Ismail Sabri-Muhyiddin’s friendly fires expose economic vulnerabilities

THAT both Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob and his predecessor Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin are scrubbing dirty laundry in public over the state of Malaysia’s economic affairs should at best be deemed a healthy check and balance procedure.

To put it bluntly, opening a can of worms is always a smarter option than to sweep the dirt under the rug as the former enables the mobilisation of solutions and remedies to cure the country’s economic ills before it is further dragged into a ‘beyond repair’ chronic state.

Any attempt by the current administration to paint a rosy picture that Malaysia’s economy is still thriving when the entire world is languishing from inflation-induced interest rate hikes which can potentially trigger a global recession is only ridiculing the intelligence of Malaysians.

Moreover, Malaysians have certainly learnt one lesson too many from incarcerated ex-premier Datuk Seri Najib Razak who despite his soft spoken, charismatic and solemn demeanour, had absconded billions of ringgit from public coffers right smack under their noses.

Although there is a certain degree of ill feeling between Muhyiddin and his successor considering how the former was ‘booted’ out for failing miserably to resuscitate Malaysia’s economy from the COVID-19 devastation, it is praiseworthy for the BERSATU president to point out how the decline of the ringgit’s value, increasing inflation and post-pandemic economy have brought hardship to the people.

Although the eighth Malaysian PM whose 17-month tenure makes him the shortest-serving PM in the country’s history caveated in his Facebook post that he has yet to reach the stage of urging his successor to dissolve Parliament, he has nevertheless exposed the utmost concern among the country’s business and investing fraternity.

“It appears as if the PM does not view these issues as important,” suggested Muhyiddin in a 479-word ‘rambling’ on the Malaysian economy.

“Maybe it is because only 35% of the people are satisfied with his performance while only 18% of Malaysians are satisfied with the economic management of the country.”

Citing a study from local think tank Merdeka Centre for Opinion Research from December 2021, he further revealed that 12% of Malaysians have started eating only once or twice a day (skipping meals), 12% delay medical treatment and 31% were late on paying debts and bills because of financial concerns.

Referring to another study by non-governmental entity Mindshare, Muhyiddin said it was found that 61% of Malaysians belong to the lowest income group (B60) with a household income below RM5,000/month after the COVID-19 pandemic struck the country. The study also found that 76% of this group earn less than RM3,000/month.

“The decline in value of the ringgit is not taken seriously. The PM has failed to explain the measures the government will take to stem the fall of the ringgit’s value,” he added.

Obviously, Ismail Sabri returned friendly fire by rebuking his predecessor on grounds that the latter is just as responsible for any of the Government’s present shortcomings.

In his rebuttal, the Bera MP said if his administration is deemed to have failed to manage the Malaysia’s economy, it meant that Muhyiddin had also failed in his role as the Government’s adviser.

“(Economic Affairs Minister) Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed (also from Muhyiddin’s BERSATU party) is managing the economy, and we have the National Recovery Council (MPN) which is chaired by Muhyiddin himself,” justified the PM.

“MPN advises the government. So if the government has failed, that would mean everyone has failed, including MPN.” – Sept 20, 2022

Subscribe and get top news delivered to your Inbox everyday for FREE