DAP calls for White Paper why Malaysia’s international competitiveness rating had suffered a catastrophic collapse falling by nine notches in the past year or 16 places in the past three years

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang 

(Petaling Jaya,  Saturday): The Government should present a White Paper when Parliament reconvenes for the 2001 budget meeting on October 16 next month to explain why Malaysia’s international competitiveness rating had suffered a catastrophic collapse falling by nine notches in the past year or 16 places in the past three years.

It is a shame that for the past 48 hours, there has been a blackout in the mainstream media of the worldwide release of  the 2000 global competitiveness ranking by Swiss-based  World Economic Forum (WEF), which  throws some light for  the collapse of Malaysia’s international competitiveness rating and  why there is such deep negative perceptions of the Malaysian government and economy by international business executives.

The 48-hour media blackout of the bad news about Malaysia’s catastrophic collapse of its international competitiveness rating is clearly designed not to spoil the multi-media extravangza presided over by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad at the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) this week, which includes the fourth MSC  International Advisory Panel (IAP) meeting, the second MSC-IAP Multimedia Business Summit,  the MSC Expo 2000 and  the launch of the E-Village Studio at the Entertainment Village.

The effect of the 48-hour  media blackout however is the exact opposite, as  it could only succeed in keeping Malaysians in the dark about the country’s catastrophic collapse in its international competitiveness rating but not the movers and shakers in the IT world,  who have instantaneous access to information two days ago about WEF’s  2000 global competitiveness ranking - whether they are in Malaysia or in their respective countries.

The 48-hour media blackout has only highlighted to the IT world of Malaysia’s Achilles’ heel and the greatest threat to the success of the ambitious MSC to enable Malaysia to take the quantum leap into the information society - the total lack of a culture of transparency and openness which is an essential prerequisite for any nation to transform itself into an IT power.

What is the use of the government announcing the MSC  Bill of Guarantees, particularly "No Censorship of Internet", when Malaysia is giving a classic illustration of the censorship mentality and culture in government and the mass media where there could be a 48-hour blackout of important but adverse news about the Malaysian economy?

It is very sad that while neighbouring Singapore has been publicly agonising over the loss of its top placing as the world’s most competitive economy, having maintained  the No. 1 position in the international competitiveness rating for five years, Malaysia is engaged in a blackout of the bad news, confirming that the mainstream media’s role is to report good news but suppress bad news.

The latest WEF global competitiveness ranking shows the United States  with the world's most competitive economy,  almost 20 percent above its next closest competitor,  Singapore. The US was ranked second in last year's list,  a position it had held for several years.

As  the result of  a new weighting system for  the 2000 report that emphasised technology and innovation, there were  three newcomers among the top five, in  addition to a string of other changes lower  down the line.

WEF president Professor Klaus Schwab  explained that the 2000 competitiveness  report attached "significantly greater weight  than before to technology as a key driver of  sustained economic growth''.

he said.

And as a result, the US vaulted to the top  while Luxembourg, the Netherlands and  Ireland shot past Canada, Hongkong and Taiwan to take third, fourth and fifth places respectively. They pushed the three down to seventh,  eighth and 11th places respectively.

Malaysia slipped to 25th position from 16th last year, a fall of nine notches. Since 1997, when Malaysia was ranked in the 9th position, the country’s international competitiveness ranking had fallen disastrously by 16 places.
The latest WEF global competitiveness report should be a final "wake-up" call to the government that the Malaysian economy is confronted with many "time-bombs" which must be defused if it is not going to be marginalised in the international marketplace.
In other countries, where the country’s international competitiveness ranking had fallen by three notches, there would have been a change of finance and economic ministers - but in Malaysia, the governments seem totally  impervious and unconcerned about the fall of nine positions in one year and 16 placings in three years!

Yesterday, I urged the phasing out of capital controls and the end of Mahathir’s anti-foreign rhetoric, which would have been factors contributing to Malaysia’s catastrophic collapse of its international competitiveness rating.

The latest issue of Asiaweek described the lack of foreign investment in Malaysia as a "Time Bomb for Malaysia" and its correspondent Assif Shameen  warned that

The Asiaweek article said:

The Governent White Paper on the catastrophic collapse of Malaysia’s international competitiveness ranking should address the very serious and weighty issues raised in the Asiaweek article and there should be a nation-wide debate at the threat of the marginalisation of the Malaysian economy in the international arena.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman