KUALA LUMPUR – Dec 30, 2015: It has been a colourful 2015 for Malaysian politics and economy, beleaguered by imbroglios among political parties and numerous global market fiascoes.
In light of the coming new year, The Mole talked to several prominent bloggers for their outlook on next year’s politics and economy condition.
The bloggers were of differing opinions, but all of them anticipated 2016 would be a challenging and interesting year for Malaysians.
Zakhir Mohamed, who goes by the moniker “Big Dog” expects an “out of the ordinary” year for politics.
He believes that the expected closer cooperation between Pas and Umno in the coming months would be a major turning point in Malaysian politics .
Zakhir, who is a supporter of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, predicted that the rift between Pas and its former partners in Pakatan Rakyat will get worse, following the party’s unremitting reluctance to rekindle its tie with the coalition’s newly established front, Pakatan Harapan.
He also highlighted the upcoming Sarawak state election, which he was confident will further strengthen Barisan Nasional (BN) in the state.
Ensuing the debates raised in regards to the issue of the “state’s autonomy”, Zakhir commented that concession would be made for Sarawak to gain autonomy, more than what it has today.
Zakhir however shared that Malaysians would be facing difficult economic condition due to the volatility of global oil prices.
He said the instability of oil prices would have a direct impact on the global economy and inadvertently affect trade, which the nation is depending on.
Zakhir, who is a trained accountant also said that as the national budget 2016 is based on the previous price of oil per barrel, the government would have to revise the proposed budget should the oil prices continue to depreciate.
He expects the slowing down of several main economic sectors, namely oil and gas, property development as well as services.
Senior journalist blogger Tan Sri Zainudin Maidin who blogs at “Zamkata” and a fierce critic of Najib said he is confident that there will be relentless trust deficit among the people towards the government in 2016.
He pointed out that such a condition would persist as long as Malaysians remain unsure of the country’s leadership.
Zainuddin however said the cooperation between Umno and Pas would be highly anticipated by all political observers, adding that even though the tie between the two parties had existed ahead of time, the coming cooperation would be seen as a sign of a strong Malay and Islamic leadership.
“I think the future of both parties will get better as they are cooperating for their survival. The move to work together stems from the current political scenarios and how both parties are affected by it. The way I see it, no matter how the people hate these parties, we should not belittle the move as there is no other alternative…at least for the sake of coming general election,” the blogger added.
Nevertheless, Zainudin claimed that the cooperation would only be successful and prosperous for the parties if Umno and Pas are willing to amend their leadership.
He insisted that Najib and Pas president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang lacked credibility to hold their positions.
The former Utusan Malaysia top editor added that if Najib and Hadi are truly committed in fighting for the Malays’ survival, they should step down and pave the way to a better future for their parties as protectors of the community’s interests.
Another anti-Najib blogger Syed Akbar Ali who blogs at “Outsyed the Box” told The Mole that the main highlight for next year would be the upcoming Sarawak state election.
He was of the opinion that Sarawak chief minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem will be able to lead BN to a comfortable win in the election.
“It would be interesting for political observers to see the difference of the state’s politics, compared to the one in Peninsular. You will have to look at the state’s platform; there, they are fighting for the use of English language in administration, alongside the rising of religious issues.
“BN in Sarawak is evolving to have its own identity and it will win based on its own agenda, philosophy, and ideas; which for me is the opposite of the one in Peninsular. This is a unique situation, however, at the national level, the success made in Sarawak will support what we have here,” he added.
Syed Akbar, despite his continuing criticisms against Najib predicted that the prime minister and Umno president “will have things under control” in 2016.
However, the blogger who is a businessman predicted that the national economy will perform poorly, as more companies and factories are closing down.
He suggested that the implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST) being revised as it actually “multiplies the prices of basic things”.
The blogger said, as there were no signs of salary increase for the people, the government should put the people’s interest first before imposing new policies such as the GST.
Anonymous pro-Najib blogger known as ‘A Voice’ who blogs at “Another Brick in the Wall” said the new year will see the public losing all interest in the 1Malaysia Development Berhad issue, which had troubled the prime minister throughout this year.
He said the people will be more concern of the internal bickering within Umno in 2016.
Noting that the rift had been clearly shown during the party’s annual general assembly, the blogger anticipate “something to happen coming January”.
The blogger noted that the public “are drained” as they follow the controversial issues that seem to have no closure.
“If closure is given, the people will be silent,” he said.
“The party (Umno) is in dilemma and the past months had been terrible in a lot of ways.
“For me, there is no offer of good things yet, in terms of political stability and economy prosperity. It is apparent that the current trend here is people are blaming the rising cost of living and other difficulties to the PM’s ‘transformation plan.
“My only hope is that each plan that the PM wants to do, he should be putting the people’s needs first,” the blogger added.
The blogger had also commented that economically, the country must be ready to face bad tidings, as the oil prices continue to depreciate.
He added that it is likely for Najib to face more political challenges in 2016 stemming from the arguments on Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).
“With TPPA comes political hurdles to the PM. Additionally, the idea of raising revenue is more challenging now for the country. At a time like this, it is important for the government to revise the public finance,” the blogger said.