KUALA LUMPUR – July 2, 2015: There are still those unimpressed with the government despite the positive report by international ratings agency Fitch Ratings on Tuesday, which upgraded Malaysia’s credit rating from negative to stable.
The good news apparently did not lessen the resentment of some against the government as they continued to harp on current economic issues such as the latest hike in fuel prices.
Veteran journalist Datuk Abdul Kadir Jasin on his blog The Scribe yesterday gave the government a backhanded compliment on the country’s latest credit rating.
“Congratulations to the government of Malaysia for the Fitch upgrading of the government’s debt from ‘negative’ to ‘stable’.
“Condolences to Malaysian consumers for having to pay 10 cent more for RON95 and 20 cent more for RON97. CNBC reported that crude futures hit three-week lows on Monday,” he said.
Fitch has affirmed Malaysia’s Long-Term foreign currency Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at ‘A-‘ and local currency IDR at ‘A’.
The issue ratings on Malaysia’s senior unsecured local currency bonds are also affirmed at ‘A’ while the outlook on the long-term IDRs has been revised to stable from negative.
The Country Ceiling, which is the limit of the ability to pay for default, is affirmed at ‘A’ and the short-term foreign currency IDR is also affirmed at ‘F2’ (good credit quality).
Fitch addressed the affirmation of Malaysia’s IDRs and the revision of the outlook to stable reflects several key rating drivers that include the improvement of fiscal finances, the declining current account surplus and rising contingent liabilities.
Other critics of the government include Jaya Abdullah Vallipuram, who in a posting on Facebook said: “Sure rating will go up because public is paying the debts through petrol price hike (elsewhere going down), Goods and Services Tax (GST), electricity tariff, proposed toll and reducing bank loans.
“It is like I have spent the money for you (government) to pay for it. If the rakyat did not pay the money and took it to the streets instead, then we would be worse than Greece. Be patient Malaysians for the sake of us and our children,” he wrote.
Hiu Chee Keong agreed with Jaya’s view: “Yes, the key point here is GST! Rakyat have to suffer paying GST to bear the national debt!” he said.
Napsiah Wan Salleh also expressed her disappointment in the government: “Does the government wants to pander to Fitch rating or to ensure Malaysians socio-economic well being does not go downhill?
“The way the government applauds its taxation on the people shows a horrifically shameless government,” she commented.
Despite such negative reactions, there were also some who chose to be positive.
John Preston wrote on Facebook: “Well done Najib. Now all you have to do is educate some of these idiots what this means to the country.
“This is a measure of your good work. Focus on this and ignore cheap shots from the uneducated social media armchair critics,” he said.
Muhammad Baha’uddin Hamizan had also come to government’s defence: “Try to understand this Fitch Rating. The government use this rating to justify that everything is okay. No need to worry,” he commented.
Meanwhile, senior journalist Datuk Ahirudin Attan of Rocky’s Bru regretted an earlier report by Fitch’ which painted a negative picture of the country and described it as a “schoolboy error”.
“What it means is that those guys at Fitch could get things so wrong. Just three months ago, they were telling us that: “Sorry guys, we are going to downgrade you”.
“Suddenly, they unapologetically made a complete reversal on Malaysia’s credit rating, citing ‘improvement in finances’.
“Sure, we believe you but I wonder how much of Fitch’s sudden reversal was influenced by the arrest of Swiss national Xavier Justo for blackmailing 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) ex-partner Petro Saudi,” Ahirudin wrote in a posting.
Blogger Zakhir Mohammed, better known as Big Dog on the other hand justified Fitch’s calculation.
“Fitch reversed its initial ratings projection on Malaysia and unequivocally attests to the sound fundamentals in the Malaysian economy and fiscal policies.
“Invariably, the confidence on Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak administration and policies to move the economy forward with existing Transformation Agenda coupled with the recently tabled 11th Malaysia Plan and 1MDB restructuring plans approved by Cabinet late May, brought upon these revisions of stance,” he said in a post.