PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has reminded all Malaysians that despite a challenging 2016, the Government is committed to building a more prosperous and equitable Malaysia.
Datuk Seri Najib 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," Najib said in a New Year's message on his blog on Saturday (Dec 31).
He 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 IMF report also praised Malaysia for making "significant progress toward achieving high-income status", and 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.
The Prime Minister also acknowledged that the IMF's assessment may seem remote to Malaysians who are 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.
He said that the large-scale infrastructure projects planned for Malaysia, 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.
"The Pan Borneo Highway, for instance, will not only connect Serundong in Sabah to Semantan in Sarawak, it will also help re-energise numerous towns along the way.
"I am determined to see this project through as I know the sheer number of communities, many of whom I have visited, that will benefit from it," said the Prime Minister.
Najib said Malaysia would also continue playing a leading role on the international stage, and bringing attention to global issues such as the Rohingya and Palestinian plight.
"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 have prevented there being more," he said.
He also paid tribute to the unforgettable performances of Team Malaysia at the Olympics and Paralympics Games in Brazil.
"While all of our athletes are worthy of mention, to have won our first two gold medals was a truly historic achievement, and one which swelled the hearts of all Malaysians," he said, adding that the coming together of all Malaysians in support of the national team was a true reflection of 1Malaysia.
"A nation confident in ourselves, celebrating our diversity, proud of our successes, and always looking to ensure that all our brothers and sisters are fully part of this great journey that Malaysia is on.
"I ask all Malaysians to be united in this spirit, and I wish you a happy, safe and prosperous New Year," he added.