Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak must stop pulling wool over the people’s eyes concerning the causes for the ringgit’s plunge which has made it Asia’s worst-performing currency this year.
The Prime Minister’s statement yesterday that “the existence of political play and intense speculation has resulted in an uncertain sentiment towards the administration,” is clearly aimed at pointing the blame on our ringgit fiasco on others but himself.
What he has glaringly failed to mention is that the “uncertain sentiment” is very much linked to the financial scandal that is gripping the nation relating to the RM2.6 billion secretly transferred to his personal account as well as the sheer size of the 1MDB debacle.
In addition, the appearance of collusion and conspiracy at high places to interfere with the independent investigations of the task force leading to its “sudden death”, the disbanding of the PAC team and the blatant obstruction of the MACC in its investigations are the major factors compounding the negative perceptions on the country’s leadership.
It is true that adverse external circumstances such as the decline in commodity prices including oil, the anticipated increase in the US interest rates, and the ongoing depreciation of the Chinese yuan are partly responsible. But these factors are affecting other currencies in the region as well. The question is why is our ringgit the hardest hit among all the major regional currencies?
The Prime Minister must therefore stop this charade of pretending that it is business as usual and that he can continue to lead the nation out of the mess by merely dismissing his deputy and appointing new ministers to shore up support for him.
No one is fooled by grandstanding and PR sound bites. The ringgit is likely to remain weak so long as political uncertainties continue. The perception is that nothing short of major changes in leadership and the political equation can halt the slide as well as save us from the brink of national disaster.
While we welcome back Bank Negara Governor Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz to the fold after her sudden disappearance, Putrajaya must stop interfering with her duties. Regardless of the supposed “approval” given by the governor to question her officers, we condemn the unwarranted exercise of such powers which under the circumstances was tantamount to interfering in the then on-going BNM investigation.
On the statement by Zeti that our monetary policy “is accommodative and supportive of economic activity”, it must be said the interventions by Bank Negara have not been able to stop the ringgit slide. They only treat the symptoms and not the disease, and are therefore ineffective, resulting only in further reserve losses.
MOHAMED AZMIN ALI Menteri Besar of Selangor | Deputy President, People’s Justice Party