PETALING JAYA • Prime Minister Najib Razak has reminded all Malaysians that despite a challenging 2016, the government is committed to building a more prosperous and equitable country.
He said the country's economic plan was working, as evidenced by independent assessments carried out by the world's top economic experts, and urged everyone not to fall for smear campaigns carried out by certain groups for their own political gains.
"Assessments such as these are independent and conducted by the world's top experts. They reflect the true picture of Malaysia - contrary to the smear campaigns of those who have been trying to commit economic sabotage against their own country just for their own selfish political objectives," Datuk Seri Najib said in a New Year message on his blog.
Malaysia is expected to hold a general election this year. Mr Najib said Malaysians should be proud of the growth the country was achieving, highlighting the latest International Monetary Fund (IMF) report which concluded that "despite headwinds, the Malaysian economy continues to perform well".
The report praised Malaysia for making "significant progress towards achieving high-income status", and Mr Najib said this is the economic reality of Malaysia instead of the false stories being propagated. "Fake news and the proliferation of false stories has become a worldwide phenomenon, and is a grave problem in our country as well," he said.
At home and abroad, we continue to be at the forefront of the fight against extremism and radicalisation.
The Prime Minister acknowledged that the IMF's assessment may seem remote to Malaysians struggling to afford a decent life, adding that this was why Budget 2017 would pay greater attention to the needs of the Bottom 40 and Middle 40. Bottom 40 are households with the lowest 40 per cent of income, and Middle 40 are those with family incomes of between RM3,900 (S$1,250) and RM8,300.
He said planned large-scale infrastructure projects, such as Bandar Malaysia, Tun Razak Exchange, the East Coast Rail Link, the High Speed Rail and the Pan Borneo Highway, would ensure long-term sustainability.
Mr Najib said Malaysia would continue to play a leading role on the global stage, and bring attention to issues such as the Rohingya and Palestinian situations.
"At home and abroad, we continue to be at the forefront of the fight against extremism and radicalisation. We suffered our first (ISIS)-linked attack in June, and only the tireless dedication of our brave police and armed services has prevented there being more."
Mr Najib also paid tribute to Team Malaysia, which won four silver medals and one bronze at the Olympics and two golds at the Paralympics in Brazil.
"I ask all Malaysians to be united in this spirit, and I wish you a happy, safe and prosperous New Year," he added.
THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK