Malaysia’s already strong economy has just gotten stronger. Figures released Wednesday confirm the economy grew 6.4 percent in the final quarter of 2012 in a year in which we had already been moving along at a robust 5.2 percent.
That figure is the best quarter we have had since midway through 2010 and comes amid softening demand from our major trading partners, including China. The final quarter has also gone a long way to boosting our annual growth figure for 2012 to 5.6 percent, which trumps the 5.1 percent of 2011.
“Malaysia’s economy expanded at a faster pace of 6.4% as compared to 5.3 per cent in the preceding quarter. All sectors registered positive growth with the services, manufacturing and construction sectors continued to be the key drivers in the supply side,” the Statistics Department said.
All this means Malaysia is doing sensationally well while so much of the world goes backwards. The economic strategy of Finance Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has been totally vindicated.
So who would like to fight the election on this issue which, along with education, most impacts upon the futures of our children? The answer is not Pakatan Rakyat. The leadership of the Opposition parties desperately ignores all economic news because quite frankly, it mostly involves good news that reflects well on the Federal Government.
Not convinced? Well trawl through Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s latest pearls of wisdom and see how often he has broached the issue. He has managed to offend PAS, shuffle into the “Allah” issue to assert his feeble authority but he has not mentioned the economy.
Anwar does not have an argument left on the economy. What can he do? Criticise a strong economy that is creating jobs and prosperity for more Malaysians than ever before?
In fact, go back and listen to the last time Anwar addressed a crowd of any magnitude, the Himpunan Kebangkitan Rakyat rally in January. There he railed against the Government as usual but said nothing of either his vision for the nation or any economic initiatives he might have to improve our futures. The last time Pakatan Rakyat even thought they could score a few points in this area was this time last year when the fourth quarter data for 2011 came out. Then they (and to be fair a few bank economists) said 2012 would be much tougher and our growth would slip below four percent. We were doomed!
At the end of last year a Hong Kong-based economist at Natixis Asia said Malaysia was in a “sweet spot” and now, well, this is pure white sugar. What this data means is that the economy as a GE13 issue is now done and dusted. As we get to the election campaign proper Pakatan Rakyat can repeat their slogan, due to be unveiled next week, as often as they want but they dare not challenge Najib’s economic credentials.
It would be interesting to know whether somewhere in a darkened room right now, someone is tweaking Pakatan Rakyat’s long-awaited manifesto, taking out any reference to economic policies that mention bettering the current Government’s strategy. Because make no mistake this could yet be a vote loser for them.
Could even the most strident PAS, PKR or DAP supporter go to the ballot box and believe the motley coalition these three parties form can handle the economy better than Najib? Not a chance.
Aside from the fact that they hate each other so much they can’t even divvy up the portfolios – including Finance Minister. No one in their right mind believes they agree on fundamental economic matters. Remember, in 2011 PAS proposed settling debts with gold bars for goodness sakes!
For the record the hot tip as aspiring Finance Minister is DAP’s Tony Pua, who has been trying to talk down our economy in earnest and once said we would be bankrupt by 2019. He also last year said growth would fall.
It is also important to note that Bank Negara Malaysia Wednesday said private consumption rose 6.1 per cent in the fourth quarter of last year.
“The stronger growth in private consumption in the first half of the year reflected the effects of the various government transfers to households disbursed during the period,” it stated.
That’s a reference to BR1M and other aid that has been paid to the most needy and it reminds us of something The Choice has oft repeated: Such hand outs aren’t just about easing the burden on those in need, they are also crucial in sustaining demand at a time when falling consumer demand worldwide has become the new economic bogeyman.
It’s more proof that the Government knows what it is doing and a reminder of why Pakatan Rakyat is wise to remain silent on such weighty issues. – The Choice