On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

Coming – More good news

He also insisted the breakfast should include Penang char koay teow, displaying a slight frown when the waiters brought him some pastries.  

The group, based in Hong Kong and Singapore, had been invited to join Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi at his table after the opening of a conference on the media last week.  

Despite arriving home in the wee hours of Thursday, Pak Lah looked fresh, upbeat and chatty although he had developed a slight cough from his trip in Europe where he met several key leaders.  

One key meeting was with Russian President Vladimir Putin as Malaysia is Russia’s biggest trade partner in Asean, with trade amounting to over RM4bil last year. Petronas also has a stake in the Russian oil giant Rosneft.  

Fresh from his European summer visits, the PM is expected to continue his economic momentum over the coming months, this time on the local front.  

There are plenty of reasons for Abdullah’s optimism as he is set to unveil the massive Northern Corridor Master Plan at the end of the month.  

Even his breakfast guests insisted on a sneak preview from Pak Lah on the exciting details in the plan.  

He is scheduled to visit Perlis, Kedah, Penang and Perak soon to announce a series of high profile projects, which many said would transform the lives of the millions of ordinary people in these states.  

In the Malay heartland of Kedah and Perlis, the padi farmers will hear of agricultural programmes that will radically improve their ways of working.  

The face of Penang is also set to change in an exciting programme that will make the state a regional transportation hub.  

In northern Perak, the focus will be on human capital development, where our young can improve their skills.  

The trickle-down effects from these projects will surely be felt once the projects get started, particularly the construction industry.  

For Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang, the Eastern Corridor will cover projects from eco-tourism to the construction of key infrastructures.  

Sabah and Sarawak will not be left out as the two states have also been identified as areas of growth.  

Several pleasant surprises can be expected when the media is updated on the Iskandar Development Region in Johor.  

There are plenty of good signs – the country’s economy is likely to grow faster than earlier this year, helped by the rise in public spending and expanding services sector.  

Last week, a Reuters’ quarterly poll showed that economists had raised their growth forecasts to 5.6% from 5.5% predicted in a similar poll in March.  

Growth, however, is expected to accelerate to 6% next year, according to the report, with expected strong investment recovery, including expansion in the tourism and energy sectors.  

The same report said the firmer ringgit would help rein in inflation, which some had expected to rise as a result of the wage increase for civil servants. Stringent price controls, however, have stabilised the situation.  

Economics aside, numerous changes to government policies are being finalised that are expected to bring cheer to Malaysians – aptly for the country’s 50th anniversary in August.  

With a general election looming, possibly in the first few months of next year, the economic pace can be expected to move faster in the coming months.