KUALA LUMPUR: Sustained political attacks aimed at undermining the government have not derailed Malaysia’s economy, with the ringgit managing a bounce-back in 2016 and the local stock bourse enjoying a bull-market run, Prime Minister Najib Razak said on Tuesday (Apr 12).
In his keynote address at the 12th Invest Malaysia 2016, the embattled leader said these economic results were made possible due to a “strong leadership, political stability and a credible economic plan”, as well as a top-level reshuffle in the cabinet last July.
“It’s very clear that the markets like strong leadership, political stability and a credible economic plan,” Mr Najib said. “We have proved the sceptics wrong. Now it is time to move on, and to refocus on further strengthening Malaysia’s economy and on the good news about our country.”
After being hit by a double whammy of falling oil prices and political risks in 2015, the Malaysian ringgit staged a comeback to be the top performing currency in Asia in the first quarter, up 9.5 per cent against the US dollar.
Mr Najib took a swipe at his detractors who warned that the Malaysian currency would fall below 4.80 if he remained in office.
Meanwhile, the local bourse Bursa Malaysia emerged as a darling among investors who preferred market certainty amid global volatility. In recent weeks, the local stock market has received the largest capital inflows in Southeast Asia and chalked up a bull-market run.
“You can count on this government to do the right thing even if it is unpopular for the good of the people, for the good of investors and the country,” Mr Najib added.
Echoing the views of the Prime Minister, International Trade and Industry Minister Mustapa Mohamed said: “What people said about 1MDB over the past 18 months … did not have much impact on investment numbers. 2015 was a good year.”
“THERE HAS BEEN AND WILL BE ACCOUNTABILITY”
The prime minister also took a swipe at critics for running down the government and the country for selfish political interests, while reassuring investors that action will be taken if there is evidence of wrongdoing at the scandal-ridden state investment fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
“To them, damage to the country is just collateral. To them, the end justifies the means. They’ve been airing all sorts of wild allegations, including 1MDB, so let us be totally clear about this … there has been and will be accountability,” he said.
Mr Najib added that the Public Accounts Committee had completed its report and the board had since offered its resignation.
This comes as Abu Dhabi investment firm, International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC), denied having received payments from 1MDB.
1MDB reportedly paid IPIC and its subsidiary Aabar Investments PJS (Aabar) US$3.5 billion between 2012 to 2013 as deposits for a bond guarantee by IPIC.
In response to the statement, 1MDB said in a statement issued late Monday that it was surprised that IPIC and Aabar denied any knowledge or having ever benefited from the payments.
The key former officials of IPIC and Aabar, namely Khadem Al Qubaisi and Mohamed Badawy Al Husseiny, were reportedly arrested and are now under probe by regulatory authorities.
Source: Channel News Asia