KUALA LUMPUR — A Malaysian minister has accused news organisations The Malaysian Insight (TMI) and The Edge of painting the country’s economy in a negative light.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Abdul Rahman Dahlan said on Wednesday (Oct 11) the two entities had continued a “campaign to sabotage the Malaysian economy” which was detrimental to the people’s economic welfare. He also accused the two organisations of being controlled by the opposition.
“Most recently, they have taken the latest report by the World Bank on East Asia, and blatantly lied about what it says about Malaysia. They start by claiming ‘Out of the 15 Asian economies analysed in the report, Malaysia and a few others are the only ones expected to worsen’,” he said in a statement.
“However, in reality, this is what the report actually says: ‘Malaysia is expected to grow more rapidly, reflecting improved confidence, higher investment, and the recovery in world trade’,” he further said, adding that this alone was a testament to the success of the government’s long-term plans.
This is the first time a government minister has censured TMI, a news portal that was set up in March this year although The Edge had come under Putrajaya’s scrutiny previously.
TMI is helmed by Mr Jahabar Sadiq, the former chief executive officer of The Malaysian Insider news portal — one of Malaysia’s top online news site — until Insider’s closure in March last year due to “commercial reasons.”
Prior to its closure, it had run-ins with the government over its reportage on debt-ridden state investment 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB)
The Edge Media Group had two of its publications — The Edge Financial Daily and The Edge Weekly — suspended by the Ministry of Home Affairs for three months in July 2015 for doggedly pursuing stories on alleged financial improprieties in 1MDB.
After The Edge challenged the suspension, the High Court revoked the ministry’s order on Sept 21 the same year after noting that Home Affairs minister had failed to “comply with procedural fairness as he did not give particulars of suspension to the applicant”.
Mr Abdul Rahman said on Wednesday that all Malaysians should certainly read the World Bank report to draw their own conclusions about whether the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition was missing additional opportunities to ensure the country’s economic growth.
“They certainly should (read the World Bank report). For here is what the World Bank concluded: ‘GDP growth in Malaysia accelerated during the first half of 2017 to 5.7 percent (year-on-year), supported by strengthening domestic and external demand. As a result, Malaysia’s economy is expected to grow at 5.2 percent in 2017. The outlook remains positive as the Malaysian economy continues to experience broad-based growth across a range of diversified sectors’,” he pointed out.
The country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 5.6 per cent in the first quarter of 2017 and 5.8 per cent in the second quarter —its best performance since the first quarter of 201.
“…which does not sound like a worsening economy, as the opposition-led media would have you believe, does it?” asked Mr Abdul Rahman, who is also BN’s strategic communications chief.
He said the report had pointed out the success of governments in several countries in reducing fiscal deficits last year, including Malaysia and Mongolia, but that the deficits remained high or were on track to increase in many others.
“That is because the government has taken the hard decisions that may not be popular but are in the real interest of the people – while others have not,” he said.
“All those who lie about this for political ends should be ashamed – for they shame their country and their fellow Malaysians. Their fake news does not stand up to the scrutiny of what global institutions say about Malaysia. They know that this government has an economic plan – and the plan has delivered and is continuing to deliver for the benefit of all Malaysians.” NEW STRAITS TIMES