(Penang, Thursday): The 1998 Budget presented by the Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, had failed to address the fundamental issue of restoring confidence in the Malaysian economy or to check twin currency and stock market crisis, as both the Malaysian stock market and ringgit have embarked on a sharp decline from budget day on Oct. 17.
Malaysians are shocked that at a time when the Ministers are calling on the people to tighten their belts, the government still has money to offer US$1 billion loan aid to Indonesia. This has deepened the people's unhappiness with the 1998 budget.
Malaysians can understand when in August, the government offered US$1 billion loan aid to Thailand as a gesture of "good ASEAN neighbourliness". However, many things have changed in the last two months, and the Malaysian economy is itself in crisis. It is Malaysia which should be claiming billions of ringgit in compensation from Indonesia for the disaster to the economy, environment and the people's health because of the national haze disaster, rather than Malaysia giving US$1 billion aid to Indonesia. Furthermore, when Malaysia committed US$1 billion to help Thailand in August, it was equivalent to RM2.6-2.7 billion. Now, the US$1 billion aid to Indonesia would amount to some RM3.4 billion!
I call on Anwar to present a second 1998 budget on Wednesday during the winding-up of the Parliamentary debate on the budget, taking into full consideration the views which had been expressed by various strata of society, and which should include the following six measures: