Ramasamy: No holding back on BERSIH rally; it has become a necessity

WHETHER the BERSIH (Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections) gathering is next week or next month, there should be no holding back of the public gathering that is of monumental importance to Malaysians.

It has taken ordinary Malaysian to realise that the Madani government of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is full of fluff but no substance.

The reforms promised when Anwar was the opposition leader have been conveniently swept aside in the interest of political expediency.

Anwar has been in office slightly more than year but reforms have disappeared from the radar. Ironically, both DAP and PKR who were staunch participants in the earlier BERSIH rallies are quiet like the proverbial mice.

As I have remarked earlier, power, positions and perks (3Ps) have changed both the objective and subjective positions of these component parties in the PH-BN (Pakatan Harapan-Barisan Nasional) coalition government.

That the ringgit has devalued to an almost record low of RM4.8850 posted during the 1998 Asian Financial Crisis (AFC) is invariably related the lack of structural reforms.

Yet both Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) and the government have virtually take turns to blame the outside forces for the “temporary” devaluation of the ringgit.

Foreign investments might or might not be high, the interest rates in the US might be on the rise and China might not be on the buying spree of Malaysian products but these are not the only factors that the ringgit is plummeting to a record low.

Ringgit devastation

Currency devaluation is related not just to foreign investments but the political and economic stability of the country, ie is the Malaysian economy competitive, have we tackled the menace of corruption, are we serious about reforms of the financial system and others.

Recall that when the ringgit hit its low mark at them peak of the AFC, Anwar was coincidentally the finance minister. However, the measures he took to resolve the crisis were not to the liking of then PM Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Anwar says that foreign investors have full confidence in the political economy of the country but has Anwar turned around to see the effect of the devaluation of the ringgit on ordinary Malaysian especially those low-income earners both in the public sector and private sectors.

The rich and the politically connected might withstand the effect of the currency depreciation but what about the vast majority of low-income earners?

As it is, the rise in the price of basic goods and service have hit them hard. With the depreciation of the ringgit, inflation will take over to deliver a devastating blow to the low-income class.

Why is so much attention paid to foreign investors when Malaysia cannot even compete with the neighbouring countries?

The currency slide might benefit the tourism industry but then it is too late because the horses have left the stables and the gates are already closed.

Malaysia cannot even compete with our neighbours particularly Thailand. Just compare the performance of the tourist industry in Phuket and Langkawi, islands not far from each other.

Anwar says that the opposition should not politicise the ringgit depreciation. But in actual fact, the opposition is not politicising the matter but are just doing the job that is expected of them.

It is Anwar who is blaming the opposition as though he is not responsible for the accelerated slide if the ringgit. Even if it is unfair to compare the ringgit with the greenback, what about slide of the ringgit against the Singapore dollar?

BERSIH as the public watch dog must act and act fast. Enough of the platitudes and excuses offered by Anwar. Without the introduction of serious reforms, the country is going to suffer badly. – Feb 26, 2024


Former DAP stalwart and Penang chief minister II Prof Ramasamy Palanisamy is chairman of the Urimai (United Rights of Malaysian Party) Interim Council.

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.

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