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Does Malaysia Have 2nd Most Debt In Asia, After Sri Lanka?!

Did the IMF warn Malaysia about having the second most national debt in Asia, after Sri Lanka?!

Take a look at the viral claim, and find out what the facts really are!


Claim : Malaysia Has 2nd Most Debt In Asia, After Sri Lanka!

This post about IMF warning Malaysia about having the second most national debt in Asia, after Sri Lanka, has gone viral.

People are sharing it as a warning of how Malaysia could very soon descent into the economic chaos and misery affecting Sri Lanka.

International Monetary Fund (IMF) has warned that Malaysia is in a huge economic dilemma.

The second largest debt country in Asia after Sri Lanka is Malaysia.

Good Luck to Malaysian… [sic]



Truth : Malaysia Does Not Have 2nd Most Debt In Asia, After Sri Lanka!

This is yet another example of FAKE NEWS circulating on social media, and here are the reasons why…

Fact #1 : IMF Did Not Say Malaysia Is In Economic Trouble

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) did not warn that Malaysia is in huge economic trouble.

In April 2022, it warned that Asian nations, like the rest of the world, are at risk of stagflation from being battered by the war in Ukraine and the slowdown in China from COVID-19.

The region faces a stagflationary outlook, with growth being lower than previously expected, and inflation being higher.

Inflation is now expected to rise 3.2% this year, a full point higher than expected in January.

Despite the downgrade, Asia remains the world’s most dynamic region, and an important source of global growth.
– Anne-Marie Gulde-Wolf, acting director of IMF Asia and Pacific

Fact #2 : Malaysia Does Not Have Second Most Debt In Asia

The claim that Malaysia has the second highest national debt in Asia is also false.

On both the GDP percentage and per capita basis, Singapore has the second highest national debt in Asia, behind Japan. Even Sri Lanka has less debt, per capita or as a percentage of its GDP, than Singapore or Japan.

Malaysia has far less national debt than Sri Lanka as a percentage of its GDP, but twice the debt on a per capita basis.

Here is a comparison I created of countries with the highest national debt in Asia :

Country Year National Debt Debt
(% of GDP)
Debt Per Capita
Japan 2020 $13,054 billion 259% $103,386
Singapore 2021 $536 billion 132.8% $98,410
Sri Lanka 2020 $81.7 billion 101.2% $3,726
Mongolia 2021 $14.3 billion 94.7% $4,294
India 2020 $2,402 billion 90.1% $1,741
China 2020 $10,115 billion 68.1% $7,164
Malaysia 2021 $239 billion 63.4% $8,644
Philippines 2021 $226 billion 57.5% $2,055

Fact #3 : IMF Optimistic Malaysia Will Expand By 5.75% In 2022

In May 2022, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) actually announced that it is optimistic that Malaysia’s economy will expand by 5.75% in 2022, driven by pent-up domestic demand and continued strong external demand.

It also said that Malaysia’s high vaccination rates, and limited movement restrictions are supporting economic expansion.

Fact #4 : High Debt Is Not Necessarily Bad

While a high national debt is not ideal, it is not necessarily a bad thing either. It really depends on how much interest needs to be paid on the debt, and what the government is using it for.

Unlike individuals who will die eventually, the government of a country can last for hundreds of years. So governments do not have to pay back all of their debts within a certain amount of time.

As long as the government can keep paying interest on its debt, it can continue to borrow money to service deficits in its budget, or to invest in projects that grow the economy.

Fact #5 : How Governments Use Money Matters More

Just like how you can use borrowed money to invest in assets or splurge on liabilities, how the government uses the borrowed money matters more than how much it borrows.

If the government uses borrowed money to invest, that will spur growth that allows it to easily repay its debts while driving down the interest it pays.

But if the borrowed money is lost through corruption or wasteful projects, the government will find it harder to pay interest on the debt and may even default on payments.

Fact #6 : High Government Spending During Pandemic Is Expected

Practically every government in the world was forced to spend significantly more during the pandemic. Most run into large deficits during the pandemic because :

  • lockdowns reduce economic activity, reducing taxes
  • governments need to spend more on healthcare to combat COVID-19
  • governments cut taxes to support citizens and businesses
  • governments provide monetary support for citizens and businesses

This isn’t unique to Malaysia, but applies across the world. That’s why Malaysia’s national debt jumped significantly after January 2020.

Fact #7 : Malaysia Has Sufficient Foreign Reserves

Malaysia’s national debt increased from $228.7 billion in 2020, to $239 billion (RM 979.8 billion) in 2021 – an increase of about 4.5% year-on-year.

While this increase pushes Malaysia close to a national debt of 65% of its GDP, it is still much lower than many other countries.

More importantly, Bank Negara Malaysia reported international reserves of $116.9 billion as of 31 December 2021, which is enough to finance 7.7 months of retained imports, and is 20% higher than the total short-term external debt.

In other words, Malaysia is not anywhere close to collapsing economically, like what happened in Sri Lanka.

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iflix Is Now Available In Sri Lanka As Well

2 August 2016iflix, the world’s leading Internet TV service for emerging markets, is thrilled to announce the launch of its revolutionary service in Sri Lanka.

From today, consumers can sign up for a 30-day free trial via iflix’s website, www.iflix.com, giving them unlimited access to thousands of the world’s best TV shows, movies and more on every device they own, with no credit card required and no obligations.


Each iflix subscription includes:

  • Unlimited access to iflix’s vast library of thousands of first-run exclusive shows, award-winning TV series, blockbuster movies, popular local and regional content, children’s programs and much more;
  • Access to iflix on up to 5 devices at once, including phones, tablets, laptops, desktops, TVs and other connected devices;
  • The ability to download TV shows and movies to any phone, tablet or mobile device to binge-watch offline, when not connected to the Internet;
  • The ability to share their iflix subscription with family or friends and watch shows on two different devices at the same time.

Firaz Markar, General Manager for iflix Sri Lanka, commented: “Sri Lanka has some of the highest rates of growth in smartphone adoption in the region. We are thrilled to make iflix’s world-leading, smartphone first Internet TV service and exceptional library of the best in international and local content to Sri Lankan consumers. We can’t wait for everyone in Sri Lanka to press play!”

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With over 150 studio and distributor partnerships, iflix offers subscribers the largest selection of iconic, critically acclaimed TV series and fan-favourite films both internationally and locally available in the region. Amongst the hundreds of top shows now available on iflix are The Flash, Arrow, Gotham, Big Bang Theory, The Vampire Diaries, Friends, Two and a Half Men, Merlin and Supernatural. Multi Emmy winning US phenomena Mr. Robot joins iflix’s growing library of exclusive, first run series, to be made available for the first time in Sri Lanka.

Monthly retail subscriptions for one month of unlimited access to iflix will be priced at an amazing LKR 449. Annual subscriptions will receive a 20% discount off the monthly rate and are priced at incredible LKR 4,308 per year.

Now available in Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia and Sri Lanka, iflix will continue to roll out its world-class service to key additional emerging markets in the coming months.


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