Both these things are true: BN isn’t doing enough to fight corruption, and BN isn’t getting the credit it deserves for the strong economy. How do we know this? We can look at the statistics, rankings, and reports compiled by experts. What I can’t stand, however, is people who pick and choose what to believe – everything else is deemed ‘fake news’. Boleh consistent sikit, tak?
First, some bad news for our country. Malaysia dropped seven places in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI) 2017. We’re now ranked 62nd out of 180 countries, and 3rd in ASEAN after Singapore and Brunei – not great, but not terrible either. Predictably, Pakatan politicians immediately pounced on the results as proof of Malaysia’s rot: See? We told you so! blah blah blah…
Chuuup! Since when do all these people care about rankings anyway? Where were they when international rankings and reports repeatedly and consistently sung praise about the Malaysian economy? Did they accept those findings? So, why do rankings and experts suddenly matter now?
Where were they when the World Economic Forum (WEF) ranked Malaysia as the 23rd most competitive country in the world? That’s out of 137 countries, placing us ahead of South Korea (26th), China (27th), and Spain (34th). In the same report (for 2017-2018), the WEF – in no uncertain terms – described Malaysia as the “top emerging economy” of the East Asia and Pacific region.
We are told to ignore the IMF, the World Bank, credit rating agencies, bank analysts, research firms, and anyone with any sort of expertise when they repeatedly affirm that the Malaysian economy is doing well. Very well, in fact. We are told to ignore our strong GDP growth numbers (5.9% last year) because the numbers are either faked and/or the rakyat aren’t feeling the effects.
Whoa there. You’re telling me that a bunch of pro-BN bureaucrats somehow fooled the entire international community, including seasoned analysts who are accountable to governments, clients, and shareholders? Give me a break. Think about it: you’re giving way too much credit to our bureaucrats.
Also, can someone tell me why BMW had its best sales performance in Malaysia last year? You may say that’s due to rich people driving demand for luxury vehicles. Okay, I’ll buy that line of reasoning. But how do you that explain the fact that Honda Malaysia also achieved its highest sales ever in that same year? For first time, the company sold over 100,000 units, the most in its 14 years of existence. Are millionaires and billionaires buying fleets of Honda Jazz?
Sure, the total number of vehicle sales in Malaysia fell slightly by 0.6% last year. We already have the third highest level (93%) of car ownership in the world (source: Nielsen). The market is oversaturated and there are way too many cars on our roads (which is a whole other problem). But the growing demand for foreign cars shows that the middle-class is expanding: We’re richer (however unbelievable it seems) and we can afford nicer things.
Speaking of which, private sector wages jumped by 6.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2017, compared to the year earlier. News from the manufacturing industry is even rosier: worker salaries rose more than 9 percent every month since April. So, where is this crazy crisis that everyone keeps talking about, while sipping on their RM10 Starbucks iced coffee?
In the end, which goalposts, which indicators matter, and which don’t? Only the ones that fit our political agenda? Only the ones that flatter our leaders, whether BN or Pakatan? If so, habis lah. There’s no hope for our democracy if we can’t even agree on the facts. There’s no point having experts around too – they’re either greedy dedak-eaters or clueless morons. We might as well close our schools and universities.
Courage and integrity demands consistency: We accept all the facts – not just the ones we like. So yes, BN deserves criticism for its poor anti-corruption efforts, but it also deserves a thumbs-up for the accelerating and resilient economy. These certainly aren’t mutually exclusive facts. But refusing to accept both equally means you’re just as bad as the Umno yes-man who believes Najib is the best thing since sliced bread.