Ringgit among world’s best performers after regime change, Guan Eng tells Najib

Lim said the ringgit’s strength is proof of local and foreign investors’ confidence in Putrajaya, despite a regime change. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
Lim said the ringgit’s strength is proof of local and foreign investors’ confidence in Putrajaya, despite a regime change. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 13 — Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said today that the ringgit is among the world’s best performing currencies, rebutting Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s claim that the currency has not recovered despite him stepping down after the polls.

Lim said the ringgit’s strength is proof of local and foreign investors’ confidence in Putrajaya, despite a regime change with Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad replacing Najib as prime minister.

“Since the end of 2017, the value of the ringgit compared to the US dollar only fell 2.2 per cent as at September 11, 2018,” Lim said in a statement.

He said it was a much better performer compared to other currencies such as the Australian dollar — whose value fell by 9.9 per cent in the same period — Indonesian rupiah (9.8 per cent), Chinese yuan (5.6 per cent), South Korean won (5.7 per cent) and the Singaporean dollar (3 per cent).

Lim also provided a table, denoting the ringgit as one of the most stable currencies with a floating exchange rate compared to 12 other selected currencies.

“The Pakatan Harapan federal government is really confident that the position of ringgit’s currency value will only rebound in the medium term after all Barisan Nasional’s debt problems and scandals, such as 1MDB, are solved,” he said.

Yesterday, Najib said the ringgit’s performance since the general election shows it has decoupled from global oil price, insisting he was falsely accused of causing the currency’s devaluation previously.

The former prime minister posted two charts online detailing the historical performance of the Malaysian currency against the price of Brent Crude going back to 2010 that showed a directly inverse relationship between the two until recently.

Expressing concern with the ringgit’s decline now, he asserted that the recent fall was not caused by a dip in the oil price as this has risen to US$78 per barrel, while the Malaysian currency has gone in the opposite direction.

Najib also held up the ringgit’s recovery between 2010 and 2013, which he said was made possible because he avoided pegging the Malaysian currency in the way Dr Mahathir had during the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis.

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