Ex-PM Najib takes swipe at how quickly new Malaysian government transformed economy

Former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak marvelled at how they transformed Malaysia's "failed" economy into a strong one in just two weeks in a sarcastic Twitter post. PHOTO: REUTERS

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak took a swipe at the new Pakatan Harapan government in a sarcastic Twitter post, marvelling at how they transformed Malaysia's "failed" economy into a strong one in just two weeks.

"I am amazed at how quickly the country's economy has transformed from a so-called crisis situation and failed state before GE14, to a strong and strengthened economy after. Only in two weeks," tweeted Datuk Seri Najib on Saturday (May 26). GE14 refers to the country's general election that was held on May 9.

Mr Najib's tweet comes after he released a statement criticising Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng for unsettling the financial markets, alarming credit rating agencies and spooking investors with his announcement that Malaysia's debt is now at RM1 trillion (S$338 billion).

Earlier this week, Mr Lim had said that the country's debt had breached the RM1 trillion-mark, higher than the figure announced by the previous Barisan Nasional government that was led by Mr Najib.

One Bloomberg columnist said Mr Lim's "blunt" approach was risking "leaving investors with an uncertain fiscal outlook".

Veteran journalist A. Kadir Jasin criticised Mr Lim for playing up the national debt issue and said that new ministers should exercise caution when speaking up on such issues.

"Lim's mistake was when he obtained facts that proved Pakatan's claims were right, he did not thoroughly evaluate the implications of revealing them," said Datuk Kadir in a blog post on Saturday.

"Political mileage is not the same as economic mileage. What is good for politics might not be good for the economy or the financial markets," he said.

Kuala Lumpur's stock exchange Bursa Malaysia had fallen sharply over the last two days as foreign funds continued their selldown of local equity.

The benchmark index FBM KLCI fell 69 points or 3.7 per cent over the two sessions, erasing nearly all its gains so far this year.

In response, Mr Lim drew attention to the fact that it is not just Malaysia's equity market that has pulled back in recent days, but other stock exchanges in the region as well due to external factors.

Mr Lim also reiterated that the Malaysian economy remains strong with solid fundamentals despite the need to improve the current fiscal condition.

He said the government intends to return confidence to investors after its recent announcement that the current debt-to-GDP ratio stood at 80 per cent.

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