The Prime Minister cum Finance Minister, Datuk Seri Najib is expected to announce tomorrow measures to strengthen the economy as falling commodity prices and the ringgit currency plumbs near 18-year lows.
I call on Najib to include in his announcement tomorrow the following three measures to address the economic crisis:
Firstly, to suspend the Goods and Services Tax (GST) as it is choking domestic consumption apart from increasing the cost of doing business in difficult economic times;
Secondly, to embark on a regime of government economic austerity, starting with halving the number of 10 Ministers in the Prime Minister’s Department to five.
The first Merdeka Cabinet of the country under Bapa Malaysia and first Prime Minister of the country, Tunku Abdul Rahman in 1957 had only 10 Ministers and there can be no justification to have 10 Ministers alone in the Prime Minister’s Department. In fact, the number of 36 Ministers in the Cabinet should also be halved to not more than 20 Ministers for a country with a population the size of Malaysia.
At present, the budget of the Prime Minister’s Office is some RM19 billion, which is more than 19 times that of the entire Federal budget during Merdeka in 1957. This budget for the Prime Minister’s Department should be slashed to not more than RM10 billion ringgit as a show of government earnestness in a regime of austerity in the face of the current economic crisis.
Thirdly, and most important in terms of restoring confidence not only of investors but also of Malaysians in the leadership of Najib as Prime Minister, Najib should come clean on the two biggest financial scandals plaguing the country: the RM50 billion 1MBD and RM2.6 billion “donation” in his personal banking account.
So long as these two mega financial scandals are not addressed satisfactorily in keeping with the principles of accountability, transparency and good governance, and Najib continues to evade and equivocate on these two scandals, the prolonged crisis of confidence of the country will not be resolved.
[Speech at the launching of new edition of Time Bombs in Malaysia (Chinese) in Muar on Sunday, 13th September 2015 at 3 pm]