2023 New Challenges
A somewhat belated Happy New Year to all NST readers. May the New Year shine new lights on us Malaysians. However, it is predicted that 2023 will be a year with various challenges whether from within the country or globally. Some of the challenges based on my reviews are as follows.
First, the ongoing impact of the Russian and Ukrainian war has impacted the world including Malaysia. Recently, Russian president Vladimir Putin, signed an order banning the supply of crude oil, oil products for five months from 1 February 2023 against countries that support the Western price cap. The Group of Seven superpowers (G7), the European Union (EU) and Australia have agreed to cap the price of US$60 per barrel in conflict with International law. Russia is the world’s largest exporter of oil after Saudi Arabia. The ban will have a major impact on global energy supplies including Malaysia.
Secondly, according to Astro Awani’s report on 16 Nov 2022; the ringgit continues to decline against the US dollar (US) by closing at a low of 4.738 due to the absence of new catalysts.
In an alarming situation, Malaysia Ringgit is now weakening against the US dollar (US$). Previously, RM3.80 is needed to buy 1US$ worth of imported goods, but as per this writing, RM4.70 is needed. The value of the local currency will not return to its original value if it suffers a severe fall. The devaluation will lead to a higher cost of living. Finally, the local currency will be deducted and US$ will be used in the payment of hotel and restaurant bills. A constant fall in value can affect investments, stocks and projects. Depreciation will also lead to the dumping of shares and investments by foreign investors as well as the sale of shares. This move will result in a higher devaluation.
Thirdly, the leakage of personal data. The theft of personal data has become the talk of Malaysians when it is rumoured that about 100 million data sets are believed to have been stolen by irresponsible parties in the last five years. The personal set in question includes full name, address, telephone number, MyKad number and other personal information. As such, the government is urged to amend the Personal Data Protection Act 2010 (Act 709) to curb such cases. This was voiced by YAB Fahmi Fadzli who was then the Member of Parliament for Lembah Pantai, now the current Minister of Communications & Digital. According to him, he is concerned that the stolen data is used by criminals for the purpose of fraud (scam) or criminal activity, thus negatively impacting the victim. (Daily Light, 7 June 2022).
Nowadays, when private parties make use of the e-wallets payments, customers are required to provide a digital photo of the identity card on the front and back. In addition, customers are also required to take a life-face photo while holding their identity card. The issue that raises public concern is whether they have the power to store Malaysian identity cards in digital form?
This is among how the causes of leakage can occur. We can find if our data have been leaked when we are often contacted by unfamiliar numbers. Another instance is when there is personal data leak issue raised by complainant, certain parties would deny the leak was due to their part.
Fourth, the two main COVID-19 variants spread from China, BA.5.2 and BF.7 were detected in Malaysia as mentioned by the Health Director-General, Tan Sri Dr. Noor Hisham Abdullah. He said that as of 31 December 2022, 4,148 positive cases involved BA.5.2, while the other three were BF.7. Both BA.5.2 and BF.7 variants are believed to cause re-infection or have higher infection rates due to the high number of cases in China. However, from the tourism industry, 3 million tourists from China are expected to visit Malaysia in 2023 when China decides to relax its zero COVID19 policy. Chinese tourists are said to increase Malaysia’s economy with their high spending volume in Malaysia.
Most people have urged the Malaysian Government to postpone allowing incoming tourist from China, Macau & Hong Kong until COVID-19 has calmed down. On the other hand, the tourism industry players are advised to market tourists from the Middle East & Europe instead of China, Macau & Hong Kong. The local tourism industry players are just beginning to recover after the previous COVID-19 lockdowns.
On 4 Jan 2023, the Cabinet decided that no prohibitions or restrictions were imposed on tourists from any foreign country including China to the country. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said the government is not ‘discriminating’ China as the Covid-19 outbreak in several other countries including the United States is facing the same situation. However, he said, the government will tighten existing controls such as the use of temperature scanners for foreign migrants in immigration centers, especially from countries at high risk of infection. Indeed, all the challenges are from the Almighty Allah SWT, “Do men think that they will be left alone on saying, “We believe”, and that they will not be tested? We did test those before them, and Allah will certainly know those who are true from those who are false.” (‘Al-‘Ankabut [The Spider]: 2–3).