KUCHING: Malaysia should build up its own consumer capacity to lessen the impact of external forces amid the global economic recession.
Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud said the country had to look at maximising the level of consumer capacity as China did in order not to be affected by external changes.
He stressed that it is crucial for Malaysia to be more economically independent rather than to rely on foreign investments, particularly from the United States and Europe.
“Last year, we did not have much investment coming from America. In fact, 100 per cent of the investments in the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE) came from Asia.
“So far, we have received over RM2 billion worth of investments in SCORE,” he said during a Chinese New Year dinner hosted by the Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Sarawak (ACCCIS) on Friday.
Taib noted that the Malaysian economy’s 6.4 per cent growth in the last quarter was “one of the highest rates of growth in the world and this augurs well for the country”.
However, he said no country could escape the rising cost of living. To help Malaysians cope with this, he said the Barisan Nasional (BN) government not only continued subsidies in various forms, but also doled out cash aid to offer some relief.
“We give money directly to our people, and it is called BR1M (1Malaysia People’s Aid). Yet the opposition says our prime minister showers benefits on the people. The reason (of handing out BR1M) is not political, but reaching out to our people after the recession.”
Meanwhile, ACCCIS president Datuk Wee Kok Tiong said the business fraternity did not like the idea of “changing the current system by giving a five-year test run period to a new system”.
“Some people may have the idea of giving a new system a chance, and replace it if it does not work. But for the business community, to test an uncertain new system is very risky and costly.
“Sometimes, a five-second incorrect decision will cost a corporation millions or billions of ringgit while some business entities may even have to close down,” he explained.
Wee added that the business world welcomed reforms and changes based on a structural basis and concrete strategies.
“There is no magic for changes and reforms, which require participation, hard work and confidence in pushing the economic growing momentum into high gear.”
He also called on the government to increase public spending to cushion the blow of the economic downturn.
“The Malaysian economy has done well last year, achieving 5.6 per cent growth. It is expected to grow at a faster rate this year.”