A survey conducted by the Chinese trade chambers also showed most are not happy with the minimum wage policy.
KUALA LUMPUR: Chinese businesses have given Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s economic policies the thumbs-down, according to a survey conducted by the Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (ACCIM).
The report revealed that many of the community’s small and medium enterprises (SMEs) or industries believe they have not benefited from the prime minister’s economic initiatives despite the raft of reforms introduced since Najib took office in April 2009.
“This has led to many respondents not believing that Malaysia is on its way to being successful in moving its economy out of the middle-income trap,” said the survey.
Najib had made the promise to drive Malaysia into a high-income economy by 2020 as one of his policies under the grand Economic Transformation Programme (ETP).
The blueprint, which promises to strengthen and make the local market its primary drive, is seen as a key election push as Najib aims to score a stronger mandate at the upcoming national polls.
His administration has so far managed to weather the global economic turmoil with a strong back-to-back growth that surpassed expectations, giving him the boasting rights against heavy opposition criticism that he has done little to improve the ailing economy.
Heavy government spending under the ETP – to create a strong local market to help offset dipping exports – was said to be a major factor behind Malaysia’s steady growth.
The ACCIM survey, however, said 73% of its respondents are discouraged by the country’s economic outlook leading up to the 13th general election.
Much of the survey indicated negative performance, and slowing demands and employment among the Chinese businesses. Close to half of the 374 respondents polled blamed it on weak government policies.
“It should also be noted that despite efforts to transform the Malaysian economy, the effects and benefits appear to have not filtered down more significantly to the SMEs,” said the survey.
More than half of the respondents said they are pessimistic with this year and 2013’s economic outlook although they are cautiously optimistic for 2014.
The ACCIM also urged the Najib administration to reconsider its minimum wage policy, with close to 60% of the respondents saying it would affect their businesses.
It also urged Putrajaya to consider implementing different floor-wage structures for different sectors and regions.
But Najib, the Barisan Nasional chairman, is unlikely to reverse the plan. The minimum wage policy is seen as a crucial move to keep Malaysia’s low-income earners on his side. They form a significant chunk of the voter pool.
The negative response by Chinese businesses that comes amid plunging support from the community, Malaysia’s second biggest electorate, may force Najib to consider holding polls soon.
Influential former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad had echoed analysts and economists’ calls for Najib to hold elections while the economy is still strong.
Pundits are betting on a gloomy trajectory for the remaining quarters and 2013 despite the strong 5% second-quarter growth this year.