It was reported recently that the cosmetic firm, L’Oreal, was building its largest overseas factory in Indonesia…..costing about 100 million Euros, that’s about RM400 million Ringgit.

An accompanying story reported an expected 6.3% GDP growth for Indonesia.

Hold on…..I thought not too long ago, Indonesia was a sick; no, sorry economy where its citizens had to venture overseas to earn a living either as a maid or a construction worker.

That was during the Suharto era whereby the governors of the various provinces were a lord unto themselves…..most of them being  military personnel that then had the patronage of Suharto.

We also read about the family of the President…..from daughter, Tut-tut to his flamboyant son, Tommy…..enjoying the ‘privileges’ of being in the inner circle.

That seemed a distant past……including the Presidencies of Habibie, Wahid and Megawati.

The Indonesian economy has evolved significantly since the ouster of Suharto and credit has to be given to all the presidents since including the incumbent Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono a.k.a. SBY.

The key change instituted has been the plugging of the ‘leakages’ suffered by Indonesia and other economies that were wracked by corruption, nepotism and intimidation.

The effects of the change is clearly seen in the economic data of the country. Not only that, it is further evidenced by the significant investments made by foreign companies and the ensuing improvement in the country’s infrastructure.

Of course, corruption is a problem…….it is impossible to completely eradicate corruption (ask Singapore) but it can be curtailed to such a stage that the perception of the country improves correspondingly.

After all, it is perception that determines reality!

Which brings us to Malaysia.

People are oh so polite in their responses when asked about Malaysia’s economic prospects.

The latest was the label, ‘Tiger Economy’ was still tagged to Malaysia.

But hold on, that was in the 1980s and 1990s when Malaysia was in the pack with the likes of Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan etc. who have since moved on to a higher level.

So their response is that yes, Malaysia is now the leading Tiger Economy in the pack ahead of Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Burma etc!!

Well, that’s comforting!

But for the realists, it is indeed serious warning bells being sounded (again) for the political masters of Malaysia…..whoever they may be after the forthcoming General Elections!

Whichever coalition that wins has to take the necessary steps to enable the country to move up to the next level……on par or close to par with the likes of Singapore and South Korea.

Word out is that Najib is already doing it quietly…… facilitating the privatization of major government linked companies and clearing the deadwood (read: Proton…….and sooner or later, MAS).

As far as the Rakyat is concerned, that’s music to their ears……as in the medium to long term, it means a curtailment to those massive ‘leakages’ that can only mean good things for the country!


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