hastily decided but after conducting a month-long indepth and precise study by the Ministry of Finance, Bank Negara Malaysia and the Economic Planning Unit of the Prime Minister’s Department.
“The explanation given by the prime minister took into account current changes and what’s important is the government took time to study policy changes that were necessary to be made to ensure the country’s financial standing remained strong and intact,” he said.
Asked if investor sentiment had been eroded by the negative perception of the opposition, Mustapa said their confidence in the economy was intact as the economic growth figures were encouraging.
As such, he said Najib’s announcement was realistic in preparing the nation to face global economic challenges.
On the ongoing WEF, Mustapa said Najib would meet about 45 investors to provide them with a detailed explanation of the country’s economic status and recent measures taken to ensure economic and financial resilence.
Approximately 40 heads of state and government, together with 2,500 corporate leaders from 140 countries will attend the five-day forum themed, “The New Global Context”.
The annual WEF, which also serves as a platform in promoting public-private cooperation, will look at ten specific global challenges that is affecting the economy across the globe and ways to overcome the adverse impact and risks to the local economy. – Bernama