The Next Four Years: What Now for Malaysia?

IDEAS Public Forum – 28th June 2019 – Connexion, 7 Jalan Kerinchi, Bangsar South, Kuala Lumpur

Mr Ali Salman, CEO of IDEAS

YB Dato’ Sri Hajah Nancy Shukri, MP for Batang Sadong

Ms Cynthia Gabriel, Executive Center, C4

Mr Laurence Todd, Director of Research, IDEAS

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen

Selamat pagi, Good Morning and Salam Malaysia Baru

Firstly, I want to thank IDEAS for giving me the honour of saying a few words at this public forum. IDEAS, from its establishment until now, has always encouraged open and constructive dialogue. Under Malaysia Baru, the room for constructive dialogue has expanded significantly and I look forward to more inputs to the new government from IDEAS and also possible areas of cooperation.

Secondly, allow me to extend my congratulations to Laurence and his team for their hard work in the preparation of the 2nd Projek Pantau Report Card including Faiz Zaidi and Aira Azhari, the lead researchers and not forgetting the research interns, Afifa Sahirin and Aiman Wan Alias. In the past, most people in Malaysia, including researchers, would not pay much attention to the manifesto promises of the winning coalition AFTER the general election, much less come up with a report to track the progress of the manifesto. This time, after GE14, I’m glad that IDEAS is committed to systematically track Pakatan Harapan’s GE14 manifesto on the bi-annual basis. As one of the authors of the PH Manifesto, I am glad that at least someone is paying attention. But at the same time, this also places more pressure on PH to deliver on our promises. This is one of the most tangible signs of how Malaysia has changed after GE14 – the fact that promises actually mean something and people expect them to be delivered.

Slightly over a year after GE14, this public forum is asking a very relevant question – What is the plan for Malaysia for the next four years? There are three areas of focus which the Pakatan Harapan should and will focus on to show that we can deliver our promises (or at least a majority of them) in the next 4 years. They are: (1) Continue to systematically deliver on PH’s GE14 Manifesto Promises (2) Identify and Implement new strategies to propel economic growth and create well-paying jobs and (3) Ensure the well-being of the B40.

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We have the internal resilience to face future economic challenges

Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, Deputy Minister of International Trade and Industry (MITI) on the 20th of June, 2019

Dr. KS Jomo’s remarks to reporters at the sidelines of the Malaysian Economic Convention 2019 on Monday, 17th of June, 2019 was widely reported in the press. Specifically, he mentioned that “This is going to be a very, very tough time because the external situation is very bad and is deteriorating almost on a daily basis” He also added that “many of these problems are beyond the control of the Malaysian government”.[1]

I concur with Dr. Jomo’s view that the external economic circumstances continue to be very challenging, especially in the light of recent developments in the US-China economic relationship. I also agree that many of these challenges are caused by factors beyond the control of the Malaysian government.

When the US-China trade war was restricted to the area of tariffs on goods and services, Malaysia could at least benefit from some short-run trade and investment diversions. This can mitigate some of the longer term negative consequences of the trade war. For example, NOMURA has estimated that Malaysia will be the 4th largest beneficiary of the US-China trade war as a result of trade diversion.[2]

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National Implications of the Sandakan By-Election Results

Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, Member of Parliament for Bangi and Assistant National Director for Political Education for the Democratic Action Party (DAP) on the 13th of May, 2019

The Sandakan parliament by-election results provided a much needed morale booster to Pakatan Harapan (PH) after 3 successive by-election defeats in Cameron Highlands (parliament), Semenyih (state) and Rantau (state). Sandakan also provides some important lessons and implications for PH at the national level. To deliver Sandakan’s ‘winning formula’ to other parts of Malaysia is definitely more challenging but not impossible.

Summary of Results

The expectation was that with a reduced turnout, DAP would have its majority of approximately 10,000 votes from GE14 cut significantly. But despite overall turnout falling from 71.9% in GE14 to 54.4% in the by-election, DAP managed to increase its vote share by 7.4% from 66.8% in GE14 to 74.2% in the by-election. With this increase in vote share and the presence of independent candidates which siphoned away 5.1% of total votes (presumably from PBS), DAP was able to increase its majority to 11521 in the by-election (See Table 1).

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