How Najib glossed over his economic performance


Under the Najib administration, the BN’s rising costs of living, exploding debt and stiff taxes lowered the living standards of millions of Malaysians, says CW.

For almost single-handedly destroying the Umno regime’s 60-year reign, glossing over the economy’s real performance and trying to defend extravagant purchases, former Prime Minister Najib Razak has been called a clown.

Najib’s long-overdue downfall was lauded as a “second Merdeka” by most Malaysians. Unfortunately, the economy is still paying for the Najib administration’s excesses.

One example of his refusal to face reality was his skirting around the real poverty rate (which has continued to this day under the present administration).

Recently, the UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Prof Phillip Alston, concluded that “local and foreign scholars who have studied the country’s poor believe that a realistic poverty rate is between 16% and 20%”.

Najib had implausibly claimed in 2017 that under Barisan Nasional, the Malaysian poverty rate was almost zero – which anyone with half a neuron knew was false. Dancing around reality, the Najib government’s number-crunchers kept the poverty line so unrealistically low any Malaysian hovering above it would magically count as “not poor”.

Najib has danced around economic issues before. What few realise is that during his second term as prime minister (2013-2018), the value of the ringgit weakened against the US dollar – from around RM3:$1 to RM4:$1.

US dollar to Malaysian ringgit – Source:

And during Najib’s entire tenure in office from 2009 to 2018, household debt soared from just over 50% of GDP to almost 70%.

Malaysian household debt to GDP (%)

Yet, ahead of the 2018 general election, Najib foolishly boasted that BN had kept 97.6% of the promises in its 2013 general election manifesto.

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He also claimed the budget for 2018, tabled in 2017, would propel Malaysia into one of the top 20 countries in the world.

Najib’s clownish claims deserve to be ridiculed, but they actually affected the quality of life of Malaysians. Think of the millions of Malaysians missed by the artificially low poverty line, who could have been helped by better-targeted government programmes, NGOs, aid agencies or other forms of assistance.

Najib constantly glossed over economic data in his speeches and omitted bad news so that he could remain in power at the expense of Malaysians in poverty.

For example, in a speech to international investors at the Invest Malaysia 2017 conference, Najib selectively cited a Bloomberg report, crowing that the ringgit was “easily the strongest major Asian currency this quarter” – conveniently dancing around the fact that it was only because the ringgit had recently rebounded from a 19-year low (see first chart above).

Fahmi Reza, the dissident artist still facing a legal battle for originally illustrating Najib in powder-white make-up and a red clown nose, only drew what many Malaysians felt deep down. Najib was crowned by FinanceAsia as Asia’s worst finance minister in 2016 – and for good reason. The BN’s rising costs of living, exploding debt, and soaring taxes lowered the living standards of millions of Malaysians.

Constantly hovering around or dropping below the true poverty line, many Malaysians suffered, while billions of ringgit were siphoned from the treasury. After all, as PT Barnum said, “Clowns are the pegs on which the circus is hung.”

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CW is the pseudonym of a regular Aliran reader.

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Siew Kong
Siew Kong
18 Sep 2019 3.22pm

“Those Who Do Not Learn History Are Doomed To Repeat It”

Ravi Nair
Ravi Nair
18 Sep 2019 6.43am

Dear Najib…..Yes I do agree the current Gomen is also not up to public expectation. Please download its 30 day free trial. Please watch your own documentary titled Kleptocracy. Its sucks to see statement from your own blood brother who hates you for screwing up your Parents, Siblings and this nation……

16 Sep 2019 4.18pm

Najib = clown…Elect a clown, expect a circus.

Philip Choo
15 Sep 2019 9.01pm

Najib knows nut about economics. He only knows how to wayang.

15 Sep 2019 11.13am

Yes debt grew under najib, but you failed to mentioned the economy also double from 600B to 1.35T under najib. Do you know where this debt go to? MRT, RTS, Pan borneo project, ECRL, TRX, Bandar Malaysia just some example. All these put our debt to GDP at 50pc. While under BN rule over 60years on average increase debt by 11-12b a year, Pakatan already increase country’s debt by 200b in under 2 years not to mentioned withdrawing 80b from Petronas BN left behind. Yes ringgit weaken to above RM4, this is because global oil price drop 80%. But ringgit strengthen back to RM3.60 before GE 14. You talked about poverty, why do think najib give out BRIM and many other assistance to the people?

14 Sep 2019 11.47pm

blaming issues…. where is the total solutions for this?… ignoring facts that our government is weak

14 Sep 2019 8.40pm

yg badut tu korang.. tak buat apa2.. asyik menyalahkan org lain.. hutang mkin tambah.. brg tak murah pun.

Pat Loh
Pat Loh
14 Sep 2019 7.23pm

This despicable … core Clown is a pure product of UMNO’s greed over the years.

14 Sep 2019 10.26am

Rest of the life complaint and complaint.past is past,what are we doing for us and country

14 Sep 2019 6.10pm
Reply to  Mani

Its the people like you who supports najib that gave him the inspiration to lie to the country.

Ravi Nair
Ravi Nair
18 Sep 2019 6.46am
Reply to  Nordin

Are you saying that clown eat … because the public told him to eat … ???

14 Sep 2019 6.58pm
Reply to  Mani

Concur. Lets move on. WHY contnue this blaming game.

14 Sep 2019 9.02pm
Reply to  Mani

It is not the past… It is now… This is reality that we are facing… The dept is need to be settle

15 Sep 2019 7.31pm
Reply to  Johari

What about the debt of the yesteryear billions of ringgit in so many failed project and Bank Bumiputra scandle, petronas scandle, changing hand of race course where twin towers stand today, Bakun dam, curve bridge etc etc…what about those loses. Lets not forget those losses too. There bigger crooks mind it. Najib’s scandal is a pinch of sugar as compared to the predecessors.

14 Sep 2019 10.06am

Alamak.. Writing about Najib still? Vomit lah.

Mary Magdaline Pereira
14 Sep 2019 9.01am

But it seems like many still prefer to hear Najib’s fairytales & the accompanying false sense of security.

Chandra Fredy
14 Sep 2019 8.38am

All beautiful in paper only but create debts

Kokkeong Chan
14 Sep 2019 8.04am

Cry Malaysians,cry. Those Malay, Chinese, Indians and other races believing in UMNO and voted for UMNO in 2013 have made Malaysia sad for many years until now. And Malaysians will continue to be in a sad state until our national debts and income come to an acceptable ratio.