Ex-BNM Deputy Gov Says M'sian Leaders Are Hurting The Economy By Becoming Rabble-Rousers
Former Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) deputy governor Sukhdave Singh has criticised "national leaders" for spending "a lot of their time" on foreign relations ventures of "little economic" value to the country
He did not name any specific national leaders in his post yesterday, 21 November, but pointed out the risk of alienating "those very countries on which Malaysia's future economic progress is highly dependent".
"In international relations, foreign policy and economic policy are often intricately related. Good diplomatic relations bring economic benefits and good economic relations usually lead to stronger diplomatic relations between nations," Sukhdave said.
According to him, our national leaders lack the qualities of true international statesmanship, often reacting emotionally to global developments instead of offering a balanced perspective.
"Instead of being statesmen, they have become rabble-rousers, hoping to ride on a tide of emotions to enhance their political prospects," stated Sukhdave, who was also an independent director at Khazanah.
He stated that as a small country, Malaysia should not antagonise important economic partners as it hurts our economic prospects
"Small countries like Malaysia must be clever in their international relations [...] We can have a stand on issues, but how we make that stand is important," Sukhdave remarked in his post on LinkedIn.
He said Malaysia has had too many leaders who have not been international statesmen.
"They have failed at providing a balanced perspective on international developments, and rather than seeking to reconcile and understand, [they] have instead reacted emotionally. They have undermined themselves and the country by playing to [the] popular sentiments of gullible citizens domestically and internationally to countries with very little stake in Malaysia's economy," he added.
The former BNM deputy governor also called out the Malaysian leaders for "strutting in front of largely economically irrelevant countries", instead of following in the footsteps of more globally suave leaders from other countries, who are forging stronger strategic ties with economically important countries.
Sukhdave cited Putrajaya's national debt of RM1.5 trillion to remark that Malaysia might need global financial assistance in the future
He said the government should focus on building stronger relationships with "economically strategic countries", on top of working to optimise how it spends taxpayer funds.
"Failing this, and if things continue as they have, it is not unforeseeable that Malaysia itself will need global financial assistance in the future. Oil revenues will not save a country living beyond its means for so long despite those oil revenues. Maybe, the friends it has been keeping will offer it a helping hand. Probably not," he said.
According to him, Malaysia now has leaders who are more interested in pulling self-glorifying international relations stunts, rather than addressing core issues hurting economic progress.
"I have previously noted that there is a clear lack of economic momentum in the country's economic policies. Now, we have leaders who are more interested in pulling self-glorifying international relations stunts, rather than [addressing] core issues hurting economic progress.
"There is no greater symbolism of the growing national mediocrity than the tendency of the country's leadership to indulge in this type of belly button gazing [behaviour]. It does not bode well for the economy," he cautioned.