Right from our days bouncing on our mother’s knees we’ve been taught that medicine tastes bad but we must swallow it for our own good.
The austerity mindset adopted by the government has taken this advice to heart.
Since taking over, Pakatan Harapan has instituted fiscal discipline and belt-tightening – albeit not without good cause.
previous administration flung cash around like it was on a weekend
pass, famously stuffing what couldn’t be sunk into Hollywood films and
Mayfair mansions into Hermès handbags and pink diamond jewellery.
Harapan inherited the hangover after the binge, and is still paying off their bills.
Minister Lim Guan Eng has done his part, working assiduously towards
his 3-year plan of reconstructing the fiscal health of the nation.
It’s been a tedious and tiresome task, no doubt, one that no one should envy.
Well, nobody is accusing Malaysia of being a “cash is king” economy anymore, but the rakyat is starting to feel the pinch. It’s time to give them some relief – a sweet treat after the bitter pill.
As Wednesday’s Edge Financial Daily cover suggests, managing debts and developing the economy should not be mutually exclusive.
economy must run as a global enterprise, after all. Even if we turn off
the lights and pull up the covers, the rest of the kids on the block
will still be out there kicking the ball around.
We cannot sign
on to play in the fourth industrial revolution, for instance, without
investing in the kit that allows us to compete on the field.
In addition to serious discipline and practice, we need the leadership to provide us with decent and adequate facilities.
reducing public debt remains a priority, which the Finance Ministry is
successfully achieving, we must also invest in programmes that support
incremental economic gain.
This is especially for the lower-income
segment of the economy so that they have tools to get them moving up
and out of that bracket.
The lack of stimulus and support in key sectors will have the effect of stunting future growth.
transformation is one such area, upon which hinges the success of
Malaysia becoming a high value, high wages economy – so essential to our
These are goals that outlive any one
administration, or any individual political party. Rather, all of
society stands to gain from it.
Ever since we emerged from the
Asian financial crisis, Malaysia chose to remain on a low-cost,
low-wages track compared with the game-plan of tech-innovation and
wage-inflation pursued by peers such as South Korea.
closed off our capital markets and localized ownership of our strategic
assets, the Koreans built out their economy for global needs. Today the
disparity is clear for anyone to see.
We cannot afford inaction or
oversight now to repeat the same mistake for another generation of
Malaysians. After all, the whole point of treating an injury is to
enable performance to full potential.
Dr. Rais Hussin is President & CEO of EMIR Research,an independent think tank focused on strategic policy recommendations based upon rigorous research.