Dr. Ramesh Chander Praises Malaysian Finance Minister for early statement on National Debt


July 2, 2018

Dr. Ramesh Chander Praises Malaysian Finance Minister for early statement on National Debt

https://blog.limkitsiang.com/2018/07/02/r-chander-first-malaysian-chief-statistician-1963-1977-praises-guan-eng-for-early-statement-on-national-debt-and-stresses-urgency-of-coherent-plan-to-manage-malaysias-public-sector-debt/

R. Chander, Malaysian Chief Statistician (1963-1977) praises Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng for early statement on national debt and stresses urgency of coherent plan to manage Malaysia’s public sector debt.

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I  received an expert opinion on Malaysia’s public sector debt by Dr. R. Chander, the first  Chief Statistician of (1963-1977), who went on to serve as the Senior Adviser to the World Bank’s Chief Economist-Vice President from 1977 to 1996. Upon retirement from the Bank, he served as international adviser to multiple international agencies and governments.

Dr. Chander said he was encouraged by the speed with which the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government had come to grips with the most pressing issues and praised the Finance Minister, Lim Guan Eng for making an early statement on Malaysia’s debt situation.

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Najib Razak caught right handed by the FBI for stealing Malaysian people’s money. But he says it is a donation from the Saudi Royal Family

He said: “This was most timely indeed and most astute: it sent a strong signal to markets and had a calming effect; it told the electorate the mess that PH had inherited.

“At the same time it sent a strong message that the debt situation would impede the implementation of several of the electoral promises.

“Concurrently it provided a rationale for the cancellation/suspension of several mega projects that were to be financed by loans – terms of which were rather unfavorable to Malaysia.

“A good side effect was the call to patriotism that was brought out by the launch of the Harapan Fund!” The question now is: Where do we go from here?

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In his opinion piece, which I attached below, he stressed the urgency of coming up with a coherent and sound plan to manage Malaysia’s public sector debt.

[Media Statement by DAP MP for Iskandar Puteri Lim Kit Siang in Kuala Lumpur on Monday, 2nd July 2018]

Taming Malaysia’s GLC ‘monsters’


June 24, 2018

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1MDB Top Honcho–Arul Kanda Kandasamy

“…recent revelations show Malaysia’s debt position may be more precarious than first thought. The new government has correctly highlighted the need to include certain off-balance-sheet items and contingent liabilities such as government guarantees and public–private partnership lease payments in any complete assessment of debt outstanding, as the use of offshoot companies and special purpose vehicles in the deliberate reconfiguration of certain obligations mean that traditional debt calculations underestimate Malaysia’s actual debt.”–Jayant Menon

About a month before Malaysia’s parliamentary election in May, then-opposition leader Mahathir Mohamad raised concerns over the role that government-linked companies (GLCs) were playing in the economy, being ‘huge and rich’ enough to be considered ‘monsters’.Data support his description — GLCs account for about half of the benchmark Kuala Lumpur Composite Index, and they constitute seven out of the top-10 listed firms in 2018. They are present in almost every sector, sometimes in a towering way. Globally, Malaysia ranks fifth-highest in terms of GLC influence on the economy.

Calls to do something about GLCs have increased since the election following the release of more damning information, although most of it relates to the GLCs’ investment arm: government-linked investment companies (GLICs). Recent reports confirm that the former government had been using Malaysia’s central bank and Khazanah (a sovereign wealth fund) to service the debt obligations of the scandal-laden 1 Malaysia Development Berhad government fund. The central bank governor has since resigned.

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The GLCs have not been immune from scandals either. The most recent relates to a massive land scandal involving Felda Global Ventures, which is the world’s largest plantation operator. There have also been a series of massive bailouts of GLCs over the years, the cumulative value of which is disputed but could be as high as RM85 billion (US$21 billion). All of this led one prominent critic to proclaim that ‘GLCs are a nest for plunderers’ and that the government should ‘sell them all’. Although this may be extreme, it does raise a critical question — what, if anything, should the government do?

Some experts have proposed the formation of an independent body with operational oversight for GLICs after institutional autonomy is established and internal managerial reforms are introduced. Unlike most GLCs, GLICs are not publicly listed and face little scrutiny. The same applies to the various funds at the constituent state level.

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For GLCs, the answer is less straightforward. Mahathir claims that GLCs have lost track of their original function. Before the Malaysian government decides on what to do, it needs to examine the role GLCs should play — as opposed to the role they currently play — and to examine their impact on the economy.

In Malaysia, GLCs were uniquely tasked to assist in the government’s affirmative action program to improve the absolute and relative position of ethnic Malays and other indigenous people (Bumiputera). The intention was to help create a new class of Bumiputera entrepreneurs — first through the GLCs themselves and then through a process of divestment.

Given the amounts of money involved and the cost of the distortions introduced, the benefits to Bumiputera were unjustifiably small and unequally distributed. The approach of using GLCs as instruments of affirmative action failed because it led to a rise in crony capitalism, state dependence, regulatory capture and grand corruption. There is also empirical evidence that GLCs have been crowding out private investment, a concern raised in the New Economic Model as early as 2011.

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Malaysia’s National Debt is said to be around 65 percent of current GDP

Additionally, recent revelations show Malaysia’s debt position may be more precarious than first thought. The new government has correctly highlighted the need to include certain off-balance-sheet items and contingent liabilities such as government guarantees and public–private partnership lease payments in any complete assessment of debt outstanding, as the use of offshoot companies and special purpose vehicles in the deliberate reconfiguration of certain obligations mean that traditional debt calculations underestimate Malaysia’s actual debt.

All these factors combine to place new impetus on reconsidering the extent of government involvement in business. Divestment will not solve Malaysia’s debt problem, but it can help if there are good reasons to pursue it. So how should the government proceed?

It is important to recognise at the outset that there is a legitimate role for government in business — providing public goods, addressing market failures or promoting social advancement. And like in most other countries, there are good and bad GLCs in Malaysia. If a GLC is not crowding out private enterprise, operates efficiently and performs a social function effectively, then there is no reason to consider divestment. But a GLC that crowds out private enterprise in a sector with no public or social function or one that is inefficiently run should be a candidate for divestment.

In assessing performance, one needs to separate results that arise from true efficiency versus preferential treatment that generates artificial rents for the GLC. The latter is a drain on public resources and a tax on consumers. Divestment in this case will likely provide more than a one-off financial injection to government coffers — it will provide ongoing benefits through fiscal savings or better allocation of public resources.

The divestment process should be carefully managed to ensure that public assets are disposed at fair market value and that the divestment process does not concentrate market power or wealth in the hands of a few. This has apparently happened before.

The new government has committed itself to addressing corruption and improving the management of public resources. As part of this process, one must re-examine just how much government is involved in business. This is one of the many tasks that the Council of Eminent Persons is undertaking in the first 100 days of the new government. If done correctly, this should rejuvenate the private sector while enabling good GLCs to thrive, and it should fortify Malaysia’s fiscal position in the process. This is what Malaysians should expect — and indeed demand — of the ‘new Malaysia’.

Jayant Menon is Lead Economist in the Economic Research and Regional Cooperation Department at the Asian Development Bank and Adjunct Fellow of the Arndt–Corden Department of Economics, The Australian National University.

US Mounts Major Global Anti-Money-Laundering Campaign


June 19, 2018

US Mounts Major Global Anti-Money-Laundering Campaign

by John Berthelsen@www.asiasentinel.com

The US Treasury Department has initiated a wide-ranging campaign against money laundering across the globe and is leaning on governments particularly in Cyprus, Beirut, Singapore and the Gulf states including Dubai in an attempt to stop the flow of billions of dollars that wash through the financial system every day from Russia, Iran and China.

Although planning for the campaign, headed by the department’s Marshall Billingslea, Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing and Financial Crime, began during the administration of former US President Barack Obama, the Trump administration is seeking aggressively to stop the flow of illegally gained money from the three countries into UK and French real estate, small German banks and the Gulf states.

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Paul Manafort is charged for money laundering.

It is uncertain how much of the new assertiveness can be traced to the US initiative. A spokesman for the Treasury Department said only that the department is “undertaking initiatives against money laundering in several different countries as part of an ongoing process.”

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However, banks from Cyprus to Singapore to the long-standing boltholes for hot cash in the Caribbean are being told to clean up their act or lose access to the Belgium-originated Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication – the SWIFT system, as it is known, through which almost all of the world’s financial transactions travel. Hundreds of billions of dollars a day move through the system, which enables the world’s financial institutions to send and receive secure information about financial transactions.  The SWIFT system has come to dominate the world’s movement of money.

Sources speculate that the US aggressiveness played a role in the demand last week by the UK government, also triggered by the poisoning of the former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, that Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, the owner of the Chelsea Football Club, explain the source of his vast wealth before he is granted a new UK visa. The UK government has launched a further crackdown on wealthy investors into the UK.  Offshore destinations of illicit funds in the Cayman Islands, Guernsey, Jersey, Gibraltar and Nassau are also under the microscope.

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Read this:  https://www.khmertimeskh.com/92067/

The amount of money spirited out of developing countries is astonishing. The Washington, DC-based NGO Global Financial Integrity, in a 2017 report, estimated that illicit currency flows in and out of the developing world amounted to at least 13.8 percent of total trade, or US$2 trillion, in 2014, the last year for which reliable data were available. An astonishing US$3.97 trillion in illicit funds left China between 2000 and 2011 alone, according to Global Financial Integrity.

Laundered money has been pouring out of Russia for the better part of two decades as oligarchs made rich by the Putin regime have looted a long string of government-linked companies, particularly in oil and gas. The money has gone into expensive homes along the Cote d’Azur in France as well as London, and New York and Beverly Hills in the US. At one point, realtors in New York said roughly 30 percent of condominium sales were going to buyers who listed international addresses including – notably – the family of the now-disgraced former Prime Minister of Malaysia, Najib Razak, as well as Viktor Khrapunov, the former mayor of Almaty, Kazakhstan’s capital city, who has been accused of stealing hundreds of millions of dollars from the country.

With the Trump administration on a rampage against Iran, US authorities are seeking to shut down Iranian funds flowing into Dubai, Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar as well as banks in Asia including Woori Bank and Industrial Bank of South Korea, according to Bloomberg News Service, which cited documents and testimony on how Iran siphoned US$1 billion from escrow account funds to evade US-imposed sanctions. Other banks that have been hit with compliance lapses included the Agricultural Bank of China, one of the country’s Big Four banks as well as

Songhua Bank of South Korea and Mega International Commercial Bank of Taiwan, according to Bloomberg.

The campaign to lean on Middle Eastern banks could well cause a liquidity crisis in the region including Dubai and Qatar, two of the region’s biggest banking centers, as well as in Lebanon, equally with Cyprus a repository of laundered funds that have flown into financing of terrorist activities by Hezbollah and other groups.  One source speculated that uncertainty over a liquidity crisis was spurring unsettled emerging markets over the past couple of months, with Argentina again facing crisis.

The problems for Cyprus are enormous.  Stelios Orphanides, writing in the Cyprus Business Mail on May 29, said that there is “increasing concern in the ranks of professionals and entrepreneurs in Cyprus over the impact of stricter anti-money laundering and terrorist financing practices being applied, amid fears that recent US pressure on the islandʼs financial and business service providers to take US sanctions more seriously into account, may have a transformative effect on the economy.”

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The disgraced former Prime Minister Najib Razak and his wife Rosmah Mansor are now under investigation

The problems are exemplified by the notorious FBME Bank, headquartered in Tanzania although at least 90 percent of its business was conducted in Nicosia before it was shut down by the US Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN last October after a three-year campaign. The bank, owned by Fadi and Ayoub-Farid Saab, was the repository of funds from such notorious characters as Dmitry Klyuev and Andrei Pavolov, key suspects in the looting of Hermitage Capital, once controlled by William Browder before he was driven out of Russia. Dozens of outlaw organizations allegedly banked at FBME, although the Saabs continue to deny any wrongdoing.

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The Hermitage looting and its aftermath resulted in the so-called Magnitsky Act, passed in the US Congress after Sergei Magnitsky, an associate of Browder’s, was beaten to death in a Russian jail while he was attempting to investigate the theft. As a result, a list of top Russian officials were barred from transacting financial business through the SWIFT system.  Natalia V. Veselnitskaya, the Kremlin-backed lawyer who met with Donald Trump Jr. and others in Trump Tower in June of 2016, was attempting to get the Magnitsky Act reversed. That meeting is now a subject of the investigation by Robert Mueller into Russian attempts to subvert the 2016 election that brought Trump to power.

FBME was the subject of a 2016 series of stories by Asia Sentinel that described the alleged laundering of millions of US dollars out of the Indonesia-based Bank Mutiara, formerly known as Bank Century, which was looted by its owner, Robert Tantular, and others during the global financial crisis of 2009.  Bank Mutiara was taken over by the Tokyo-based J Trust financial conglomerate, heavily backed by Nobuyoshi Fujisawa.  J Trust and the Saabs have threatened multiple lawsuits against Asia Sentinel over the stories. Asia Sentinel stands by its reporting.

Another of the primary targets of the campaign is Singapore, which by one report has the equivalent of US$368 billion from Indonesia in its banks – 40 percent of the island republic’s total bank deposits. In one astounding heist, more than  US$13.5 billion was looted from the Indonesian central bank’s recapitalization lifeline to 48 ailing banks during the 1997-1998 Asian financial crisis. As the government poured money into the banks in the attempt to save them, the bankers were stealing it and moving the money to Singapore.

According to a 2007 Asia Sentinel story, some 18,000 Indonesians described as “rich” live in Singapore. They were said to be worth a combined total of US$87 billion, more than Indonesia’s entire annual government budget at the time.

Indonesia’s Corruption Eradication Commission is said to be investigating the movement of as much as US$1.5 billion from Bank J Trust, the former Bank Mutiara, which was sold to the Japanese financial services corporation J Trust Group. J Trust is heavily backed by Taiyo Pacific Partners, the Washington State-based investment fund whose chief investment officer was Wilbur Ross, now President Donald Trump’s commerce secretary. The Indonesian bank is believed to be connected to some of the country’s most powerful politicians. KPK targets are said to ionclude Boediono, the former central bank governor and vice-presidential running mate of former President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Others are said to be Rafat Ali Rizvi, a British citizen who at one point faced the possibility of a death penalty for helping to loot Bank Century, the carcass from which Bank Mutiara was fashioned, and Hesham Al Warraq, a Saudi national who was also a major shareholder in the bank. Only Robert Tantular, the president of Bank Century, has been jailed.

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Other countries’ leaders have used Singapore as a piggy bank as well, including Myanmar, whose generals moved millions of stolen funds out of their country into Singapore banks. The Singaporeans were so grateful that in 2009, they named an orchid planted in their spectacular Singapore Botanic Garden for Thein Sein when he paid a visit.  More recently, Singapore cracked down on Swiss banks BSI Bank and Falcon Private Bank and withdrawing their licenses in 2016 for acting as conduits for billions of dollars funneled from the scandal-ridden 1Malaysia Development Bhd. Two other banks – the Singapore-based DBS and the major Swiss bank UBS were hit with heavy fines.

Can Malaysia’s Mahathir 2.0 Government deliver?


June 3, 2018

Can Malaysia’s Mahathir 2.0 Government deliver?

Jayant Menon, ADB and ANU

http://www.eastasiaforum.org
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The world has seen a number of unexpected electoral outcomes lately, the most widely reported being Brexit in Europe and the election of President Donald Trump in the United States. But the ouster of the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition government in Malaysia was not only unexpected; it was amazing. Even the winners could hardly believe that they had won, while the losers took an ungraciously long time to accept defeat. With probably the worst gerrymander in history, the incumbents technically required only 16.5 per cent of the vote to win, but still lost.

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“Financial corruption and the corruption of Malaysia’s institutions such as the Judiciary, the Police, the press and even the Anti-Corruption Agency must be addressed. Financial and institutional corruption feed off each other. Recognising the enormity of the task, the newly elected government has created the Committee on Institutional Reforms, while the Council of Eminent Persons will focus on economic issues. Malaysia’s new leaders understand that institutional reform must accompany economic reform to deliver systemic change, even if vested interest and inertia must first be overcome.”–Jayant Menon

The new Pakatan Harapan coalition government faces many challenges, but arguably the biggest is actually governing as a coalition. None of the constituent parties have ever been part of federal government, although various members have, not least the returned Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. Some have formed state governments before but that’s not quite the same thing.

Holding a coalition together takes more than experience in government. This is especially true when the defining motivation for their coexistence as a coalition is convenience. Their main bond is that they opposed BN for various reasons, which brought them together to contest the 2018 elections.

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Although Pakatan Harapan has been through a few permutations, itself a reflection of the difficulties of staying intact, the current coalition (formed on 22 September 2015) consists of the Democratic Action PartyPeople’s Justice PartyNational Trust Party and Malaysian United Indigenous Party. The diversity across these parties is vast and multi-dimensional, and could pose problems going forward. Who will anchor the coalition, and how will the others react? How will differences across party platforms be resolved when it comes to policy making?

There are no clear cut answers to these questions but the difficulties that can arise are exemplified by the current problems faced by the National Unity government in Sri Lanka, which came into power in 2015 in an almost equally unexpected way. It is another coalition of convenience ‘introduced as an alternative to a corrupt, authoritarian and nationalist regime’, a description that could equally apply in Malaysia. But despite its promise, the coalition has faltered and a return of the previous government now looks likely.

The situation in Sri Lanka is not an isolated case. The Arab Spring toppled many dictatorial regimes in the Middle East, and the political void it left behind was in some cases filled by coalition governments, of which the constituent parties often made for strange bedfellows. The difficulties that these coalition governments have faced are well known and continue today.

The astonishing political change in these countries, as in Malaysia, occurred in the face of mounting  economic and social problems. Youth unemployment in Malaysia is three times the average at more than 10 per cent, while 25 per cent of university graduates remain unemployed 6 months after graduating despite employers complaining about difficulties sourcing talent. This points to a skills mismatch that has its roots in a deteriorating education system that is underfunded and wrought with distortions. Malaysia has long been a net exporter of skills despite being a net importer of labour.

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Malaysia has also been a net exporter of capital since 2005, with mixed results on investment on both the domestic and foreign fronts. It will need to stem capital flight and revive both domestic and foreign investment if it is to generate the kind of growth that creates good jobs for younger generations.

Although official statistics point to falling income inequality, the level overall and levels within Malaysia’s different communities remain high. Other indicators also point to rising wage and wealth inequality, as well as rising social marginalisation and exclusion. Unless these disparities are addressed, social and political stability will be at risk.

Financial corruption and the corruption of Malaysia’s institutions such as the Judiciary, the Police, the press and even the Anti-Corruption Agency must be addressed. Financial and institutional corruption feed off each other. Recognising the enormity of the task, the newly elected government has created the Committee on Institutional Reforms, while the Council of Eminent Persons will focus on economic issues. Malaysia’s new leaders understand that institutional reform must accompany economic reform to deliver systemic change, even if vested interest and inertia must first be overcome.

These challenges can be met if the coalition works together as an effective government. The magnitude of the challenges will require wide-ranging reforms, and this will test the integrity of a loosely bound coalition. Implementation of such policies will require support from the bureaucracy, which is not only politicised but has only known one master for 61 years.

But if strong and persuasive leadership will allow Pakatan Harapan to withstand this test and deliver, the prize will be great. The nexus between race, religion and politics may have finally be broken, and meritocracy could return in place of money politics and patronage.

Although the change in government in Malaysia was a truly remarkable event, it marks the start, not the end, of a journey towards a new beginning. Once the euphoria fades, the new government will be judged not by how much better it may be compared to its predecessor, but by how far it gets in meeting the heightened expectations of the people who put them in power. It is only when these expectations are met that a new future will truly be possible for Malaysia.

Jayant Menon is Lead Economist in the Economic Research and Regional Cooperation Department at the Asian Development Bank, and Adjunct Fellow at the Arndt-Corden Department of Economics at the Australian National University.

Luckily we have a new Government


May 30, 2018

Luckily we have a new Government

By Lim Sue Goan @ Sin Chew Daily

http://mysinchew.com/node/119710?tid=12

Luckily we had a new government after the May 9 General Elections. If Barisan Nasional (BN) were to continue running this country, more unimaginable things could pop up.

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Najib Razak belongs in jail for betraying Malaysia. What is wrong with you, Zahid Hamidi?

Imagine Najib were to remain as our Prime Minister. First of all, the economy would continue to go downhill because BN would have to honor its election pledges, including pay raise for 1.6 million civil servants from July and RM5,000 bonuses for each Felda settler.

Government’s operating expenditure would continue to rise at the expense of development expenditure. If this goes beyond what the government could cope, GST rate would be further revised upward.

Secondly, the hidden debts could burst, including RM199.1 billion government-guaranteed debts (14.6% of GDP) and RM201.4 billion lease payments for public-private partnership (PPP) projects. The government would be victimized if the companies involved could not settle their debts.

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The BN government would likely siphon resources elsewhere to settle 1MDB’s immediate debts. Bank Negara reportedly purchased a 22.58-hectare plot of land for RM2 billion in the name of constructing a financial education center. The money was subsequently used to settle 1MDB’s end-2017 debt.

With 1MDB unable to honor its debts and interests, if BN were to remain as federal government, it would continue to cover up and siphon resources from somewhere else to settle 1MDB’s debts, which would snowball to unthinkable proportions, while the world would continue to be kept in the dark over the scandal.

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The New Gabenor. Bank Negara Malaysia

Meanwhile, politics has penetrated deep into key national institutions, infinitely expanding the executive powers and rendering the checks and balances mechanism basically dysfunctional. The Parliament and other institutions would not raise a question over such irregularities and acts of contempt of law would keep happening in future.

From the many things revealed after the 14th General Elections, including the confession by AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes that he had come under tremendous pressure from the Prime Minister’s Office to express open support for BN shortly before GE-14; and revelation by MACC Chief Commissioner Mohd Shukri Abdul that his life was in danger while he was probing SRC International and the RM2.6 billion political donation, forcing him to momentarily flee to the United States.

All these point to the fact that BN leaders were in jitters to cling on to power. If BN were to remain the government, press freedom would be further eroded.

The previous administration also exploited all sorts of racist and religious tactics to divide the people, trying to raise fears among the Malays for DAP. All these are time bombs that could go off anytime.

Fortunately we now have a two-party system that would bring acts of racism under control.

The so-called TN50 is just an excuse, and the damages inflicted upon democracy and the Malaysian society by the autocratic ex-regime will only grow by the day.

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Mahathir 2.O Administration faces daunting challenges

Given the complete mess left behind by the previous BN administration, little wonder Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir has described his premiership this time as a very challenging one given the highly uncertain environment when compared to when he took over the same job for the first time in 1981.

Tun Mahathir also said he was inheriting a practically destroyed country, financially and institutionally. It is foreseeable that rebuilding the country is never an easy task. It will take a lot of drastic measures to trim the debts (the PM has announced to scrap the KL-Singapore HSR project), not to mention PH needs to honor its election pledges, including financial aid ahead of Hari Raya, RM50 monthly EPF contributions for housewives, deferment of PTPTN loan settlement for borrowers earning less than RM4,000 a month, abolition of highway tolls, etc.

With the saving from axed mega projects channeled instead to fulfilling election pledges, do we still have anything left to stimulate the country’s economy?

Moreover, the eroded independence of the three branches of government need to be restored through legislation to accord independent status to the Attorney-General’s Chambers and MACC, among others.

Consequently, PH may need to enlist the help from outside to reverse the existing racist policies and antiquated economic models while drawing up more liberal new policies to lure foreign funds and expertise in pushing ahead institutional reforms and economic transformation.

PH’s electoral victory is widely perceived by the world as a positive development. It is now time for the new government to introduce new policies to expedite the rebuilding and re-engineering of this country.

While the 2018 elections have buried the hypocritical “1Malaysia” in favor of a “New Malaysia”, the journey ahead of us is by no means smooth, and we all must do our part to see to its success.

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad speaks to VOA


May 30, 2018

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad speaks to The Voice of America (VOA)

 

Malaysia’s Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, back in power after a 15-year hiatus, says his first 20 years in office were “fairly easy” compared to what is confronting him now — massive debt in a country with an international reputation for corruption. Mahathir returned to power on May 9 in a spectacular election upset that saw him unite with his former opposition foes to overthrow a prime minister — Najib Razak — who is accused of helping to steal billions from his country in one of the biggest corporate frauds in history. Najib denies all the charges. “Well my first 20 years as prime minister was fairly easy. I inherited a system that is already there. All I had to do is to introduce new ideas so that we can expedite the growth and development of Malaysia,” the 92-year-old Mahathir told VOA in an exclusive interview. “But here I am dealing with a country that has been actually destroyed. Its finances have been destroyed. The system of government has been ignored and not used and a new system, or rather an authoritarian system has been introduced,” he said.

https://www.voanews.com/a/hold-for-vi…