Najib Razak’s Gua Tolong Lu, Lu Tolong Gua Survival Economics


October 22, 2017

Malaysia’s Economic Policy--Najib Razak’s Gua Tolong Lu, Lu Tolong Gua Survival Economics

by MP Liew Chin Tong@www.malaysiakini.com

Image result for Najib is a liar

MP SPEAKS | The suffix “-nomics” is a popular media term to denote a certain type of economic idea or just a form of ridicule against political rhetoric.

“Najibnomics” is an attempt to show off Najib’s set of clearly articulated economic ideas to drive the nation forward. But is it even real?

On October 27, 2017, Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak in his role as finance minister will present his ninth Budget to the Parliament.

Najib took over from Abdullah Ahmad Badawi as Finance Minister following a tense negotiation on September 17, 2008.

The 2009 Budget was presented by Abdullah on August 29, 2008. Najib then succeeded Abdullah as prime minister on April 3, 2009.

The only time Najib was close to articulating a framework was during the launch of the now defunct (and discredited) “New Economic Model” on March 31, 2010, a year into his premiership.

Image result for dr jomo kwame sundaram

In a recent interview with Malaysiakini, Professor KS Jomo (photo) had this to say about the New Economic Model:

“Let us be clear about this. The New Economic Model, or NEM, is really a wishlist of economic reforms desired from an essentially neo-liberal perspective. That does not mean it is all good or all bad. It contains some desirable reforms, long overdue due to the accumulation of excessive, sometimes contradictory regulations and policies.

“Although the NEM made many promises and raised expectations, most observers would now agree that it has rung quite hollow in terms of implementation despite its promising rhetoric. As we all know, the NEM was dropped soon after it was announced for political reasons, and has never been the new policy framework it was expected to be.”

I share Jomo’s sentiment that NEM was more or less a wishlist from the neo-liberal perspective. But at least there was a plan.

New Economic Model, RIP

Three key takeaways from NEM are worth noting.

First, Malaysia could no longer depend on just capital investments, be it foreign or local, or having more foreign unskilled labour. What is required is productivity through innovation.

Second, social inclusiveness was one of the three key pillars in the NEM. The other two being “high income” and “sustainability”.

“Inclusiveness” is World Bank’s shorthand for “inequality”. Even in 2010, it has been identified that inequality is one of the major concerns that the Malaysian economy has to confront.

Third, NEM argues that more economic decision-making powers should be devolved to state and local governments, and not concentrated in the hands of the central government.

Worse still, economic decisions are increasingly concentrated in the hands of Najib himself, bypassing the cabinet entirely.

The key recommendations of NEM are listed as follow:

Not that I agree with NEM entirely, but, again, there was a framework and a plan.

Less than three months after the launch of NEM, Najib presented the 10th Malaysia Plan, prepared by the Economic Planning Unit of the Prime Minister’s Department, in June 2010.

NEM was prepared by a group of senior economists with relatively broad-based consultations with the wider society.

The Malaysia Plan has become a bureaucratic routine. The two documents – NEM and the 10th Malaysia Plan – did not seem to “talk” to each other.Najib has no conviction. He has no clear idea of which ideas to adopt. As soon as NEM was launched, it was shuttered prematurely – after protests by some right-wing Malay groups.

Minimum wage and BR1M

While NEM was ostensibly killed by right-wing groups, the actual killer was Idris Jala’s Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu).

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Idris Jala–Malaysia’s Super Bullshitter

Najib’s then supposed economic troubleshooter Idris Jala packaged some of NEM ideas into the “Economic Transformation Programme” (ETP) which focused on the so-called high-impact “Entry Point Projects” (EPP).

Between 2009 and 2011, Najib was telling the investor community that he intended to “liberalise” the Malaysian market, with rules for some 27 sectors relaxed.

Beyond that, he neither articulated any coherent economic ideas nor pushed for significant reforms apart from proposing a minimum wage and the cash handout programme 1Malaysia People’s Aid (BR1M).

Image result for Najib is a liar

Only Raja Petra Kamaruddin wants him to stay because he is a beneficiary of Najib’s Gua Tolong Lu, Lu Tolong Gua Policy

The opposition and the trade unions had long called for the implementation of the minimum wage. Najib agreed to implement minimum wage in the hope to take the sails out of the opposition’s wind.

BR1M was even more interesting. The then Pakatan Rakyat policy committee, of which I was a member, announced in July 2011 that it planned to focus the “bottom 60 percent” with a comprehensive set of economic reforms.

Najib’s government answered Pakatan Rakyat’s plan with BR1M to pacify the bottom 60 percent.

Making rating agencies happy

Post-May 2013 general election, the Prime minister’s focus was on pacifying the rating agencies.

The emerging markets suffered sudden currency slides in May and June 2013 in what was termed a “taper tantrum” as the US Federal Reserve indicated its intention to scale back monetary easing.

Rating agencies panicked and started to look at the weaknesses of Asian economies.

Najib’s knee-jerk reaction was to form a “fiscal policy committee” which has a membership almost identical with the weekly “Majlis Ekonomi” (Economic Council) meeting that bypasses the proper full cabinet deliberation on economic matters.

The fiscal policy committee committed to keeping the deficit at three percent and eventually achieving a balanced budget in 2020.

To this end, subsidies were cut, government services were slashed and the Goods and Services Tax (GST) was recommended in the 2014 budget speech (presented in 2013, the first Budget after the last general election).

Image result for Najib is a liar

From then on, Najib’s economic policies were reduced to ensuring that the rating agencies were happy and the government has sufficient revenue to pay for its excesses. Nothing about refashioning the economy or any long-term vision.

It’s all about Najib’s survival

The year 2015 was probably Najib’s annus horribilis. Oil prices dropped dramatically since October 2014, and as a consequence, the ringgit plunged too.

From March 2015 onwards, details of the 1MDB scandal emerged and subsequently, in July 2015, details about the “donation” into Najib’s personal account surfaced.

Najib sacked then Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, then Attorney-general Abdul Gani Patail and then Rural and Regional Development minister Shafie Apdal (now in Jail) on July 28, 2015.

In September 2015, in order to deal with the trust deficit, a special economic committee (JKE), which included Nazir Razak (right in photo), Najib’s respected banker brother, was formed to advise the government on economic policies.

There is reason to believe that the JKE no longer meets. Even if it has met, Najib has no time for any views. By now, it is about his survival and nothing else.

Since late 2015, the government has decided on the propaganda line that the Malaysian economy is doing very well under Najib, and whoever claims otherwise is bordering on economic treason or sabotage.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) Abdul Rahman Dahlan, who also doubles as BN strategic communications director, typified this approach.

The government is no longer prepared to listen to the grouses of ordinary Malaysians who suffered the triple blows of GST implementation, the stiff depreciation of ringgit and government austerity (cuts to subsidies, health, welfare and education funding).

“There is no crisis!” So Najib and his associates believe. There are even court jesters who sing praises of the wonders of “Najibnomics”.

Image result for Najib  Don't Worry, I will be gone soon

But just like the emperor with no clothes, at some point, probably at the ballot box, the voters will call his bluff. By then, perhaps many of us will realise that Najib has had no serious economic policy for the past nine years as finance minister and more than eight years as Prime Minister.In the end, it’s all about “Nothing-nomics”.

LIEW CHIN TONG is the MP for Kluang and DAP national political education director.

 

11 thoughts on “Najib Razak’s Gua Tolong Lu, Lu Tolong Gua Survival Economics

  1. CLF and Orang Malaya,

    I look forward to reading your comments on our Najib’s no Economics. I have never in my life encountered a bigger bull than this Prime Minister. He has been able to tame his Cabinet including MITI Minister Mustafa. They have become a team of bullshittongs. Even Raja Petra Kamaruddin and Tunku Abdul Aziz are on his side.

    Come GE-14, we will be snookered again with this new Budget on October 27. In Parliament we will be told that Malaysia is fine. In 2020, our country will be a developed nation. By TN50, Malusia will be a global power if Najib is still in power. –Din Merican

  2. Please Najib have his own original economic idea? Are you out of your mind? He and his team hardly understand basic dos and no’s in policies. Singing UMNO song in primary school is destroying children minds and they see nothing wrong. Najib consistently LYING, not just propaganda, and they just smile and carry on, believing their supporters are so blinded such basics decency does not matter , their dependent and brain washed supporters do not feel shame, fear of their public conduct

  3. China loans and China investments may save his political neck.
    The cost? 1Malaysia would become a vassal state of
    China. Then again, the local race supremacists and neofascists would
    perhaps be less brazen in their threats against minority ethnic groups
    in 1Malaysia.

    • Ah yes, 1Malaysia would also be the recipient of polluting industries and factories that relocate out of China.

    • The Malaysia China Kuantan Industrial Park is exclusively China Chinese. Pajak Malaysia demi Cina

  4. Seriously i can’t put a particular date when it all started spiraling downhill, unlike our esteemed YB Pua.

    By mid 2014, one year after GE-13, the few of us who were tuned into KleptoMo1’s ‘value propositions’ knew about the dire straights that Malusian economy was headed into the near future.

    NEM and the !0th Malaysian plan were just sound bites on teleprompters and nothing more. Pemandu collated some of the data, wrote tomes of ‘policy’ that turned out to be fairy tales. Idris was no Jala, who couldn’t even grab the lowest of the ‘low hanging fruits’. Why? There were none!

    The Billions spent on the rentier and entitled Bumiputra SMEs and entrepreneurship programs yielded zilch. In fact, most are now considered write-offs or NPLs. If the only successful entrepreneurs are the likes of “Dr” Vida, of mercuried cosmetic fame, it really shows the dearth of business ability amongst the ‘natives’. Why? Emotional devolution due to atrophied skill-sets..

    Most of the heads of gomen agencies responsible for the economy, including EPU are kakistocrats and no amount of persuasion could overcome their denial or deficit. Klepto wanted kaki bodek, carma and corrupt lackeys – for he treasured Loyalty above all else. He eschewed honest, able and capable administrators and executors, who based their conclusions on hard copy spreadsheets, solid economic data, geopolitical developments and international trading trends. So these few capable ones, retired voluntarily or were forced out – which left the kakistocrats and kleptocrats in charge to polish KletoMo1’s cojones.

    The going rate for whatever grants and loans were levied a 20% surcharge, for ‘donation’ purposes. Follow the Leader!

    There were only 3 blokes of any ‘economic’ substance within UMNOb heirarchy – two voluntarily ‘resigned’, leaving only Tok Pa in MITI. Being a Kelantanese male, he never had the gumption or ability of a Kelantanese female. So it would be best he retires as the MB of Kelantan.

    So, yes the whole Null-Nomics is due to the absence of direction, leadership and grey matter between the ears. That’s what we get in an Auto-Kakisto-Kleptocracy, ya?

  5. after the launderate story had gone round the world many times and after the outcry from the Royalty, mo1 came out with a lame disapproval.
    When adultery is proported to have been committed by parties where at least one of the party is a Muslim, a China Doll came out to defend the perpetuaters by accusing the law as being archaic. Wake up Bo Su Lynn, we are already nearing the stage of RUU355.
    The Attorney General wants a task force to work on a simple case of a male enticing a female. It is a simple matter where there is at least one police report and the police to investigate the truth or otherwise of the report and take action in accordance to the results of the investigations. Why doesn’t the AG appoint a Task Force to investigate the disappearance of Rev. Koh more than 100 days after his disappearance where even Suhakam is conducting hearings?
    A Hindraf leader was promised justice for the Indians and supported the Be End agenda and now with GE14 nearing history is repeating itself but this time with MIC.
    What a Deja Vu.

  6. Quote:- “China loans and China investments may save his political neck.
    The cost? 1Malaysia would become a vassal state of
    China”

    Not so fast.

    I think Najib’s strategy is to do a “Reverse N. Korea Syndrome” at the appropriate time.

    That is, if and when China threatens Najib for whatever reason, Najib would run to the US and cry wolf, just as N. Korea is now using China as a counter-balancing power against Trump’s threats of “totally destroying” N. Korea which everyone knows would never be carried out.

    In any case a China posturing now as a benign gentle giant threatening a tiny helpless Malaysia which could physically fit into a small corner of Lake Erie is just not kosher.

    • I think MO1 is cunning and unscrupulous, but not as smart as
      Josip Broz Tito in playing off one superpower against another.

      Also, Tito was doing it for the sake of Yugoslavia.
      MO1 ? Just so that he can hang on to power for own benefit etc etc.
      Does not care if the nation is wrecked in the process.

      Tito was a great man. MO1 is a tiny, tiny,tiny, little man.

  7. Najib’s economic policies is based on a buy and sell approach. Buy votes, buy meetings with foreign leaders, buy position in BN by buying the support of the branch leaders. Simple equation, 1 for you and 2 for me, RM1m for you and RM1b for me.
    On the selling side, anything and everything in Malaysia can and needs to be monerised including infrastructures, and even air bases. Malaysia is a peaceful country and aims to be a hugh income nation so the need to develop mega projects to potray an image that the country is developed and its citizens can afford to pay for such mega projects thus projects are awarded or given to SEOs from other countries who are willing to take the risk. Meantime he will continue to plunder all the tabungs to make payroll. Living beyond our means. Me I still believe in the policies and strategies of the late Tun Tan Siew Sin.

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