Indelible Ink and What Not

Washington DC

Iwo Jima MemorialIwo Jima Memorial

June 27, 2013

MY COMMENT: I am scheduled to speak at the East-West Center in Washington DC on current political developments in Malaysia later today (10.30 pm Malaysian time). It is an open seminar which will be attended by 57 people including Malaysian officials from our Embassy and the US State Department. I have been told that the proceedings will be recorded and carried live:

I am certain that the audience expect me to comment onDin Merican GE-13, although the focus is not the election per se; the seminar  is intended to discuss likely changes that can be expected after GE-13 and prospects for our country over the next 5 years. I will do my best to present a realistic assessment of our political economy, but it is going to be tough not to be uncritical about what has been happening post GE-13.

This indelible ink matter will no doubt surface in the ensuing Q&A session.  Because of the incompetence of the Election Commission, we have wasted RM7.1 million. No one is held accountable for this debacle.  Both Aziz and Wan should have been fired but that would be asking too much of the present government.  Until the Election Commission comes clean on this  and other matters, serious doubts about its competence and integrity will remain.–Din Merican

Indelible Ink and What Not

by Mariam Mokhtar (06-24-13)@http://www.malaysiakini,com

We have heard the same trite comments before: “We’re clean. We’re not guilty. It wasn’t us.” aziz-ec-chairUMNO Baru’s most sanctimonious hypocrite, Election Commission (EC) chairperson Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof, has denied claims of cheating.

Abdul Aziz expressed sadness that the indelible ink used in GE13 could easily be washed off and in an interview with the Malay daily Sinar Harian said, “If people ask me now, what is the saddest thing in my life, I would answer: ‘Indelible ink’.”

The indelible ink had been tested before use and he said, “On the much-awaited day, the power of Allah is greater when the ink could disappear after being washed several times. Where is the mistake?”

He ignored allegations of gerrymandering, the use of money and citizenship as inducements given to illegal immigrants to vote for BN, the violent attacks on Pakatan workers, the extra ballot boxes, the spoilt votes, the blackouts, as well as the plane and busloads of foreigners transported to the peninsula to vote for BN. In other words, the EC conspired with BN to cheat in GE13.

Abdul Aziz said that the ink had been tested, but then blamed the failure of the ink on “the power of Allah”. He had sanctioned the use of doctored ink, and by saying Allah was responsible – when it was him who authorised its use – it means that he is playing God.

By Abdul Aziz’s will, there was massive cheating in the election process, which allowed UMNO Baru to “win the election”. By claiming that it was “the power of Allah” that allowed Umno Baru to win the election, Abdul Aziz is effectively saying that he is Allah.

This blasphemy will not endear him to the rural Malays and may mean that he will have to be sacrificed, to save the party. Indelible ink and the EC are not compatible. Three general elections ago, in 2004, the National Fatwa Council decided that the ink would prevent Muslims from performing their prayers. In GE12 (2008), the EC said that there were national security issues and claims of sabotage. In 2013, the lies ranged from EC workers feebly shaking the bottles to a full-blown health scare.

Familiar UMNO Baru excuses

These excuses are a familiar UMNO Baru dodge. Recently, the organisers of the ‘Black 505’ rally were given the runaround, when trying to find a suitable venue for their rally. The Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) and the Police could not even coordinate their lies. One said there was a wedding, whilst the other claimed there was a charity run. The Police also made the outrageous claim that they would be provoked.

If you must lie, do so convincingly and with a concerted effort. If Abdul Aziz said the ink was tested prior to its use, which laboratory tested it? Was there an independent laboratory analysis? Did their results match? What was the test used?

Goldenchurn butter and Tabasco sauce went through a similar drama when their products were said to contain pork DNA by the Malaysian Islamic authorities. Butter is made from cow’s milk. Tabasco contains only vinegar and chillies. In which part of the manufacturing process would porcine DNA be introduced?

The Chemistry Department refused to share their test results with the manufacturers, did not want to reveal their methods and did not wish the butter to be sent for independent chemical analyses.

The fiasco with the indelible ink in GE13, has similar echoes of subterfuge and chicanery. Who is the manufacturer of this ink? Have they sold us defective ink? Should we demand a refund? Why is the manufacturer not defending his product? Does he not want a repeat sale? Hasn’t his reputation been irreparably tarnished? To what standard was this ink tested?

Abdul Aziz said that a task force would investigate the ink’s recipe, the way it was used, its transportation and whether the hot air in the lock-up where the ink was stored, had caused a degradation of the ink.

The only ‘hot air’ comes from the EC chairperson, who should not waste any more of the taxpayers’ money. The only thing left is for the senior management of the EC to resign en-masse, to restore the credibility of the EC before GE14. They have severely dented the confidence of the rakyat in Malaysian democracy. If they will not go willingly, they must be sacked.

Obviously, there are three types of UMNO Baru politicians and supporters – the ones who keep an undignified silence about important issues, the false prophets and those who play God.

A Rahman DahlanRecently, Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister Abdul Rahman Dahlan wrote in Utusan Malaysia’s weekend newspaper that BN was ‘fated’ to win GE13, because God had willed it. He said, “In short, fate and God’s will determines everything.”

Who gave this false prophet, Abdul Rahman, the divine right to make prophecies? True prophets serve God and their flock, but UMNO Baru politicians are self-serving men (and women) who are full of exaggerated self-importance. Is Abdul Rahman aware that Muhammad was the last prophet? Despite his blasphemous remarks, Abdul Rahman is not being investigated for sedition.

‘Cowards as leaders’   

Leaders who refuse to comment on important issues when the news break, but wade-in days or weeks later, are simply playing safe. These cowards do not want to be proven wrong, or to be seen to be wrong. They need to protect their own positions. It is not just the Pakatan coalition or the rakyat whom they fear, others within their party are looking for reasons to topple them as well.

Thus, so-called leaders like BN Chief Najib Abdul Razak will keep quietNajib-PM2013 about ‘mat rempit’ mobs attacking ceramah, the brutal deaths in police custody, corruption and child conversion.

The rakyat is at the mercy of UMNO Baru, but it is also at the mercy of the environment. Reports from Jakarta allege that the companies which contribute to the haze affecting parts of South-East Asia, are linked to the illegitimate BN government. Najib has good reason to keep quiet.

Perhaps, the men who keep silent on important issues live in the feverish hope that these problems will fade away.

In Perak, the oil-palm industry – which is responsible for the haze originating from Sumatra – has production facilities and processes which are polluting the waterways of Perak. The livelihood of the villagers is affected.

Fish and crustacea like udang galah die. The income from tourism is at risk. The Perak government closes one eye and panders to the industry, as rural voters are only useful to BN in the weeks before an election.

What goes around comes around. UMNO Baru likes to invoke God. So, is the current pollution crisis a divine intervention? Or is it caused by UMNO Baru’s policies and failure to enforce strict environmental pollution controls?

MARIAM MOKHTAR is a non-conformist traditionalist from Perak, a bucket chemist and an armchair eco-warrior. In ‘real-speak’, this translates into that she comes from Ipoh, values change but respects culture, is a petroleum chemist and also an environmental pollution-control scientist.

The Indelible Ink : No One held accountable

Washington DC


MY COMMENT: This indelible ink affair is turning into a gameDin Merican of buck passing. All the Election Commission should have done is to come clean upfront. In stead, both the EC Chairman and his Iago like Deputy have been playing games with the Malaysian public.

I am glad that the Najib administration has given a partial explanation on the matter to Parliament.  We now told that a total sum of RM7.0 million has been spent of indelible ink and related items. For what? This matter has become a national joke. Who is accountable for this waste of public money. The finger is pointing to the EC Chairman and he must be held accountable.  MACC, what are you doing about this? Furthermore, I cannot understand why the supplier’s identity is a “secret”?Din Merican


The Indelible Ink : No One held accountable

by Ram Anand@

The indelible ink was in many cases not indelible.

The indelible ink was in many cases not indelible.

The Election Commission (EC) has said that there were “no chemicals” in its indelible ink that was used for the 13th general election.

In a parliamentary written answer to Lim Lip Eng (DAP-Segambut) today, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Dato Seri Shahidan Kassim said that all the chemicals in the ink were replaced by food colouring.

No chemicals were used in the ink, they were instead replaced with food colouring ingredients which were approved,” the short answer read to a question as to why the ink did not last seven days as initially promised.

“The durability of the ink is subject to the efforts taken to wipe off the ink by individuals,” the reply said.

NONEIt also said that a test conducted on EC officials and media personnel on May 2 “proved” that the ink worked the way it was supposed to.

The EC has previously said that silver nitrate was used in the ink and was supposed to last seven days.

However, many individuals have complained of being able to easily wash off the indelible ink within hours of being applied.

Lim later laughed at the parliamentary reply in his Twitter account, noting that the indelible ink was now “edible” based on the reply.

One netizen who was bemused by the reply later tweeted in response, cheekily asking if the ink was “finger licking good”.

Supplier’s identity secret for ‘security reasons’

shahidan_kassimMeanwhile in a separate reply to another DAP MP, Anthony Loke (DAP – Rasah), Shahidan (right) stated that the cost for the use of indelible ink during the May 5 polls was RM6.9million.

Reading out the answer prepared by the EC, the Minister said the amount also covered the costs for designing special ink bottles, the brushes, the boxes as well as the cost for the unique ink mixture, seeing as how it was not available in the market.

“Other additional costs consist of transport cost, packaging and storage, about RM200,000, making the total costs RM7.1million,” Shahidan said in the written reply.

He added that at this time, there is no plan to reveal information on the indelible ink supplier to the public for “security reasons”.

South China Sea dispute: Who is bullying who?

Washington DC

Washington DC

June 26, 2013

The South China Sea Dispute, the writer claims, is a clash of SAM_0232civilisation ala Samuel Huntington and it could lead to war between the United States and China. That to me is too alarmist. Why should both United States and China take the route to mutual destruction and  bring untold collateral damage to the peoples of  ASEAN, Japan, South Korea and Australia. After all the dispute has nothing directly with the United States since it involves some claimants like Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines and Brunei who are members of ASEAN.

We should, therefore, allow diplomacy to take its course. Yes, there will be no bullying by China and anybody else.The Chinese leadership is enlightened enough to know that China cannot impose its own solution to the South China Sea dispute and must respect the legitimate interest of other claimants. Given goodwill and soft diplomacy, the South China Sea dispute can be resolved. But it is difficult to predict Chinese behavour since it has begun to take a tough stance on the matter.–Din Merican

South China Sea dispute: Who is bullying who?

by chankaiyee2

China South China Sea Claim

On June 25, an article titled “China’s bullying tactics backfire in Australia” was posted at China Daily Mail, providing statistics about China’s unpopularity.

First, China has never bullied Australia. Most of the content of the article is correct but the title is wrong.China is indeed becoming increasingly unpopular in Western countries.

Second, what shall Chinese people do to make them not so unpopular in other countries. They have to improve their behaviors and shall not be rude or ignore other countries’ rules or ethics when they travel abroad.

Third, what shall Chinese government do? Isolation may be better. However, that is impossible in a globalized world especially when other countries are trying to restrain China.

Neither China nor those countries are to complain. The problems lie deeply in the conflict of civilizations which according to American gifted political Scientist Samuel P. Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations may lead to a war between the United States and China.

Some people have tried to deny such clash, but has 911 not proved that? By denying it, the United States has failed to deal with the root cause: Islamic radicals’ hatred against the United States. As a result, US people live in constant fear of terrorist attack.

Fourth, who is bullying who? In fact, no one is bullying anyone.What people regard as bullying originates from the clash of civilizations.

In my post South China Sea Dispute: Chinese People’s obsession, I said, “First of all, Chinese people regard as top priority keeping the legacy they have inherited from their ancestors, but such legacy may perhaps be useless or even an expensive burden.”

Now due to the clash of civilizations, such obsession in fact may lead to a war as predicted by Huntington. Chinese people regard Taiwan as a part of such legacy. Japan seized it and due to the separation caused by Japanese occupation, some Taiwanese people have been alienated from China and want independence.

The United States supports them as according to Western values, people have the right to do so, but due to difference in values, almost all Chinese people do not allow that. They support Chinese government’s stance that if Taiwan announces independence, Chinese troops will take Taiwan back by force.

The United States has passed a law that if Taiwan is attacked, US troops will interfere.If the United States does so when Taiwan declares independence, what will be the consequence?

A war between China and the United States. China has been preparing for such a war even a nuclear one for a long time. There is quite a detailed description of that in my above-mentioned post.

There is no use to talk about China bullying Taiwan (lots of Western people believe so) or the United States bullying China (almost all Chinese people think so).

Luckily, neither the United States nor China wants a war. The United States told Taiwan it would not support Taiwan if it declared independence when the pro-independence DPP was in power for 8 years in Taiwan; while China, though refuses to waive its option of a military solution if Taiwan announces independence, has tried its best to win over Taiwan peacefully.

Now, war is even more possible because of the South and East China Sea disputes. Why Western countries do not regard the Republic of China as aggressive in claiming those islands and even almost the entire South China Sea before communist takeover of the Chinese mainland or Taiwan after the takeover? Chinese people wonder.

Chinese people do not know that it is understandable that Western people feel threatened when China may become a superpower. That is natural due to the uncertainty. No one knows whether China will become a source of war like the sudden rise of Germany in the 20th century.

US switch of pivot and support for contenders for China’s claim make Chinese people believe that the United States is bullying China; while the United States and quite a few Western countries believe China is bullying contenders by sending its navy to safeguard its sovereignty.

In fact, no one is bullying anyone. The misunderstanding is caused by difference in values.

Westerners have their theory to negate China’s historical grounds for its claim. China refuses to accept Western theory on the ground that it is a colonist theory based on which Western aggressors took lots of colonies.

Will this clash of civilizations lead to a war? At least, it has led to a cold war now?

China’s recent purchase of lots of Russian oil and most advanced Russian fighter jets and Chinese support for Russia on the Syrian issue are a clear signal that a cold war partnership is taking shape.

In the Russia-China camp, there will certainly be Iran and some autocracies like Russia and China.Do you like that scenario?

Make allowance for Chinese people’s obsession. Understand that Chinese people will even risk a nuclear war to keep their legacy. Try to find a peaceful solution when China is willing to resolve the disputes peacefully. Each country’s dispute with China is different, why insist on a group solution? Why does the United States believe that it shall support contenders militarily to force China to accept a group solution?

If Western countries do not welcome China into their community, they will drive China to Russia’s and other autocracies’ side.That is very dangerous.

Westerners’ enmity will cause Chinese people to rally around the Chinese Communist Party that knows how to exploit such enmity for its popularity. Chinese democracy and human rights fighters will have an increasingly difficult environment because of that!

Are Westerners really support those fighters or merely exploit those fighters to restrain China? Are you not blocking China’s transformation from an autocracy into a democracy?

Do not have the illusion that China will not become powerful if it remains an autocracy. When Germany launched the two world wars, it was an autocracy! The world can only be safe when China is a democracy!

Corruption:Things are never as bad as they seem, says Malaysia’s Idris Jala

Waldorf-Astoria, New York City

wall-street-bullThe Wall Street  Bull, NYC

June 25, 2013

MY COMMENT: There is corruption but it is not bad as theySAM_0232 seem, says Malaysia’s super salesman aka Mr. Transformation. Like the irate Malaysian, I am also disappointed with this kind of spin. It is standard practice for Minister Jala to throw statistics and make dubious comparisons. His objective to blur our thinking in the hope of persuading us and others that everything is fine and rosy in our country.

We have a lot of problems yet we have not shown the political will to deal with them. I know that problems do not disappear with the waving of the magic wand. But as citizens we expect the authorities to show that they have the determination to deal with them. In stead politics gets in the way.

Fighting corruption is a shared responsibility, yes it is true. But the government has the responsibility for good governance. The Prime Minister must deal with corrupt members of UMNO-BN who are known to make loads of money by abusing their positions. Their takings are known as commissions. We need a leader with strong convictions, not someone who pretends that corruption is non-existent or believes like Minister Jala that it is not bad as they seem.

najib-taib-mahmudThe Policeman is corrupt when he accepts RM50 from a traffic offender , but people like the Chief Minister of Sarawak and others like him who have amassed huge fortunes are above the law. The MACC, the corruption buster, is unable to investigate them. Instead, the Chief  Commissioner Tan Sri Abu Kassim tells us that he needs more power to go after the corrupt. We can give him the power he needs, but will he go after the corrupt in high places? I wonder.–Din Merican

Corruption in Malaysia

Things are never as bad as they seem, says Malaysia’s Idris Jala

by Idris Jala@http://www.kinibiz .com(o6-24-13)

idris-jalaRecently, I had a robust conversation with a Malaysian. He was very angry. He had so much to complain about everything in our country. To him, nothing is right in Malaysia.I reproduce my responses to his complaints, in the hope that it might shed some light and provide some hope to those who feel our country is in a hopeless decline. To maintain his anonymity and privacy, I simply call him “Angry Malaysian”:

Angry Malaysian (AM): I think Malaysia is the most corrupt country in the world. If the government is not corrupt, we will solve all the problems in this country. There will be no poverty and everyone in Malaysia will be prosperous and happy.

Idris: That’s not true. Last year, Malaysia improved in Transparency International (TI)’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI). Malaysia’s 2012 score improved compared to 2011 to 49 out of 100 from 4.3 out of 10 (TI’s new scoring methodology changed in 2012 from assigning a score between 1 to 10 in 2011 to 1 to 100 in 2012) . Also Malaysia’s ranking improved from 60 in 2011 to 54 in 2012.

It is equally wrong to say that the only solution to poverty, prosperity and happiness is government corruption. Almost all the countries that are ahead of Malaysia in the world corruption ranking still have absolute and relative poverty. For instance, not everyone in US, UK, Germany or Singapore is rich.

Crime still exists in these countries. Whilst there is hardly any corruption in many rural villages in Malaysia or anywhere else in the world, yet the people are still poor. When I grew up in Bario, in the Borneo highlands we were almost isolated from the rest of the world and there was no corruption in the village. Yet, we were poor.

We should stop looking at corruption as something that leads to otherMoney-Malaysia-Flag-300x202 peoples’ problem – the poor, the marginalised and expect only the Government to tackle the issue. It is true that corruption must be eradicated in the interest of creating a level-playing field and enhancing standards of living. The Government is serious about implementing this through various initiatives. Whilst we deploy policy measures to arrest corruption, there is also a responsibility upon every Malaysian to ensure they do not engage in or encourage corrupt practices. As long as there is giving, there will be taking – it is a vicious cycle. Eradicating corruption is not the job of the Government alone, it is a shared responsibility.

AM: Anwar Ibrahim said at a rally before GE13, that Malaysia’s illicit capital outflow over ten years of RM873 billion, as reported by Global Financial Integrity, is proof that corruption is the scourge of Malaysia. According to him, if we stop this corruption by the government and its cronies, there is enough money for Malaysia.

Idris: Bank Negara Malaysia has refuted this claim. They have clarified that 80% of illicit capital outflow is trade mispricing or transfer pricing. This means private companies produce receipts or invoices which differ from the actual amount of money transacted, usually to pay lower taxes to the government. This is not government corruption.

Bank Negara established that the remaining 20% of illicit capital outflows is due to “errors and omissions”, which includes small residual amounts due to illegal business and corrupt practices. Based on the Bank Negara report released in March, it is totally wrong to say that RM873 billion of “illicit capital” outflow is due to government corruption.

AM: Twenty years ago, Malaysia was on par with South Korea in many ways for example GNI (gross national income) per capita. Even in soccer, we used to beat them. I believe Malaysia lost its competitiveness because of the New Economic Policy (NEP). If we remove the NEP, then Malaysia will immediately improve its competitiveness and catch up with South Korea.


Idris: It is true that South Korea has made a lot more progress compared to us. However, I do not agree that as soon as we abolish NEP, Malaysia will be on the road to catching up with them. The South Koreans did it because they did not complain incessantly about not getting government contracts. They did not incessantly complain about everything that was not perfect around them.

They simply focused on innovating their products to be the best in the world and trained their sights on marketing and selling them in the world market.

AM: A lot of people, particularly non-bumiputeras are leaving Malaysia in droves because of unfair policies such as the NEP. Many of them migrate to Singapore where there is no NEP and it is a fair society.

Idris: That’s not true. A Mindshare survey of 2,000 Singaporeans carried out last year showed that over half of them (56%) wanted to migrate, although there is no NEP in Singapore. According to the World Bank, Singapore had 300,000 migrants in 2010, nearly 10% of Singapore citizens. Reasons for migration are complex and varied and cannot be just pinpointed to the NEP.

AM: The government collects lots of taxes from all of us. So many of us work hard only to pay so much in taxes. The government wastes the tax revenue through corrupt practices and cronyism.

Idris: I don’t agree that Malaysia is taxing everybody and also over-taxing the people. First, Malaysia has a population of 29 million people. Last year, our working population was 12.5 million people. Out of this, only 1.5 million people were registered taxpayers but only 1.2 million paid taxes. Second, most of the government tax revenue comes from Petronas and the oil and gas companies, followed by other corporate taxes and then by the 1.2 million taxpayers.

Third, it is not true that Malaysia is over-taxing. Its corporate and personal income tax is competitive when compared with all other countries worldwide.

Fourth, Malaysia is one of the few countries that has not implemented the Goods and Services Tax (GST). More than 140 countries have already implemented GST.

Fifth, since Malaysia wants to keep income taxes at reasonable rates, and since the government continues to pay huge sums of money on subsidies for the rakyat, our tax revenue is insufficient to pay all our operating and developing expenditure. So Malaysia has a fiscal deficit. Under the leadership of our prime minister, we have been steadily reducing our fiscal deficit from 6.6% in 2009 to 4.5% last year.

AM: I hear that the Government will be introducing GST. This will hurt the poor people and the middle-income group in this country. GST will bring untold suffering to our people and Malaysia’s economy will collapse.

Idris: No decision has been made by the government to implement GST More than 140 countries worldwide have implemented GST and this includes many developed and developing countries eg US, UK, France, Germany, Brazil, Argentina, Singapore, Tanzania, Sri Lanka, Somalia, Ethiopia, Cambodia, Laos, Philippines, Indonesia and many more. Under GST, many items that are typically consumed by the poor and the middle-income group are exempted from GST. Some items are “zero rated”, which also reduces the impact of GST. This is why the implementation of GST was done in many developing and poor countries.

rasuah1I don’t agree with you that GST will bring “untold suffering to our people”, nor will our economy collapse. Let’s be clear, these problems did not happen in the 140 countries which implemented GST.

AM: Crime is happening everywhere in Malaysia. Everyday, I read in the newspapers about street crime and violent crimes. The police are not doing anything. The government doesn’t care about the safety and security of its people.

Idris: The Government considers crime as one of the top national priorities to address. It is indeed one of the National Key Results Areas (NKRA) under the Government Transformation Programme (GTP). The Deputy Prime Minister, Home Minister, IGP and the Police are all working hard to implement initiatives to fight crime. As a result of our collective efforts, crime has dropped from 575 cases per day in 2009 to 407 cases per day in the first five months of 2013, which is an improvement of over 29%. But that does not mean crime does not occur. It still does, but the rate has reduced. Whilst we take note of this, we continue to address problem areas and ensure we continue to make our streets, villages, towns and cities safe. This is a priority.

Bag Snatching signIt is pertinent for us to look into UK’s experience in 1998, when ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair launched an intense nation-wide program to fight crime. Significant amount of resources were provided to strengthen UK’s police force to fight crime.

This program succeeded in turning around crime trend. However, while the crime rates have started to drop in 1998, the general UK public perception was the exact opposite – believing that crime rate continued to increase. It was only six years later, in 2004, that the UK public perception of crime finally started to turnaround. This was how long it took for the UK public to catch on with their country’s improving crime situation.

Malaysia is experiencing this same syndrome, called the ‘Crime Perception Lag’. We are in the third year of the Crime NKRA programme – half-way into the perception lag period experienced by the UK. I believe we need to redouble our efforts to fight crime – by strengthening police presence in our streets, improving investigation and prosecution outcomes, engaging the larger community to fight crime via to be United Against Crime, and incorporating Safe City elements in the development of our cities and townships.

Merdeka dari RasuahWell, that was the gist of my conversation with the Angry Malaysian. Yes, things are not perfect in this country of ours. Where is it perfect? But we have a lot going for us and it is up to us – each and every one of us – to grasp the opportunities available to progress and help our country and ourselves to become developed.

Things are never as bad as they seem.

Idris Jala is CEO of Pemandu, the Performance Management and Delivery Unit, and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department. Fair and reasonable comments are most welcome at

The Haze 2013: News From Jakarta

June 25, 2013

Waldoff-Astoria, New York City


In the Background–The Statue of Liberty

The Haze 2013: News From Jakarta

Weird sense of humour from Jakarta. The Indonesian Government says that Singapore is behaving like a child. How would it react if the haze  had come from Malaysia to affect the health of Indonesians in Sumatra and other parts of the republic?  The haze problem is almost a yearly affair and there is no serious attempt on the part of the Indonesian authorities to come to grip with this matter. Offers of assistance  from its neighbours  have not been well received.

If the plantation owners have been responsible because of their practice of open burning, they should fined punitively. Malaysian companies like Sime Darby and others who own oil palm plantations in Indonesia should be hauled up.  I wonder why the Indonesian authorities have not moved against them. –Din Merican

World Bank: Malaysia’s Near-Term Outlook still Favorable

Waldoff-Astoria, New York City

SAM_0139On the Hudson River with New Jersey in Background

June 25, 2013

MY COMMENT: The World Bank hints of tighter fiscal policies. Normally, this means that domestic economy would slow down. Fortunately, Malaysia’s external sector is still bouyant to enable growth to be around 5.1 per cent for 2013 and 2014. It, however, urges “policy makers in Malaysia consider measures to enhance structural reform and management of natural resource revenues going forward”. There is no mention of rampant corruption and other barriers; we can assume that structural reform means that Malaysia must intensify efforts to fight this scourge. We must also focus on enhancing productivity and rebuilding of our fiscal strength. Overall, the Bank’s assessment of our economic prospects for 2013 and 2014 is positive.–Din Merican


World Bank: Malaysia’s Near-Term Outlook still Favorable

June 24, 2012

Kuala Lumpur

Resilient domestic demand will allow the Malaysian economy to recover from a slow first quarter in 2013, says a new World Bank report. GDP is expected to grow by 5.1% for both 2013 and 2014, driven by higher consumer and business spending. As the global recovery gathers speed in 2014, the Bank report states, Malaysia’s external sector will increase its contribution to growth, offsetting the impact of tighter fiscal policies on the domestic economy.

Released today, the World Bank’s Malaysia Economic Monitor: Harnessing Natural Resources, notes that Malaysia’s trade has become more dominated by commodities such as crude oil, natural gas, rubber and palm oil. With prospects for demand in commodities dampened by weak growth in key export markets such as China and Europe, and an abundance of supply globally, Malaysia needs to accelerate structural reforms to ensure that its economy remains diversified and dynamic.

Kaushik Basu“Malaysia has done remarkably well over the last two decades,” says Kaushik Basu, Chief Economist at the World Bank (left). “However, the coming onstream of new sources of global energy is likely to put downward pressure on several commodity prices. This will no doubt put restraints on growth on a commodity-exporting country like Malaysia. I hope Malaysia will show the nimbleness it has shown in the past.”

Malaysia is one of a few developing countries that has successfully converted an abundance of natural resources into long-term sustainable growth. As noted in the report, sound policy choices ensured revenues from resource extraction were reinvested in the economy in the form of machines, buildings and education. This supported high rates of growth that was shared among the population, raising the average incomes of the bottom 40 percent of rural households by 7.1 percent a year over three decades, while poverty rates plummeted.

“Malaysia is a good example of a country that has successfully useddixon-world-bank-b9 natural resources to invest in other areas of the economy,” says Annette Dixon, World Bank Country Director for Malaysia (right). “This has allowed the country to promote diversification, create jobs and improve living standards for its people.”

While Malaysia can be seen in many ways as a blueprint for other resource-rich, developing economies to follow, important challenges have emerged as a consequence of the global boom in commodity prices in the 2000s. In recent years, the economy has become less diversified, with high-tech manufacturing declining and commodities increasing as a share of exports. As highlighted in this report, reversing this trend, as well as saving a higher share of revenues from oil and gas, will enhance the resilience of Malaysia’s economy.

frederico-gil-sander1“To reach its goal of becoming a high-income nation, Malaysia will need to continue managing natural resources sustainably,” says Frederico Gil Sander, World Bank Senior Economist for Malaysia (left). He added, “Some adjustments are needed to spend less of the resource revenues on consumption and more on building skills and institutions that will support further diversification.”

The report suggests that policy makers in Malaysia consider measures to enhance structural reform and management of natural resource revenues going forward, including:

  • Improving sustainable consumption of natural resources by increasing the role of Malaysia’s formal oil wealth fund, reforming fuel subsidies and reviewing gas pricing.
  • Diversifying the economy towards higher productive investments in non-commodity sectors through improvements in human capital and better public investment management systems.
  • Adapting agricultural commodity production to the effects of climate change.

The Malaysia Economic Monitor series provides an analytical perspective on the policy challenges facing Malaysia as it grows into a high-income economy. The series also represents an effort to reach out to a broad audience, including policymakers, private sector leaders, market participants, civil society and academia.

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In Kuala Lumpur

Intan Nadia  Jalil
tel : +6012 631 3011

In Bangkok

Paul Risley
tel : +66 807815165

In Washington

Carl Hanlon
tel : (202) 473-8087