Najib Razak: Own Up to Reality and Resign


December 8, 2016

Najib Razak: Own Up to Reality and Resign

by Stephen Ng@www.malaysiakini.com

COMMENT Now that the cat is finally let out of the bag, what else does Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak have to say about China’s involvement in bailing out 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) from the US$6.5 billion sought for by the International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC)?

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Most Malaysians were already half-expecting this piece of news to emerge, despite the assurances that the government would not bail out 1MDB.

One can only cross one’s fingers to hear what cabinet ministers would say in another alleged big cover-up the way we have seen with the 1MDB scam and the RM2.6 billion donation into Najib’s private accounts?

At least Finance Minister II Johari Abdul Ghani has come forward to claim that he knew nothing about the arrangement with China, as alleged by the United Kingdom’s Financial Times (FT), but is he doing anything about it? Johari was the one who promised that 1MDB would not be bailed out by the government.

If Johari did not know, and 1MDB CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy is unable to articulate anything intelligent about the arrangement with China, who else would know about it? Arul was not with the contingent that visited China recently.

I also wonder if Paul Low would continue to blow the trumpet about integrity of the man himself, now that more truths have been told about the infamous Malaysian Official No 1 (MO1).

Malaysia’s international reserves are now at an eight-month low in November, and investors are fleeing the equity market.

If it is not a serious thing, why does Jho Low’s family now try to battle the US Department of Justice’s (DOJ) civil suit in court? Why, instead of the family, doesn’t Low and Najib’s own stepson, Riza Aziz, pick up the case themselves to claim the money back?

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They should be bold enough to appear before the American court; after all, Najib is a golfing buddy of the president-elect, Donald Trump, and both Low and Riza should be safe.

I believe that even when Trump takes over, he will not interfere with the civil suit; and if he did, against the world’s expectations, he may face impeachment. The suit would have to proceed and the money recovered back on behalf of the Malaysian people. The DOJ can certainly not be wrong when it made a strong remark about the kleptocrats and within the context of the suit, pinpointed the role played by MO1.

Ask Rahman Dahlan who MO1 is.

Digging a bigger hole

Just like the loan from IPIC, which was used as a bailout deal, now the money from China is not going to come for free. In fact, it has already made Malaysia, and Najib for the matter, to become a beggar of sorts, going around looking for money to cover one loan after another.

This cannot keep going on the way it appears to be going without the greater consequences of Malaysia becoming another rogue nation.

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The Bank Negara Malaysia Governor and his Master

I want to know if Bank Negara, Finance Ministry or the cabinet are even aware of the arrangement that was made with China. More information has to be released to the public, since it will further impact the country’s economy and investors’ confidence.

The arrangement with China, which I believe to be yet another loan which has to be paid back, will surely attract a higher interest. If the allegations by FT are not true, Najib should take the news agency to task, but till today, Najib has shunned any idea of suing either Sarawak Report or the Wall Street Journal.

If we continue going on a merry-go-round to borrow money from one source to cover the loan from another, we will end up being an impoverished nation in no time. Eventually, we will have a much bigger hole to deal with.

By then, Najib may be gone, but the problem will continue to plague the nation. No amount of lies can cover up all the lies already told. Just look at the way how the lies have been concocted – and published in the Malaysian media, yet the truth eventually surfaces.

God is great! It is time for Najib to come forward to tell the whole story, now or never! Malaysians are not stupid people, although some of us may appear reticent or inhibited, but I think enough is enough. How long can Malaysians be lied to?

Straighten up

In Malaysia, we have the tendency to glorify illegal moneylenders and gangsters as ‘businessmen’, with some being given the Datukship or as Malaysiakini’s commentator, Mariam Mokhtar, put it, ‘Latukship’.

Although short of a Tan Sri title, Paul Phua may be an illegal gambling kingpin to the rest of the world, arrested and charged by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, but in Malaysia, he is being glorified by the Home Affairs Minister for his contribution towards national security which even the Police knew nothing about.

Recently, we saw how red-shirts leader and UMNO Sungai Besar division chief Jamal Md Yunos allegedly behaved like a gangster, yet he is allowed to go scot-free despite the numerous threats that he allegedly made against BERSIH chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah.

Another man on the police’s wanted list for murder cases in the past, Ong Teik Kwong, was shot dead by his own bodyguard; he, too, was a celebrity when his funeral was held recently.

Both are said to have received datukships, although their behavour and allegedly dubious backgrounds may have been raised in the media.

Instead of arresting the people who created ruckus at Zunar’s exhibition, I wonder why the political cartoonist was being arrested, when the exhibition was a peaceful one and held within an enclosed premises for people who want to view his artwork.

And while the Police are now looking for BERSIH activists, I wonder if they are also looking for the people behind the controversial solidarity gathering with the Rohingyas, especially when the speech by Najib has not only soured the relationship between Myanmar and Malaysia, but the criticism of a Nobel peace prize winner, Aung San Suu Kyi is anything but diplomatic.

And certainly not befitting the head of a government. If he cared enough for the Rohingyas, he should be brave enough to confront Au San Suu Kyi herself instead of sending the chief of the Malaysian Armed Forces, General Zulkifeli Mohd Zin. After all, Aung San Suu Kyi is only a woman, but a woman of substance.

If we do not straighten up, things can only get worse and everyone will suffer as a result. Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad has said this in an interview recently with the international media: “He (Najib) is destroying this country… he is bringing in racism… very, very serious crime has been committed.”

My humble plea to Najib at this stage is, for the sake of the nation, he should resign, and allow someone else to take over. If he cannot trust his current deputy, he can always lift up his own cousin, Hishammuddin Hussein, as the next deputy prime minister.

Whatever it is, Malaysians are saying, “Enough is enough!” We want punishment to be meted out against those who were responsible for the 1MDB scandal.Who knows, with Hishammuddin, the people may return to Barisan Nasional?


STEPHEN NG is an ordinary citizen with an avid interest in following political developments in the country since 2008.

 

Nationalism in Malaysia in Extremis


November 17, 2016

The Edge logo

Nationalism in Malaysia in Extremis

by Dr. Ooi Kee Beng

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Malay Nationalism or Tribalism ala Ku Kluk Klan

One thing that shocked me when I first went to Sweden for my studies 35 years ago was how dirty a word “Nationalism” was in Western Europe. This reaction, I realized, was very much a reflection of how the concept was positively implanted in my mind while a schoolboy in Malaysia; but it also demonstrated how greatly human experiences can differ in different parts of the world.

More importantly, it revealed to me how strongly we are intellectually captured by the language use of our times and our location.

But the Swedes are very proud of their country, so how come nationalism is frowned upon so badly? The same thing applied throughout Europe, at least until recently. Excessive immigration over the last two decades, coupled with declining economic fortunes and waning self-confidence has buoyed the ascendance of ultra-rightists groups in all countries throughout the continent.

So why was Nationalism so despised? Europe is after all the home continent of the Nation State.

For starters, Europe was always a place of endless wars often fought ostensibly for religious reasons between feudal powers. The arrival of the Nation state ideology helped to lower the frequencies of these tragedies, but only to replace it soon after with non-religious types of rationale for conflict. The American Revolution and French Republicanism added the new phenomenon of “government by the people”. The French case also brought into the equation the Left-Right Dimension that would define politics and political thinking for the next two centuries.

This conceptual division between Popular Mandate and Elite Rule expressed sharply the rights of common people on the one hand, and the role of the state on the other. Once this gap was articulated, conflating the two poles anew became a necessary task.

The three major articulations in Europe of this mammoth mission to bridge the divide and achieve a functional modern system were Liberal Democracy, Communism and Fascism. While the Anglo-Saxon world championed the first, Stalin’s Soviet Union perfected the second and Adolf Hitler developed the third to its insane conclusion. In Europe, it was basically these three actors who fought the Second World War.

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Malay Tribalism in Action

In Asia, Japan’s brand of state fascism ran riot throughout the region, rhetorically championing nationalism in the lands it took from the European colonialists.

While the National Socialism of the Third Reich died with Hitler, Fascism lived on in Franco’s Spain until 1975 and Nationalist Communism of Stalin continued in Eastern Europe until the early 1990s.

Nationalism in the rest of Europe after 1945 came to be understood with disdain as the longing of the Nation State for purity and autonomy taken to pathological lengths. It is after all always a defensive posture, as is evidenced today in its return in the form of right-wing anti-immigrant groups.

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Maruah Melayu dijual ka-Cina untuk membela masa depan politik Najib Razak–Jualan Aset 1MDB

In Malaysia, nationalism was—and for many, still is—the most highly rated attitude for a citizen to adopt.There are obvious reasons for this, given the historical and socio-political context in which Malaysia came into being. Constructing a new country out of nine sultanates, the three parts of the Straits Settlements, with Sabah and Sarawak on top of that, was a more daunting task than we can imagine today. Furthermore, the contest was also against other powerful “-isms”, especially Communism and Pan-Indonesianism. These threatened to posit what are Malaysia’s states today in a larger framework, and would have diminished these territories’ importance and uniqueness.

Putting a new regime in place of the retreating British required a rallying idea; and what better than the very fashionable image of a new nation to whom all should swear allegiance. Malayan nationalism was thus born.

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For Inclusive, Liberal and Progressive Malaysia–Escaping the Nationalism Trap

It is no coincidence that the path to independence became much easier after Malaysia’s major political party, UMNO, decided under Tunku Abdul Rahman to change its slogan from the provincial “Hidup Melayu” [Long Live the Malays] to the inclusive “Merdeka” [Independence].

But already in that transition, one can see the problem that Malaysia still lives with today. Is Malaysia the political expression of the prescriptive majority called “Melayu” [later stretched to become “Bumiputera”], or is it the arena in which the multi-ethnic nation of “Malaysians” is to evolve?

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Nationalism in essence, and most evidently so in its narrow ethno-centric sense, is defensive and fearful, and understood simplistically and applied arrogantly very quickly show strong fascist tendencies. The issue is therefore a philosophical one.

What Malaysia needs today, is to accept the regional and global context that sustains it, and work out as best it can a suitable balance between Popular Mandate and Elite Rule which is clearly less belaboured and less painful than the cul-de-sac alleyway it has backed itself into.

OOI KEE BENG is the Deputy Director of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute) and the Editor of the Penang Monthly (Penang Institute). He is the author of the prizewinning The Reluctant Politician: Tun Dr Ismail and His Time (ISEAS 2006).

Foreign Policy: Najib courts China


November 12, 2016

Foreign Policy: Najib courts China and Abandons traditional ties with the United States and its allies

by James Chin

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Najib Razak on Ego Boosting Jet setting Trip to China

Malaysia’s scandal-plagued Prime Minister is finding old friends in Beijing after wearing out his welcome in the West. James Chin looks at whether this is a path more ASEAN countries are likely to follow. 

The Malaysian Prime Minister, Najib Tun Razak, last week took his third official visit to the People’s Republic of China. These sort of official trips do not normally attract much attention, but this one is generating prominent coverage in highly influential newspapers such as the New York Times, Washington Post and Financial Times.

The reasons are obvious – Najib’s arrival comes immediately after the controversial visit of Rodrigo Duterte, the new Filipino president. Duterte made a series of pronouncements in Beijing that caught the Americans off-guard, including his comments about a “separation” from the United States. Many were surprised by Duterte’s statements given that before touching down in Beijing, he was criticising China for its aggressive behaviour in the South China Sea. In fact, the Philippines took China to the International Court of Arbitration over the issue.

Malaysia and the Philippines have overlapping claims with China in the South China Sea and both countries are unhappy with China’s de facto policy of building islands for military use in the disputed waters and using Chinese coast guard vessels to harass fishermen from their countries. It’s well-known that Chinese coast guard vessels regularly sail within 50 miles of Bintulu, the gas-rich town in Malaysian Borneo. Malaysia has sent several diplomatic notes to Beijing on the matter.

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Selling Malaysian Assets to cash rich China for political survival while the Malaysian Ringgit takes a beating against the Greenback (Rm4.5 to 1 Usd)

Despite this, Najib has just signed multi-billion dollar deals in Beijing, including the purchase of Chinese-made military equipment for the first time in Malaysian history. Chinese state-owned enterprises will also buy into key Malaysian assets and provide funding for new infrastructure projects such as a new railway line.

Even more surprising was his interview with Xinhua, Beijing’s official mouthpiece, in which he said he was seeking closer military ties. In an editorial in The China Daily, Najib was quoted as saying former colonial powers should not lecture nations they once exploited as colonies, a clear reference to the West.

So, the question is, are we seeing a tilt in Malaysian foreign policy to China from the previous pro-Western position? The short answer is “Yes”, as long as Najib is in power.

Malaysian insiders will tell you that this was the only position Najib could have taken in light of recent events. To understand Najib’s move, one must look towards domestic politics.

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Malaysia’s Watchdogs

For the past four years, Najib has been mired in a massive corruption scandal called 1MDB. The story is complicated, but suffice to say that there is credible evidence that huge amounts of money, in the region of US$10 to 15 billion, was scammed off 1MDB, a sovereign wealth fund, and part of the amount, in the region of US$1 to 2 billion, allegedly ended up in Najib’s personal bank account. Earlier this year, the US Department of Justice’s Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative filed court action to recover more than US$1 billion in assets tied to 1MBD. The Department named Najib’s stepson and indirectly named Najib as “Malaysian Public Official No 1” in the proceedings. Several other countries such as Singapore, Switzerland and Luxembourg are also pursuing money laundering charges related to 1MDB. The consequence of all these legal actions is that Najib is longer welcome in Western capitals and some are calling on the US administration to ‘distance’ itself from Najib. Prior to the scandal, Najib could boast that he was the only Asian leader invited to golf with Obama in Hawaii, the President’s home state.

Related to the political fallout is investment from the West. The ringgit has fallen more than any other currency in the region against the US dollar in the past three years. It is obvious that a major part of the reason for this is a lack of confidence in the Najib administration. To restore confidence in the economy and kick-start foreign direct investment, Najib can only turn to one country: China.

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China has the money to invest heavily in Malaysia, but more importantly, it does not care about Najib’s alleged corruption allegations or governance issues. For the Chinese, the bigger picture is the ongoing rivalry with the US for influence in the ASEAN region. The Chinese see the US as trying to block their influence by pursuing the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement and pushing ASEAN to collectively confront China over the South China Sea. China has consistently refused to deal with ASEAN on the South China Sea issue, insisting that the solution lies in bilateral negotiations between the claimant countries. China also scored a victory-of-sorts when many ASEAN countries signed up for the China-founded Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank despite the US openly lobbying against it.

China’s investments, including buying 1MDB assets, will allow the controversial company to partly square its accounts and the shortfall from the missing money.

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The added bonus for Najib is that he can show the domestic Malaysian audience that the “next” Superpower, China, will give him a red carpet treatment even if the West has side-lined him over the corruption allegations. Najib and the Chinese are also going to great pains to remind the international audience that it was Najib’s father, Tun Razak, Malaysia’s second prime minister, who opened-up diplomatic relations with China. Thus, according to Beijing, Razak’s son Najib, easily qualifies as China’s “old friend”. In turn, Najib has described China as a “true friend and strategic partner”.

With such “old friends” who needs the meddling West with its “lectures” on good governance, human rights and corruption?

The long-term winner in the current saga will be Beijing. As the south-east Asian region becomes more and more dependent on China for its development funds, tourism and trade, more and more ASEAN countries will start to tilt towards Beijing. This is especially true if Donald Trump becomes President on Tuesday.

Professor James Chin is Director of Asia Institute, University of Tasmania. He is also a Senior Fellow at the Jeffrey Cheah Institute in Malaysia.

This article is published in collaboration with Policy Forum — Asia and the Pacific’s leading platform for policy discussion and analysis.

http://www.newmandala.org/najibs-china-legacy/

 

Transformasi Nasional 2050 in and out goes Mahathir’s Wawasan 2020


November 3, 2016

Transformasi Nasional 2050 in and out goes Mahathir’s Wawasan 2020

by Asiasentinel  Correspondent

http://www.asiasentinel.com

On October 21, Malaysia’s scandal-hit Prime Minister Najib Razak tabled a RM260.8 billion budget that is not only short on money and long on politics but seeks to obliterate the philosophy behind the economic blueprint of his arch-enemy, former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.

Najib, also the Finance Ninister, dubbed his 30-year development program “Transformasi Nasional 2050 (National Transformation 2050),” an alternative to Mahathir’s Vision 2020, launched in a landmark speech in 1991.

Najib’s plan, however, was short on details but long on rhetoric. “The New Economic Policy under the late Tun Razak was planned to create a successful New Generation within 30 years. So is TN50, which will span three decades, to form a first-caliber nation state as well as with excellent mindset,” Najib said at the end of his budget 2017 speech, recalling his father Abdul Razak Hussein’s affirmative action plan, which was actually a 20-year policy.

One third of the 106-minute speech was devoted to politics and for the first time included a Powerpoint presentation as well as an introduction to leaders of various communities and social workers at the public gallery in Parliament.

Let TN50 bear witness; (let it) be recorded in history that we are responsible citizens and forefathers, to leave behind the best and he greatest legacy to be inherited by future generations.From now on, TN50 is our lucky charm. Let the old legacy pass. The future of Malaysia, we will recreate,” he said, in a dig at Mahathir’s Vision 2020 plan.

Malaysia’s Najib Erases Predecessor’s Economic Vision

In an immediate reaction, veteran opposition leader Lim Kit Siang – who has struck a loose alliance with Mahathir – called out Najib’s volte-face of Mahathir’s policies, saying: “It is most shocking that Najib could so cavalierly and unceremoniously repudiate Vision 2020 when only in the last budget presentation last year, he reiterated his commitment to achieve Vision 2020 and the goal of a developed nation status. Has he abandoned both Vision 2020 and its final lap?”

The answer isn’t clear but what is clear about the budget speech was its focus on several demographics that could help Najib keep power in the next general elections, due 2018 but which many believe will be called earlier.

Najib announced he would continue his cash payments for lower-income Malaysians, which first started in 2012, a year before the 2013 polls, in which the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) won fewer parliament seats and also lost the popular vote.

For 2017, Najib said he would further increase the cash payments with RM6.8 billion set aside for the eligible lower income group of seven million out of the 30 million population.

The Finance Minister also plans to extend tax relief for all taxable income earners – estimated at 2.1 million out of the 14.6 million workers – to include the purchase of smartphones, internet subscriptions and newspapers apart from tax incentives to Islamic banking and allocate funds to invest in potential small-and-mid capitalized companies.

Muslim clerics and village headmen will also get more allowances, in what is seen as a move to shore up support among lower-income Malaysians, especially among the Malay-Muslim community in the rural areas that are a vote bank for Najib’s United Malays National Organization (UMNO).

There are also more incentives for affordable housing, including renting out 10,000 houses to youths in urban areas but critics say none of the affordable housing has been taken up due to strict lending conditions imposed by the central bank, Bank Negara Malaysia. The plan to build 500,000 houses or 100,000 annually under a scheme has yet to bear fruit although a government minister said it was still an on-going project.

Malaysian academic James Chin, who heads the Asia Institute at Australia’s University of Tasmania, told the Wall Street Journal that the spending blue-print was “an election budget in disguise” and predicted that a general election could be held in 2017.

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Najib’s Tax, Borrow and Spend Budget as if there is no Tomorrow

Most analysts and political observers agree, saying that a fractured opposition and recent UMNO victories in by-elections could spur Najib to hold elections sooner than later. However, Najib is a cautious politician, enmeshed in the 1Malaysia Development Bhd. scandal, in whuch as much as Us$7 billion has gone missing from state-backed coffers. In 2013, he went to the end of his coalition’s last mandate before calling elections.

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The extra cash for the lower income Malaysians pales in comparison to the deep cuts in money for state universities and teaching hospitals or the estimated RM40 billion to be collected in 2017 through the controversial Goods and Service Tax (GST) imposed since April 2015.

The fiscal consolidation by the government to achieve its 3 percent fiscal deficit, however, means government-linked companies or Non-Financial Public Corporations (NFPCs) will have to bear the burden of incentives and loans for so-called government projects, which opposition Member of Parliament Tony Pua has described as a “time bomb.”

“In layman’s terms, the government has hidden the bulk of its excessive spending under the NFPCs maintain a semblance of ‘moderate’ budget deficit,” Pua said in a statement. “However, so much spending has now been shifted to these NFPCs, that the NFPC deficit has grown by leaps and bounds to now become even bigger than the federal government deficit!

Pua noted that in 2013, the NFPC deficit was a modest RM10.6 billion but the NFPC deficit leapt to RM52.3 billion in 2014 and further increased to RM56.9 billion in 2015. The estimated deficit for 2016 is currently RM50.5 billion, he said.

For context and perspective to the scale of these NFPC deficits, he said the BN government budget deficit for 2015 was RM37.2 billion. In 2016, it is estimated to hit RM38.7 billion while the government forecast RM40.3 billion for 2017.

“There is no question that the NFPC deficit is the biggest time bomb to the Malaysian public finances. We can already feel its ticking with the rapidly rising “debt service charges” which the government is forced to bear annually.

“This is caused, in no small part, by the government being obligated to pay for interest and loans that the NFPCs are unable to fulfil,” Pua said.

Despite Pua’s warnings, Najib denied Malaysia is a failed state in economic governance and also forecast that the country’s economy was expected to grow between 4 and 5 percent in 2017, compared with 4 and 4.5 percent in 2016, due to effects of softer global crude prices since mid-2014.

The jury’s out on Najib’s forecast and his ability to win the next elections but his generous handouts and political strategies might still see him keep his job notwithstanding the scandals that have buffeted his political career.

http://www.asiasentinel.com/politics/malaysia-najib-erases-predecessor-economic-vision/

Recommended read: The End of UMNO? Essays on Malaysia’s Dominant Party edited by Bridget Welsh (Kuala Lumpur: Strategic Information and Research Development Centre, 2016)

 

 

Nobody takes Malaysia’s Budget seriously and here’s why


October 24, 2016

Nobody takes Malaysia’s Budget seriously and  here’s why

by T K Chua

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com

“It is simple; the annual budget can’t instil discipline if there is no oversight. The annual budget can’t function as an instrument of control if borrowing and off-budget activities are allowed to roam free, unrestrained and unchecked.”–T K Chua

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When I read “Why I didn’t watch the Budget speech” as written by Kensi from Sarawak, I found my feelings were the same. For the first time in a quarter century I did not sit through the whole Budget speech. I walked off after the first hour or so.

The Budget has long lost its aura. It is just an annual pomp for fund managers to get excited and for the government to announce some goodies. Whether or not the goodies are carried out as planned is as good as anyone’s guess.

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Malaysia’s National Budget is Petty Cash for this First Couple. When the cash is finished, just borrow more or ask Bank Negara to print more money and then pass the burden to ordinary Malaysians by way of debt service or inflation. That is Najibonomics: Tax and Spend recklessly.–Din Merican

Why do I say our federal budget is meaningless?First, the annual budget has never capped the amount of borrowing that the federal government could incur each year. If the federal government may borrow without restraint, who bothers whether our projected revenues and expenses are adhered to? If revenues fall short, the government could borrow more to fill the gap. If expenses burst the budget, again the government could borrow more.

Where are the restraints and control that the annual budget is supposed to provide? In fact, the annual supplementary budgets are clear indications that the budget has failed to keep government financial indiscipline in check. The government will borrow and spend as it wishes, regardless of the revenue performance or actual expenditure incurred.

Second, the annual budget is just a mechanism to dish out allocations, but never to accomplish its intended outcomes. We mistakenly look at the allocation earmarked for each programme as if it is a fait accompli.

But this is far from true. For example, just look at the allocation for subsidies which the government has always bragged about. It is time for the government to list out how much of the allocation has reached the intended target groups and how much of it was siphoned off by corrupt officials, businessmen and those who could indulge in arbitrage.

Seriously, if budget spending has been constantly effective over the years, I believe there would be no more poor people in this country.

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Third, the annual federal budget is no longer the true representation of government financial commitment and responsibility. Off-budget agencies and activities have now overwhelmed traditional government ministries and departments.

Parliamentary oversight of government taxation and expenditure through the annual budget is at best only half correct.

When non-financial public enterprises and GLCs set up ventures, incur debt and impose contingent liabilities on the government, did they get the approval of Parliament to begin with? When government decides on privatisation projects, including guaranteeing revenues and profits of privatised entities, did it seek the approval of Parliament?

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This guy is excited about the Budget–He is the Minister of Defense: Commissions

I thought the Federal Constitution, (through Part VII – Financial Provisions), is very clear on financial oversights by Parliament – no taxation shall be levied or expenditures incurred unless with expressed authority of federal law. How then did the government spend and borrow so massively through off-budget agencies such as GLCs and Non-financial public enterprises?

It is simple; the annual budget can’t instil discipline if there is no oversight. The annual budget can’t function as an instrument of control if borrowing and off-budget activities are allowed to roam free, unrestrained and unchecked.

T.K. Chua is an FMT reader.

Maintaining Public Order is a Public Good, Nur Jazlan


October 12, 2016

Maintaining Public Order is a Public Good, Nur Jazlan

By Hafidz Baharom

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com

 

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Make Government more efficient and Ministers more accountable. You are, Nur Jazlan, fired. Like Mohamed Rahmat, you are nuisance.–Din Merican

If maintaining public order during street protests is a waste of money, how about the taxpayer money spent investigating ridiculous issues and the money spent on lawmakers? Public Management 101

I refer to Deputy Home Minister Nur Jazlan’s remark that having to use the relevant authorities to maintain public order during a street protest is a waste of funds.

This is rather ironic, considering the number of ridiculous investigations being conducted by the authorities, including investigations into the raising of a middle finger as “insulting the modesty of a person”.

But more to the point, if we are talking about a waste of funds in governance and such, there is a lot to talk about in terms of both public and private institutions.

Let us start with the most obvious.

According to a compilation published on iMoney.my, each Member of Parliament is paid RM16,000 in monthly salary, RM1,200 as driver’s allowance, RM1,500 as entertainment allowance, RM1,500 as travel allowance, RM900 as telephone allowance and RM200 a day to attend a sitting of Parliament. This is paid for by taxpayers

The Prime Minister gets an add-on of close to RM23,000 a month, while the Deputy Prime Minister gets RM18,000 monthly, and the Opposition Leader gets close to RM4,000. All of this is above and beyond the allowances and salaries they already get.

Considering the costs above, isn’t it considered a waste of public resources for the obvious redundancies?For example, why does everyone get a RM200 allowance for every day that they attend Parliament and to basically do their job?

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Also, why do they need a car if they’re based in Kuala Lumpur when they can use public transport like the rest of us? Furthermore, isn’t traveling also part and parcel of a lawmaker’s duty? On top of that, do we really have to fund MPs phones?

In addition to all of this, Parliament sessions in Malaysia have been less than 100 days. This is even highlighted on Kluang MP Liew Chin Tong’s blog, dated November 14, 2014. He had asked for more days for parliamentary debates in 2015.

You read that right, our lawmakers are sitting in Parliament and debating less than a third of a year, and God knows what else they do with their high monthly salaries and allowances when they aren’t yelling at each other in the Dewan Rakyat.

As a result, the entire process of lawmaking has been delayed to the point that even now we have yet to have any amendments regarding anti-corruption laws, the use of the AES system, and even the vaping regulations.

In fact, with only so few days to debate Acts of law, how exactly is the government going to amend 18 laws for the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) by this year-end, as mentioned by Minister of International Trade and Industry Mustapa Mohamed earlier this year?

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Rani Kulup –UMNO’s clown

To cut it short, using the fact that lawmakers and ministers are all inefficient and not working to actually make laws, as a measure for “wasting public resources”, should we not in the same mindset just shut down our government?

Of course not. This is because the value in having a democratic government, just like the freedom of expression through street protests, cannot and should not quantified.

You cannot measure it in man hours, productivity figures, contribution to the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) or even the gross national income (GNI).

So, if Nur Jazlan truly wishes to talk about the wastage of public funds and start measuring matters relating to governance and efficiency in government, then he should do so without bias.

And if we do so, then I am certain such a feasibility study will show that our entire lawmaking process, the civil service and even the multiple government agencies would all rationally be said to be wasting public resources. And this is something the country can do without.

Thus, perhaps he should look to his own Cabinet colleagues and even the Government as a whole. Start by cutting the bloat from there while raising the salaries for the policemen who have done their duty admirably, instead of looking to stifle democratic rights over cost concerns.

Hafidz Baharom is an FMT reader.