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Would Malaysia miss out on the Asian Economic century that has begun now with Chinese companies the biggest in the world and Indians the richest individuals in the world?


Press Statement

by Lim Guan Eng



(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): PETROCHINA has stunned the world by becoming the first trillion-US-dollar company and the biggest company in the world by market capitalization, far exceeding ExxonMobil’s US $488 billion. This follows Petrochina first trading day, which nearly tripled the price of its Initial Public Offering. Apart from PETROCHINA, five out of the ten top companies in the world in terms of market capitalization are from China, a remarkable achievement for a country that was once the “Economic Sick Man” of Asia 30 years ago.

The five Chinese companies in the top ten are China Life, China Mobile, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and Sinopec (China Petroleum and Chemical), as well as PetroChina. There are only 3 US companies in the top 10 namely General Electric, Microsoft and ExxonMobil, whilst the remaining two top ten companies are Russia's Gazprom and Dutch-British company Royal Dutch Shell.

Two out of the 5 richest men in the world are Indians. The latest news reports have crowned the owner of India’s Reliance Industries, Mukesh Ambani as the world richest man with a wealth of US $63.2 billion followed by:

• Mexican telecom titan, Carlos Slim Helu with US $62.2993 billion
• Microsoft William (Bill) Gates from US with US $62.29 billion
• Legendary investor Warren Buffett with US $55.9 billion
• Indian steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal with US $50.9 billion

To top of this Asian Economic century, China will surpass Germany as the third largest economy in the world with Gross Domestic Product (GDP) exceeding US$3 trillion by the end of 2007. China's 2006 GDP was $2.8 trillion while Germany had $2.9 trillion. The U.S. remains the world's biggest economy with a GDP of $13.2 trillion last year followed by Japan with $4.4 trillion worth of goods and service produced. With two out of the top three economies in the world from Asia and two out of the five richest men in the world also from Asia, the Asian Economic century has begun.

This gives rise to one important question whether Malaysia would miss out on the benefits of the Asian Economic century. At a time when the UMNO General Assembly continues to justify the importance of restraining human potential of Malaysians by continuing to impose the shackles of the New Economic Policy (NEP), countries such as China and India are recording outstanding growth through merit, competitiveness, freeing market forces to improve productivity and quality.

Malaysia is still relying on quotas, subsidies and preferential policies of the New Economic Policy (NEP) that has been rejected in the globalize world as vestiges of crony capitalism and corrupt interests that benefits the privileged few at the expense of the people. Privileges entail responsibility. The harsh effects of such crony capitalism would have been ameliorated if the privileged few are willing to share their wealth with the poor. Unfortunately, wealth from natural resources, particularly oil revenue, continues to be monopolized by the powerful and wealthy few until the poor have not got a single cent despite record oil prices of US $96 per barrel.

UMNO leaders at the General Assembly should grow up and open their eyes to the changing international scenario and analyze the reasons behind the thundering rise of China and India. The common basis of success is certainly not the inefficient and insufficient subsidies or discriminatory and preferential quota policies.

It is the ability to rely on one’s expertise and skills, work hard and self-reliance that is the key to both China and India’s success. No matter how many times we teach a person to swim on land, the final test is still whether he or she can swim in water. By failing to apply these lessons, UMNO and BN are doing Malaysia a great disservice by continuing to impose quotas based on race instead of needs and make the people dependant and reliant on government aid.

Such discriminatory policies has resulted in a severe brain drain where our top talents are found more in foreign countries like Singapore than in Malaysia. Unfortunately Malaysia would lose out in this Asian Economic century so long as UMNO and BN refuses to take the necessary step of abolishing the NEP, attract the return of talents, remove the subsidy mentality and share out the country’s wealth, especially Petronas’ bulging tens of billions of ringgit in profits, with ordinary Malaysians.


* Lim Guan Eng, Secretary-General of DAP

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