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Nov 19, 2008

Government not in denial but...

Question: Which is the only country insulated from the global economic turmoil?
Answer: Malaysia.

This joke has been making the rounds in corporate offices, at dinner tables and in the living rooms across the country as Malaysians and foreign investors wonder whether the feel good statistics trotted out in the last few weeks suggests a government in denial or a government with a cavalier understanding of the global meltdown.

Neither it seems, checks by The Malaysian Insider show. What you have are planners who worry that people can talk themselves into the worst outcomes during an economic slowdown if confidence is allowed to ebb.

What you have are government officials crunching on numbers and scenarios and anticipating the impact of the recession in the United States, UK and Japan on the level of unemployment, foreign direct investment and even the crime situation.

A member of the Economic Council told The Malaysian Insider: “We are not in denial, the fact is that we are in a stronger position than most countries and we need to tell Malaysians that. But things could get bad.’’

How bad? The picture on Main Street is not pretty. At the height of the Asian Financial Crisis, some 80,000 Malaysians were made jobless. The early indications are that the retrenchments may not reach those numbers, though there has been a spike in the last couple of months.

Already there is anecdotal evidence that several factories are laying off workers as a result of depressed demand for their goods. The government expects the number of laid off workers to hover around 20,000 for the year but given that the full brunt of the economic slowdown has not been felt yet, this number could double or triple next year.... selanjutnya.


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