Ex-BNM deputy governor: We’re boosting ties with the wrong countries

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Former Bank Negara deputy governor Sukhdave Singh says Malaysia’s leaders have become rabble-rousers hoping to ride on emotions for political gain.

A former Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) deputy governor has lamented Malaysia’s foreign policies, saying “national leaders” have been focusing on foreign relations that will not benefit the nation much economically.

Sukhdave Singh said this put Putrajaya at risk of alienating the same countries on which Malaysia is highly dependent to ensure its future economic progress.

“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.

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“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.

“Instead of being statesmen, they have become rabble-rousers, hoping to ride on a tide of emotions to enhance their political prospects,” he said in a LinkedIn post, without naming specific leaders.

Sukhdave also said Malaysia was a small country and should not seek to antagonise its key economic partners. While maintaining that Malaysia could take a stand on key issues, he said how it expresses that stand is equally important.

Citing Putrajaya’s national debt of RM1.5 trillion and moderate economic growth, he said the government should focus on building stronger relationships with “economically strategic countries”, on top of optimising its expenditure.

“Failing this, and if things continue as they have, it is not unforeseeable that Malaysia itself will need global financial assistance in the future.

“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 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.” – FMT