FEBRUARY 21 — I read with much interest the article entitled, “BNM says ringgit’s slide doesn’t reflect economic strength amid currency polemic” (February 20, 2024).

Of national concern is the ringgit depreciation

(RM4.885 against US$1) to its weakest level since the Asian financial crisis in 1998.

Following the United Nations’ COP28 recent approval of a road map for “transitioning away from fossil fuels”, one can only imagine its inevitable impact on countries relying on petroleum income with currency implications going forward.

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While strategic initiatives are urgently needed to tackle the above issue so as to mitigate its potential adverse effects on the local currency and the national economy, ways and means need to be also found to develop the economy and strengthen the ringgit.

Looking back, our nation has been rather fortunate each time to acquire or discover certain national resources at different times.

First, we had rubber and tin. Then sawn timber and palm oil came along. Next the nation has been greatly helped by the petroleum and gas discovery. The electronics industry and the tourism industry have contributed much to the nation’s economic well-being. However, certain industries are already sunset industries.

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Short of stating the obvious, our nation is faced with great competition from countries for foreign direct investment. We need to further improve our investment climate, and hence our international competitiveness standing.

Of paramount importance, we badly need to invest and augment the country’s human capital. It is one of the few assets left that we possess.

Bank Negara Malaysia said on Tuesday the ringgit’s performance does not reflect the country’s economic strength, as the currency slid further to its lowest level since the 1998 Asian Financial Crisis today. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Bank Negara Malaysia said on Tuesday the ringgit’s performance does not reflect the country’s economic strength, as the currency slid further to its lowest level since the 1998 Asian Financial Crisis today. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

We cannot afford to fail in the endeavour to develop high-quality human capital that is relevant for our times. We cannot afford to compromise in this regard. If we fail in this matter, one cannot imagine the adverse consequences for our nation.

There is also a need to also come together for the common good of all in our nation, regardless of our political, racial and religious differences.

Neither think in a narrow-minded way nor adopt an unhealthy “winner-takes-all” mindset as if there is no place for others under the Malaysian sun. Do not forget too that we will rise or fall together. So, let us all manage our differences peaceably in a civil and wise manner.

Finally, continuing efforts need to be expended on plugging financial wastages and leakages of all forms.

As the old adage says, “united we stand, divided we fall”. As Malaysians who love our beloved country, let us choose this day the former option for the betterment of our nation.

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