Just How Serious is Our RM1 Trillion Debt?

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(Source: New Straits Times)

Earlier this morning, at his first address of the monthly assembly with civil servants under the Prime Minister’s Department, Tun M reported that Malaysia’s debt is now at a shocking RM1 Trillion (USD251 billion).


Tun M mentioned that the debt never went up higher than RM300 billion when he was Prime Minister from 1981 until 2003. He expressed his dissatisfaction saying:

“I am disappointed because the administration, which was once (known) as the best in the Commonwealth countries, for its ability to implement duties and plans successfully, is no longer respected and looked up upon.”


However, our neighbouring country, Singapore who has a population of around 5.7 million people has one of the highest national debts at USD254 billion while Malaysia is at USD251 billion with a higher population of more than 32 million. Aren’t smaller countries suppose to have lower debt?

Nevertheless, everything pales when you consider good ol’ Uncle Sam. The United States which has the world’s largest economy has the highest level of debt at USD19.23 trillion. So does the amount of national debt really affect a country’s performance?

(Source: HowMuch/ Value Walk)
Comparison of Malaysia and other countries on the debt as % of GDP

The pie chart above shows the debt as % of GDP which is the ratio between a country’s government debt and its gross domestic product (GDP). A lower debt-to-GDP ratio shows that a country’s economy that produces and sells goods and services have enough to pay back debts without suffering further debt. Therefore, it’s not always a bad thing if a country has an national debt as long as they are making enough in the economy to pay back.

Tun Dr. Mahathir vowed to restore the country to it’s old glory where it was once one of the best among the commonwealth countries. He also thinks that part of this debt is caused due to the corruption by the previous administration and lack of liability in following the rule of law above everything else.

Thus, the prime minister has urged all civil servants to give their complete support and cooperation to the new ruling government to restore Malaysia’s economy. According to Tun M, in order for this to be achieved, it is vital that the country’s institutions–the lawmakers, the enforcers of the law and the judiciary–be kept independent and distinct from each other. This way there will be no misappropriation in the country’s administration.

Could Tun M bring Malaysia back to her glory days? Let us know in the comments. 

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