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Saturday, June 28, 2014

The crunch is coming

If the government is sleepwalking, then it must wake up fast.
COMMENT
By Selena Tay
depress300The English word “kaput” originates from the German word “kaputt” meaning “ruined”, “broken”, “malfunction”, “destroyed” or “dead”. It can be used to refer to a machine, business enterprise or even a project in the pipeline.
The missing plane MH370 and the kidnappings off the coast of Sabah can cause the Sabah tourism industry to go kaput. As yet, the Chinese national kidnapped in May and the Perak man kidnapped in June have yet to be rescued.
Malaysia has also been downgraded from Tier 2 to Tier 3 as far as human trafficking is concerned.
Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak must seriously look into these issues as well as the issues of the haze, water supply shortage, cooking oil shortage, crime rate, price hikes, dengue and tuberculosis epidemic – all these problems are afflicting the nation and its citizens.
This columnist has talked to a group of businessmen and they have expressed their worries that these pending issues and the lack of leadership and economic direction are jeopardising the nation’s economy.
Hatred and racist statements spewed forth by certain NGOs are also a disservice to national harmony and do nothing to improve the nation’s image on the world stage.
The Prime Minister’s deafening silence is telling while investors and businessmen are watching him closely.
The businessmen this columnist talked to said that if the Prime Minister’s voice of moderation turns into absolute silence, then the economic future is bleak.
If not for the upheaval in Thailand and the rioting in Vietnam last month, these two nations would have surged ahead of us by now. Currently, Singapore and Indonesia are better poised to attract foreign direct investments.
The Malaysian government must realise that the longer it takes to solve the outstanding issues mentioned above, the more it affects its credibility rating.
A rude awakening
The rakyat must not think that the situation in Malaysia is rosy and well. We do not get much real news from the mainstream media. And let’s face it: how many of the people out there actually refer to the alternative media for news? People are too busy earning a living and running their household than to bother about the real or actual news.
Therefore, not many people really know the actual state of the nation’s economy.
Suffice to say, many are blissfully unaware and are carrying on with their lives as normal. They think that everything is fine and hunky-dory.
One businessman warned that with the impending hike in electricity tariffs and the coming changes to be made in the fuel subsidy, things are going to get worse for the average citizen, not to mention the low-wage earner who will be the hardest hit.
After the goods and services tax (GST) is implemented on April 1 next year, the economic well-being of the low-wage earner can go kaput.
The ever-soaring national debt can also cause the nation’s economy to go kaput.
This is a very serious matter indeed. The low-wage earners will soon turn out their empty pockets while some small businesses will go kaput due to extremely high overheads.
Some investors may consider moving their business to neighbouring countries. There is already talk of this among this columnist’s business contacts.
Most businessmen also complain that the government is not prudent in spending.
The bloated Cabinet is one such example. China has 1.3 billion people served by 20 ministers, India has 1 billion people and 23 ministers, Japan has 16 ministers for 127 million citizens while UK has 23 ministers for a population of 63 million.
But Malaysia has 34 ministers for a population of 30 million plus foreign workers and two pandas. Still an “overstuffed” Cabinet, notwithstanding.
“Is the government sleepwalking or on autopilot?” asked Shah Alam PAS MP, Khalid Samad while his PAS colleague, former Kuala Selangor MP Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad remarked that Najib’s moderation slogan has gone kaput.
If the government is sleepwalking, then it must wake up fast. Otherwise, the nation’s economy will go kaput in 2016 and those in ignorant bliss will get a rude awakening. Indeed that is not too far away from now.
PAS Youth chief, Suhaizan Kaiat, has noted that the rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer, the income gap is getting wider while corruption continues unabated.
The slide down the slippery slope is imminent and will begin after Chinese New Year in February next year. Remember folks, you have been warned. The crunch is coming. Prepare yourselves before the situation goes kaput.
Selena Tay is a FMT columnist

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