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Saturday, August 31, 2013

Lim paints grim outlook as nation celebrates Merdeka


Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng painted a grim outlook of Malaysia, saying the country continues to be beset by "an extremist and racist divide" as Malaysians celebrate National Day today.

"Malaysia continue to be beset by an extremist and racist divide, overshadowing and even condoning the entrenchment of cronyism, abuse of power and even corruption," he said in his Merdeka speech today.

lim guan eng interview 160813 03Lim urged the federal government to adhere to a system of open, transparent and accountable rule-based institutions to ensure that only those who are clean, diligent and competent will be entrusted with jobs involving public trust.

Celebrating diversity openly would help to restore schools as centres fostering national unity instead of centres causing controversy and racial division, he added.

"An outcome-based system would ensure delivery to the public and good performances would definitely lead to economic growth and prosperity for all," he stressed.

Lim targeted the country's national airline, MAS, for its "poor performance" despite the huge amounts of public funds invested.

Comparing it to private airline AirAsia, Lim described the problems afflicting MAS as "puzzling".

"Despite not getting a single cent in public funds, AirAsia has consistently outperformed MAS with cheaper fares and is now larger than MAS in market capitalisation, planes and share price," said Lim.

"The public has a right to ask the value of money for some RM19 billion spent by the federal government since 1998 to keep MAS solvent, including guaranteeing RM12.3 billion of its borrowings," he added.

High household debt

Lim also took a swipe at the federal government for the revision of the country's credit outlook from "stable" to "negative" by Fitch Ratings.

This, he said, indicates the seriousness of the government's budget deficit of 4% of GDP and debt position which nears 70% if contingent liabilities are included.

Worse is the household debt to GDP ratio which is 83.5%, where half of the household income of the poor are used for debt repayments, he lamented.

"If the federal government wants to reduce household debt, it must lead the way by taking steps to fight corruption so as to reduce the budget deficit," he said.

"Let us show that Malaysians can be the best they can be and not the worst that some politicians tells us that we actually are."

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