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TJ KB AWSJ: Krisis Ekonomi Menghenyak Umno
By Leslie Lopez
24/3/2001 10:08 am Sat
BAHANG KELEMBAPAN KIAN TERASA
Krisis ekonomi Amerika mula menjerut Malaysia. Industri sokongan
kepada kilang seperti AKN turut terjejas. Banyak syarikat melapurkan
keuntungan yang semakin berkurang (MIER). 70% daripada 110 syarikat
terhebat negara mencatat pendapatan di luar jangkaan. Ekonomis menyasarkan
kadar pertumbuhan sekitar 3.5 - 5% sahaja walaupun kerajaan beranggapan
ia setinggi 8.5%.
Ekspot ke USA menyumbang 23% GDP manakala barangan letronik dan komponen
merupakan 62% ekspot negara. Menurut analis, ekonomi semakin lembab dengan
begitu pantas sekali. Rezan negara telah merosot dari $34.5 bilion (April 2000)
kepada $28.99 bilion (February 2001).
KAWALAN MATAWANG MAKIN TERHIMPIT
Ringgit kini sudah kurang kompetetif kerana matawang serantau kian melemah.
Barangan Malaysia kini 10% lebih mahal dari saingan terdekat rantau ini
(seperti Thailand dan Filipina). Beberapa kilang di P. Pinang menganggarkan
permintaan merosot 25-35%. Ekspot elektronik makin mengecil (10%) awal tahun
Tanpa sokongan ekspot, ekonomi akan berjalan tempang. Ini sudahpun dikesan:
1- Pasaran saham kian lemah
2- Lapuran Pendapatan syarikat koporat banyak yang rendah
3- Harga Komoditi turut lemah - sektor pertanian tergugat
4- Permintaan domestik berkurang dari 10-12% kepada 6-8% (MRA)
5- Permintaan luar makin berkurang
Ekonomi Jepun sedang meleset dan matawang Yen turut merosot. Kalau dulu
(tahun 1998) Yen menyelamatkan kita dari tergelongsor - kali ini ia
sudah tidak mampu menolong lagi. Matawang kita yang tidak kompetetif
menyebabkan syarikat seperti ENG berpindah keluar daripada P. Pinang.
Sektor koporat Malaysia masih lemah dan mudah tumbang kerana hutang
lapuk masih ada. Sesiapa yang lambat bertindak akan terkena kerana
bencana sudah semakin tiba.
Menurut pakar ekonomi, kejatuhan teruk ekonomi Amerika sehingga
beberapa rekod pecah dibuatnya menggambarkan krisis tersebut akan
memakan masa yang lebih lama daripada yang dijangka.
Kini sudah tiga sektor tergugat di bandar (kilang) dan desa (ladang):
1- Kilang - operator dan jurutera - (6,000 pekerja tergugat) [KM2 4043]
2- Ladang - petani dan peserta FELDA (ada 103,000 keluarga peneroka Felda) [KM2 3895]
3- Kewangan - pegawai sektor perbankan (10,000-17,000 pekerja tergugat)
(Jumlah pekerja: 77,000) [KM2 4033]
4- Penduduk Setinggan - Terdapat 500,000 di sekitar KL sahaja. [Time]
Kalaulah warga pekerja dan warga tua juga menyedari wang mereka
diperjudikan untuk membayar hutang Halim Saad dalam skandal time
dotCom, alamat Umno akan semakin cepat hilang dari dunia......
Kita imbau kembali bilangan pekerja terlibat yang dikorek
1- KWSP - 9.7 juta pekerja [KM2 4046]
2- KWAP - 850,000 pencarum [KM2 4046]
Nombor-nombor ini cukup berguna buat Umno menggeleng kepala
bagaimana ia mahu menawan hati rakyat yang sudah jemu dengan
sikapnya. Selamat menggulung tikar segera....
The Asian Wall Street Journal
Malaysian Companies Prepare For Sharper Slowdown in U.S.
By CRIS PRYSTAY And LESLIE LOPEZ
Staff Reporters of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- Semiconductor-packaging manufacturer AKN
Technology Bhd. is battening down the hatches against the American
After watching its revenue skid 15% in the first quarter this year
from last year's fourth quarter, AKN -- whose customers include
National Semiconductor Corp. and Agilent Technologies Inc. -- has
frozen hiring, canceled some production shifts and put this year's
17-million-ringgit ($4.5 million) capital-expenditure plan on
indefinite hold. "We're bracing ourselves for a continued slowdown,"
says AKN's chief executive officer, Michael Loh. "I believe that by
the second half, this [inventory] adjustment will be completed. But we
want to make sure we're controlling our costs in the meantime."
Unsure how the U.S. slowdown will play out, many Malaysian contract
electronics manufacturers are treading cautiously. So are some private
economists, who expect 3.5% to 5% inflation-adjusted growth this year
-- down from the government's estimate of 8.5% in 2000.
Woes Pile Up
Malaysia is particularly vulnerable to a U.S. downturn. Economists
calculate that in 2000, the U.S. imported goods equivalent to 23% of
Malaysia's 339-billion-ringgit gross domestic product. Electronics
products and components accounted for 62% of Malaysia's total export
earnings last year, with the bulk of those shipments going to the U.S.
That market link helped Malaysia make a strong initial rebound from
Asia's 1997 economic crisis, despite a weak domestic economy. Now, a
U.S. slump threatens the country's ability to sustain the comeback.
The crunch comes as Malaysia's domestic economic woes are piling up.
The latest quarterly survey released by the Malaysian Institute of
Economic Research shows that consumer confidence is waning. Corporate
profits also are shrinking: Yeoh Keat Seng of financial portal
Malaysiastreet.com says 70% of the 110 top-listed Malaysian companies
his research outfit tracks turned in earnings below expectations in
2000. "What's happening on the earnings front is a mixture of analysts
expectations being a little bullish and things may be slowing down
faster than we expected," he says.
Meanwhile, a drooping stock market, shunned by foreign investors since
Malaysia enacted currency controls in 1998, could derail
corporate-restructuring plans and pile more pressure on Malaysia's
still-fragile banking sector.
All that could be making some Malaysians nervous. Economists point to
a steady decline in Malaysia's foreign reserves as evidence. After
peaking at $34.5 billion in April 2000, reserves fell to $28.99
billion at the end of February. Coming at a time when the country
continues to run trade surpluses, some economists fret the shrinking
reserves indicate capital flight. Should the trend persist, Malaysian
policy makers could face a dilemma over the country's fixed
exchange-rate policy, imposed by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's
government in September 1998 to kill speculation against the ringgit.
A squeeze on electronics exports could translate into fresh pressure
on Kuala Lumpur's fixed exchange rate, which currently pegs the
ringgit at 3.80 to the dollar. Alfred Teh, chief executive of ENG
Teknologi Bhd., which makes components for semiconductor
manufacturers, says it costs about 10% more to produce an item at his
Penang plant than it does at his factories in the Philippines or
Thailand, both of which have seen their currencies weaken in recent
weeks. "With the ringgit at 3.80, right now, my plant here obviously
doesn't seem that competitive," says Mr. Teh.
As regional currencies continue to slump, depressed by a weakening
yen, that squeeze will only tighten. "The difficult choice of
accepting either lower growth or a re-peg of the ringgit, both of
which policy makers are loathe to make, is looming on the horizon,"
says Vincent Low, Merrill Lynch (Asia Pacific) Ltd.'s Southeast Asia
For some Malaysian electronics exporters, hard times have already
arrived. AKN Technology -- which has seen a 15% drop in sales -- has
actually fared better than other Penang-based contract manufacturers
that expect orders to decline by 25% to 35% in the first quarter from
last year's fourth quarter.
After cranking up production to meet blistering global demand last
year, those manufacturers now have to readjust output to clear
inventories and match lower demand forecasts. The inventory correction
has just begun to kick in this quarter: Overall Malaysian
manufacturing output rose 15.4% on a year-to-year basis in January,
down from December's 17.2% year-to-year growth. Electronics exports
rose 14.4% in January, but that was the slowest monthly expansion in
six months. On a month-to-month basis, electronics exports dropped 10%
in January from December.
Manufacturers may not reach new optimum output levels until very late
in the year, according to Merrill Lynch. Some economists say that even
if the U.S. economy bounces back in a sharp V-shaped recovery in the
second half, capital spending on information technology-related
products will remain weak until the fourth quarter. Merrill Lynch, for
example, predicts the U.S. semiconductor industry won't see growth
until August or September, and the bulk of the inventory correction
for large U.S. telecommunications companies, which continue to cancel
orders, has yet to come. "The weakness in new U.S. orders of
components has not even begun to bite into high-tech Asia's exports,"
warns Merrill Lynch's Mr. Low.
Mr. Low predicts that Malaysia will see 4% GDP growth this year. HSBC
Securities, which forecasts a hard landing for the U.S. economy,
expects that demand for Asian exports won't pick up this year. HSBC
projects 3.5% 2001 GDP growth for Malaysia.
Without export support, Malaysia's domestic economy will likely
continue to limp along. Consumption began to recover in mid-2000, but
that rebound is already starting to flag. A weak stock market, poor
domestic corporate earnings and a depressed agricultural sector,
undermined by weak commodity prices, have muted buying power. Vehicle
sales dropped 4% in December over November, the first month of
negative growth in two years. In January, the Malaysian Retailers
Association halved its sales-growth forecast for 2001 to 6%-8%, down
from its earlier forecast of 10%-12% growth.
"External demand is falling, and that's the only thing keeping this
economy going. Domestic demand did not really recover in Malaysia"
after the crisis, says Sanjay Mathur, regional economist for UBS
Warburg, who predicts 4.2% growth in 2001.
Friends No More
Unless growth perks up, Malaysia's currency peg could be tested as
Kuala Lumpur's fixed exchange rate eats into export competitiveness.
Merrill Lynch's Mr. Low notes that the yen's sudden strengthening in
late 1998 pulled Asian currencies out of a slide just as economists
began to worry that Malaysia's peg would undermine its
competitiveness. But "what was your friend two years ago is not your
friend now," says Mr. Low. "The yen is going the other way."
With the Japanese economy stumbling, the yen has slipped to about 122
to the dollar from 114.35 on Jan. 1. Bank of America Corp., for
example, expects the yen to touch 132 to the dollar by December.
Some Malaysian manufacturers say they still support the ringgit peg,
at least for now. "We don't think we should use the exchange rate as a
method of adjusting our competitiveness," says Paul Low, vice
president of the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers. "We should
react by adjusting our operations, making them more cost effective."
Mr. Teh, at ENG, says the currency costs are only one part of the
bigger competitive equation, which has been changing over the years.
Since 1997, ENG has shifted its manufacturing operations from Penang
-- which accounted for all its revenue just four years ago, but only
22% now -- to other factories around the region. "We're at the
crossroad of moving away from labor intensive industry," he says. "The
peg gave us breathing space for such industries to continue to exist
in this country. This might not be a bad thing."
But if the peg holds, Malaysian exporters will have to cut prices to
clear inventories and stay competitive, leading to deflation, argues
UBS Warburg's Mr. Mathur. "Malaysia's corporate sector is not strong
enough to withstand that; the bad assets are still there. If you want
to remain profitable, you can't cut [asset] prices. If they run with
the peg, the impact on corporate profits will be huge."
Write to Cris Prystay at firstname.lastname@example.org and Leslie Lopez at