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IHT: As Asian Reforms Go Into Eclipse, Growth Outlook Darkens
By Michael Richardson
26/1/2001 12:28 am Fri
Sikap beberapa negara Asia termasuk Malaysia yang sengaja tidak
mereformasikan institusi kewangan mereka hanya akan mengundang
mala petaka kepada negara.
Sikap berdolak-dalih menyerang orang luar sebagai punca ranapnya
ekonomi negara adalah tidak menasabah. Sepatutnya tempoh lega
yang sebentar itu dimanfaatkan untuk membaiki apa yang bocor dan
membuang apa yang berkarat. Malangnya itu tidak ada dalam kamus
Kawalan modal dan matawang digunakan untuk mendinding kelemahan
dari saingan keterbukaan - akhirnya badan kewangan merasa hebat
sedangkan air disekeliling sudah semakin tinggi tanpa disedari.
Kini ekonomi A.S. sudah menunjukkan tanda-tanda kelembapan. Ini akan
mencederakan ekspot negara Asia seperti Malaysia kerana A.S. menyerap
kira-kira 20% dari ekspot dagangan di ufuk sini. Sudah ada petanda
ekspot elektronik akan terganggu sedikit sebanyak.
Asian Development Bank sudah memberi kata-dua kepada negara seperti
Malaysia bencana yang bakal tiba jika sistem kewangan negara tidak
direformasikan segera. Negara hanya akan mengundang risiko yang
teruk jika masih berdegil untuk memperbetulkan keaadaan.
Projek penswastaan Malaysia yang amat pincang turut disebut oleh
oleh pakar ekonomi sebagai bom jangka yang akan memudaratkan
masa depan negara. Kadar pertumbuhan ekonomi dijangka lembab
pada kadar 5% pada 2001 (tahun lepas 8%) kerana gangguan ekspot.
Penswastaan gagal memanfaatkan negara, sebaliknya ia hanya membebankan
kerajaan juga akhirnya dengan pelbagai masalah kecekapan dan kerugian.
Itulah bahananya bila orang yang tidak cekap diberikan peluang
hanya kerana mereka mempunyai gubungan politik yang intim dengan
parti pemerintah. Apabila senang mereka kaya sendirian, tetapi bila
susah, rakyat terpaksa menanggung hutang. Samapi sekarang tidak
seorangpun kroni pilihan itu disabitkan sebarang kesalahan atau
menerima tuntutan saman. Alangkah hebatnya keistimewaan kroni
tersayang diktator yang berwawasan. Semua yang timbul habis
Source: International Herald Tribune
24th January 2001
As Asian Reforms Go Into Eclipse, Growth Outlook Darkens
The signs are surfacing across Asia.
In South Korea, officials decide to bail out heavily indebted
conglomerates. In Indonesia, the central bank announces that it will
enforce aggressively what it says are existing curbs on the supply of
rupiahs available to offshore institutions. In Malaysia, Prime
Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad renews his call for Asia to reject
"unfettered predatory capitalism and the absolutely free market" that
he says are being imposed on the region by Western powers.
East Asian governments apparently are retreating from free-market
principles and abandoning key reform efforts just as their
export-oriented economies are slowing because of shrinking sales to
the United States. The backsliding is expected to intensify as the
U.S. economic downturn and the threat of continued high oil prices
bring tougher times to many East Asian countries in coming months,
making it more difficult for political leaders to make economically
painful and unpopular decisions.
But the cost, economists and bankers warn, will be bigger debts and
slower growth that will further undermine business and investment
confidence, already sagging as a result of political instability in
For the first time since the financial crisis of 1997 and 1998, East
Asia faces a difficult external outlook. The United States, which
absorbs more than 20 percent of the region's exports, is slowing more
quickly than had been forecast just a few weeks ago, and orders for
electronics, East Asia's leading export, are falling.
The regional monitoring unit of the Asian Development Bank warned
recently that the slowing of the drive for reform in some countries,
particularly Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand, was a cause for
"Implementation of reforms may be more difficult in a context of
slower growth," the bank said, "but the costs of inaction are likely
to increase in a less hospitable global environment."
It added that South Korea and Malaysia as well as Indonesia, the
Philippines and Thailand were facing "the double whammy of increased
external and domestic risks."
Other analysts said that China, widely considered to have played an
important role in helping East Asia recover from the last crisis by
sticking to its market-reform efforts and not devaluing its currency,
was likely to be less resolute this year as slowing exports to the
United States put a brake on growth.
David Roche, managing director of Independent Strategy, an investment
advisory company in London, said many Asian countries had failed to
reform the financial systems that were the root cause of the currency
turmoil that started in Thailand in mid-1997. "Banks were bailed out,
not reformed," he said.
Among the signs of backsliding that worry foreign bankers and
The International Monetary Fund, which marshaled billions of dollars
in emergency loans to help Thailand, Indonesia and South Korea recover
from the 1997 crisis, has called on the region to intensify, not
slacken, reform efforts. The Fund's managing director, Horst Koehler,
said the IMF expected economic growth in Asia, excluding Japan, to
slow to around 5 percent in 2001, from about 8 percent last year, as
"I would consider such a slowdown more as a normalization than a cause
for doom and gloom, and justifying neither panic nor frantic actions,"
he said, noting that East Asian countries had cut their short-term
debts, rebuilt their foreign-exchange reserves and were operating more
flexible exchange-rate policies.
"The slowdown that causes me greater concern is that of progress in
structural reforms in many Asian countries," Mr. Koehler said.
In South Korea, officials said action to rescue chaebol was just a
temporary measure. The state-owned Korea Development Bank is to pay
about 25 trillion won ($19.62 billion) of 65 trillion won in corporate
debt that is maturing this year.
In Indonesia, the central bank's actions would make it more difficult
for speculators to attack the rupiah, which fell about 25 percent
against the dollar in the past year as the country's problems grew.
In the Philippines, the weeks of political turmoil that forced
President Joseph Estrada to resign over the weekend sent stocks and
the peso into a tailspin, diverting policymakers from the urgent task
of improving tax collection and reining in the budget deficit. Former
Vice President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was sworn in as president
Saturday, and Rafael Buenaventura, the Philippine central bank
governor, predicted the peso would bounce back.
But Stephen Cheng, an analyst in the Hong Kong office of UBS Warburg
Asia, said the sovereign rating of the Philippines was still likely to
be downgraded, given the sharp deterioration in the country's
creditworthiness in the past few months.
"Our view on the fundamentals remains the same," he said.
Analysts also said Malaysia's once-vaunted privatization policy was
unraveling as sales of state assets slowed amid a government push to
prop up troubled companies, many with political connections.