Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Silly Season II

'Tis another silly season.

Just two months after the silly season, several bloggers and the usual detractors are now on the Malaysian government's back over economic figures which are allegedly being spun ahead of possible snap polls.

We won't go into the recent economic data that has been spun and unspun by all but we want to point out that all the data presented over the past few weeks is incomplete.

The reality is of course, the figures trumpeted by the government and the mass media look very good but do not give an accurate picture or even snapshot of the overall economy. No one to blame except the rather shallow research by all involved.

The Malaysian mass media and by extension - even those with a bit of intelligence to operate a computer connected to the Internet and actually know how to search using Google and other search engines are not utilising every resource to get the relevant statistics and data.

So let's put everyone out of their misery and point to three resources that can help in dissecting the Malaysian economy - the Department of Statistics and Bank Negara Malaysia and also the Economic Planning Unit in the Prime Minister's Department.

Armed with those statistics, one can then actually work out the state of the Malaysian economy. You can also wait for Bank Negara Malaysia when it announces Malaysia's fourth quarter GDP for 2006 on February 28.

Truth is, the economy is doing well.

Malaysia is experiencing greater two-way trade. More Malaysians are being employed than ever before. Annual wage bills have gone up with more people in the workforce.

But the man-in-the-street, whether in downtown Kuala Lumpur or in the Bario highlands, could do with a bit more money in the pocket. That is not happening right now. Wages are not exactly surging in tandem with either inflation or fluctuations due to global price rises.

Subsidies are being abused, either by those reselling subsidised fuel or sugar to other industries or smugglers. Grants and aid are stuck at bottlenecks, either only through Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's ruling coalition legislators or his own party's division level chiefs.

Also, Malaysians particularly in urban areas are spending their shrinking disposal income on items unheard of years ago - expanding mobile phone bills, food and beverages outside home, urban toll charges etc.

For example, that cup of Starbucks Java Chip costs 10 times more than iced coffee at the coffeeshop.

Of course, you get wifi access but is that worth it? And that computer laptop or pda or Ipod wasn't part of the road warrior's arsenal 10 years ago. Let alone the ringtone downloads.

So yes, Malaysia is doing well. Malaysians are not doing that well.

And that is quite silly, isn't it?


johnleemk said...

I'm very impressed with the balanced and objective analysis of SiPM. I really wish we could have more people like you guys in the blogosphere!

Mat Merah said...

Thanks John!. We try.

We too wish there were more like us in Malaysia, let alone the blogosphere.