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The RM1.07 trillion total trade for 2006 is not inspiration but a false dawn of good economic times that does not benefit Malaysian workers when many for the first time did not even receive 2006 annual bonuses
by Lim Guan Eng
(Balakong, Saturday): The RM 1.07 trillion total trade for 2006 is not inspiration but a false dawn of good economic times that does not benefit Malaysian workers when many for the first time did not even receive 2006 annual bonuses. How can Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi claim that this is an inspiring achievement when there is no sense of well-being amongst Malaysians that business is booming or that pay is rising?
I have received many complaints from ordinary retail businesses that this year's Chinese New Year is worse than last year and many can not understand how the economy can be performing as well as claimed by the government. For workers it is worse as many from multi-national companies and even listed companies failed to pay annual bonuses for the first time in history. Many believe that talk of good economy is just a propaganda exercise to deceive the public in preparation for the coming general elections.
If the Prime Minister is inspired by the performance of the economy, why is it that many Malaysian small businessmen and workers are not equally inspired? According to the Ninth Malaysian Plan (9MP), the mean monthly household income for a Malaysian family was RM 3,249 in 2004. This is misleading as it is doubtful that a Malaysian family would have even a monthly household income of RM 3,249 now.
With the economy performing at such an "inspiring" level in 2006, the mean monthly household income should even be higher. But does every Malaysian family get to enjoy the fruits of the country's economic success equally with a mean monthly household income of more than RM 3,249?
The answer is in the United Nat ions Human Development Report which consistently list Malaysians as suffering the worst income inequality between the rich and poor in South-East Asia . The 9MP shows the share of income of the bottom 40% of the population declined from 14.5% in 1990 to 13.5% in 2004 whilst the share of the top 20% of the population increased from 50% in 1990 to 51.2% in 2004.
Malaysians want real inspiration in the form of bonuses and real wage increases, not false inspiration of good economic performance that looks good on paper but is not reflected in better business. Socio-economic justice requires the success of the RM 1 trillion annual trade be shared and enjoyed by all and not only the few.
* Lim Guan Eng, Secretary-General of DAP