SINGAPORE (May 21): Steven Sim, a member of Malaysia’s Democratic Action Party (DAP), recalls a meeting he organised some time ago in the Malaysian state of Penang for Lim Guan Eng and a group of Singaporean businessmen. “By the end of the chat, the Singaporeans said [Lim] reminded them of Lee Kuan Yew,” Sim tells The Edge Singapore. Lim, 58, is the leader of DAP and served as Chief Minister of Penang from 2008 to 2018, during which time the state’s economy grew steadily while the state government’s financial position improved significantly. The budget surplus recorded from 2008 to 2015 totalled RM574 million, exceeding the RM373 million in surplus amassed by Barisan Nasional (BN) from 1957 to 2007, said Lim’s office.
This past week, following a watershed general election that saw the Pakatan Harapan coalition led by Dr Mahathir Mohamad sweep into power, Lim was picked to be Malaysia’s finance minister, subject to the clearing of corruption charges laid against him. The corruption trial for Lim will continue on May 21.
For investors, this marks a period of great uncertainty, not least because some of the headline campaign promises of the PH coalition — which include abandoning the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and introducing targeted petrol subsidies — are likely to weigh on the Malaysian government’s budget.