Maintain status quo for continuity

JUST as the threat of Covid-19 abates, the country is now confronted with new challenges in the form of the looming global economic and food crises. The prolonged Russian invasion of Ukraine has sent economic shock waves globally as markets become jittery over the geopolitical instability.

The war has also disrupted global supply chains. For example, Europe, long reliant on rapeseed and sunflower oil from Russia and Ukraine, is now facing supply shortages.

World oil prices are also climbing, putting inflationary pressure on economies like Malaysia that are just starting to get back on their feet after the pandemic.

The unpredictable weather brought on by climate change is not helping either. Corn, soybean and wheat yields have dropped, pushing up prices of these commodities, which are already in short supply due to the Russia-Ukraine war. These are also the main ingredients for chicken feed, which Malaysia is now facing shortage in supply.

We need a steady hand to steer us out of this woeful state. At least for the interim, we cannot afford to be distracted by petty politicking that has marred our administrative landscape for some time now.

More importantly, there’s a need for continuity to bolster investors’ confidence in Malaysia.

Unfortunately, many of our leaders tend to be more interested in playing political games with little or no regard for the welfare of the people, many of whom are struggling to put food on the table.

Take, for example, the rush to replace Datuk Zuraida Kamaruddin, who has just announced her departure from Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) for Parti Bangsa Malaysia (PBM). Umno and Bersatu wasted no time expressing their desire for her post even as large segments of the rakyat are languishing under the weight of the economic turmoil.

This just shows how distracted we can become when politics gets in the way of governance.

Why change horses in midstream? Do the ministerial aspirants not realise that it takes a good three to six months for someone to learn the ropes? And what happens after that?

The general election is due; the date might even have been fixed by now. And then the new minister would have to go through the learning process all over again – at the expense of the rakyat who had to put up with delays in policy and administrative decisions.

Even foreigners are already jittery over our political situation. Anas Haroon, a senior trader at Cargill in Pakistan, was quoted by Reuters as saying that a change in leadership in the Plantation Industries and Commodities Ministry, which Zuraida headed, could hurt the country’s reputation as a more stable supplier amid erratic policymaking by bigger rival Indonesia in recent months.

“It has become hard for us to take future positions... inconsistent government policies are creating hurdles in sustainable order flows,” he said.

Another foreign analyst, Sathia Varqa, co-founder of Singapore-based Palm Oil Analytics, said domestic policies on sustainability and biodiesel mandates could “suffer significantly”.

The alarm bells have already been sounded. If foreigners are concerned about the welfare of this country, shouldn’t Malaysians be more worried?

I pray that Malaysia remains stable until we ride out this storm.

This extends not just to Zuraida being retained as minister (a view supported by foreign experts) until the 15th General Election, but also for all political leaders to end the senseless machinations that will undermine our ability to weather this period of uncertainties.

There is a time to slug it out, and there’s a time for stability and continuity. Now is the time for the latter.

After that, politicians can go at it during the GE15!



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