GEORGE TOWN: A business group has backtracked on its earlier call for the general election to be held soonest possible.
The Malaysian International Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MICCI) now wants the government to complete its term, saying Putrajaya should give its full attention to the country’s economic recovery.
MICCI executive director Shaun Cheah said as businesses were slowly recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic, they were faced with numerous challenges such as a labour crunch, a plunge in the value of the ringgit and rising costs.
He said given this situation, businesses wanted some “breathing room to recover, and they do not want any more disruptions”.
“Therefore, it is not the right time to talk about having elections. Focus on economic recovery and don’t have the general election until the end of the government’s term so that it buys time for businesses to concentrate on their recovery,” he told FMT on the sidelines of a talk on “Sustaining Penang’s Competitiveness” organised by MICCI’s Penang chapter.
He said this in response to louder calls by Umno for GE15 to be held this year. Cheah noted that the economy had yet to recover and the monsoon season was nearing.
In February, Cheah had called for the general election to be held to end excessive politicking and to increase investor confidence in the economy. He said then that domestic and foreign investors were either withholding investment decisions or cautiously investing until they could see a more stable political environment.
Asked about his change in position, Cheah said the earlier call was made at a time when there was a lot of political instability and when the economy was just being reopened.
Also, it was unknown back then as to whether the government of Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob would last till the end of the year, as he was then being pushed to call for GE15 by September or earlier.
“But over the last six months, it looks like (Ismail’s government) is holding well, and we (businesses) can accept this,” he added.
Make Penang liveable to attract global talents
Meanwhile, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Penang partner Lim Huck Khiam called on the state government to focus on making the island more liveable in order to attract global talents to work and reside there.
Speaking at the same event, Lim said Penang could learn from the experiences of liveable cities around the world by capitalising on its status as one of the top tourist destinations of the country, and also in the world.