29 December, 2008

Malaysia must accelerate efforts to enhance image to global community

Malaysia should beef up efforts to strengthen and bring out its best qualities to enhance its position in the international arena on the back of global financial crisis.

In every crises, there is always a silver lining. On that note, Malaysia should take advantage and play its cards well to continue to be visible on the international radar.

Some analysts expect Malaysia to fare better next year given the fact that amid the prolonged global financial crisis it still stands tall compare to other Asean countries.

As developed countries struggle to grapple with the fact that their ever-proud Anglo-Saxon style of financial system has crashed, Malaysia, together with its Association of South-East Asian Nations (Asean) peers, were less affected by the crisis due to their regulated financial systems, having learnt from the 1997/1998 Asian financial crisis.

Malaysia, which was previously criticised by the West for implementing the so-called "unorthodox method" mooted by then Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mahathir during the Asian financial crisis, can now stand tall that the developed countries are emulating its ways to survive.

Analysts have predicted that Asian countries would likely become the savior to the world economy next year after the crash of the US financial system and its effects on the whole world.

HSBC plc economist, Robert Prior-Wandesforde, said Malaysia was expected to be an out performer in Asia next year although overall gross domestic product growth would most likely to remain weak for some time as export growth continued to soften.

He said Malaysia was the only major Asian country which did not reduce interest rates and was not facing a huge credit or real estate bubble. It has seen now reduced the rates.

On international front, Malaysia has been actively voicing out its opinions on many issues, particularly on the financial system, economy, regional cooperation as well as security.

On a regional note, the rescheduling of the Asean Summit to next February is not expected to be a blow to the grouping.

Instead, it will give the grouping more time, particularly Malaysia, to be ready to welcome the Asean Charter.

For the grouping, its biggest challenge will be the setting up of the US120 billion (US=RM3.44) Asean fund which is akin to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The fund is crucial move if the grouping wants to steer its own course without relying on anyone.

The agreement in principle by China, Japan and South Korea to help set up the fund can make it easier for Asean members to grapple with the economic crisis.

The idea, first mooted by Malaysia during the late 1990s, was criticised by the IMF as unorthodox.

To counter the unstable movements of international currencies, Malaysia has also proposed the use of gold dinar as trading currency among Muslim countries.

Second Finance Minister, Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop, told the Dewan Negara recently that Malaysia was enthusiastic to revive the proposal and present to Organisation of Islamic Conference.

All eyes were also on Malaysia as it hosted the Developing 8 (D8) meeting, a group of eight Islamic developing countries, comprising Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan and Turkey.

At the meeting, Malaysia proposed the setting up of a food security chain among its members to tackle the food crisis and the then increasing crude oil price globally.

During the recent Apec Summit in Peru, Malaysia once again voiced its concerns over security threats in international waters and suggested that the United Nations be serious in combating piracy.

Nevertheless, talks without any action will be wasted.

Therefore, Malaysia needs to beef up efforts to ensure everything it wanted can be realised and implemented.

It is important to make sure Malaysia's voice be heard by the international community.

It is time for us to walk the talk.

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By Nor Baizura Basri, Bernama.

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