Forget what the manifestos said (or didn’t say) about such niceties as improving the environment or re-energising our education system. This election was all about the economy.
As Bill Clinton famously said in his 1992 campaign: “It’s the economy, stupid”. This was even more true for GE 13.
Those looking that voted for Barisan Nasional already realised it, but those who were still undecided at the last minute or those who voted for the unknown in Pakatan Rakyat should simply have looked around them. How many other countries can hope for 5.6 per cent growth at this moment?
Our economy is booming, at a time when much of the rest of the world is projected to see anaemic growth.
Under Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s prudent fiscal leadership, Malaysia has weathered the global financial storm, and you would have to be blind to ignore it. Jobs are being created in the tens of thousands under his Economic Transformation Programme (ETP), while in the West youth unemployment has hit 40 per cent in some countries.
The World Bank too has praised Najib’s reform agenda, saying the acceleration of private investment in ETP projects will help propel Malaysia to a high-income nation.
After all, the ETP aims to boost our annual per capita income to RM48,000 and create 3.3 million jobs. Is there anything comparable from Pakatan’s aging and conflicted leaders? No.
Pakatan dug its own political grave with an ill-thought election manifesto that threatens not only to halt the country’s progress, but to send it flying in the other direction:
- How about using a RM2.5 billion plant, the largest rare earths refinery in the world, to create jobs in Malaysia and help the nation develop expertise in this technology? No way, declared Pakatan. We will “halt operations” at the Lynas plant if elected, its manifesto pledged.
- How about maintaining a balance between workers’ livelihoods and employers’ sustainability to ensure they both prosper? No way, says Pakatan. The coalition promises to raise the minimum wage to an unsustainable RM1,200, which could force many small businesses to go bankrupt and shut down.
In fact, Pakatan’s economic proposals were so incoherent and socialist in nature that they could have left Malaysia reeling with a fiscal deficit of 7.2 per cent.
No wonder then that international observers were increasingly worried that the biggest economic risk that Malaysia faces in the short-term is not the slowdown in the West, but that some voters may even entertain the thought of a Pakatan government.
Luckily for Malaysia, though, the rakyat is increasingly aware that the shaky Opposition coalition cannot be trusted with running the economy, and made that clear on Sunday, giving Najib’s safe and experienced leadership the mandate to take the country forward.