By Philip Kwan
Are you mad at what has been happening over the past few weeks in Malaysia? Are you outraged that the Pakatan Harapan government has crumbled due to the crossing over of certain MPs? Are you devastated that politicians from BN/UMNO are in power again and are free to abuse their authority, rob the nation’s coffers, and pull off corruption on a grand scale like never seen before?
Well guess what? You have every right to feel that way!
If you are a Pakatan supporter, of course you’re angry, upset, and maybe even depressed! ‘This is a huge betrayal of our trust! This isn’t the government we voted for! How dare they hop over like that and align themselves with the opposition that we fought so hard to bring down just under 2 years ago?!’
If you are a Pakatan supporter, you would remember how they told us how corrupt BN/UMNO was, how they were robbing billions from the country through 1MDB, FELDA, MARA, and Tabung Haji, how the country was going bankrupt, and how we needed to vote them into power to put a stop to all this and SAVE MALAYSIA.
If you are a Pakatan supporter, you would remember the build-up to the general election, friends and family coming back from overseas, traveling miles and miles just to vote because every vote counts, double-checking polling stations, making sure we followed the rules, doing everything right so that we could do our part to SAVE MALAYSIA.
If you are a Pakatan supporter, you would remember the pure joy you felt at the miracle achieved on the night of May 9, 2018, the relief that the country would be in good hands for once, the excitement of what the future would hold now that BN/UMNO had finally fallen and the new government was going to fix the economy and SAVE MALAYSIA.
If you are a Pakatan supporter, then this message is for you.
Take a deep breath, calm down, and let’s take a look at the differences between the change in government post-GE14 and the change in government just 2 weeks ago.
This was the state of the economy that BN left for Pakatan Harapan to take over.
– Strong GDP growth, reaching 5.9% in 2017, with the World Bank projecting that Malaysia could achieve high-income nation status as early as 2020 (1)
– Record high exports growth of 18.9% for 2017 (2)
– Bursa Malaysia hitting an all-time high with the FBM KLCI at 1895.18 points in April 2018 (3)
– 2017 EPF dividend rate of 6.9%, the highest in 20 years (4)
– Budget deficit decreasing steadily 8 years in a row (5)
– Official federal government debt of RM686.8 billion (6)
– Petronas cash reserves of RM174 billion (7)
– RM2 trillion in savings (8)
– Khazanah’s Net Worth Adjusted portfolio value of RM115.6 billion (9)
– Debt-to-GDP ratio of 48.7% (10)
– Implementation of the more effective, efficient, and transparent GST tax system (11)
– Reliance on petroleum-related income decreasing steadily over 8 years from 41.3% in 2009 to 15.7% in 2017 (12)
Now this is the state of the economy that Pakatan Harapan has left for Perikatan Nasional after having 22 months to SAVE MALAYSIA.
– Lowest GDP growth in 10 years, dropping to 4.3% in 2019 (13)
– Exports ‘growth’ of -1.7% for 2019, first full-year drop in a decade (14)
– Bursa Malaysia named the world’s worst major stock market in April 2019 (15), with the FBM KLCI dropping over 300 points from 1895.18 in April 2018 to 1561.74 in November 2019 (16)
– 2019 EPF dividend rate of 5.45%, the lowest in 11 years (17)
– 2019 PNB’s ASB total dividend distribution of 5.5 sen, the lowest in history (18)
– 2018 Tabung Haji dividend rate of 1.25%, ALSO the lowest in history (19)
– 2018 Armed Forces Fund Board (LTAT) dividend rate of 2%, ALSO THE LOWEST IN HISTORY (20)
– Budget 2019 at RM314.5 billion for total government expenditure, the largest ever in history (21)(22)
– Increase in national debt by RM136.8 billion to over RM820 billion (23)
– Petronas’s first ever ratings downgrade from A1 to A2 on the back of the RM30 billion special dividend in 2019 (24)
– Khazanah’s Commercial Fund’s Net Asset Value was RM73.1 billion as at 31 December 2019 (25)
– 2019 debt-to-GDP ratio climbed to 52.5%, approaching the 55% statutory debt limit (26)
– Regression to the leakage-prone, inefficient, and less transparent SST tax system (27)
– Reliance on petroleum-related income jumped to 30.7% in 2019, forecasted at 20.7% for 2020 (28)
This doesn’t even cover the literal billions of ringgit worth of assets that Pakatan Harapan has sold off while they were in power, nor the thousands of people who have since been retrenched, nor the numerous financial aids for farmers, fishermen, FELDA settlers, and the B40 group that were either reduced or removed completely.
If you are a Pakatan supporter, I’m going to ask for a small favour.
Just this once, just for a minute, forget about all the stories of BN/UMNO corruption that Pakatan leaders have been telling us all those years. Forget about the 1MDB, FELDA, MARA, and Tabung Haji scandals. Forget about your disgust and hatred for those leaders that have already been charged in court.
If it’s hard to forget, try pretending all those allegations are like Pakatan’s election promises and manifesto. You know, like RM1.50 petrol prices, abolishing tolls and PTPTN loans, setting up RCIs for 1MDB, FELDA, MARA, & Tabung Haji, implementing MA63, that kind of stuff. Just stories told to get us to vote for them, but in the end not fit to be believed or even repeated.
Anyway, forget about all that. Take a step back, ponder what you’ve read, and just ask yourself, “Is this what saving Malaysia looks like?”
Be honest with yourself and come to your own conclusion about which government has done a better job in handling the country’s finances and managing the economy.
As you can see, this is a very different Malaysia than the one Pakatan Harapan took over. On top of the deteriorating economy, we’ve just been hit with a double-whammy of the Covid-19 outbreak and the oil price war.
So yes, the Pakatan Harapan government has unceremoniously crumbled and the new Perikatan Nasional government has taken over. The new Prime Minister has chosen his new cabinet and they’ve already been sworn in.
Pakatan leaders are calling it an ‘illegitimate backdoor government’ and are rallying support against Perikatan Nasional, and you can be sure that soon they’ll be travelling the length and breadth of the country, telling us once again of all the racism and corruption that Perikatan Nasional leaders are involved in.
But maybe this time, instead of listening to their stories and claims of just wanting to SAVE MALAYSIA, instead of giving in to anger and despair and hoping and praying for Pakatan to take over again, maybe this time we should just take a step back and consider this, “Did Pakatan Harapan really improve Malaysia’s economy during their time in power, or did things actually just get worse?”
And if you can find the answer to that question, then maybe you can also find it in you to give this new Perikatan Nasional government a chance to prove themselves.
After all, if they botch this up as badly as Pakatan Harapan did, the next General Election is just 3 years away.
DISCLAIMER: If the financial points of comparison above seem familiar, it’s because I based this post on one of DS Najib Razak’s. The points are his, the sources my own.
1. World Bank: Malaysia to achieve high-income nation status as early as 2020 – https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2017/12/16/world-bank-malaysia-high-income-status-by-2020/
2. Malaysia’s 2017 exports up 18.9%, highest jump in 12 years – https://www.thesundaily.my/archive/malaysias-2017-exports-189-highest-jump-12-years-HUARCH524681
3. Bursa Malaysia at record high – https://www.thestar.com.my/business/business-news/2018/04/20/bursa-malaysia-at-record-high
4. EPF declares highest dividend payout since 1997 – https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2018/02/334159/update-epf-declares-highest-dividend-payout-1997
5. Malaysia Government Budget – https://tradingeconomics.com/malaysia/government-budget
6. Najib criticises how Malaysia’s RM1 trillion debt is calculated, says government spooked markets – https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asia/najib-criticises-how-malaysia-s-rm1-trillion-debt-is-calculated-10278028
7. PETRONAS Group Interim Financial Report For Second Quarter 2018 (pg 2) – https://www.petronas.com/ws/sites/default/files/2018-08/Financial%20Report%20Second%20Quarter%20Ended%2030%20June%202018%20%28FY2018%29_0.pdf
8. Dr M: Malaysia can tap RM2 trillion savings to further stimulate economy – https://www.theedgemarkets.com/article/dr-m-malaysia-can-tap-rm2-trillion-savings-further-stimulate-economy
9. FOURTEENTH KHAZANAH ANNUAL REVIEW (“KAR 2018”) – https://www.khazanah.com.my/Media-Downloads/News-Press-Releases/2018/Fourteenth-Khazanah-Annual-Review-(-KAR-2018%E2%80%9D)
10. Malaysian Economy First Quarter 2018 (pg 9) – https://www.treasury.gov.my/pdf/ekonomi/Q2_2018/sukutahun1_2018.pdf
11. Why GST – http://www.customs.gov.my/en/cp/Pages/cp_wy.aspx
12. Section 2: Federal Government Revenue (pg 11) – https://www.treasury.gov.my/pdf/budget/budget_info/2019/revenue/section2.pdf
13. GDP growth at 10-year low in 2019 – https://www.theedgemarkets.com/article/gdp-growth-10year-low-2019
14. Malaysia’s 2019 exports decline, first full-year drop in a decade – https://www.thesundaily.my/business/malaysia-s-2019-exports-decline-first-full-year-drop-in-a-decade-GE1969329
15. The world’s worst major stock market is really, really boring – https://www.thestar.com.my/business/business-news/2019/04/16/the-world-worst-major-stock-market-is-really-really-boring/
16. FBM KLCI sharply lower at close – http://www.dailyexpress.com.my/news/144149/fbm-klci-sharply-lower-at-close/
17. EPF declares 5.45% dividend for 2019 , the lowest since 2008 – https://www.theedgemarkets.com/article/epf-declares-545-dividend-2019-lowest-2008
18. Here’s What You Need To Know About ASB’s Low Distribution In 2019 – https://www.imoney.my/articles/low-asb-dividend-rates
19. Tabung Haji’s 2018 dividend lowest in history at 1.25pc – https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2019/04/05/tabung-hajis-2018-dividend-lowest-in-history-at-1.25pc/1740199
20. Malaysia’s Armed Forces Fund Board declares lowest-ever dividend of 2% – https://www.aseaneconomist.com/malaysias-armed-forces-fund-board-declares-lowest-ever-dividend-of-2/
21. Budget 2019: Guan Eng announces largest-ever allocation of RM314.5bil – https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2018/11/02/budget-2019-guan-eng-announces-largest-ever-allocation-of-rm3145bil/
22. Govt budgets RM314.6b for 2019 total expenditure – https://www.theedgemarkets.com/article/govt-budgets-rm3146b-2019-total-expenditure
24. Moody’s downgrades Petronas, outlook stable – https://www.nst.com.my/business/2019/06/498135/moodys-downgrades-petronas-outlook-stable
25. KHAZANAH ANNUAL REVIEW 2020 – https://www.khazanah.com.my/Media-Downloads/News-Press-Releases/2020/KHAZANAH-ANNUAL-REVIEW-2020
26. Bursa Malaysia opens lower on political uncertainties – https://www.nst.com.my/business/2020/02/568793/bursa-malaysia-opens-lower-political-uncertainties
27. GST better than SST, say experts – https://www.nst.com.my/news/politics/2018/05/364932/gst-better-sst-say-experts
28. Section 2: Federal Government Revenue (pg 10) – https://www.treasury.gov.my/pdf/budget/budget_info/2020/revenue/section2.pdf