KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s King Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah called for the acceleration of the country’s economic recovery to ensure it does not fall behind.
Delivering the royal address at the opening session of the fifth term of the 14th parliament, the king remarked that 2021 had witnessed Malaysia’s economic recovery improving post-COVID-19 pandemic.
However, the appearance of the Omicron variant worldwide and flood disasters at the end of last year had slightly stunted the recovery, he said.
“In facing 2022, let us continue to strengthen our strategies and resilience in dealing with the challenges of COVID-19. The nation’s economic recovery should be accelerated so that the country does not fall behind,” he said.
“Provide assistance and facilitate all people’s affairs to rebuild their lives with a sense of security, peace and prosperity for the sake of our beloved country,” the king told the MPs and senators.
Al-Sultan Abdullah noted that Malaysia’s economy had grown by 3.1 per cent in 2021 after contracting 5.6 per cent in 2020 due to the pandemic.
“The economic growth shows the effectiveness of the series of eight economic assistance and stimulus packages in 2020 and 2021, totalling RM530 billion (US$126 billion) in addition to the annual budget allocation,” he said.
Malaysia’s gross domestic product (GDP) was projected to grow between 5.5 and 6.5 per cent for 2022, he added.
Indicators for economic recovery included declining unemployment rates and improved labour market conditions, the king said.
He also congratulated Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s government for preparing 558,633 job opportunities in 2021, surpassing the original target of 500,000.
The government is targeting the creation of almost 600,000 job opportunities in 2022, the king added.
“All these were for business continuity and regenerating economic activity, besides ensuring that Malaysia remains a major exporter and investment destination in the region.
“At the same time, the country’s productivity and competitiveness need to be continuously enhanced to draw quality foreign investments to create high-income job opportunities for its people,” said Al-Sultan Abdullah.
Malaysia’s trade performance in 2021 was outstanding, he added, reaching over RM2 trillion for the first time, with total exports valued at RM1.24 trillion.
This meant that the country’s total exports target of hitting RM1.25 trillion by 2025, as stated in the 12th Malaysia Plan, had been achieved four years ahead of time.
“We believe this success reflects foreign investors’ confidence in our economic fundamentals and investment ecosystem,” the king said.
KING VIEWS ISSUE OF CORRUPTION SERIOUSLY
The king also touched on the subject of corruption in his address.
“In the process of building a nation that is transparent and integrity, I view the corruption issue that is happening seriously.
“I believe the government is currently implementing policies and initiatives of the National Anti-Corruption Plan through enforcement, prevention and education to combat all forms of corruption,” he said.
The king also expressed his gratitude for the political stability and bi-partisan cooperation following the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Transformation and Political Stability between the government and the opposition.
“At present, the political climate is more stable to ensure the success of the nation’s development agenda for the people’s benefit and the nation’s future,” he said.
The historic MOU was inked between Mr Ismail Sabri, representing the government, and the opposition Pakatan Harapan bloc in mid-September last year, soon after the former came to power in the wake of the collapse of the previous government led by Muhyiddin Yassin.
Closing his address with a couple of Malay poems, the king told the MPs and senators: “Enough with politicking day and night, focus on guarding the people’s interests.”