(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): Yesterday, I had an unpleasant experience when I wanted to email to all Cabinet Ministers my Open Letter on the 15 Areas which the Cabinet should give priority focus at its first 1998 Cabinet meeting today to deal with the full-blown economic crisis which has still to reach its climax.
After a lot of surfing, my office could only find email addresses for six Cabinet Ministers, namely the Education Minister, Datuk Najib Tun Razak, the Minister for Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs, Datuk Megat Junid Megat Ayob, the Minister for Entrepreneur Development, Datuk Mustapha Mohamad, the Minister for Science, Technology and Environment, Datuk Law Hieng Ding, the Minister for Rural Development, Datuk Anuar Musa and the Minister for National Unity and Social Development Datin Paduka Zaleha Ismail.
My office faxed the Open Letter to the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister and emailed to six Cabinet Ministers. The Prime Minister has been going round the world in the past two years to place Malaysia in the very forefront of Information Technology with the ambitious plan of the Multimedia Super Corridor, but only a handful of the Cabinet Ministers are accessible on-line. This is something which the Cabinet and the government cannot be proud about and I urge all Cabinet Ministers to be immediately accessible by the people through email at this period of national economic crisis as well as in keeping with the government's promotion of IT.
The web-page of the Prime Minister's Office which gives the Cabinet line-up should display the email address of every Cabinet Minister to be contacted by the public, and not just the colour photograph of each Minister so that Malaysians do not have to surf the Internet trying to discover the email addresses of Cabinet Ministers.
This will be one way to show that the Government is prepared to be very serious about the issues of accessibility, accountability and transparency in the long hard road to restore confidence.
Today is another black-lettered day for the Malaysian economy, with the Malaysian ringgit crashing to another historic low of 4.6700 to a US dollar, and appears to be continue to plunge, while Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange Composite Index also reached the lowest point in the current economic crisis, or 510.45 points at 12 noon.
My Open Letter on the 15 areas which the Cabinet should give priority focus has now taken on even greater urgency with the sudden escalation of the economic crisis, as only the immediate implementation of the 15 measures I suggested in my Open Letter can lay the basis for the restoration of confidence - without which, Malaysia would be in for long and great economic troubles.
Yesterday, local banks and finance companies advised customers to be realistic about their credit needs in the light of the economic slowdown. This is no answer to complaints by businesses for productive and export-oriented projects whose credit facilities have been slashed without notice although they are not asking for credit for the property, stockmarket or consumption sectors.
The Bank Negara and Finance Ministry should come to the assistance of productive businesses and industries who are suffering from the sudden credit crunch not only for their sake but also in the larger national interest to protect the competitiveness of the Malaysian economy so that an economic turnaround and revival could be effected in the shortest possible time.