(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): The Minister for International Trade and Industry, Datuk Paduka Rafidah Aziz and the Information Minister, Tan Sri Mohamad Khalil Yaakob should explain the significance of the 16-point drop in Malaysia’s global competitiveness ranking in the last three years and the seven-day mainstream mass media blackout of the World Economic Forum (WEF) 2000 global competitiveness ranking (GCR).
So far, the government has maintained an eerie silence both on the significance of Malaysia’s disastrous fall from the world’s top ten in 1997 to a lowly 25th position in the GCR.
In 1997, Malaysia was ranked No. 9, in 1998 No. 17, in 1999 No. 16 and for 2000 No. 25 in the GCR.
Malaysia's competitiveness ranking slid from 16th to 25th this year among the 59 economies under the survey largely because of its capital controls imposed in September 1998. Its entry into the banking industry is ranked in last place of 59th, compared with 57th place for its interest-rate controls, 57th for competition in domestic banking and 55th for access to external finance.
The Malaysian government’s refusal to acknowledge the release of the WEF GCR a week ago and to give its response to the adverse ranking on Malaysia’s competitiveness can only mean that the denial syndrome is still very prevalent among policy makers in the country - which will not enhance investor confidence in the future of the Malaysian economy.
Furthermore, the persistent mass media blackout of the WEF GCR shows that the denial syndrome affects not only the government but the mass media and society and points to a very serious malady in the Malaysian body politic, raising fundamental questions not only about mass media control, manipulation and censorship but whether Malaysia is really ready for the knowledge-economy and the information age.
Malaysia simply cannot aspire to a K-economy when there is no K-governnment.