JOHOR BARU, May 6 — A Johor parliamentarian today urged Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and Economy Minister Rafizi Ramli to explain the reasons behind Bank Negara Malaysia’s (BNM) recent overnight policy rate (OPR) hike.
PKR’s Pasir Gudang MP Hassan Abdul Karim said that it was important for Anwar, who is also the finance minister, and Rafizi to explain the reasons behind the increase, especially with the unity government facing elections in six states soon.
“I don't want the people in the six states that will soon go to the polls to criticise the unity government with cynical questions, such as can the OPR be interpreted as 'Operasi Peras Rakyat' (operation to extort the people)?
“I hope it will not come to that. So, Rafizi and Anwar, if you read please explain,” Hassan said in a statement today.
The 72-year-old social activist and lawyer also belong to PKR, the same political party as Anwar and Rafizi.
Yesterday it was announced that BNM Monetary Policy Committee’s OPR decision to increase by another 25 basis points (bps) to 3 per cent on Wednesday.
Following that, several banks in the country announced their new revised lending rates, in line with the revised OPR.
Previously, Communications and Digital Minister Fahmi Fadzil courted controversy after expressing his anger and labeled a report quoting analysts' prediction of a OPR hike within the next few months as fake news.
The report is now considered accurate, following the OPR increase announcement.
Hassan said BNM had its reasons for raising the OPR rate as the central bank may see the importance of Malaysia's macro economy for the long term.
“However, BNM also needs to move in tandem with the current government led by Anwar who is trying to help the economy of the majority of the people.
“Many are struggling to make ends meet in the face of a cost of living crisis,” said the PKR politician.
Hassan, who is known to champion the poor and oppressed groups, said Anwar as the finance minister will agree that the B40 and M40 groups will be the most affected by the recent OPR rate increase.
He explained that the B40 and M40 groups, who are currently facing financial and economic difficulties, make up 80 per cent of Malaysians.
On March 31, Fahmi came under fire from social media users after expressing anger at a report quoting analysts' prediction of a OPR hike within the next few months.
At that time he labeled the Berita Harian report as fake news and demanded an explanation.
Since the OPR hike announcement on Wednesday, Fahmi has yet to offer an official explanation for his previous comments.