It was recently reported that Malaysia’s economy may grow more than 5% this year.
This course is to be welcomed as good news has been in rather short supply for Malaysia lately.
Nevertheless, one must wonder whether the benefits of this growth will trickle down to the rakyat.
It is quite clear that the last couple of years have been very difficult for ordinary Malaysians.
The GST have not only hurt their wallets, but also the prospects and even the survival of Malaysian small businesses.
The implementation of GST and the withdrawal of subsidies have led to a rise in the cost of living.
At the same time, costs for education and healthcare continue to rise although little has been done to improve their quality.
Young Malaysians are also struggling to find jobs which can pay a living wage as well as adequate housing. Many Malaysians are also burdened by crushing debt.
So while GDP figures may seem encouraging, the fact remains that the going has not been easy for ordinary Malaysians, especially the youth.
It is not enough for the government to rely on stop-gap or politically-expedient measures such as BR1M.
Rather, what is needed is policy reform to radically transform Malaysia’s economy to meet the demands of digitization and automation.
We cannot underestimate the impact that political sentiment has on the economy.
It is significant that, according to the Financial Times Confidential Research’s (FTCR) ASEAN Economic Sentiment Index, while Malaysia’s index climbed to 34.1 to 29, its reading was the lowest compared to Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines and Vietnam.
Moreover, the FTCR’s ASEAN Political Sentiment Index found that Malaysia’s index was 31.8 (up 1.5%) again the lowest compared to the abovementioned countries and the only one of the 5 below 50, suggesting that respondents expect political conditions to worsen in the next six months.
Clearly, Malaysia is in dire need of a turnaround and the only way this can be effected is via political change.
Pakatan Harapan’s Youth wing will address the needs of the youth for the economy through our #HarapanAnakMuda platform. We hope all young Malaysians will find out about these policies and support us to ensure a better future for our beloved country.