October 29, 2017
Malaysia: The Huff and Puff of Budget 2018
COMMENT | Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak and his team should learn how to manage public perception, than recycling year after year the same huffs and puffs that will just fade away after the general election.
Right after the election, we will again see the likes of minions Jamal Md Yunos (UMNO Sungai Besar division leader) and Gerakan Merak leader Mohd Ali Baharom (known also as Ali Tinju), veteran Abdul Rani Kulup, lecturer and Muslim convert Redzuan Tee Abdullah, Perkasa’s Ibrahim Ali, Isma’s Abdullah Zaik and extremists like Zakir Naik, becoming the heroes.
There will be others like the self-styled “Raja Bomoh” Ibrahim Mat Zin who hog the headlines. So far, Ibrahim has never been prosecuted despite appearing on the grounds of the Kuala Lumpur International Airport and making a nuisance of himself.
To date, the investigation into the protest over a cross erected by a church in Taman Medan has not proceeded any further. What about the probe into people missing in action, such as Pastor Raymond Koh and several others? What about the death of Teoh Beng Hock and former customs officer Ahmad Sarbani Mohamed and the murder of banker Hussein Najadi?
What was the motive behind the killing of former Mongolian model Altantuya Shariibuu? Who was behind the Scorpene submarines scandal and after Abdul Razak Baginda was charged in France, why have investigations on the Malaysian side stalled? Who was behind the death of deputy public prosecutor Anthony Kevin Morais?
Instead of prosecuting people for their wrongdoings, we see the MP of Batu, Tian Chua agreeing to go to jail over a small matter which could have been solved at a personal level and coming out more as a hero of the people.
There will then be the same old issues again – the banning of use of the term “Allah” by non-Muslims; stateless Indian children; Chinese schools being threatened to be closed down; the likes of Abdullah Hussain’s book “Interlok” where Indians were called by names; and yes, a thousand and one issues that UMNO and its proponents would try to harp on.
Ordinary Malaysians like me are already fed up with all the polemics by now because the leaders have lost their credibility. A decision would have been made a long time ago.
We can only wait for the coming general election, when we will come out once again in droves like in the previous general election.
That is why despite all the huffs and puffs of the budget, we know it will not bring the country forward. While we will take what is rightfully ours, most of us look at the 1MDB scandal as the bigger problem that Najib has failed to solve.
For a long time, the Chinese community have been harping on the need for more Chinese schools. However, the Ministry of Education has been moving snail-slow on approval of the Chinese schools.
Applications for a new school have gone into a “black hole”. When I showed the news about 10 new Chinese schools being greenlit by Putrajaya to the chairperson of the board of governors of the affected school, he merely said, “Year after year, election after election, it is nothing but empty promises”.
Economist Ramon Navaratnam@ASLI Public Policy Studies
Chairperson of ASLI’s Centre for Public Policy Studies, Ramon Navaratnam, pointed out to me that Sekinchan has had the most productive paddy growers in the country.
“Yet, they are not given the incentives to become even more productive,” he said. “The government should focus on the strengths of each community and boost their productivity even further.”
Licenses for fishing are given to cronies when the fisherpeople themselves are unable to get more licenses. With these cronies and Ali Baba licence holders, the prices of goods rise. The real beneficiaries are not the fisherpeople themselves, but some cronies.
Likewise, I pointed out the plight of taxi drivers in this country. Although mostly Bumiputera, they too have been earning pittances. Now with Uber and Grab, who is most badly hit? Taxi licenses should not be given to a consortium, but to individual taxi drivers to motivate them to work even harder.
According to Ramon, budget proposals must address the “structural problems of low productivity, rising unemployment, inflation, the weak ringgit, the brain drain, sustainability and the fight against extremism and bigotry.”
As fellow columnist R Nadeswaran rightly put it, “The prime minister, his ministers and the government must stop treating Malaysians as fools by making all kinds of statements which more than not, appear like a page from Grimm’s Fairy Tales”.
STEPHEN NG is an ordinary citizen with an avid interest in following political developments in the country since 2008.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.