The last two days have exposed Malaysia as the “sick man” of the club of former Asian miracle economies, with the country left out in the strong rallies by the major Asian stock markets to the US rate cut and positive news out of the US technology sector.
A comparison of the performances Kuala Lumpur stock exchange with the
other major Asian stock markets in the last two days highlight the grave
illness of the Malaysian economy:
18 April 2001 19 April 2001At a time when the country is in the midst of the second economic crisis in four years as a result of the United States economic slowdown coupled with the worst crisis of confidence in the government in the nation’s history, this is not the time for any “political games” between the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister, which can only plunge the confidence factor to a new historic low.
Country Change % chg. Change % chg.
Tokyo +574.70 +4.40 +226.49 +1.66
Hong Kong +366.35 +2.91 +576.15 +4.44
Korea +26.03 +5.06 +23.31 +4.32
Singapore +39.25 +2.51 +39.96 +2.49
Malaysia -5.05 -0.88 -0.01 -0.001
Malaysians are entitled to know what exactly is happening in the higest government levels with regard to economic and financial decision-making.
It is most ridiculous to have the Finance Minister taking leave for two months, without an Acting Finance Minister, with the Finance Minister “on leave” still going to office to “look at documents and letters” but not attending Cabinet meetings where he would be represented by a comparatively junior Minister!
In ordinary times, such an arrangement is already most bizarre but at a time when the country is confronting a twin economic crisis - the second economic crisis in four years and the worst crisis of public confidence in the nation’s history - such an arrangement is downright irresponsible.
The latest bizarre developments also represent a grave threat to the principle of parliamentary democracy, as there is emerging a new power configuration which is not answerable to Parliament but only to the Prime Minister - economic advisers to the Prime Minister who are increasingly exercising real executive powers becoming more powerful than Cabinet Ministers and now may be, even more powerful than the Finance Minister.
Unhealthy practices have emanated from such a new power configuration undermining the principle of parliamentary democracy and parliamentary government, with the Prime Minister announcing the RM3 billion economic stimulus package when it should be announced by the Finance Minister, followed up by a mini-budget presentation in the Dewan Rakyat for parliamentary scrutiny and sanction.
But the Prime Minister not only has utter contempt for the Finance
Minister but also for Parliament, as Parliamentary approval was never
sought for the RM3 billion economic stimulus package as required by all
Mahathir should seek the approval of Parliament for the appointment of economic advisers and he should make a Ministerial statement on the remuneration, role, functions and powers of such economic advisers and how they could be made accountable to Parliament.