Najib should be assigned to write a more substantive and credible  rebuttal to  the Economist survey on Malaysia as Mustapha’s five-paragraph correction is a poor justification for  the political frenzy over London-based weekly

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya,  Friday): The Economist print edition dated May 10 (available online two days earlier on May 8) has published the government’s reply to its special survey on Malaysia in its print issue of April 5 which had unleashed an unprecedented frenzy among UMNO and to a lesser extent Barisan Nasional politicians and the mainstream media. 

Malaysians had looked forward to the government’s  “point-by-point rebuttal”  to The Economist, first made public by the Acting Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in Ipoh in May 3, and later confirmed  by its author, Datuk Mustapha Mohamad, National Economic Action Council executive director, who said in Kota Bahru the next day: 

“The Government feels that the article does not paint a correct picture of the success of Malaysia and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad.  So, we feel it is appropriate for corrections to be made to change that perception.” 

Anyone who has read Mustapha’s “point-by-point rebuttal” published by the latest issue of The Economist and available online must be very disappointed, for the five-paragraph reply merely tried to correct four “factual” errors (The Economist would only concede to one, for which it apologises), questioned  the London-based weekly’s opinion that “The greatest service Dr. Mahathir could render Malaysia after all these years would be to retire, full stop” and posed one challenge to The Economist to “tell us how many developing countries have done better than Malaysia” in the period under Mahathir. 

Based on Mustapha’s “point-by-point rebuttal”, was it cause enough for the entire government to go on a frenzy, with UMNO  Ministers and leaders  competing with one another,  breathing fire and brimstone, demanding for its ban and staging an exhibition of   the “First World Infrastructure, Third World Mentality” Malaysian malaise for the whole world to see? 

On 7th May, the New Straits Times published a letter by the UMNO Youth leader, Datuk Hishammuddin Hussein, entitled “Malicious, mischievous writing” which opened with the lament at the lapse of  The Economist as “one of the world’s most highly respected weekly news magazines” in “denigrating the achievements” of Mahathir, and  ending with the condemnation of its  “immoral and amoral brand of neo-conservative geopolitics and economics” – tying the Youth and Sports Minister in a maze of contradictions in a short letter! 

Mustapha’s “point-by-point rebuttal” is so skimpy that it is totally  unpersuasive against the 16-page eight-article special survey on Malaysia to justify the Cabinet Ministers-led frenzy against  The Economist.     

Mustapha’s reply is  a disservice to UMNO, the government and the nation, as it must made everyone wonder as to the justification and rationality for all the furore and frenzy over The Economist, when it was nothing  more than a “storm in a tea-cup”. 

UMNO Vice President and Defence Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, who started all the furore over The Economist survey,  should be assigned to write a more substantive and credible  rebuttal to  the Economist survey on Malaysia to at least justify all the frenzy which he had initiated.


* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman