Sunday, July 29, 2012

Nor Mohamed Yakcop's Economic Logic; No Wonder We are Not far From Bankruptcy

Nor Mohamed Yakcop said, getting rid of taxes for cars would reduce national revenue by RM7 billion which could affect infrastructural development, especially in Sabah and Sarawak, and in the interior of the peninsula. The nation will experience economic instability and many will go bankrupt if the price and excise duty of vehicles are reduced.

I hope Nor Mohamed Yakcop is reading the right economics manuscript. As an economic advisor to the government, Nor should acknowledge the burden of private vehicle price and excise duty on consumers. 

Years of supporting the national car policy has been futile so far. Apart from creating unnecessary burden to the people and crippling the public transport system through deliberate neglect, there's little benefit to the local automotive industry.

Proton was given the opportunity to become a respectable regional player but it is finding itself increasing difficult to even survive locally. 

We have to ask the government when it intends to review the national car policy or scrap it entirely? Like the NEP, should the government continue to subsidize and protect the local producer? It is long overdue that the national car producer should be asked to stand on its own feet. Being competitive and innovative is the only way for Proton to survive and thrive, not through continuous protection.

It is time for the government to stop being penny wise but pound foolish. Half of our petrol subsidy goes to private vehicles. 

According to a report, Malaysia's huge fuel subsidy bill, estimated at RM20 billion last year, is overdue for an overhaul. While reforms are imminent, few expect any of it can happen until the general election (GE) is over.

Recent reports indicated that Malaysia's fuel prices are the second cheapest in Asia, and the 10th cheapest globally.
The low fuel price, which also keeps down the price of everyday needs like electricity and transportation, helped keep inflation rate at subdued levels.
While this might show that Malaysia's strategy to shield its citizens from the harsh reality of expensive fuel had worked, economists warn that running a huge subsidy bill is not sustainable over the long run.
Reckless grants, subsidies and expenses are going to bankrupt us. Reducing taxes for cars and reducing petrol subsidy at the same is going to help us to correct the economic imbalances. It is pertinent for the government to stop protecting crony companies and businesses.
It should focus on providing a better public transport system so that we can use our energy sources on more productive means. 
Nor Mohamed Yakcop's economic remedy is a recipe for disaster. It does not make sense to suggest that reducing taxes for cars is going to bankrupt the country. If this is true, the 12.5 billion ringgit PKFZ would have brought us down. What about the Auditor General's report on leakage and poor governance? What about the RM26 billion lost to corruption yearly?
We need better economic advisors and possible better leaders to lead the country. The quality of top executives are appalling at the moment. 

Myanmar: No Quick Pot of Gold

Reform is not a magic word. This is definitely true in Myanmar. When the junta regime first opened up its iron gate, the word “reform” generated euphoria. But months later, there was more confusion than results. Frustration is expected to follow suit if changes continue to grind slowly.
Observers who are familiar with President Thein Sein’s administration said there are more on the plate than what the regime can chew and digest.
Since the by-elections in April and the participation of Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League of Democracy leaders in hluttaw, scores of foreign leaders, dignitaries, diplomats and business delegates have visited the country.
Many of them have made a beeline to meet up with the regime in Nayphidaw hoping to secure deals, concessions and partnerships to participate in the country’s development.
This is where the problem starts. The outside world is expecting too much from what the current regime is capable or willing to give. An analyst noted that there are very few leaders in the current leadership who understand the mechanics of reforms or have the capacity to discuss the subject intelligently.
The current regime needs to under­stand that the rush to open up the country to foreign investors and to implement quick economic reforms should not supersede the need to embrace real political reforms.
Without a solid foundation for rule of law, an independent and respectable judiciary, credible public institutions and other essential pillars to protect private interests and individual rights, it is nearly impossible to create a modern economy. As the last of Asia’s frontier economy, Myanmar is intriguing but risky.
Read the rest here.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Rais Yatim Should Stick to Politics


This year's National Day song is apparently written by Rais Yatim. He wrote the lyrics of 'Janji Ditepati'.

Critics say "It does not reflect nationhood and the meaning of independence, but is a song to showcase a ruling government" 

Bob Lokman, who wrote the lyrics for the hit 80s rock ballad Isabella, said that the National Day theme song “sounded cheap”.

“There is no depth in the words, no poetry nor is there any sense of patriotism. Patriotic songs are supposed to move the people, not teach them how to brown-nose,” said the PAS member.

“The song is telling people they have no choice but to support the ruling government. It is a political campaign and not a National Day song.”

Bob added that the melody of the song, too, did little to boost the song and the rap interlude was unsuitable to invoke feelings of nationhood. 

Perhaps it would have been wiser and less controversial for Rais Yatim to leave song writing to a real professional. 

Politicians should respect the National Day celebration and not attempt to manipulate it for their own political agenda.

Friday, July 20, 2012

You Can Be Rest Assured That We Will Speak Up, Mat Sabu

The people must maintain their courage to speak out against evil governance, even if it is coming from a new government like Pakatan Rakyat - Mat Sabu, Deputy President of Pas.

I would like to commend Mat Sabu for being forward looking and progressive. Yes, any developing nation or a nation with an aspiration to become fully developed should have a growing, critical and active civil society.

Other Pakatan leaders should take heed and accept the fact that power and wealth are twin evils of corruption, nepotism and abuse of power. Leaders who cannot withstand criticism are not fit to lead and govern.

I hope Pakatan leaders, especially those who aspire higher offices, would take heed and open up to constructive feedback and criticism. 

You know who you are!

Is Muhyiddin Living in the 21st Century?

Muhyiddin is trying to do a 'Mahathir' on our youths by reminding them to stay united in order to ensure the country remains stable and peaceful and to avoid a repeating of the May 13, 1969 tragedy.

He said he was at that time a second year student in University Malaya and stayed with his brother outside the campus.

"I saw Malays chasing Chinese, Chinese chasing Malays, they were all holding parang. They were confronting each other in the middle of the road and as a result, some people were injured and houses were burned.

"But, this situation didn't spread out, because the then deputy prime minister Tun Abdul Razak announced a state of emergency for Kuala Lumpur and controlled the situation."

Muhyiddin said the government them carried out research found that the riot was caused by disparities among the races and that it was also instigated by the opposition.

"We don't want May 13 repeated," he added.

Is Muhyiddin giving a tacit threat against youths supporting the opposition. It was evident that the ghost of May 13 had been exorcised in the 2008 GE. The issue did not have any traction against post-1969 generations. 

If our youths can stay united, they should unite against poor governance, blatant corruption, dirty politics and racism. 

At this age, it is very difficult for Muhyiddin trying to sell the idea that the opposition had instigated the May 13 riots. On the contrary, the Opposition did well in 1969. Both 1969 and 2008 were the only two times the BN were denied their customary two-thirds parliamentary majority. 

Both GEs had shown clearly the transformation of our society. The 1969 society was easily manipulated and instigated to participate in riots. The opposition had lost subsequent elections without instigating any riots. Not even during BN unprecedented 92% parliamentary victory in 2004. So, who is more likely to start a riot? Opposition or UMNO?

I am sure Muhyiddin personally would like BN/UMNO to perform badly but enough to win the federal government so that he can live up his dream of becoming a PM. It is no longer a secret that the Deputy PM harbours this intention. 

However, it is unnecessary and unscrupulous for Muhyiddin to attempt resurrecting the ghost of May 1969. It is unlikely to work this time.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Should We Thank BN for the National Harmony Act?

The National Harmony Act, which will replace the Sedition Act 1948, allows criticism of the government and leaders in the effort to guarantee freedom of speech as enshrined in the country’s Constitution, said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nazri Aziz.
He said under the Sedition Act this was not permitted.  
“The Sedition Act has a provision of not allowing the raising of anger against the government, but now we have discarded it as criticism levelled at the government and leaders is legitimate under the freedom of speech guaranteed under the Constitution."
Finally, a federal minister admitted that his government cannot accept and tolerate criticism. An elected government which does not welcome criticism and chooses to hide behind a draconian legislation should not be accepted as legitimate and democratic. 
However, the soon-to-be introduced act should not adopt any form of subtle suppression of freedom of speech. Fair and open discourse on citizenship (especially the issue of issuing fast track citizenship to Muslim migrants in Sabah must be discussed and investigated), race (especially on the end of all forms of race discrimination masqueraded as affirmative policy), religion (especially on non-discrimination of all religions) and other issues. 
Open discussion if conducted properly can help to improve public policy and governance. No one, not even the royalty, is above the constitution. 
Repealing the Sedition Act alone is not enough. The BN government must drop all charges against its political opponents using the Sedition Act. It must tender a public apology for having used and manipulated the draconian act to silence its opponents and critics.   
Nazri said, however, there was no absolute freedom of speech in a multiracial and multi-religious country, and as such the new Act would continue to protect racial harmony and the institution of the Malay Rulers.   
“There should be no absolute freedom to the extent we can call people pariah, pimps and so on."
Nazri should be reminded that any selective implementation of law is surely going to erode the government's and public institutions credibility. 
UMNO/BN should refrain its members and leaders from slandering their opponents too. Otherwise, it would create an impression there's a different set of laws for the BN and another set for the rest.
Since criticisms are now allowed, will hostile intimidations of political analysts, critics and opponents stop too?