PETALING JAYA: A PPBM leader today blamed the government’s handling of the economy for Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) poor performance in the Tanjung Piai by-election last Saturday.
PPBM Supreme Council member Tariq Ismail said PH’s loss was due to the economy, not its unfulfilled manifesto pledges or identity politics which he added were merely “symptoms” of the real problem.
“The elephant in the room that the government has failed to address is how to jump-start the economy.”
In a statement, he said this had led to anger among the Chinese guilds and businessmen in Pekan Nanas and Kukup in Johor.
He added that PH’s “standard excuse” about the country’s debts were now sounding like a “broken record”.
The by-election on Nov 16 saw Barisan Nasional’s Wee Jeck Seng recapturing the seat he lost in the May 9 polls last year, winning the six-cornered fight by more than 15,000 votes against PH’s Karmaine Sardini, Wendy Subramaniam (Gerakan), Badhrulhisham Abdul Aziz (Berjasa) and independents Faridah Aryani Abd Ghaffar and Ang Chuan Lock.
Tariq said the switch from the goods and services tax to the sales and services tax had had no effect on prices.
He said the price of most consumer goods was linked to demand, which would not drop no matter how the government tried to curb the cost of living.
“To make matters worse, the rising US dollar against the ringgit has affected the prices of imported essential goods such as food and manufacturing equipment and parts,” he said.
Yet, no incentives or stimulus had been introduced to cushion the blow to consumers and industries, he added.
“But the absolute last straw has been the irrelevant and unnecessary requirements imposed on foreign direct investors, such as imposing open tender on private ventures in which the only role the government plays is to grant licences.
“The absurdity of such impositions has effectively destroyed Malaysia’s investment potential and driven away foreign capital which could have helped stimulate the economy in the absence of heavy government spending.”
He said if the government failed to address these problems by jump-starting the economy and making funds available for projects, what happened in Tanjung Piai could happen in other constituencies as well.
When Chinese businessmen lose significant business, he said, their employees, most likely Malays, would feel the brunt.
“This goes to prove that the Malays need the Chinese, and vice versa. There is no room for identity politics when it comes to prosperity.”