PETALING JAYA: FinanceAsia, a Hong Kong-based publication reporting on Asia’s financial and capital markets has dealt a nasty blow to Prime Minister Najib Razak by ranking him the worst Finance Minister among the 12 largest economies in the Asia-Pacific region for this year.
In an article appearing yesterday, the publication’s editors said Najib had come out last for failing to get a handle on the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal that implicated him as well as the collapse in the price of oil, on which Malaysia was dependent.
Touching on 1MDB’s struggle to settle a RM2 billion bridging loan in early 2015, FinanceAsia said, “The funding crunch was an embarrassment to Najib, who chairs the fund’s advisory board and expanded its remit on coming to office in 2009, to help turn Kuala Lumpur into a financial hub.”
The publication also touched on the RM2.6 billion “donation” Najib received in his personal bank accounts and remarked how it had triggered demands he step down besides casting doubts on the country’s commitment to good governance despite him being cleared of all wrongdoing just last month.
“The long-running political crisis has taken up time that could have been better spent addressing the countries acute economic troubles and made Malaysia appear even less attractive as an investment destination,” FinanceAsia said, citing Moody’s figures that foreign investors had withdrawn approximately RM24.5 billion from Malaysia in the third quarter of 2015.
The ringgit depreciating by 19 per cent last year to its lowest rates since 1997, as well as Malaysia’s A3 sovereign rating “going to stable from positive”, did not bode well for Najib either.
The article also mentioned Malaysia’s recalibrated budget 2016, the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax, and its participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement as strategies to uplift the country’s financial outlook in trying times.
“How the embattled Najib can improve Malaysia’s reputation remains to be seen, but before then he must be ready to figure out a plan to tame the budget deficit while external weaknesses continue to crimp government revenue,” it said.
Commenting on the article, Asia’s top debater Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman took to Facebook, saying, “It is high time that we separate the portfolios (PM-Finance Minister).”
He also took a swipe at potential critics of FinanceAsia and said that among their possible responses to Najib being ranked the worst Finance Minister was that the publication was either Jewish, Chinese-owned, or both.
He added, “Despite the recent spate of scandals, I remain optimistic for Malaysia.
“Our beloved country is not defined by the unscrupulous few, but by the honest & peace-loving Rakyat.
“Malaysia will triumph.”