Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Dr M's Criticism Will Not Affect Investors' Confidence, Says Najib. Really?

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak believes that Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's continued criticism of his successor and the government will not affect investors' confidence in the country. "They are aware that we are a stable government and backed by a strong political party," he told reporters.

Najib reiterated the stance taken by Umno in explaining to the people on the criticisms raised by the former prime minister. "We have to address not only Dr Mahathir but a wider populace," he said. Asked whether the former Umno president would be expelled from the party following his action, Najib, who is Umno deputy president, said the party has not discussed the matter.

Najib also dismissed claims by Dr Mahathir that Vision 2020 could not be achieved due to the slow pace of current development. He said that as long as Malaysia sustained six per cent growth for the next 15 years, the country could be a developed nation by 2020.

It would be foolish to ignore the impact of Dr M's criticism and dismiss it as inconsequential. On the contrary it will have the most significant of repercussions on foreign investors, both already here and those contemplating entering. Especially so if Mahathir raises the pitch.

Instead of attempting to reassure everyone by downplaying the issue, as many have already opined, Pak Lah has to abandon his 'elegant silence' and come forward to sort things out with Mahathir, if it is at all possible. Things cannot be left hanging in the air as the government is doing now. It gives the impression of indecisiveness and that the leadership is groping for answers rather than responding firmly. Only a firm response will convince investors.

In situations like this there has to be give and take - a trade off. What is Pak Lah willing to 'give' in order to buy peace? He must remember that the active party here is Dr M, and the government is merely playing it by ear and reacting mildly to his every provocation. How he reacts tomorrow no one knows. In a way he has the government by the balls.

How difficult it will be for the PM politically and personally to make 'sacrifices' to get this whole mess behind him is not known. Perhaps now is the time to sit down alone and calmly assess the situation that he faces and what are the real options open to him, the consequences of every one of those options, and go ahead and do what has to be done. This will be good for him, Dr M and above all, the nation.


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7:39 PM GMT+8  

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