Southeast Asia: Impact of Financial Crisis

What are the views of several Southeast Asian bloggers about the global financial crisis? First, an authoritative voice: Malaysia's former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. He points out the double standard of the US government in solving economic problems:

“We cannot forget how, in 1997-98, American hedge funds destroyed the economies of poor countries by manipulating their national currencies. (Asian) governments were told not to bail out any company or bank that was in deep trouble. The Americans claimed that these companies or banks were inefficient, and they should be allowed to go bankrupt and perish. Better still, they should be sold at fire-sale prices to American investors. Yet today, we see the U.S. government readying $700 billion to brazenly bail out banks, mortgage companies and insurance companies.”

SK Thew explains how the economic downturn is aggravating Malaysia’s domestic problems:

“Our economy is screwed up, big time. Domestic political turmoil combined with the turbulence in the US financial market is the perfect recipe for a disaster. The prospect of a messy change of government, which is the first in the history of Malaysia, is making investors very nervous.

“Interestingly, among the 10-member Asean countries, Malaysia is the only country to suffer negative flow despite the fact that this region recorded its highest ever FDI inflow, which means more Malaysians are investing abroad for fear of the uncertain political backlash or its gloomy economic outlook as a result of the previous factor.”

Gobloking comments in the blog of Cakap Tak Serupa Bikin, and believes that the worst is yet to come:

“I don't think bailing out greedy Barbarians at the Gate would solve the problem. I tend to agree with the common American people. The plan should not be done in haste. The plan should be to create max impact for the max people.

“Meanwhile in Malaysia – semua pun Ok. There seems to be little or no news of the impact of the world's economic downturn. Like I say Malaysia must be full of superheroes helming the economy which is why we are doing fine. Maybe we can have our supereconomic advisers sent to US to help them solve their problems, which in turn will solve ours!”

The housing problem in the US has become a global nightmare. For instance, Cambodia’s real estate sector is expected to decline. Vietnam’s startups and hotels are also affected. Meanwhile, Chanrithea Bun, a Cambodian student in the US, reviews the lessons of the Great Depression. Then he notes the prospect of a better future: “Increasing immigration would increase the demand for housing and raise home prices.”

The Daily Brunei Resources appeals for a simpler kind of living:

“Today, as we looked at the world economy moving up and down like a yoyo, I cannot help but think had everyone in the world been contented, we might not have such extremes. The world has been driven by expenditures.

“Sometimes we forget the simple things in life. Be thankful with what we have and I bet we won't run into financial problems. And the world will not be having this wild ride into the unknown future.”

Rogue Economist asks Brunei authorities to implement a credit rating system:

“It is high time we put a credit rating system in place. What I mean is that you can’t just allow any Tom, Dick and Harry that has a blue payslip enters into a credit contract without a thorough check on his financial background.

“Everyday in the news, we hear about ‘credit crunch’ happening globally that has even put those giant corporations down on their knees and even collapse. It all started from careless and inappropriate lending. Anyway, it probably is still a foreign term in Brunei, so let’s keep it that way.”

Singapore is the first Asian country to be hit by the global recession. There is an observation that the US bailout plan might help Singapore funds.

The economic crisis provides several challenges and opportunities for creative entrepreneurs. Simple is the Reason of My Heart from Singapore adds:

“It is an interesting time for investors and entrepreneurs because it presents not just problems, but also opportunities. You find opportunity in the midst of adversity.”

A local politician from the Philippines observes that a major city in the southern part of the country is somehow faring well during these distressing times:

“We have seen the closure of banks, financial institutions and insurance companies the past several months in the US, Europe and lately Japan as a result of the global financial crisis. The opposite, however, is occurring here in Davao. Almost a new bank branch is being opened here every month.

“Davao is not immune to the financial crisis and the impending global recession but it is faring well, according to the National Economic Development Authority.”

Reacting to the US bailout plan, a Filipino academic writes:

“No longer will brokers put up smug faces on Wall Street. [Something bizarre is actually happening: the wretched of the earth are being made to bail the rich out of their folly.]”

Then he criticizes Wall Street executives who are receiving hundreds of millions of dollars in bonuses even after creating huge problems due to their bad business decisions in the past:

“Businessmen, after all, are technocrats lionized daily in the conduct of community life: they are requested to grace occasions of gross solemnity (like cutting ribbons for a food branch, or attending visual exhibits which their philistine notion of art cannot comprehend), or given some media space for a comment or two that may not even be worth a slice of melamined tofu. Money, having pushed them into the top 500 of the oligarchic world, has mantled them with erudition & finesse.

“& the cycle repeats itself – opinions clothed in technicalese are recycled like mantra to scare away the ghosts of inflation. Has it ever occurred to the public, dazzled by the honcho’s perfumed respectability, that it is heeding the counsel of psychotics whose message is an index of their secret dysfunction, or neurosis? That their “intellectualized” status is cause for the millions of suckers to linger like insects in the wings?

“For every million raked in by a financial satrap, there’s a gang of guys left out holding an empty bag.”


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