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Tackle fundamentals to prepare for unstable global economy

A food chain crisis or economic collapse will hit us hardest as long as we let politicians put blinkers on people

Rising food prices; Focus on the issues that matter - ANIL NETTO

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Malaysian politicians seem to be increasingly preoccupied with racial, religious, social and politically divisive distractions for their own political survival and poor leadership abilities while the world is scrambling to tackle looming climate, economic and geopolitical uncertainties.

Every day, whether over the news or social media, Malaysians are choking with more and more ridiculous, circus-like antics of politicians –  from spiking citizens with cries to change the English names into Malay to erecting signboards in schools minus Chinese and Tamil characters.

There is an overdrive build-up to seemingly address bumiputera equity in businesses, as if non-bumiputeras do not exist or matter at all.

Wearing batik attire to cement national unity takes centre-stage in our aspirations towards nurturing a “Malaysian family”.

But who is talking about the global economy and the global food chain crisis; and the need to beef up our national security and address weather havoc and employment? It seems like only citizens and NGOs are more concerned over these issues than our elected MPs.

The import value of rice to Malaysia is around RM2bn. In 2019, it had already breached RM1.9bn. As rice-producing nations beyond our shores brace to meet the food chain crisis and economic uncertainties, where will Malaysians source their rice supplies from?

Let us also not forget that Malaysia also heavily relies on imports for many key products, including wheat, protein meal, dairy products, beef and fruits.

According to a Malaysiakini article in 2019, “in terms of fruits, Malaysia imported RM204 million worth of coconuts, RM74 million worth of mangoes, and RM38 million worth of bananas. And the list goes on. All these can be planted and produced in Malaysia.” 

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As the geopolitical tensions build up and economies around the world get strained, governments will give immediate and greater priorities towards ensuring there is enough food for their own citizens.

What are our national plans that can be put on standby mode to avert a likely scenario where it is no longer viable to source food from our usual trading partner countries? Is any politician tabling a blueprint for public debate and endorsement?

The 100 days are up for Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s government. And have we heard anything about the economy, food chain crisis strategies and employment re-mobilisation? No.

All we hear at state election circuits are what logo to use for party partnerships; which party is giving out more food rations and cash; and threats of stalling development projects if a party loses in the election.

As the world gears towards a precarious and jittery future, we Malaysians are fed with talk of promises, more promises and endless promises.

We hear of increasing migrant workers from new source countries. We hear of grand multi-billion ringgit infrastructure projects, including reviving aborted projects.

The frightening reality of people raising white flags during the pandemic just to have basic meals on the table has not jolted our politicians.

Instead, buying imported premium cars to replace existing Malaysian-made cars for politicians was a great and pressing priority for the government.

Time is against us. We need to jump-start our national preparation for the hard times ahead of us.

We need to engage experts in the country and billionaire technocrats to come to the table with workable plans that can avert any potential crisis.

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It is time for people and the media to come together to demand from our paid and well-rewarded politicians a future that will not plunge the nation into a trap ahead of us.

We need to know how and what we are doing to prepare for the worst. It is foolish, naïve and absurd to make-believe that all is well for us.

With our national debt (including debts of the state, the communities, the municipalities and social insurances) rising in relation to gross domestic product (GDP) from 54.4% in 2017 to 67.0% in 2021, do we not have reason to worry much?

While some politicians drum up feel-good messaging on our foreign direct investments, the truth is our investment income has been sliding. In 2020, our net inflow contracted by 54.8% compared to the preceding year alone.

And while Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan remain as the largest investor countries, with Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia becoming cherries for the picking, what guarantee is there that the three countries will continue to invest in Malaysia in harder times?

We must know that a crisis does not happen suddenly. A crisis by definition happens when things go unnoticed for long periods with issues neglected and unattended.

A food chain crisis or economic collapse will hit us hardest as long as we let politicians put blinkers on people. – Malaysiakini

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

AGENDA RAKYAT - Lima perkara utama
  1. Tegakkan maruah serta kualiti kehidupan rakyat
  2. Galakkan pembangunan saksama, lestari serta tangani krisis alam sekitar
  3. Raikan kerencaman dan keterangkuman
  4. Selamatkan demokrasi dan angkatkan keluhuran undang-undang
  5. Lawan rasuah dan kronisme
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