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Friday, August 28, 2015

Drop in ringgit, rise of religion in politics not good news, says Singapore

Singapore says Malaysia’s political and economical problems may also affect the republic’s own affairs. – Reuters pic, August 28, 2015. Singapore says Malaysia’s political and economical problems may also affect the republic’s own affairs. – Reuters pic, August 28, 2015. 
Singapore has expressed worry over recent economic and political developments in neighbouring Malaysia, saying the ringgit's drop along with increasingly religion-charged politics would affect the republic.
"We are the biggest investor in Iskandar Malaysia, so any trouble is a serious issue for us," Law and Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam said yesterday in a speech quoted by Business Times, referring to the southern economic hub in Johor which has attracted Singaporean businesses.
The ringgit crossed the psychological level of RM3.00 against the Singapore dollar this week, and as of yesterday stood at 3.01. Early this month, it was traded at RM2.75 to S$1.
But Shanmugam, saying the Malaysian economy was in for hard times, warned Singaporeans that their neighbours' troubles would not benefit them.
"When your neighbour's economy is in such a state, and your neighbour is your second largest trading partner, it doesn't benefit us," he told media professionals, as reported by The Straits Times.
Shanmugam also said Malaysia was facing race-related problems, adding that it could seen in the country's increasingly polarised education system.
He said national schools in Malaysia were "becoming more and more Malay and Islamic", keeping apart the Malays and Chinese from an early age.
Shanmugam said this was made worse by the increasing use of Islam in politics by the ruling party to take advantage of the Malays' support for Islamic laws and Islamisation.
"An honest politician, an upright politician, will find it very difficult to talk about a united Malaysia that is more integrated.
"The political dynamics are such that he will have to play to the Malay ground," he said, adding that investors who shunned Malaysia would also stay away from Singapore.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has been under pressure over the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) affair, and the revelation that some RM2.6 billion was transferred to his personal accounts has added fuel to calls for his resignation.
Late last month, Najib announced a surprise Cabinet reshuffle, dropping his deputy Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin over criticism of his handling of the 1MDB issue. Najib also effectively halted an investigation into the heavily indebted state firm after he replaced the attorney-general and transferred out members of the Public Accounts Committee, which formed part of a special task force announced by the government.
A major rally by electoral reforms coalition Bersih 2.0 is set to take place in Kuala Lumpur, Kuching and Kota Kinabalu this weekend, to call for economic and political reforms amid the ringgit's worst performance in two decades.
- TMI

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