When the Twain must meet: Economics are politics in Malaysia ― Rais Hussin

JULY 19 ― Economics can be divided into micro and macro economics. If need be, into econometrics. Indeed, if need be, into the history of economic thought. And, if this is not enough, into international or monetary economics, where issues on trade, tariff and tech wars come into play.

Professor KS Jomo was referring to the latter, when he asked all sides to take a break from politics. While reasonable, Professor KS Jomo's wisdom has to be understood in four contexts. And, the more Malaysians' and the international credit rating community grapple with them, the better it is for all sides, especially Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad and incoming Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

First of all, Malaysia Baharu is a phenomenon, not merely from defeating Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his kleptocratic ilk on May 9, 2018. It was a journey that began, ironically enough from Asian financial crisis.

It was the Asian financial crisis, and the misunderstanding surrounding it, that caused the rupture between Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad and Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim then.

If Malaysia wants to be strong again, it needs to do what the former DYMM Agung Sultan Muhammad V did: take the royal pardon to the full.

From that point on, without malice work at allowing different coalitions to operate seamlessly.

Two, modern government is Western centric, with technical details, reports and numbers, all of which the new government of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad may not even have access to.

They need the middle management and bureaucrats to hand those information to the Ministers and Deputy Ministers. 

Unless there is a smooth plan of transition at the very top, all the middle management in and across the ministries will refuse to yield to the authority of the Prime Minister, and the Cabinet, creating nothing less than a “mission creep” to allow Umno or PAS, whom they favour, to permit corruption to start all over again.

Thus, there is a need for inter-elite politics at the highest level to work well at the top of the food chain, without which the Little Napoleons beneath the system will not collaborate.

Three, there are some 900 known Government Linked Companies (GLCs).

According to Professor Edmund Terence Gomez, these are companies that are known in the Registration of Companies (ROC).

There could be two or three times more.

If the inter-elite political harmony is not there, then it is impossible to enhance the Malaysian economy once again, regardless of the Sino-US trade war.

Four, how sure are we that Malaysia is first affected by the economic forces from abroad ?

For all that we know, the credit rating agencies have their own sources to find out that Selangor, which is formed of 25 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product of Malaysia, has poor revenue streams through credit rating agencies like RAM in Malaysia.

And, such agencies would still focus on politics as the key independent variable of Malaysia.

In this sense, Malaysia has to be understood through the prism of co-variable, where politics matter as deeply as economics, especially when the minister of economic affairs is embroiled in questionable practices.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or organisation and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.

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