Monday, October 31, 2011

Best civil service in the world, Muhyiddin brags

REPRINT Deputy PM Muhyiddin Yassin believes that the BN is “back in business”. The buoyant “Malaysian-second” in Bolehland,said that BN’s future is bright and the Opposition better not underestimate them!
He even boldly declares that the bureaucrats in Bolehland are “the best civil servants in the world”! The civil servant “have done a lot,but the people want better”.
The Deputy PM was at his ironic best:“The people do not want rhetoric. The era for rhetoric has long gone. The era where the government knows all, like what the prime minister has said,has long gone.”
Yes,the rakyat knows best Muhyiddin and we fully agree with you that the civil service in Bolehland is the “best in the world” in the following ways:
Best bloated civil service
* With 1.3 million civil servants to a population of 26 million, Malaysia has one of the highest civil servants-to-population ratio in the world by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development standards.
* In 2009, Malaysia’s civil servants-to-population ratio was the highest in Asia Pacific. The ratio was 4.68 per cent, compared to Singapore’s 1.5 per cent, Indonesia’s 1.79 per cent, Korea’s 1.85 per cent and Thailand’s 2.06 per cent all of which have less than half our ratio.
Best way to bleed a budget dry
* Much of the budget (2011) continues to go into operating a bloated civil service. As much as three quarters of the national budget is spent on paying salaries and other benefits to over 1.3 million civil servants.
* A post-2011 Budget dialogue highlighted the massive amount (35 per cent of the total RM162.8 billion operating expenditure) to be spent on emoluments, pensions and gratuities of civil servants. A panelist, Ministry of Finance budget division director Datuk Dr Rahmat Bivi Yusuff admitted that there is a need to trim the civil service to reduce the budget deficit.
Best way to bankrupt this nation
* Whilst it is the growing trend of many countries to reduce their civil service, the PM’s Department in particular, has done the opposite. It more than doubled its number of civil servants from 21,000 to 43,554 this year. In stark contrast, the White House employs only 1,888 staff.
* The White House budget is US$394 million for 2011. The PM’s Department has been allocated a whopping RM18.14 billion for the year 2011, almost double the RM10.2 billion 2010.
* Pemandu, which stands for Performance, Management and Delivery Unit, was set up last year under the Najib administration as one of the pillars in his Government Transformation Plan… is a massive drain on resources. In a span of two months the government spent RM20 million just to pay 50 consultants,.
Best contradiction of 1Malaysia
* As at 31 December 2009, the racial breakdown of the Malaysian civil service comprising 1,247,894 employees was as follows: Malay (78.2 per cent); Other Bumiputras (7.7 per cent); Chinese (5.8 per cent), Indian (4.0 per cent); and Others (4.2 per cent).
* “This is the worst multi-racial composition of the government service, with the lowest Chinese and Indian representation in the public service in Malaysia’s 53-year history. This is clearly seen from the three sets of comparative figures of the racial breakdown of the civil service before the NEP (1971) and as compared to Dec. 2009 – Malays (60.80 per cent and 78.2 per cent); Chinese (20.2% and 5.8 per cent); Indians (17.4 per cent and 4.0 per cent); and Others (1.6 per cent and 4.2 per cent).
Best in corruption
* Last year two out of five civil servants were deemed corrupt by Cuepacs. It was described as a worrying trend that needed to be tackled urgently.
* Cuepacs President Omar Osman revealed that a total of 418,200 or 41 per cent of the 1.2 million civil servants in the country were suspected to be involved in corruption last year (Bernama, 2 June 2010).
Best “dumping ground”
Mohd Ariff Sabri Abdul Aziz, a former state assembly member of Pahang who is a member of Umno and who uses the pen-name Sakmongkol AK47, in his blog entry wrote: “Government service shouldn’t be treated as a dumping ground for academic rejects and mediocre material. Let’s demand a certain high standard and ensure we bring in talent that supports the demand for high standards.
“What has the government done to improve the efficiency and competence of government servants? There isn’t really competition there if the service is dominated by one race. There isn’t sufficient quality if the entry-level qualifications are so-so.
“Yet each year, to placate civil servants, the PM will appear on TV to say, we honour our civil servants because they have done a good job, blah blah. Which is not entirely true. The service is slow, the quality of officers is questionable.”
But Umno likes Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s make-believe. The next General Elections must be close at hand. Civil servants are made to believe that Umno is their (political) paymaster and they owe it to Umno. The party’s leaders would do or say anything to convince the government servant of this, even praising them as “the best civil servants in the world”!
Martin Jalleh reads Malaysia Chronicle

Sunday, October 30, 2011

English given a shove

Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin must be under the sincere belief that political gain is more important than the education of our next generation. By pushing through his anti-PPSMI rhetoric, Form Four students will find themselves in limbo after being told that they would have to sit their SPM exams in Bahasa Malaysia, despite being taught in English for their entire school lives thus far.

The Education Ministry is being simply irresponsible for refusing to introduce the dwibahasa system in order to better facilitate the transition. The Deputy Minister's excuse that teachers are unable to speak English, let alone teach in it, is simply a cop-out and utterly inexcusable.

It is simply alarming that the federal government has completely failed to address the fact that their teachers were not qualified to teach Maths and Science in English since the policy's implementation. Now they use this as an excuse to re-introduce Bahasa Malaysia as the medium of instruction for these subjects. In short, they use incompetence to justify returning to mediocrity.

When the system was originally changed from the English to the Malay language system, the standard of English was still high. What we see now is the steady decline in the command of the spoken and written language. This is especially evident in our younger generations, which is setting off alarm bells in parents. This also gives rise to parents forming interest groups such as PAGE to fight for better English education.

I have expressed before that Bahasa Malaysia is an important language as our Bahasa Kebangsaan or national language. It is what unites us as Malaysians, and it should be used our local lingua franca. Bahasa Malaysia transcends race and religion, and unites us as one people.

Having said that, English is the global language of commerce, and could almost be portrayed as the global lingua franca. Even a super power such as China, which is the world's fastest growing economy does not underestimate the power of the English language, with more emphasis on its teaching within their education systems.

In the business and scientific world, English is still the primary language. The Science Citation Index reported that 95% of scientific journals published are in the English language despite only half of them being native English speakers. What logic then can we give to the teaching of Science to revert back to Malay? When so many terms in science are translated directly form English to Malay, like "Oxygen" to "Oksigen", would it not be more logical just to teach the subject in English?

The current batch of Form Four students are going to be severely handicapped going into the new year. Without even a dwibahasa system, the policies of this Barisan Nasional government is going to severely cripple the lives and future of these students.

Going into an election period, with already so much bad press going against them, I am not sure how many parents would be happy with their children taking two steps back because of irrational and illogical thinking on the part of this government.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Khairy, Oh why Khairy?

In less than 140 characters, Khairy Jamaluddin may have just destroyed his and UMNO's chances of swaying fence sitters and Malay moderates from supporting Barisan Nasional at the next General Election.

He has committed the cardinal sin of politics by picking on not his political opponent, but his son. A mere school boy, what could Lim Junior have possibly done to deserve such slander? Lim Guan Eng and Lim Kit Siang have every right to be outraged at this despicable behaviour.

It is one thing to have pro-UMNO bloggers spreading lies and slander over the Internet. That only reaches a limited audience. Politician expect to face criticism on a daily basis. In fact one would argue that criticism could make one stronger.

However, to level a blow on a 16-year old boy, this is no longer fair game. No one would ever tolerate attacks on a person's child, whether in government and opposition. When an opposition member condemns the child of a member of the ruling party, when that child is in no position to defend his or herself, it should be roundly condemned. It holds true the other way round.

Right now, Khairy Jamaluddin finds himself in a precarious position. As UMNO Youth chief, he has painted an image that he is a moderate and an agent for change within a party which has lost their core values in their quest to retain power.

He is a young, highly educated and well spoken leader, representing the next generation of politicians in this country. We also know he is a loving father with two sons which he dotes upon. Imagine if one of his sons was in Lim Junior's position. Wouldn't he be outraged? We would be appalled if he was not.

Why one earth then did he decide to add fuel to fire with his two tweets, the first one yesterday where he said in response to another tweet by pro-Umno blogger "@PapaGomo" translated to "Maybe he destroyed Kampung Buah Pala because he wants to replace it with Kampung Buah Dada", which can be construed as a direct attack on Lim Junior.

Despite clarifications that the girl in question was not even in the same class as Lim Junior, Khairy was relentless. In his response to calls to apologise, he defended his comments tweeting "Bro, what BN leaders & their families get from the opposition is far worse. Don't be hypocritical" replying to Liew Chin Tong and Satees Muniady. I actually replied, via @douglast86 "because BN leaders feel aggrieved of past attacks they can justify an attack on LGE son?"

Personally, I am horrified that as a result of both sides accuse each other of playing gutter politics, children can be brought into the foray. This is nothing short of disgusting, with every loving parent condemning this kind of action, irrespective of political affiliation.

Do we see here the real Khairy Jamaluddin? What about the moderate, the reformer and the light for the future of Umno? Will the real Khairy Jamaluddin please stand up?

Now he faces the uphill battle to restore his and his party's image. An apology is certainly in order, but he would have to go the extra mile to erase this from the memories of the Rakyat. May God forgive him for this unprovoked attack on an innocent child. In future, remember the rules and pick on someone your own size.

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MCA Has Lost The Plot

For some reason or another, my family maintains our subscription of The Star Newspaper. Overall, it is not too a bad read, updating us on local issues and sports news. However, I have the tendency nowadays to skip over the Nation section.

However, glancing through the paper, the MCA has used their mouthpiece to launch another salvo at the DAP. Wee Ka Siong, who still must be smarting over the "MCA girls" controversy has called on the DAP to make their stand clear on hudud and leave Pakatan Rakyat.

Obviously running out of material, he has returned to thump on the hudud issue once again. Hudud has traditionally been one of the favourite issues for Barisan Nasional to flog during the run-up to the election period. They continue to believe that this issue would drive non-Muslims away from the Opposition and return to them. How they are mistaken.

Yes, there is talk about hudud law being implemented in Kelantan. However, it's implementation is NOT possible, unless the Federal Constitution can be amended to allow it. Secondly, as hudud is not in the Common Framework Policy and the Buku Jingga, Pakatan Rakyat as a coalition government has committed  that they will not implement hudud in any shape or form if they were to take federal power.

Wee Ka Siong and the MCA appears to be now reaching the point of desperation. Rather than looking at solving their own internal issues, they attempt to redirect attention to the DAP. He accuses PR of implementing hard line policies in the four PR run states. What are these policies? Can he prove that this is occurring? Where is he getting this information from or is he just shooting in the wind?

The MCA has steadily lost credibility, not just amongst Malaysian Chinese, but Malaysians in general. They accuse the DAP government in Penang of being anti-Chinese and yet they fail even to protect the interests of the people they purportedly represent. Shouting 1Malaysia at the top of their lungs, they still operate along racial lines.

In this year's MCA General Assembly, they passed their resolution to abolish school licensing. However, in 54 years of supposedly fighting for the education of our children, our education system has become the laughing stock of Asia. Form 3 students face having to learn Science and Mathematics in Malay once again, having learnt theses subjects in English for 9 years. What does the MCA have to say to that?

Failing to uphold their own principles, and consistently serving as UMNO's 'Yes'-men, this is the hypocrisy which are turning away voters from them in droves. Like UMNO, they are unwilling to change their modus operandi. Since UMNO typically do not agree with policies put forward by the MCA, why is the MCA still in Barisan Nasional?

The people are calling for change, but the MCA simply refuses to do so, believing that they have the divine right to be there. Where there continues to be a belief that a Chinese needs to represent a Chinese, they are sending out a poor message, completely contrary Najib's own philosophy of 1Malaysia.

Very soon, the MCA will find themselves being confined as politically irrelevant. They are in a very real danger of following the same fate as Gerakan in the next General Election. Unless the MCA gets off their high horse, stop the smack talk and the gutter politics, and actually get to work for the people again, they will face the wrath of the people at the polls.

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Friday, October 14, 2011

Khalid: Better than all past Umno MBs combined but can he retain S'gor?

Written by Moaz Nair, Malaysia Chronicle

They called it the “broom syndrome” before March 2008. The household broom is oddly enough considered as taboo, inauspicious or inviolable in many societies. Kids are often reminded of the iniquitous witch riding a broom in the celestial firmament. The broom is also considered to bring bad omen by many – never hit a child with a broom, never sweep the house when night falls, never place the broom where you are having your meal, never point at someone with a broom, never keep a broom high up a place, never put a broom at the doorway as it would not bring in wealth.  What more, never dish out brooms to those who have underperformed in their work! The “broom syndrome” – a blessing in disguise  ̶   did make an impact in the March 2008 General Election in Selangor. It saw the state of Selangor falling to the Opposition.
No more “brooms” but aid
And today, it’s the way forward for the Selangor state government which has a population of 5,411,324 as of 2010.The state's ethnic composition consists of Malay 52.9%, Chinese 27.8%, Indian 13.3%, and other ethnic groups 6% living together harmoniously under a new economic and political direction. Under the present government Selangor has further flourished with industries, agro-industries and economic opportunities to become the richest state in the country. No more “brooms” but aid is given out in various forms to its less than 30 percent less privileged citizens through the people-oriented policies of the state. The people in Selangor have studied the report card of the Selangor state government and they do not have much justification not to continue supporting the incumbent state government in the next general election.
Today, Selangor has been rated as one of the best managed states in the country. Together with the three other Opposition controlled states, they have managed for the past three years pencilling in the highest amount in foreign investments. Penang, Selangor, Kedah and Kelantan attracted RM25 billion in investments   ̶   53 percent of the country’s total investments of RM47.2 billion in 2010. This is undeniably an achievement despite the fact that the Opposition has just governed the state in a short period of time. Selangor has now earned high confidence ratings from among local and foreign investors because of her apposite economic policies. Every citizen of Selangor as well as others in the country are aware of this success and achievements despite all the spin and bilk by the nauseous pro-UMNO media to demean the Opposition-controlled state government. These media, as expected, would not highlight the many achievements of Selangor in the past three years just because the state is under the Opposition. Yet the people are not oblivious to the many achievements notched up by the state.
Tolerates no political gibberish
As for the Menteri Besar (MB) of Selangor (Tan Sri Dato' Seri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim) he is, conceivably, more of Selangor’s business CEO than a politician. Cool, diligent, knowledgeable and with many sparkling ideas he has brought the state of Selangor to become among the best Opposition-ruled states in the country.
Being an industrious and no-nonsense chief executive of Selangor he is also assisted by an equally capable political secretary – a lawyer by training, and a team of conscientious lawmakers in the Selangor State Assembly. Birds of a feather, they have together conscientiously brought Selangor to the high altar of economic development. He may at times sound acerbic when dealing with some shady characters in politics. Even so, many within his circle of policy makers understand his code of actions. He is exceptionally sharp and charmingly witted when making decisions on matters of importance to the well-being of Selangor. He tolerates no political gobbledygook when it comes to the administration of Selangor. Politicians who are the self-seeking type would find no seat in his chartered course. He tolerates no political gibberish from his contemporaries. His background as an astute and successful entrepreneur in the past has moulded him into becoming such an accomplished leader within a very short period. This has indeed become the envy of so many aspiring politicians – those opportunists among them who only know what wily politics is all about, how to exploit politics to enrich themselves and how to clamour for crucial government posts without having any business credentials to their resume.
Off-coloured politicians spewing words of hatred
No amount of political slander and slur against the incumbent MB to weaken him and the state government could dent his popularity among the people of Selangor and the nation. His political foes are now out of ideas on how to taunt the well-grounded fame of this personality.
The Opposition grip on Selangor is the envy of many politicians in the opposite political divide. However, that faction itself has no politicians who could match the grit and merit of the incumbent MB of Selangor. As such, there would always be some off-coloured politicians spewing words of hatred against him to rock the boat and bring down the state Government. This unfortunately is hollow and void, as it would only keep on echoing over them.
The Opposition controlled Selangor state government has achieved so much in the last three years worth emulating by many other states. The three pillars these Opposition states adhere to are competency, accountability and transparency. And there is no avenue for corruption, nepotism and cronyism to haunt the administration in these states. Taxpayers’ money is well utilised and well accounted for. The delivery system is well monitored by a stringent internal auditing process unlike the other states.
Selangor is the most developed state
Selangor today experiences the highest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the country. It is today the most developed state in the country inhabited by Malaysians of all ethnic groups. The state today enjoys the highest growth rate in the country as compared to the other states. The state overall income increased by 20 percent from RM1.59 billion to RM1.77 billion just within three years. One of the reasons for this success is that all elements of wastage, corruption, nepotism and cronyism are scrupulously weeded out from the administration of the state. This has significantly helped bring in more money to the state coffer and in turn spent wisely to uplift the living standard of the people in Selangor.
The State Government’s revenue increased by RM200 million during the first six months of this year and this is the best financial record over the last 28 years. The State’s cash reserves stood at RM918 million at the end of 2010 and RM1, 100 million at June 2011. Investments have increased by RM557 million as at June 2011 compared to RM668 million at December 2010. Conducive business environment, a business-friendly government, prudent financial management and the admirable delivery system have made Selangor a favourite destination for local and foreign investors.
Coalition of peace and understanding
The incumbent government in Selangor of today is rock solid with representatives from PKR, PAS and DAP paving the way for a better governance. Under this coalition of peace and understanding the State has managed to become a showcase for many other states in the country to try to be like.
With excellent fiscal and management policies the Selangor government is able to come up with many unprecedented people-oriented policies to help the people. This has contented the people of all ethnic groups. Void of wastage through financial leakages and poor delivery system Selangor is able to become a people-centric government as opposed to the previous crony-centric government. The state government has thus allocated for the people RM500 million in its People-Oriented Programmes (MES).
People-empowered-based economy
The unprecedented Micro Credit programme for the poor (MimBar) launched in March 2011, for instance, has allocated RM50 million to help the poor with sources generated from debt collection under the Menteri Besar Consolidated Account. The effort is to accomplish programmes to build up a people-empowered-based economy as opposed to a capitalist-based economy that favours the well-connected and rich over the poor.
The Selangor State Government has presented savings fund of RM100 for every successful registration at TAWAS (Selangor Children Inheritance Fund or Tabung Warisan Anak Selangor). At the age of 18 years these children would have the opportunity to receive returns as result of investments in TAWAS. RM1, 000 is given to all children of Selangor citizens from families earning RM1, 500 and below pursuing their tertiary education in all institutions of higher education. RM13.5 million has been allocated for this purpose and another RM5 million for educational welfare of state civil servants’ children.
Under the People Oriented Programme (MES) is the Golden Age Friendly Scheme (SMUE), which is a unique scheme to look after the welfare of the people of Selangor to help families of senior citizens and disabled persons regardless of gender, race, religion, political belief, economic status and social status. Thus far the state has registered 154, 700 senior citizens and the handicapped and committed an amount RM54 million on this benevolent project involving 23, 140 of their relatives.
Fund to help children of farm or estate workers
Senior citizens and the handicapped (OKU) registered under this programme would receive RM2, 500 upon their death for funeral expenses. RM49 million has been allotted for this group of citizens since its launch in 2008. Thus far RM19 million has been allocated to 8,303 citizens registered.
The Selangor government has also set up a fund to help children of farm or estate workers. This is to provide educational assistance to farm workers’ children in the form of scholarship to children of the famers for the purpose of financing their education.  This fund would also finance the construction and maintenance of schools and hostels for children of farm workers throughout the state. The Government is concerned about their children’s education and has allocated RM2 million for the realisation of this programme.
The Selangor government has since allocated RM16 million for Religious, Chinese and Tamil schools to help improve their schools. Issues on schools built on private lands, place of worship and housing in estates, health facilities have been resolved amicably with the cooperation from developers and the share or stakeholders. Aid is given to those in the estates for their health care. RM522, 000 was distributed to the 97 Tamil-school PTAs this year in the whole of Selangor just recently to benefit Tamil schools.
Help reduce the financial burden of the poor
As from June 2008 Selangor provides free use of water supply for the first 20 cubic meters for domestic consumers. This is to help reduce the financial burden of the poor. RM150 million has been spent on giving free 20 cubic meters of water to the consumers.
The Foundation Dar Al Qard Al Hasan Wa (YDAQAHS) was established in 2008. Microcredit schemes Selangor (SkimSel) was introduced to reduce household poverty, particularly in rural areas. SkimSel adopts a simple method of financing, compliance-based and rigorous credit discipline, without security, without sureties and without legal action.
Through the Free Health Scheme to women, the state government approved a total of RM1 million to provide 56,000 women the opportunity to undergo free mammogram screening. A People’s Dialysis Centre has been set up by the government in Hulu Kelang, Field Park, Ampang and Jalan Kebun.
RM30 million has been allocated to increase the income of families and small entrepreneurs in the state.  Another RM7.7 million has been for the repair of low-cost flats of the poor. RM5.2 is for repainting these flats.
To give a lift to their standard of living
The state has helped encourage the poor to own houses by helping them with RM1, 000 to obtain the land title. This has enabled the poor to own a house to give a lift to their standard of living. RM49 million has been allocated for this scheme since 2008.
Royalty earned from land-related business operations such as sand, rocks and minerals increased by 100 percent from RM1, 470,000.000 in 2008 to RM10, 859,084.24 in June 2011 through better regulation of these operating companies.  This is an unprecedented earning of RM28, 893,142.56 within three years. RM10 million revenue from sand mines and operations is allocated for the Jom Shopping activity to help the poor and the elderly.
These are only some from among the numerous achievements of the state of Selangor under the stewardship of an able MB. There has not been any budget deficit for the past three years and the state goes for economic productivity before they plan to spend. The policy of the government is to be economically productive, earn-first then spend a portion of the profits on the unfortunate in society.
A shining difference compared to Umno MBs
Tan Sri Dato' Seri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim is the 14th MB of the state of Selangor. He is considered by business and political analysts as the best MB Selangor has ever had. He is a former corporate figure and held the position of CEO (1979-1994) in the government-controlled fund management firm Pemodalan Nasional Berhad (PNB). He later became the CEO of Kumpulan Guthrie Bhd (1995-2003).
Despite being an opposition party member, he retains his positions in various quasi-government organisations due to his broad experience and integrity in business and industry. Among his notable positions include, Director, SIRIM Bhd., Adviser, Islamic Development Bank, Fellow, Institute for Strategic and International Studies and Member of the National Productivity Council.
The chief executive of Selangor’s prowess, popularity and credibility have surpassed many times over the reputation of most UMNO leaders in the country. No UMNO politician in the country could downplay his rising popularity with nutty and daft rhetoric and propaganda. The people of Selangor and the country in general have cherished the MB as a very able leader. His leadership, business acumen and his calm, or rather shy, approach to politics could even make him a capable prime minister of Malaysia. Khalid is not an armchair economist or a businessman like many of the politicians in the country are. He has the razor-sharp business insight in him, is familiar with the nitty-gritty of the economy and knows in dept what constitutes a business and an economic-oriented nation. These are the endearing assets that have made him an ingenious and nifty leader.
But even so, greater men than him have been fallen by treachery and outright electoral fraud. Umno has cast its eyes on 9 key seats in the state. The winning margin for the Pakatan Rakyat is minimal there and it won't be difficult to funnel 'phantom' voters to these areas and wrest the seats away.
Selangor would then fall back to BN. And the biggest losers would be the Selangorians!
Malaysia Chronicle

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Has the PM gone kaput! There are no measures to shield against global recession

Written by  Moaz Nair, Malaysia Chronicle
The 2012 Budget has not made much impact to convince the people to vote for the incumbent Government. Malaysia's financial strength should not be taken for granted. Any fine economist would have recommended a development budget — pumping more money for development to encourage productivity, especially during these uncertain times of the looming global economic slowdown and recession which may cause many to lose their jobs. But this Budget seems not seem to adhere to this fiscal discipline. It’s more of a spending Budget to ensure the political survival of the incumbent government.
It’s definitely a Budget that throws some money here, there and everywhere, to get that "feel good moments" in order to gain votes in the coming General Election. Economic productivity has not been its main prong but a section of the population would get a small monetary reward each and in a month or so the handouts would have been spent. The total costs of these handouts would add up to a very huge sum which could have been better used to increase economic activities that are more productive. But this is not the case with the Budget; political interests have overridden the nations’ long-term economic interests.
In the 2012 Budget, a total of RM232.8 billion is allocated. The total revenue of the Federal Government is projected to increase 1.9 percent to RM186.9 billion. Taking into account the estimated revenue and expenditure, the Federal Government deficit in 2012 is expected to be around 4.7 percent of GDP. The shortfall in amount would in all likelihood be financed by borrowing. The government probably has to borrow to pay expenses beyond earnings. This would incur other financial encumbrances that are going to indirectly affect the economy.
Still dependent on foreign investors
The Budget has not provided enough boosts to bring in foreign investors and control capital flights from the country. Being a small country which lacks entrepreneurial productivity the country cannot wholly depend on local investors to generate the economy, as even the few established entrepreneurs in the country are leaving for other countries to invest. The country has little choice but to depend heavily on foreign investors and the export industries to generate the economy. The lack of confidence in the country’s governance, social and religious skirmishes and certain government policies adhered to have turned away many potential investors. Not only investors are shying away from the country but also capital flights to foreign countries are affecting the ailing economy.
The country’s exports are mainly to the developed countries, China and India. It is in this economic sector that thousands are employed. When we are heading for a recession depending too much on export industries would affect the country’s economy. Many locals would be out of job and the unemployed, including those immigrants — legal and illegal — in the country, would give the country oodles of social problems.
Neglecting the agriculture sector
The agriculture sector has never been a success story in the history of Malaysia except for a few export-oriented commodities like the palm oil and rubber industry and some private-owned ventures. The 2012 Budget plans to implement the Rural Mega Leap Programme covering 6,500 hectares in 11 Agropolitan Projects nationwide for the cultivation of commodity and cash crops as well as fish caged culture with an allocation of RM110 million. Most government-run agricultural projects had never been successful in the past. There had been too many financial leakages when it came to the agricultural sector under government agencies due to the lackadaisical attitude of agencies, prevalent corruption and incompetent management. The numerous inexpert government agencies could not make the agricultural sector profitable. Most government projects under agricultural schemes in the past were closed down due to loss of money, ineptness and negligence. Until the 12th Malaysia Plan we have yet to see substantial progress in the agricultural sector in the country despite spending billions of ringgit to sustain many agro-based industries. We still lag far behind Thailand and even Indonesia presently, in this important economic sector. The 2012 Budget is not going to induce enough for the private sector to spearhead the agricultural sector to make it further generate the economy.
Malaysia is better off than some industrialised countries in that workers could return to the farming communities in case there is a recession. Ignoring the agricultural sector to face any economic crisis is at the country’s own peril when the economies of developed countries collapse.
The problem would arise when the countries that are supposed to buy our export-oriented industrial and manufacturing products stop or have no means to buy them, and then the country would face an economic snag. The world economic situation is currently very uncertain and it might lead to recession anytime soon. That is when laid-off workers have to return to the farm in a bid to shore up agriculture as a driver of the country’s economic growth. Agriculture could no doubt be a driver of the country’s economic growth. Industry could keep on going but the agricultural sector should not be neglected.
Competitiveness and productivity
Facts and figures on the GDP may not always promise a viable and visible economy for the country. Productivity growth in figures may not really reflect the actual picture of the economy on the ground. Talking about GDP estimates and growth is only for a feel-good reason in any economic plan. At the end of the day it’s always productivity that matters – industry or agriculture. Pay increase for workers – public and private sectors — that does not commensurate productivity would fail to reward the nation at this moment. This is bound to cause further inflation – more money in the hand would spur more spending. The supply-demand theory would then see the prices of commodities escalating. When so much money is going to be spent on “free lunch” the Budget is not going to induce competitiveness and productivity to ensure economic output that could be enhanced to counter growing inflationary pressures.
No one is denying that there has been some significant growth in the national economy since the last economic downturn in 1998. However, as the present income distribution pyramid depicts, the distribution of income in Malaysia is skewed towards the rich, and there is still significant poverty in Malaysia. The 2012 Budget stipulates that Income per capita is estimated to increase to RM28, 725 in 2011 compared with RM26, 175 in 2010. But this does not really reflect on the 40 percent of Malaysians who earn less than RM1500 per month. The one-off RM500 payment to households 53 percent households (3.5 million) earning less than RM3000 indicates that poverty is still a significant issue in the country.
The country’s economic performance registered 4.4 percent in the first half of 2011. It seems that this growth was driven by expansion in the domestic economy. This growth momentum is expected to increase in the second half of 2011, spurred by a more “vibrant” private consumption and investment. Growth in 2011 is, therefore, estimated to expand between 5 percent and 5.5 percent. These figures, however, may not be achieved with ease with the present and future economic slowdown. The economic growth for 2010 would in all likelihood not reach 5 percent with all the uncertainties clouding the world economy. At best it would only buzz around 4 percent or less. This is due to the economic slowdown in the United States, Europe and Japan, inflationary pressures due to rising commodity prices, European debt crisis as well as slower world trade. With global economic decline, the economy would see a continuous downward slide, and projected figures are bound to change.
Inequality fell over the past few decades
Malaysia ranks among the most unequal societies in Southeast Asia in terms of income distribution despite having figures on impressive growth rates and higher per-capita incomes. The 40 to 53 percent of the poor Bumiputera, Indian and Chinese are still disillusioned as they are economically and socially marginalized. There is little sustained welfare or employment-based support for low-income Malaysians who are finding it increasingly tough to make ends meet.
Reports often point to the fall in absolute poverty levels in Malaysia — from 29 percent in 1980 to about 5-6 percent in 2000 and to less than 3.0 percent in 2010. But critical analysts complain that these figures are disingenuous. They point out that the income threshold used for the poverty line — currently an average monthly household income of RM500 — is unrealistic given the higher cost of living. If RM1, 500 per month — a more realistic figure — is taken as the sensible poverty line, then around 60 per cent of Malaysians are categorised as poor.
According to the World Bank, Malaysia is one of the few countries in East Asia where inequality fell over the past few decades. Despite this long-term reduction in poverty rates in all its past Plans, the trend has not significantly changed for the past two decades. It has no less than increased the gap between the rich and the poor.
Inequality worst among all ethnic groups
Another report indicates that Malaysia’s Gini Coefficient — a measurement for income inequality where 0 indicates perfect equality and 1.0 indicates perfect inequality — of around 0.49 is among the highest in the region. This is significantly greater than the levels in poorer countries such as Indonesia (0.32), Vietnam (0.36), and Laos (0.37). It is also higher than Thailand’s 0.41 and the Philippines’ 0.46.
According to another study, intra-ethnic inequality appeared to be worst among ethnic Malays and the Indigenous people of Sabah and Sarawak followed by ethnic Indians, who make up more than half of the country’s 27 million people. Four decades of affirmative-action policies did not increase much the stake in the economy of the Bumiputera (ethnic Malays and other indigenous groups) though it led to the emergence of a Malay middle class. And for the marginalised Indians and Chinese they were forlornly left to fend for themselves against the wretchedness of poverty without much government aid.
Disparity: the rural-urban divide
By 2010, rural household incomes stood at just 60 percent of the urban figures. Many of the poor rural households could be found in Sabah, Sarawak, Kelantan, Terengganu, Kedah, Perlis and parts of Pahang, Johore, Negeri Sembilan and Melaka states. The indigenous groups in the rural and interior areas of Sabah and Sarawak are among the worst affected. Economic aid has not significantly reached the poor natives of these two states. Among the indigenous minorities in Peninsular Malaysia, the Orang Asli remain desperately poor despite all the attempts to alleviate poverty.
In the urban areas, a significant number of poor among all ethnic groups has emerged as well over the decades. Squatter settlement conditions are depressing. A sizable number of street children, undernourished children and single parents with children living in dilapidated shelters could be found in almost all squatter areas in most parts of the country. And this also includes the poor in estates and plantations. This is not the kind of image of economic success the country would want to portray to the world.
There is still significant poverty in Malaysia, which the pro-government media chose to ignore to paint an angelic image of the Government. Unfortunately, only poverty found in Opposition-controlled states are often highlighted by these media to fallaciously represent the performance of the states.
Proportion of poor has increased
There are still a significant number of families of all ethnic groups in the country earning less than RM1500 per month. The cost of living today is affecting them most. The proportion of Malaysians living in urban areas increased from 25 percent in 1970 to about 65 percent in 2010. The official figure for abject urban poverty is given as less than 3 percent but this significantly underestimates urban poverty, as the poverty line is set at RM500 per month for a family of four — a monthly income which has been disputed as unrealistically low for a family of four to meet its needs. A survey of some urban areas in the country has suggested that about a quarter of the country’s urban population lives in squatter and quasi-squatter settlements and this is a reasonable estimate of the poverty rate. At one time, urban poverty was largely a problem confined to the non-Malay communities in Peninsula Malaysia, as they were significantly urbanised at the time of independence and after. However, ethnic Malays from the rural areas have since shifted to the urban areas and the proportion of ethnic Malay poor has accordingly increased. The poor in Sabah and Sarawak has remained at not less than 60 percent when poverty line is set at RM1500 per month.
Financial leakages and mismanagement
The budget has not looked into longer term measures to defend the resilience of the Malaysian economy. The 2012 Budget is full of goodies perceptibly intended to prepare for the next General Election but it has not taken into consideration on how to shield the Malaysian economy against the declining global economy.
Fiscal and financial discipline by the authority was never the norms in the past. With financial leakages, lack of competitiveness, too much bureaucracy, lack of transparency, incompetence, corruption and mismanagement the country would again not see this Budget implemented effectively. As ensued in the past, the lack of transparency, accountability and competency has failed many of the Plans. The clear as crystal Auditor-General’s Reports in the past are testimony to these perpetual problems bilking out the Government Treasury.
The Auditor-General’s Reports had in the past highlighted the many flaws in the financial management of government agencies yet no stern actions were taken to this effect. Again taxpayers’ money has been abused as a result of inept governance of the country. Many agricultural and industrial plans went kaput, huge contracts given to incapable cronies were subcontracted to others for quick and easy profits and there were cases where money was siphoned out before a project could take place. Exorbitant and unreasonable payments were found to be paid by some government agencies for procurement of goods and services. Millions of ringgit had been wasted because of mismanagement of public funds by some government agencies under all the previous Plans.
No sustained economic plan for the poor
To the poor 60 percent of the population it is bread and butter that is the issue. Despite giving out some free candies – a very short-term remedy — to a section of the people the majority of the people are still deprived of any tangible benefits, as there are no sustained economic plans for them especially the marginalised Bumiputera, Indians and Chinese. When there are many special allocations in the Budget for a single ethnic group in terms of business, loans and other opportunities the poor Indians and Chinese are left out with no palpable plans for them to uplift their economic status. This is the fate that the marginalised groups have so patiently endured for the past six decades.
The ordinary self-employed citizens would have to face another price hike of all goods in the market after this Budget. As happened in the past, each time a national budget was announced and a slight pay increase or bonus payment was announced the prices of commodities and essentials shot up in geometrical proportions. This would offset whatever little gain wage earners would make. Unlike some other efficient governments this Budget has announced no effective mechanism to stop this inflationary effect that would keep on haunting the poor more than the rich. The poor Bumiputera, Indians and Chinese would be the most affected by this Budget in the long-run.