KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 4 — Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak selectively compared the country to nations worse off instead of traditional rivals such as Singapore to suggest Malaysia was performing better than in actuality, said an Opposition lawmaker yesterday.
Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua said rather than using Syria, Madagascar and Zimbabwe, among others, to claim Malaysia’s poverty was the lowest in the region, the minister should be benchmarking the country against those with which it once stood abreast.
“Have we really gone so low today that we now need to compare ourselves with the poorest countries in the world today to make ourselves feel good for the new year?
“What has happened to the times when we pride ourselves to be among the Asian Tigers, being quoted in the same breath as South Korea, Taiwan and sometimes even Singapore and Hong Kong?” Pua said in a statement.
Pua also disputed the information and communications minister’s use of the CIA World Factbook for the economic data, saying more accurate and convincing statistics were available through the World Bank.
The DAP national publicity secretary went on to question the reliability of the US spy agency’s data, noting that it considered Malaysia’s average monthly salary to be over RM9,000 or already enough to achieve the Vision 2020 target to be a high-income nation.
Honing in on the US$27,000 GDP per capita from the CIA data, Pua told the minister that this was nearly three times that of the US$9,500 listed by both the World Bank and the Salleh’s own Statistics Department.
Saying Malaysia must be compared to better performing nations to drive the country’s progress instead of clearly weaker states, Pua said only an honest appraisal would allow the country to discover why it was no longer on par with the Asian Tigers of the 1980s.
“This is the real question which Datuk Seri Sallleh Keruak and the BN administration must answer, and not continuing to pull the wool over the rakyat’s eyes.”
In a blog post on December 27, Salleh listed the data to recap Malaysia’s economic achievements for 2017 and to offer his prediction of improved performance this year.