Abdullah's announcement that all ministries have been directed to study the effects of the US-Iraq war has taken all Malaysians by surprise as they had expected the government to have completed such contingency studies with the two-month fine-tuning of the multi-billion ringgit post-Iraq war economic stimulus package
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Monday): The announcement by the Acting Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi yesterday that all ministries have been directed to study the effects of the US-led invasion of Iraq on their respective agencies and the relevant sectors so that action could be taken to minimise its impact on the country has taken all Malaysians by surprise as they had expected the government to have completed such contingency studies with the two-month fine-tuning of the multi-billion ringgit post-Iraq war economic stimulus package.
Although Abdullah said these studies should be conducted speedily and accurately to enable the Cabinet to decide on the follow-up actions, he has given the impression that the government was caught flat-footed and off-guard by the US unleashing its illegal, immoral, unjust and unnecessary war against Iraq 12 days ago on March 20 - which cannot be the case when everybody knows that the reason why the first 2003 economic stimulus package completed two months ago had been held back and not announced earlier was because of the impending war in Iraq.
The second Finance Minister, Datuk Jamaludin Jarjis for instance had told foreign fund managers and brokers on 21st January 2003 that the economic stimulus package would be announced by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad the following month in February. With the looming war in Iraq, there is merit in the argument that it would not make sense to announce any economic stimulus package, which would most likely be overtaken by events with the launching of the Iraq war.
Why then did Abdullah order all ministries to undertake a re-study of the impact of the US-Iraq war by the various ministries and government agencies - instead of immediately releasing the post-Iraq war economic stimulus package which had been held back for two months for the US unilateral-led attack on Iraq without UN sanction?
Is it to buy time for a further delay in the release of the post-war economic stimulus package so that it need not be presented to the current meeting of Parliament, on the simple ground that Parliament had already adjourned and is no more in session after April 8?
who is acting Finance Minister, should explain the further delay in making
public the first 2003 economic stimulus package after it had been fine-tuned
for more than two months in anticipation of the US-Iraq war.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman