Thursday, February 12, 2009

Why The Haste? - Ku Li


Today let me respond to just one of the comments:

Reader humbleself writes:

Everyone should ponder why is there such a hurry to form a new state government when there is so much controversy constitutionally before hand.

I wonder why too. I wish our leaders were in as great a hurry to prepare our people for the direst economic crisis the world has faced since the Great Depression.

Even those countries which have put their best brains to work on the problem, given it the highest priority and set aside tens or hundreds of billions of dollars in stimulus spending now find that they have grossly under-estimated its scale, depth and complexity.

In the US yesterday, President Barack Obama chided Congress for its slowness in passing a stimulus bill.

These numbers demand action. The situation could not be more serious. It is inexcusable and irresponsible for any of us to get bogged down in distraction, delay, or politics as usual..

Now is the time … to act. To pass an economic recovery and investment plan . This is not some abstract debate. It is an urgent and growing crisis.

China has responded forcefully and cohesively with it’s own “New Deal”, Australia is already delivering a second stimulus package after a successful first round. Singapore has acted decisively with a S20.5Bn “Resilience Package” designed to cushion a recession it cannot avoid.

Meanwhile we aren’t even at the alert level that the rest of the world was at last year. One of the world’s top twenty trading nations officially thinks it merely faces a routine slowdown in the midst of a collapse in world trade.

I have been calling on our leadership to sit up and take note of the historic dimensions of this crisis since October last year. I reiterated this call in a speech last month. In the short time since, Malaysian industry leaders and economics bloggers have also been calling on the government to come out of their official denial that anything serious is going to happen to our economy. Ratings agencies, brokerage houses, banks and researchers have all come out with growth estimates drastically lower than the government’s projected rate of 3.5% growth. The government should come clean on the recession we are entering, and on how we will face it with our already ballooning budget-deficit.

Economic numbers translate into jobs, livelihoods, opportunities, food on the table. Poor economic management has very real consequences in the lives of our citizens.

The public and the business and investment community must surely get a feeling of unreality around this administration.

It’s as if the fire alarm has been ringing, the neighbourhood, in fact the whole town, is on fire and the firemen are holed up playing games with each other. Or starting other fires.

Written by Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah

February 7, 2009

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