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Can Malaysia face the perfect storm?

  • The world is in serious turbulence, and unless Malaysia is an oasis of peace marked by good political stability, the country will face more whip lash effects.

By Datuk Wira Dr. Rais Hussin Mohamed Ariff

Malaysia is a trading nation. This is affirmed by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed himself. Not once. But since his very first tenure, and the more recent one, when Malaysians of all stripes and colors elected Pakatan Harapan as the new coalition government on May 9 2018.

While the seven months leading up to the end of 2018 was considerably stable, the events such as the Bumiputra Empowerment Conference, which should have sufficed, to enhance the standing of the Malays viz other races, should have been been a one off summitry.

Yet, there are now the Malay Dignity Conference that appears strong on rhetoric but weak on execution on the part of the public and private sector.
To make matters worse, there are efforts by select Muslims to ban Non Muslim manufactured goods and services.

If Muslims want to ban Non Muslim manufactured goods and services, why not take the next logical step to ban their votes altogether? After all, it is the votes of non Muslims too that deliver at least 55 parliamentary seats to Pakatan Harapan. One might say that non Muslims tilted to the Pakatan Harapan's 119 Malay seats too.

The likes of Mohamad Sabu, now the Defense Minister, won on a majority of 18,000 votes having lost before. Surely the huge leap in majority cannot be due to Muslim votes only?

Elsewhere in Sabah and Sarawak, non Muslims agreed with the Muslims and non Muslims in the peninsular to bring an end to the kleptocracy of Barisan National. That was the social contract of the New Malaysia.

Precisely because it was a social contract, which Malays of the ultra or non ultra version like to claim it's full force, the New Malaysia cannot now make a cul de sac or U turn that Pakatan Malaysia is dominated by non Muslims.

By constitution, all Malays are Muslims. Numerically, this immediately implies that 70 per cent of the demography in Malaysia are Muslims, since Malays formed the back bone of Malaysia.

In fact, Bersatu was formed in a manner not inconsistent with UMNO, with branches, divisions and supreme council and all —- so that Malays who have grown tired of the excesses of former Prime Minister Najib Razak and his wife Rosmah Mansor can have the choice of ousting UMNO in favor of Bersatu, thus, losing nothing at all; since Bersatu would start governing Malaysia on a clean sheet.

But the top leadership of Bersatu does not seem to appreciate that the "winter is coming". The Sino-US conflict will last more than a decade; not unlike how Hong Kong, a world class financial capital, continued to unravel week after week.

In the perfect storm, China will continue to race ahead due to the larger reserves with which it has i.e. US$3 trillion; this from a high of US$4 trillion in 2013. China, in other words, is planning on spending out of any economic problems produced by the trade war.

The European Union, a collection of 28 countries, through its European Commission, has also called for an expansionary economic budget across the continent.

Germany, traditionally a frugal country, is seeking to change the laws in the country to allow semi official entities of Germany to collectively borrow above 4 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) which is based in Washington DC and comprised of eight top American economists are seeing signs of a global economic showdown.

Meanwhile, algorithms, artificial intelligence, automation, and analysis of big data, are all converging to create "super apps” where everything off line can be done online. The offline to online market is worth US$130 billion alone over the next five years.

One hasn't delved into the conflict that can occur in Kashmir, between Pakistan and India; indeed Yemen and Straits of Hormuz between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Nor has one spoken of the climate change yet.

In Indonesia, due to the sinking of Jakarta, and the increasing rise in the sea level, President Joko Widodo has agreed to relocate Jakarta to the central part of Kalimantan near Kota Samarinda at a cost of close to US$30 billion.

With President Donald Trump admitting that he had called on the help of Ukraine, indeed, even China, to check on the business activities of the son of democratic presidential contender Joseph Biden, there is no end to his own impeachment at the House of Representatives before going into the US Senate where President Trump's Republican Party does have a majority.

Come what may, the world is in serious turbulence. Unless Malaysia is an oasis of peace, marked by good political stability, the country will face more whip lash effects.

(Datuk Wira Dr. Rais Hussin Mohamed Ariff is PPBM Supreme Council Member.)

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