COMMENT | This is in response to the MCA National Youth Chairman’s baseless accusations against Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng.
In academia, we are always taught that to create a valid argument and debate, one must be balanced. The opinion piece written by Nicole Wong Siaw Ting (above) contains fallacies as she cherry-picks statistics in an attempt to illustrate Pakatan Harapan’s economic policies as a failure.
I intend to present the successes that the government of the day has achieved for our beloved Malaysia so that the rakyat can formulate an opinion and perspective that is balanced and informed.
Firstly, rankings do not always narrate the full story. Nicole tries to paint a tone of disappointment due to the fact that Malaysia dropped two places in WEF’s 2019 Global Competitiveness Report. However, what she failed to mention is that Malaysia’s overall score actually improved by 0.2 from the previous year.
Improvements, be they marginal or vast, are still improvements. During this period of austerity where Pakatan Harapan’s economic policies have been handicapped by the massive debt repayments inherited from the previous government, Malaysia has seen its economic growth surpass expert consensus.
This is no mean feat and is highlighted by the fact that Malaysia’s second-quarter 2019 year-on-year GDP growth recorded 4.9 percent, which is not only above market expectations of 4.7 percent, but also that of the previous year’s 4.5 percent.
Looking ahead, despite a reduction in the government budget, coupled with increasing tensions in the global economy, the Malaysian economy is expected to expand at a higher rate of 4.8 percent in 2020, yet another improvement from the 4.7 percent growth projected for 2019.
While we foresee a slowdown in export sectors such as agriculture and mining, we should take heart from the projections of faster growth rates in construction, manufacturing and service industries.
Further, while I am unable to deny the fact that Kuala Lumpur has seen a decrease in its overall score in the Economist’s Safe City index for 2019, I would like to point out the evident fact that directly comparing the ranking to the previous year is somewhat flawed as it is stated that both studies used different indicators in their methodology to formulate the rankings.
The report states that variables such as: “existence and speed of city emergency services; the existence of a disaster plan; the institutional capacity of those tasked with disaster response; the availability of disaster insurance; the ability to defend infrastructure against cyber-attacks; and the extent of hazard monitoring” were introduced in the 2019 edition. This can be read on page 13 of the Safe Cities Index Report. Therefore, it is not an apple to apple comparison, so to speak.
Lastly, the author claims that Pakatan Harapan creates distrust between the government and the citizens of Malaysia by choosing to ‘highlight’ positive research and shy away from the negative. This is furthest from the truth because the Pakatan Harapan government is leaps and bounds ahead of the previous government when it comes to transparency.
One clear example is the 2019 World Press Freedom Index, where Malaysia scored 36.74, a big improvement from the 2018 score of 47.41. This improvement in our score translates in Malaysia being ranked 123 out of 180 countries in the world, up from 145 in 2018.
This result is truly inspiring, especially when we consider that the best score achieved by the previous government since 2013 was 42.73.
Further, since Nicole has a tendency of pointing out where we rank below Singapore, I would like to inform her that the World Press Freedom Index is a measure where we are better than them.
Where the MCA National Youth Chairman incorporated the phrase ‘syiok sendiri’, I would like to reply with the phrase ‘ludah ke langit terkena muka sendiri’ (spitting skywards, hitting your own face). Rather than simply lambasting the government with selective “facts”, she would do better to provide constructive criticism and policy suggestions for a better Malaysia.
Aimran Sarhan Abdullah is the political secretary to Zairil Khir Johari, State Assemblyman for Tanjong Bunga.The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.