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Malaysian bank suspends chief economist for predicting ruling party loss

Posted on 18 January 2013

A 60-second summary of the panicking up north

Bank of Islam

Malaysia’s prime minister must call for elections by the end of April this year.

This means that the ruling party’s spin machinery is working overtime to ensure that the status quo remains untouched when polls roll around.

So when Azrul Azwar Ahmad Tajudin, the Chief Economist of Bank Islam predicted that the ruling party (Barisan Nasional) would win only 97 to 107 of the 222 parliamentary seats, capturing only 55% to 60% of the Malay vote, it was unsurprising that he was suspended by the bank. The prediction was based on a computer simulation, which generated three possible outcomes for the upcoming general elections: a narrow win for BN, a narrow win for the opposition Pakatan, and a large victory for Pakatan.

In a statement issued to the various press, the bank said that it was a policy to suspend staff should they engage in political activity or make political comments, while they investigated if any breach of policy occurred.

51 non-government organisations and 105 academics — of which only one is based in Singapore — have urged the bank to reinstate its Chief Economist as he has apparently done nothing wrong.

Should he not be reinstated, New Nation welcomes Azrul Azwar to conduct proper election predictions in Singapore, and to save hapless ST journalists from pounding the ground and generating poorly done polls.

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