KUALA LUMPUR, June 26 — The Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) today urged politicians to set aside their partisan differences and put recovering the economy first after the Covid-19 outbreak.
Its secretary-general J. Solomon said political squabbles were affecting Malaysia’s stability and investor confidence in the country’s potential for economic recovery, adding that these stymie reforms that could uplift workers trapped in poverty.
“Politicians on both sides of the fence must not take lightly this possibility. The political divide in this country must not result in the economy going into a tailspin, and bring even more hardship to workers.
“As such, we urge our politicians not to ignore the Fitch report nor the report by the World Bank, which is predicated on the need for political stability to help ring in meaningful reforms to lift Malaysian workers, the majority of whom remain entrapped in poverty,” he said in a statement.
Solomon was referring to a report by Fitch Solutions Country Risk and Industry Research predicting Malaysia’s growth in the next 10 years to slow to half of what it had achieved in the past decade.
The Fitch Group unit said Malaysia had exhausted its potential for growth via low-level industrialisation and must urgently upgrade its economy to escape the so-called “middle-income trap”, which it warned could be hampered by ongoing political uncertainty in the country.
A separate World Bank report said Malaysia could graduate from being a middle-income nation to a high-income country within 10 years if it could carry out key reforms.
Solomon urged the political powers to think of how their actions impact ordinary Malaysians, including the 15 million workers represented by MTUC.
“MTUC strongly urge our politicians, irrespective of their leanings, to allow common sense, compassion and empathy for the rakyat to guide them in any decisions they make so that ultimately the rakyat can prevail over this economic storm wrought by Covid-19,” he said.
He said the MTUC, like other Malaysians, were alarmed that foreign investors will shy away from Malaysia due to perceived political instability.
“The loss of new investments and capital flights from the country will be devastating on workers and the thousands of local graduates joining the job market as well as for a country trying to overcome the Covid-19 economic downturn,” he added.
He then cited examples of the dire state of affairs affecting Malaysian workers such as widening inequality of income, spiraling costs of living and mass retrenchments impacting them, on top of paltry wages, poor benefits and little savings for their retirement.
“This is the environment our workers live in every day. Their dire state of affairs should prod all politicians into undertaking a comprehensive review of their own conduct and motives.
“Politicians from both sides must ensure that their actions help lift workers out of their gloom and not remain mired in constant uncertainty about their future,” he said.