Blackburn Rovers were among the English Premier League title contenders in the 1990s. The club was home to former England players, namely striker Alan Shearer, midfielder Tim Sherwood, defender Graeme Le Saux and goalkeeper Tim Flower. They won the league title in 1994/95 season—a success proved too difficult to repeat for the club. Shearer then left for Newcastle United and Le Saux, Chelsea.
Things started to fall apart even further for the club when they were relegated to Championship before being promoted to the top league again, only to be relegated to even lower-tier League 1 in recent years. The once-high-flying club joined the rank of Nottingham Forest and Bolton Wanderers—all previous cup winners but now find themselves needing more time to fight the way up back to premier league.
This is what I remember about Blackburn Rovers. Do correct me if I am wrong. The ups and downs of Blackburn were what I was reminded of when I saw Fitch Ratings downgraded Malaysia’s sovereign rating from A- to BBB+ with a stable outlook. Which economies are about the same as us? India (BBB-), Panama (BBB), Romania (BBB-) and more, as shown on Wikipedia. Previously one grade below Ireland’s A+ rating, we are now another grade further away.
I am no economist. My understanding is that when you have a lower rating, your cost of borrowing increases as you need to offer higher interest rate for your sovereign bond. Contrarily, if your rating is higher, your borrowing cost is lower because you can offer lower interest rate and investors would still invest in your bond because they think yours is more stable. Do correct me if lower rating means cheaper borrowing cost, so that I try to turn my understanding upside down.
Economies in the 20th century might need to depend on natural resources to make a living and achieve financial feasibility. But the game has changed in the 21st century, which requires a technology- and knowledge-based human resources to achieve economic growth. In the past we might have heard that the Argentines were selling goods that their forefathers sold 100 years ago. The underlying message is this: if you do the same old things for 100 years, you are likely to be doomed. Things change so rapidly in that I suspect that if you repeat the old model for 30 or 50 years, it is likely to create disaster for your future economic growth.
When Taiwan’s TSMC is aiming to produce 4, 3, 2, and even 1 nanometer chips, when Singapore is exporting clean water technology to the world, we in Malaysia are still worrying about water supply disruption, as well as a careless economic management style betting on good days to return as soon as 2021. Formerly trailing rivals Taiwan, South Korea and Singapore are leaping ahead, while Vietnam and India are catching up fast. As if Malaysia were being relegated to Championship or League 1, metaphorically speaking.
Our KLIA was once among a world-leading airport—but like Blackburn Rovers, it is now ranked in lower-tier league waiting to be promoted back to the top league.
Oh Blackburn, Malaysia’s economy, KLIA, please work harder to regain past glory.