Into further uncertainty

Whatever comes next, The Malaysianist will help you make sense of it.

Today marks the beginning of 2022 and another year of uncertainty.

We began last year under draconian rule on the pretext that Covid-19 infections were out of control. The emergency’s architect, Muhyiddin Yassin, got off scot free for the problems his government wrecked (think: double standards and intense politicking amid a pandemic) and only lost his prime ministership.

We begin this year exiting another emergency of sorts: the flash floods that affected the Klang Valley and other parts of the peninsula. Muhyiddin’s successor, Ismail Sabri Yaakob, arguably botched rescue operations but he is expected to get off scot free, too.

In between the flaccid leadership of both men, ordinary Malaysians rose to the occasion to mobilise aid, living up to the #KitaJagaKita hashtag.

They did that when lives and livelihoods were decimated by pandemic-induced lockdowns and they did that again with flood relief and rescue.

Social media proved to be an effective force in mobilising people. But it is also an arena for airing dissent, where everyone is fair game, from politicians to the royals.

How much of these anti-elite sentiment will influence the outcome of the coming general election is anyone’s guess but we can’t deny what is said on these platforms are of consequence.

The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission, for instance, tried (but failed) to censor Twitter users “for the sake of national interest” from airing their grouses towards the government’s performative display towards the floods.

Corporate Malaysia, on the other hand, will be affected by the developments surrounding Serba Dinamik Holdings Bhd and its audit problems.

The darling of the Teraju programme — a government development policy favouring Malay entrepreneurs —  is now under immense fire over questionable transactions flagged by then external auditor KPMG.

The Securities Commission Malaysia has recently charged Serba Dinamik group MD and chief executive Mohd Abdul Karim Abdullah and other key personnel for furnishing false statements to Bursa Malaysia.

As environmental issues continue to be a major theme, the business deals of the royal houses will be closely scrutinised due to their heavy reliance on land to generate profits, from infrastructure to mining projects.

Some of the country’s large-cap companies are also on the US Customs and Border Protection Agency’s watchlist over alleged forced labour practices.

Uncertainty maybe bad for some, but it isn’t for the well-connected. Despite Muhyiddin’s shaky grip on power, Desmond Lim of Pavilion fame proposed the re-concessioning of Subang airport.

While that plan is on the back burner for now following pushback, it is expected that many others will follow in Lim’s footsteps to propose business deals in the name of economic recovery.

Some large-ticket items of public interest are chugging such as the nationwide 5G rollout, which is in the hands of Finance Ministry-owned Digital Nasional Bhd.

The 5G space has become noisy with its fair share of detractors and supporters to the point it’s hard to tell who’s telling the truth and who’s, ultimately, acting in the best interests of the people.

We also capped 2021 with questions of conflict over Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission chief Azam Baki’s alleged involvement in business through the ownership of close to two million shares in a public listed company.

Last year proved once again that the cliched nexus of business and politics affects every aspects of our lives.

What we need right now is reliable business journalism with a good mix of reporting, analysis and commentary, holding to account companies, policymakers and elites for their decisions.

That’s where The Malaysianist comes in. So, here’s to the new year, whatever it may bring. I’ll see you Monday. That’s for certain.

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