Only a major change in the country’s leadership can stop the ringgit’s slide and prevent Malaysia from political and economic disaster, Selangor Menteri Besar Mohamed Azmin Ali said today.
The PKR deputy president also said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak was “fooling” the public by blaming the ringgit’s loss in value to the US dollar on “political play”, instead of taking responsibility.
“The prime minister’s statement yesterday that ‘the existence of political play and intense speculation has resulted in an uncertain sentiment towards the administration’ is clearly aimed at pointing the blame on our ringgit fiasco on others but himself.
“Nothing short of major changes in leadership and the political equation can halt the slide as well as save us from the brink of national disaster,” Azmin said in a statement today.
The ringgit hit a low of 4.0725 to the US dollar this morning after crude oil prices fell below US$42 (RM171) a barrel, The Edge Markets had reported.
But it has also been Asia’s worst-performing currency, hitting a 17-year low of 4.1180 last Friday, made worse by ongoing political turmoil over investigations into state government firm 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) that investors say is affecting confidence.
Azmin today said people were not fooled by Najib’s “grandstanding” and public relations “sound bites”.
The ringgit is likely to remain weak so long as political uncertainties continue.
“The prime minister must therefore stop this charade of pretending that it is business as usual and that he can continue to lead the nation out of the mess by merely dismissing his deputy and appointing new ministers to shore up support for him,” he said, referring to Najib’s recent move to reshuffle his Cabinet by dropping those critical of his handling of 1MDB.
Najib is also finance minister and chairman of 1MDB’s advisory board.
Azmin said Najib has failed to come clean on 1MDB’s financial scandals involving debts of RM42 billion, and especially the RM2.6 billion in his accounts from a political donor, and their impact on the nation.
He said there were indeed external factors causing the ringgit’s fall, such as drop in oil prices, a likely increase in US interest rates, and China’s depreciation of its yuan.
“But these factors are affecting other currencies in the region as well. The question is why is our ringgit the hardest hit among all the major regional currencies?” Azmin said.
He added that recent moves such as the disbanding of Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) as a result of the Cabinet reshuffle, and the apparent obstruction of anti-graft investigators probing into a 1MDB-linked company, had also given the appearance of collusion and conspiracy in the government, which worsened negative perceptions on the country’s leadership. – August 14, 2015.