Malaysia’s economy stable, says Abdullah

Country continues to attract foreign investment despite global crisis

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia’s economy is largely stable even though the country is faced with global crisis such as the increase in prices of fuel and food, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said.

“It’s stable overall. Our trade sector…there is nothing to worry about. We continue to attract foreign investment and we are still a preferred investment destination,” the Prime Minister said.

He said Malaysia’s economy also received positive feedback from other countries, most recently during the Group of Eight Islamic Developing Countries (D8) Summit in Kuala Lumpur.

“Our economic figures are positive. They know it,” he told Bernama and RTM Radio in an interview at Sri Perdana, the prime minister’s official residence Friday.

The D8 comprises Indonesia, Pakistan, Iran, Bangladesh, Egypt, Nigeria, Turkey and Malaysia.

Abdullah said the country’s image was also intact, saying, “Those who view Malaysia objectively, it is still good. But those connected to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, they would see things differently.”

Asked on what would be among his priorities from now until the handing over of power to his deputy Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak in June 2010, Abdullah said he wanted to see the development of five economic corridors be sped up.

The five development corridors are the Iskandar Malaysia, Northern Corridor Economic Region, East Coast Economic Region, Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy and Sabah Development Corridor, all which would require a total investment of RM840 billion.

Explaining the idea behind the development of the corridors, Abdullah said it was for the equitable distribution of quality opportunities to address imbalances of development between the urban industralised areas and semi-urban areas.

He said the new approach was different from that of the New Economic Policy, which focused on equitable distribution of income.

Abdullah said the government had grappled with the issue of narrowing the development gap in the country.

In the end the government felt that it was better to focus on developing the human capital and empower them with knowledge so that the people would be able to compete for the opportunities to be provided by the government, he said.

“So the best option is equitable distribution of quality opportunities,” said Abdullah.

He said all five economic corridors needed attention so that the development disparity between the urban and semi-urban areas could be narrowed down.

Using an analogy to drive home his point, the prime minister said, “we don’t take from Ah Seng and give it to Ahmad but (what we do is) to accelerate Ahmad’s opportunity.”

“If we give them money, it will be spent in no time; so we give them opportunities for productive use,” he said.

To accelerate the pace of development in the five corridors, he said all implementation aspects must be properly planned by the central agencies including the Economic Planning Unit, Implementation and Coordination Unit, and Treasury.

On why he chose to focus on the agricultural sector despite critics describing the move as a way backward, Abdullah said the focus was not merely on agriculture but also on the development of the country’s agro-based industry.

“If we plant and consume what we have planted, we won’t be able to finish them.

“That is why we need to also develop the agro-based industry to contribute to the nation’s economy,” he said. — Bernama

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