Anwar should present a Ministerial statement in Parliament on Monday  on the worsening one-year economic crisis, giving revised GDP growth estimates, the success of the NEAC, the economic recovery measures being undertaken which should be followed by a full debate


Media Conference Statement
by Lim Kit Siang  

(Penang, Friday): The Malaysian ringgit fell to a five-month low yesterday, breaking through the 4.20 level which has been tested at least five times since late June. It fell as low as 4.2548 against the US dollar.  As at 11 a.m. this morning, the Malaysian ringgit weakened as low as 4.2750 against the US dollar.

The Kuala Lumpur Stock Market Composite Index (CI) yesterday fell 7.39 points to 447.89, and at 12 p.m. this morning, it fell by another 12.84 points to 435.05  points, which is a record-breaking low in the year-long economic crisis.  On January 12, the KLSE CI fell to 477.57 points but on June 16, it fell to a new low of 435.84 points. Now a new bottom has been reached!

These are among the disturbing signs that although Malaysia has been hit by the worst economic crisis for a year, there is still no respite and that all indications are that the worst is yet to come, with economic recovery expected only in the new millennium.

For this reason, it is imperative that the Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim should present a Ministerial statement in Parliament on Monday  on the worsening one-year economic crisis,  giving revised GDP growth estimates, the progress and success of the National Economic Action Council (NEAC), the economic recovery measures being undertaken and how the government proposes to restore confidence among the people and investors, both local and international - something which it had completely failed in the past one year.  The Ministerial statement  should be followed by a full debate in Parliament.

Two weeks ago, the Singapore Government revised downwards its GDP growth projections for this year for the second time, from the original 5% to 7% growth to 2.5% to 4.5 %, and now to 0.5% to 1.5%.

It is time that the Malaysian Government comes out with a more realistic projection of the GDP growth this year for the Malaysian economy.  In the 1998 budget presented in Parliament last October, Anwar forecast a 7 per cent GDP growth this year, which was revised downwards to 4-5 per cent last December and 2-3 per cent in March this year.

These estimates are now generally regarded as too optimistic. This is because the consensus among economists and financial analysts is not whether the Malaysian economy this year would achieve the upper or lower end of  2-3 per cent GDP growth estimate,  but that there would be negative growth and recession.

Malaysian Institute for Economic Research (MIER) executive director, Dr. Mohamed Ariff Abdul Kareem, said it is "crystal-clear" that Malaysia is going into a recession which is going to be more severe than 1985.

Even MIER is now revising its forecasts downwards drastically. Last April, Ariff had said at a seminar that full year growth would be between 0% and 2%-2.5%.

There are financial houses, like MMS International Standard & Poor’s in Singapore which is even looking at a minus 5 per cent growth for Malaysia this year.

Call on Mahathir to ensure that Parliament does not become a mockery wasting two days on an insignificant  three-paragraph Chemists  Act Amendment Bill so as to frustrate Opposition proposals for full parliamentary debate on the economic crisis and the issue of KKN - corruption, cronyism and nepotism

Yesterday, I received the Parliamentary Order Papers for the Parliamentary meeting beginning on Monday, July 13, 1998.

The parliamentary business for Monday after the hour-long question time are the second reading of the Chemists Act  Amendment Bill, followed by my motion proposing the establishment of a Royal Commission of Inquiry on Nepotism with special focus on the children and associates of all political leaders, whether government or opposition.

There are then 11 other motions submitted by  Opposition MPs, seven by three other DAP MPs namely MP for Kepong, Dr. Tan Seng Giaw, MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Guan Eng, MP for Teluk Intan Kula Segaran and five motions by the PAS MP, Haji Wan Mohd Jamil bin Wan Mahmood.

However, going by past practice, Barisan Nasional MPs would drag out the debate on the Chemists Amendment Bill so as to "kill" my motion on a Royal Commission of Inquiry into Nepotism on the first and and even  second day of Parliament, until there are  government bills ready to be brought forward for second reading debate.

Parliament would become an international laughing stock if two days are wasted on an insignificant  three-paragraph Chemists  Act Amendment Bill so as to frustrate Opposition proposals for full parliamentary debate on the economic crisis and the issue of KKN - corruption, cronyism and nepotism.

The full text of the three-paragraph Chemists Act 1975 Amendment Bill are as follows:

It will make a complete mockery of the parliamentary process and the institution of Parliament if the Barisan Nasional MPs are prepared to spend two days on this insignificant three-paragraph Chemists Amendment Bill just to frustrate Parliament from conducting a full debate on the three great issues of the day in the country - the worsening year-long economic crisis, KKN - corruption, cronyism and nepotism and the catastrophic chaos and mess at the first day and first week of opening of the RM9 billion Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

The Prime Minister should withhold the second reading debate on the Chemists Amendment Bill and to give top priority for a full debate on the economic crisis and my motion on nepotism on the first two days of Parliament next week, so as to show  Malaysians and the world that the Malaysian Parliament has a  proper order of priorities about what are the burning issues in the country.

(10/7/98)


*Lim Kit Siang - Malaysian Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Democratic Action Party Secretary-General & Member of Parliament for Tanjong