No Reason to celebrate 60th Merdeka Day


August 18, 2017

No Reason to celebrate 60th Merdeka Day

by Stephen Ng@www.malaysiakini.com

Image result for UMNO Flags

COMMENT | As we approach Merdeka Day, one thing is too obvious not to be noticed.

This observation that I make will answer the question I pose: “How can BN gain back people’s confidence after 2008?”

Sixty years have passed and BN has ruled the nation. This year is crucial as it may be the coming general election that will decide whether Malaysia will return to BN or see a change of government at the federal level.

Image result for Jalur Gemilang at half mast

On August 31, 2017–In stead of rejoicing, we Malaysians  mourn the state of our country. After 60 years of Merdeka, we are being colonised by corrupt and racist UMNO kleptocrats and their partners in MCA, MIC, Gerakan.–Din Merican

My observation is based on the mood of the people as we approach Merdeka Day. It is obvious that the flags are not flying. By now, most shops would be carrying the Malaysian flag and cars would be adorned with the Jalur Gemilang.

But, unless some arm-twisting tactics are used, by now the flags would be all over the place. Patriotism is not something that can be forced. It has to come from the people’s own sentiments.

Although patriotism has nothing to do with giving support to the government of the day, its absence can indicate the people’s sentiments and confidence towards those in the powers of corridor.

This year is the 60th anniversary since Malaysia achieved its independence from the British colonial government in 1957, yet Malaysians are generally lukewarm about the celebration this year.

Why are Malaysians not showing their patriotism?

It does not cost more than RM10 to purchase a Malaysian flag, but could it be that Malaysians are unwilling to fork out even that amount of money, not forgetting the additional 60 sen for the Goods and Services Tax (GST)?

After three years, by now, most Malaysians would have felt the burden of the GST on their rising cost of living.

Only a total reversal of the GST, which unfortunately Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak said is impossible to implement, is the only way BN can gain the people’s confidence.

Pakatan Harapan said the moment they win the general election, they would remove the GST. So, why is BN saying it cannot be abolished?

Is it because the country has reached such a financial state that despite the oil money, the government would not be able to meet financial obligations without the income from GST collection?

All the “positive” reports aside, one needs to only read Tricia Yeoh’s open letter to Najib to realise how much of Najib’s speech at Invest Malaysia last month can be swallowed.

The truth is most people have a very negative economic outlook, with most saying that the country appears to be going nowhere. Malaysians are beginning to see the doom ahead of them with the latest report that in 2016, the country’s debt has hit RM908.7 billion or 74 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP).

This is one of the highest since the country achieved independence. To say it is no problem is something hard for even ordinary Malaysians to believe. Imagine you are earning RM10,000, but you have to service your loan for the RM7,000 that you have borrowed.

You may be living a lifestyle of someone earning RM17,000 a month, but how many people even earn RM5,000 a month? This is called “over gearing”.

If people smell that something is not right, they will panic to think that the country’s total foreign debts may show that we are in real danger of bankruptcy.

One explanation after another has been given. For example, everyone knows that it is the weaker ringgit that is contributing to the higher cost of foreign debts, but what is the BN government doing about controlling external debts?

What we are hearing about are the mega projects being carried out using borrowed funds. The East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) for example is to be built using money from a soft loan provided by China’s Exim Bank at 3 percent over a period of 20 years.

Anyone borrowing from the bank for a housing loan for that period of time will realise that it is not that rosy after all. The moment someone defaults on a loan, there will be penalties. The bank may even force the property to be auctioned off.

Would the RM55 billion soft loan place Malaysia under the control of a Chinese bank, hence, indirectly the Chinese government? No banks would loan any amount of money if it does not have the assurance that it is able to get back the money.

Besides, we all know that Keretapi Tanah Melayu (KTM) is not making any profit despite running the North-South corridor. What makes us think that the ECRL would be able to pay back the loan?

Political violence

Image result for UMNO Red Shirts

UMNO-Malay Unity, not National Unity

It is not only the financial aspect that people are worried about. No thanks to its past record, and people like Jamal Mohd Yunos and his Red Shirts, people seem to have the impression that UMNO is given the right to use violence.

Peace-loving Malaysians are no longer easily intimidated. The silent majority may not do much, but the sentiments are definitely not with UMNO when more political violence unfolds, whether linked to the party, its members, or otherwise.

They may not be outspoken, but they are waiting for the right moment to strike with another tsunami. This is my observation especially after Mahathir and his men abandoned UMNO.

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Jamal Ikan Bakar Yunos and his Red Shirts on a rampage?

The answer to my question, “How BN can gain back people’s confidence?” therefore requires more soul-searching on the part of BN leaders, including those from Sabah and Sarawak.

If flying of the Jalur Gemilang is any indication of the people’s sentiments, it is time for some serious discussions at the higher level.

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

Malaysia: Indian Votes Matter in GE-14, says a local think tank


August 18, 2017

Malaysia: Indian Votes Matter in GE-14, says a local think tank

 by  Ooi Heng, Elijah Khor and Yasmin
Image result for hindraf malaysia

It is easy for Najib Razak to win Indian Votes –Grant Blue ICs and Bumiputra status to the marginalised Indians together with those desperate mamaks who populate Pulau Pinang, and some duit raya courtesy 1MDB. UMNO’s racism will be forgotten and Hindraf’s struggle for Justice will be pushed aside. Money wins GE-14, not ideals . That’s pork barrel politics, isn’t it? -Din Merican

Talking about the general election results in the past, we would usually treat BN as a whole. As UMNO is facing a significant political split, it is necessary to take UMNO’s parliamentary election results out of BN for further assessment.

Whenever UMNO faced a political split, that had more meaningful impact, their Malay votes would drop, and their parliamentary seats would be subsequently reduced as well.

Before the 1990 General Elections, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah parted ways with Dr Mahathir Mohamad and splintered off from UMNO to form a new party, Semangat 46. As a result, the parliamentary seats won by UMNO dropped by 12 seats, from 83 seats in 1986 to 71 seats in 1990.

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UMNO-BN Manifesto for GE-14–Gua Tolong Lu, Lu Tolong Gua–Najib Razak

Before the 1999 general elections, Anwar Ibrahim was brutally prosecuted, leading to the Reformasi political movement, thus party leaders and followers, as well as civil society activists, joined hands to form a new party, Parti Keadilan Nasional. As for the electoral result, the parliamentary seats won by UMNO dropped by 17 seats, from 89 seats in 1995 to 72 seats in 1999.

Later, on 3 August 2003, Parti Keadilan Nasional officially merged with Parti Rakyat Malaysia (PRM) as Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR).

During both of the political splits mentioned above, Mahathir was the President of UMNO and also the Prime Minister. This time, Mahathir split with Najib Abdul Razak, who is the current UMNO President and also the current Prime Minister, to form a new party, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu).

In this coming election, how many parliamentary seats UMNO will lose is crucial to determine the election result.

There are two scenarios.

The first scenario 

This time UMNO’s seat will lose 15 to 20 seats, out of 88 seats in the GE13.  Therefore, in this election UMNO will be left with 68 to 73 seats.

This scenario assumes that every “meaningful split” being faced by UMNO would result in a more severe split than before, and translates into a kind of electoral result. This would mean that UMNO’s performance in 1999 as compared with 1995 was worse than their 1990 result as compared with 1986.

Based on this, their result in GE-14 as compared with the GE-13, will be relatively worse than the GE-10 (1999) as compared with the GE-9 (1995), or comes close to that.

The second scenario

This time UMNO will not only perform worse than before, but also demonstrate the worst fall in history, reducing their number of parliamentary seats by 25 to 30 seats. If this is the case, in GE-14, UMNO will be left with 58 to 63 seats.

This scenario is considering the fact that out of the former UMNO leaders who have led the opposition coalition in the past to challenge UMNO, the highest-ranking one was a former Deputy Prime Minister.

This round, Mahathir is a former Prime Minister who was in office for 22 years, and the two elections before this – GE-12 (2008) and GE-13 (2013) – have successfully changed the political landscape, and also shaken up the one-party dominant system which used to be invincible.

Based on this scenario, other than UMNO showing a definite loss of parliamentary seats, the overall result of BN in GE-14 will not be a repeat of the situation in GE-10 (1999) where “the Malay voters opposed but the non-Malay voters did not oppose”, or a result where “BN saved UMNO”.

In the 1990 and the 1999 elections, even though UMNO was split, the one-party dominant system remained intact.

Today, however, after experiencing the change in political landscape through the 2008 and 2013 elections, the one-party dominant system has loosened. Based on this, this time there shall not be an outcome where “BN saved UMNO”.

The votes of marginalised groups

Let us take a look at the ethnic Chinese votes. BN’s Chinese votes in 2008 dropped by about 30 percent, and this did not stop falling in 2013 where it dropped further by 22 percent. Basically, the BN Chinese votes had dropped to its lowest. In GE-14, we assume an increase in Chinese votes for BN.

If BN gains Chinese votes by 5 percent to 10 percent, it will not be sufficient to result in “BN saving UMNO”. While Pakatan Harapan is fighting aggressively for Malay votes, they also need to manage their loss of Chinese votes, and also the percentage of votes regained by BN.

Image result for lu tolong gua, gua tolong lu

Awesome Najib Razak with a huge War Chest

What Pakatan Harapan cannot underestimate the most is the ethnic Indian voters. After BN lost Indian votes in 2008 by about 49 percent, the coalition regained 10 percent in 2013.

According to the electoral map in 2013, there were altogether 60 parliamentary seats in which Indians comprised 10 percent of voters. In 52 seats, Indians comprised 10 percent to 20 percent of voters, while in the remaining 8 seats, Indians made up 21 to 30 percent of the voting population.

Even though upon the 2013 election results Pakatan Rakyat had only 10 Indian MPs, these 60 constituencies with more than 10 percent Indian voters would also affect the chance of winning for the non-Indians in these constituencies.

Out of the 60 seats, other than the 10 seats with Indian MPs, Pakatan Rakyat had also 28 seats with non-Indian MPs, who were also affected by the Indian voters. In order to prevent the situation of “BN saving UMNO” from happening in the GE14, Pakatan Harapan should work more on addressing the Indian community’s needs and their issues of concern, and propose an effective policy for it.

The Indian community has a high proportion of lower middle class and lower-class families, and they are also experiencing the pressure of expensive goods and a high cost of living in this goods and services tax (GST) era. Other than this, many of them are having a hard time getting a low salary and having insufficient unemployment protection.

If we only focus on the 30 seats with more than 50 percent of Chinese voters, and being in delusion of controlling the back low of the Chinese votes, thinking that these would be sufficient to make use of the splinter in UMNO to obtain a good result, we are afraid that BN will be able to obtain a greater proportion of Indian votes in the GE-14.

Just as BN was greatly hit by Hindraf in the 2008 election, in this coming election, Pakatan Harapan will probably be quietly hit by the Indian community. Can the political elites feel the movements within the marginalized groups?

Ooi Heng is Executive Director of the think tank Political Studies for Change (KPRU). Elijah Khor and Yasmin are research officers at KPRU.

A Malay is an UMNO Construct


August 3, 2017

A Malay is an UMNO Construct .Go figure

by S. Thayaparan

http://www.malaysiakini.com

 

Image result for zahid hamidi is a javanese

Zahid Hamidi is a Melayu SeJati defined by UMNO.

Image result for Najib the Bugis Warrior Even  a Bugis is a True Malay  since he is UMNO President

 

“I want to be a normal member. Because I cannot do anything (for the Malays).”

– former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad

COMMENT | Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has chosen to insult the Indian community with his “attack” on Pakatan Harapan chairperson and former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s Indian pedigree and subsequent actions as not being a Malay “trait”.

To be honest, I had been expecting something like this for a couple of months now – “The only thing that is different this time is because the Malay community is fractured, and UMNO has had to play the race and religion card against its own. Playing the race and religion card against your own community is a recipe for disaster, especially when the country does not have an alternative to the Islam proscribed by UMNO.”

Since the struggle for the Malay soul – read: vote – is now between UMNO and Bersatu, this whole idea of demonstrating “Malay-ness” becomes the battleground, instead of real policies which would take the Malay community in a new direction.

I never understood what a “Malay” sejati was anyway. As far as I can tell, to UMNO, any Malay who is not in the UMNO fold in not a true Malay.

I remember when then Prime Minister Mahathir chided his Malay/UMNO base (during numerous annual general meetings) on their “mudah lupa”-ness , their laziness , their ineptitude, their incompetence and their general “tidak apa” attitude , in other words, “traits” which he found detestable, the sycophants that surrounded him went to the press and claimed that the good doctor was giving them strong medicine because he really loved UMNO and wanted the best for UMNO and its members.

Once out of UMNO, he becomes an Indian

Do you think I am seditious when I talk about these Malay traits? Mahathir has more or less said the same. The former premier said Malays had failed because they were lazy and sought the easy way out by reselling their shares, licences and contracts to non-Malays.

“They cannot be patient, cannot wait a little, they want to be rich this very moment… no work is done other than to be close to people with influence and authority in order to get something,” he said. “After selling and getting the cash, they come back to ask for more.”

Perhaps Zahid should take the former Prime Minister’s advice and learn from the Chinese: “If we take out the Chinese and all that they have built and own, there will be no small or big towns in Malaysia, there will be no business and industry, there will be no funds for the subsidies, support and facilities for the Malays. Learn from the Chinese.”

Again, if you think I am racist or seditious for defining the narrative in such a way, please keep in mind that the reason why we have buffoons like these UMNO ministers blathering on about authentic Malays is because the current opposition de facto leader, Mahathir Mohamad admitted that he “failed” to change the “Malay” mindset:

“What else (can I do) … I have tried to be an example, tried to teach, scolded, cried and even prayed. (But) I have failed. I have failed to achieve the most important thing – how to change the Malays.”

Now, of course, the UMNO narrative is that because he was not an authentic Malay, what he really did was use UMNO for his personal interests. This is kind of a joke because UMNO has always had special privileges for its members, all the rest are discounted citizens.

Mind you these are the same traits that some folks believe would seep into their respective cultures, so Zahid is not the only person who is worried about the authenticity of his race and religion. Go figure.

However since this is the Deputy Prime Minister we are talking about here, he never stops to consider that maybe just maybe, there is a Malay proverb that addresses this specific trait because such traits exist in the Malay community as they do in all communities.

As this kind of basic logic is way over the head of a political operative like Zahid, what we are left with is the kind of Malay (ketuanan) trait that makes some Muslims worry for the mental health of their community.

This is the same kind of Malay “trait” that makes a group like Jaringan Melayu Malaysia (JMM) lodge a report against Marian Mahathir for “liking” a twitter post support of the LGBT community. Of course if some prominent person liked a Twitter post in support of some banned Islamic extremist group, these same people would have no trouble supporting a “like” and demonizing detractors as Islamophobic.

While some folks may argue that these are the “traits” of the Malay community and they would also argue that we should be mindful lest the other – pendatang – communities are tainted by such traits, ultimately what we are dealing with is the racist nature of mainstream politics here in Malaysia.

I am kind of fuzzy on the logic behind this attack. Is Mahathir not an authentic Malay because of his Indian heritage, or because he left UMNO and is now working with the opposition?

If not leaving UMNO is a Malay trait, then what does it say about all those other Malays who have left UMNO? What does it say about those Malay who are not “tainted” by pendatang ancestry but who no longer are part of the UMNO establishment or who have been in UMNO?

And if working with the opposition is not a Malay trait then what does it say about the numerous UMNO /Malay political operatives who are working with PAS, a supposedly opposition party and at one time the arch-enemy of UMNO?

“This is our culture. We do not know what is hardship, we only want things to be easy,” is how Mahathir defined Malay culture. Is he wrong? Of course Zahid will say that all these utterances of Mahathir just prove that he is not an authentic Malay ignoring the fact when he was saying them in the various UMNO general assemblies, the sycophants were prostrating themselves before him and acknowledging their sins.

Ibrahim Yahya, the Deputy Prime Minister’s aide, claimed that the politics of hate that is sowed by the opposition is destroying the country, but the reality is that that the politics of hate defines this country. This is just another example of what I have always said.

Malaysia’s Economic Report Card: Positive


July 26, 2017

Malaysia’s Economic Report Card:  “Malaysia is on the right course”, says Prime Minister Najib Razak

In delivering his keynote address at InvestMalaysia 2017 in Kuala Lumpur today (July 25), Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak highlighted the economic transformation under his leadership.

He also launched a scathing broadside at the opposition coalition Pakatan Harapan, whose chairperson is his former mentor turned nemesis Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Among others, Najib claimed that there has been a concerted campaign to send misinformation overseas to damage Malaysia’s economy for selfish political objectives.

“So if you receive these smears, or you read it in publications that do not check the facts properly, please beware,” he told his audience, comprising local and foreign investors.–www.malaysiakini.com

Full Text of Prime Minister Najib Razak’s Keynote Address (Salutations Removed)

Image result for Najib Razak at InvestMalaysia Forum 2017

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, addressing some 2,000 local and international investors attending the Invest Malaysia 2017 Forum–July 25, 2017

As the Prime Minister of Malaysia, I want to lay out the foundations needed for our nation to be counted among the very top countries in the world. We want that competitive edge, and to be a knowledge-based society – but we must always work towards those goals in ways that are sustainable, inclusive and equitable. No Malaysian must ever be left behind. All must participate and benefit from this amazing journey that we are on.–Prime Minister Najib Razak

Seven years ago, in 2010, I introduced our New Economic Model – right here, at Invest Malaysia. This model was designed to transform Malaysia into a high- income nation, and our country into a more inclusive, equitable and sustainable society, with no one left behind, opportunity made available for all, and the right fundamentals put in place to secure a stable and successful future.

We had a plan of reform – economic transformation and taking the tough but responsible choices. And it is clear today, that, aided by the hard work of millions of Malaysians, the plan has worked and is continuing to work.

Let the facts speak for themselves:

Between 2009 and 2016, Gross National Income has increased by nearly 50 percent, and GNI per capita using the Atlas method increased to US$9,850. Based on the World Bank’s latest high-income threshold of US$12,235, we have narrowed the gap towards the high-income target from 33 percent to 19 percent.

2.26 million jobs have been created, which represents 69 percent of the 3.3 million target we want to reach by 2020. Clearly, we are making the right progress towards those goals.

Inflation and unemployment have been kept low. We have attracted unprecedented levels of Foreign Direct Investment, which shows the confidence the world has in Malaysia.

But no wonder. For our growth has been the envy of the advanced economies, even during years of turmoil in the global economy. This year, the World Bank has upped their estimate. We are expected to record a rise in GDP of 4.9 percent, considerably higher than their earlier prediction of 4.3 percent.

Others have also increased their predictions – Morgan Stanley now says 5 percent, while Nomura’s forecast is for the Malaysian economy to grow by 5.3 percent this year. Only yesterday, the IMF has reviewed their forecast from 4.5 percent to 4.8 percent. And growth is expected to be higher next year. So we are on the right trajectory.

Other sets of figures support confidence in Malaysia. In the first quarter of 2017 our trade, for instance, recorded an increase of 24.3 percent – up to RM430.5 billion – compared with the same period last year.

In March, exports breached the RM80 billion mark for the first time. At RM82.63 billion, it was the highest monthly figure for Malaysian exports ever recorded.

The capital market increased by nine percent to a level of RM3.1 trillion in the first six months of this year, and now ranks fifth in Asia relative to GDP. It continues to attract wide interest from both domestic and foreign investors. In fact, in the equity market, there were net inflows of RM11 billion in the first half of 2017, compared with RM3 billion of net outflows during the whole of 2016.

The Malaysian bond market grew to RM1.2 trillion in 2016, while our Islamic capital market has recorded a hugely impressive average annual growth of 10 percent over the last six years, reaching RM1.8 trillion in June 2017.

Malaysia is also home to the largest number of listed companies in ASEAN. At US$29 billion, Bursa Malaysia also recorded the highest amount of funds raised in the last five years in any country in our 10-nation association.

And our currency, the ringgit, has been described by Bloomberg recently as, and I quote, “easily the strongest major Asian currency this quarter, climbing twice as much as the next best, the Chinese yuan”.

All of this can point to only one conclusion – our economy continues to prosper, and we are stronger than ever as a result of the reforms and the programmes the government has put in place.

The markets, the business community and companies like strength and stability. They want the certainty provided by a government that understands that the prosperity of its people is best served by being business-friendly, and that sovereignty is not compromised one inch by the record Foreign Direct Investment this government has secured.

No. It will help build the new Malaysia of the 21st century, and bring many benefits, from knowledge and skills transfers to a rise in the standard of living for the people.

The business community wants the certainty of knowing that the government is committed to the necessary reforms, and is committed to fostering a culture of entrepreneurship and to transparency, accountability, and good regulation.

On that note, I can announce that the government has, in principle, agreed to the establishment of an Integrity and Governance Unit at all GLCs, and state and ministry-owned business entities, under the supervision of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, precisely to strengthen the confidence all can, should, and do have in Malaysia.

The international business community knows that it has that certainty – with this government. Indeed, they are voting with their feet. HSBC is investing over RM1 billion to build its future regional headquarters in the Tun Razak Exchange, recognising Malaysia’s increasing status as an international financial and business centre.

Broadcom Limited, one of the world’s largest semiconductor companies with a market capitalisation of nearly half-a-trillion dollars, is going to transfer its Global Distribution Hub from Singapore to Malaysia in 2017, from where it will manage the group’s global inventory of RM64 billion a year.

Huawei, a leading global ICT solutions provider which serves more than one- third of the world’s population, has made Malaysia its global operation headquarters, data hosting centre and global training centre, with a total project cost of RM2.2 billion and employing more than 2,370 people.

Saudi Aramco is investing US$7 billion – that’s its biggest downstream investment outside the kingdom – for a 50 percent stake in Petronas’ Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development in Johor. That is the single largest investment in Malaysia, and shows the confidence Saudi Arabia has in our people, our technology, and our ability to be a strong partner with their most important business.

Others who are already here are expanding their operations. Finisar Corporation, a global technology leader in optical communications, will invest a further RM610 million in its operation in Perak – bringing its total investment in Malaysia to RM1 billion.

Coca-Cola has already invested RM1 billion in Malaysia since 2010. It announced in March an additional RM500 million investment to expand the size and production capacity of its plant at Bandar Enstek.

I could go on and on. The point is that the confidence and certainty global businesses have in Malaysia brings jobs, lifts wages and helps our workforce upskill.

It is this government that offers that certainty to businesses both in Malaysia and overseas. The opposition offers none at all. They are in chaos. Two leading members of one party can’t agree if the old opposition alliance still exists in the state of Selangor. “Yes, it does”, says one. “Oh no it doesn’t!” says the other. It’s like a Punch and Judy show!

And the latest leadership structure the opposition announced is farcical, sounding a bit like a return-to-work programme for old-age political pensioners!

It is also cynical and deceptive, with three leaders but no clarity on who has executive power among them, and DAP kept deliberately invisible despite controlling the opposition behind the scenes with the vast majority of their parliamentary seats.

As for their Prime Minister candidate, the opposition is so desperate that they are now trying to make the people believe it will be a nonagenarian – who isn’t even a member of parliament, and whose party has just one seat!

But the truth is that in a democracy numbers don’t lie, and DAP remains by far the most dominant party in the opposition. The DAP leader of the last half century is now hiding behind the man who jailed him, trying to deceive Malays into thinking that former leader is their interim candidate for Prime Minister.

Neither can the word of the opposition be relied on. Just recently, a leading member in one party said that, if Malaysia had such good relations with Saudi Arabia, why had the hajj quota not been increased? But it has! Twice this year, from 22,230 to 27,900 and then up to 30,200.

That’s another example of the benefits this government’s policies bring to the people of Malaysia – in this case, our foreign policy of forging friendship abroad, rather than holding grudges for decades, as that certain former leader still does.

But you won’t hear about the very real benefits from our engagement with Saudi Arabia, China, India or anywhere else from the opposition. In fact, they’ll tell barefaced lies about it, just as they have been feeding lies about the economy and stoking fears of economic disaster in Malaysia.

There has in fact been a concerted campaign to send such misinformation overseas to damage Malaysia’s economy for their own selfish political objectives. So if you receive these smears, or you read it in publications that do not check the facts properly, please beware.

It is not fair to the Malaysian people, and it’s not fair to the business community, both at home and abroad.

They, and you, deserve the truth. So let me tell you what a cross-section of respected international bodies has to say about this government’s record.

The OECD’s most recent economic assessment of Malaysia stated, and I quote: “Malaysia is one of the most successful Southeast Asian economies… thanks to sound macroeconomic fundamentals and its success in transforming its economy into a well-diversified and inclusive one.”

We are ranked second in ASEAN in the World Bank’s Doing Business Report 2017 – and 23rd overall, among 190 economies globally.

We were ranked second among the Southeast Asian nations in the World Economic Forum’s Human Capital Index 2016, up one place from last year’s third spot.

We are ranked third among 190 economies, worldwide, for Protecting Minority Investors, by the World Bank Doing Business Report 2017.

The World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2016-2017 ranks Malaysia fourth among 138 economies for Strength of Investor Protection.

We rank eleventh out of 125 countries in the Venture Capital and Private Equity Attractiveness Index, by the IESE Business School in Spain.

The ratings agency Fitch recently reaffirmed our A- rating and stable outlook.

And a recent survey by BAV Consulting and the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania declared Malaysia to be the “best country to invest In”. It said, and I quote, “Malaysia is the clear frontrunner in this ranking, scoring at least 30 points more than any other country on a 100 point scale.”

There is clear international unanimity that Malaysia is on the right course, and the figures and accolades I have reported to you today are the direct results of this government’s steering of the economy through uncertain and choppy global waters.

IMF reported that the resilience of our economy was due, and I quote, to “sound macroeconomic policy responses in the face of significant headwinds and risks”. And these sound policies are the reason why they said that: “Malaysia is among the fastest growing economies among peers.”

And lastly, the World Bank has shown that it agrees as well. In its latest report, issued just last month, it said that the government’s “macroeconomic management has been constantly proactive and effective in navigating near-term challenges in the economic environment”.

It concluded, and I quote: “The Malaysian economy is progressing from a position of strength.”

Does that really sound like the Malaysian economy is failing, and that we are in danger of going bankrupt, as the opposition would have you believe?

I think the World Bank, the OECD and the IMF know what they are talking about – and I’m sure, ladies and gentlemen, that you do too.

We have only arrived at that position of strength because we put in place a far-reaching economic plan; and because we have been unafraid to take the tough decisions to build up the resilience of the Malaysian economy.

We have diversified government sources of income, including reducing reliance on oil and gas revenues from 41 percent in 2009 to 14 percent today. Given the huge drop in the price of oil, just imagine how we would be suffering if we had not done that.

We also needed to widen the tax base, and so, in common with around 160 other countries, we introduced a goods and services tax, or GST. It was not popular, but it was the right thing to do – as every reputable economist has confirmed.

GST has helped us in our determination to steadily reduce the deficit – we are on course to reduce it to three percent this year, from 6.7 percent in 2009 – and GST has been crucial to retaining our good assessments by the international ratings agencies.

Yet the opposition says they would abolish it. Tell me, from where exactly would they produce the RM41 billion collected in GST revenue last year? Out of a hat?

If GST was abolished, it would not just be a matter of a revenue shortfall. The deficit would rise from 3.1 percent to 5 percent. Our ability to fund the construction of schools, hospitals and other essentials would be affected.

Government debt would rise above our self-imposed level of 55 percent of GDP. Our sovereign credit ratings would then be downgraded. Lending costs for all, such as loans for personal use, for business and for housing, would increase. The people would suffer, and they would suffer directly.

One of Malaysia’s prominent independent analysts, the Director of Economics at the Institute of Strategic and International Studies Malaysia, had it right when he said the idea of getting rid of GST was, and I quote, “preposterous” and “economically nonsensical”. “I don’t think anyone in their right mind would want to do that,” he said.

It is another example of what the opposition do when faced with tough decisions: they seek the easy or the populist way out, regardless of whether it makes sense or is even possible. They are not being straight with the Malaysian people.

This government, however, will always be straight with the people and we will always do right by the people. We will always put their interests first, from economic welfare to security. Even if it is not the most popular thing to do, we will not hesitate – because it is the responsible thing to do for the country.

This is also one of the reasons I am not very popular with that certain nonagenarian. Under his leadership many corners were cut, and the Malaysian people had to pay a very high price so that a few of his friends benefited, even when symbols of national pride had horrendous and catastrophic decisions inflicted on them.

But I say to you now that under this government, we are cracking down on crony capitalism. No more sweetheart deals. No more national follies kept going to stroke the ego of one man. No more treating national companies as though they were personal property.

Because it is the people who suffer, and we will not tolerate a few succeeding – and not on their own merits – while the many are denied opportunities, all for the interests of a selfish few.

Now some of you may be thinking that I have not mentioned national companies where there have been issues. At 1MDB it is now clear that there were lapses in governance.

However, rather than bury our heads in the sand, we ordered investigations into the company at a scale unprecedented in our nation’s history. Rather than funnel good money after bad to cover up any issues 1MDB may have faced – the model embraced by a former leader – I instructed the rationalisation of the company.

And it is progressing well. Indeed, many of the assets formerly owned by 1MDB are thriving. One only needs to drive past Tun Razak Exchange to see the new construction for confirmation.

But let’s not forget that while there were issues at 1MDB, certain politicians blew them out of proportion, and tried to sabotage the company, in an attempt to topple the government in-between election cycles.

At the time we knew the real issue was not 1MDB, and that if 1MDB hadn’t been around they would have chosen another line of attack to try to illegitimately change the government. So we stood steadfast, and resolute, in the face of this orchestrated campaign. Because we will not be deterred from our duty, as the democratically elected government, to serve the nation.

Our priorities were made crystal clear when we introduced the concepts of the “capital economy” – which refers to the macro perspective – and the “people economy”, which is focused entirely on the people, the most precious asset of our great country.

We face challenges ahead, of course. We need to improve productivity. We need to raise the levels of education and skills. We need to put innovation and creativity at the heart of the economy of the future.

This why we have partnered with the Chinese technology leader Alibaba to create the Digital Free Trade Zone, the world’s first special trade zone that will promote the growth of e-commerce, and provide a state-of-the-art platform for both SMEs and larger enterprises to conduct their digital businesses and services.

This initiative is part of the digital roadmap which aims to double e-commerce growth from 10.8 per cent to 20.8 per cent by 2020.

But we can only achieve such targets with the people, and by empowering the people. To ensure the dignity of all, we have virtually eliminated poverty, to less than one percent. We are delighted that the income of the bottom 40 percent households has been increasing at a compound annual growth rate of 12 percent since 2009, when I took office.

But we know that cost of living issues hit those with low incomes the hardest; which is why we distributed RM5.36 billion in 1Malaysia People’s Aid, or BR1M, to 7.28 million households in 2016. This is why we ensured that essential foods and necessities are zero-rated for GST.

At the same time, we have many agencies promoting affordable housing programmes, and why we built and restored nearly 95,000 houses for the rural poor last year. Other affordable housing projects include PPA1M, for civil servants; PR1MA, for the urban middle income group; and the People’s Housing Programme for the lower income group, or Bottom 40, with monthly rents as low as RM124.

Infrastructure, too, is absolutely vital. It is crucial for our cities, and life-changing for rural communities. From 2010 to 2016 we delivered 6,042 kilometres of new rural roads, provided 350,000 houses with access to clean water, and connected 154,000 houses to electrical services.

At the end of last year, the first phase of the Mass Rapid Transit project was completed, and recently, the second phase of the Sungai Buloh-Kajang MRT Line has been launched. We now have 51 kilometres of operational line with 31 stations.

This will take 160,000 cars off road, making Kuala Lumpur more liveable. It created 130,000 new jobs, of which 70,000 are direct employment. And best of all, it was completed ahead of schedule and RM2 billion below budget. We are now planning for MRT 2 and 3.

The Pan Borneo Highway in Sarawak and Sabah will be a game changer for our people there, encouraging greater mobility, boosting industry and tourism and creating thousands of new jobs.

In a few years time, we will have the first high-speed rail link connecting Kuala Lumpur to Singapore, which will cut travel time between the two cities to 90 minutes, as compared to more than four hours by car.

And the East Coast Rail Link will bring huge benefits, jobs and a new connectedness to the people of Pahang, Terengganu and Kelantan in particular.

In other areas, we are seeing the benefits of our programmes for all the people. The national pre-school enrolment rate rose to 85.6 percent in 2016, for instance, as opposed to 67 percent in 2009; and we have achieved almost universal enrollment for the five years and upwards age group.

Women have seen great strides as well. The female labour force participation rate has increased from 46 percent in 2009 to 54.3 percent last year. That’s over 700,000 more women in the workforce.

And I am delighted to be able to announce that Malaysia has reached its target of women making up 30 percent of top management – that’s 1,446 women, out of a total of 4,960 in top management excluding CEOs, as of December 2016.

We want to go further, though, and have set 2020 as the date by which we want all public listed companies (PLCs) to have at least 30 percent women at board level. Because we know that when women succeed, we all succeed.

Unfortunately, we still have 17 “top 100” PLCs that have no women at all on their board. This just is not good enough, and I call on these companies to immediately address this lack of diversity. I would like to announce that, from 2018, the Government will name and shame PLCs with no women on their boards.

As many of you will know, SMEs make up 97 percent of businesses in Malaysia, and one of the hallmarks of my administration has been its support and encouragement for this backbone of our economy.

So I am pleased to be able to officially launch today the Leading Entrepreneur Accelerator Platform Market, or LEAP Market, by Bursa Malaysia. This is a new qualified market which will offer an alternative way for small and medium companies to raise funds and grow their business to the next level.

It is in line with our SME Masterplan which aims to raise the share of GDP contributed by SMEs, their numbers of employees, and their volume of exports.

And it is another of the many initiatives that my government has put in place in pursuit of our transformation, and that prove our trustworthiness as a business-friendly government of a vibrant economy.

We want you to see Malaysia as a gateway to ASEAN and the region, and with the eventual conclusion of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership or RCEP, we want you to see Malaysia as a base from which to access almost 50 percent of the world’s population, and over 30 percent of global GDP.

This year, we are celebrating the 60th anniversary of independence. From relatively humble beginnings, we have grown and evolved into a modern economy and society with a record to be proud of. But we are looking to the future as well – which is why we have produced the 2050 National Transformation, or TN50, initiative.

Through TN50, we want to listen to our rakyat. We want them to be heard. And through our dialogue sessions, we are listening to the aspirations of our youth for what they want the Malaysia of 2050 to be.

As the Prime Minister of Malaysia, I want to lay out the foundations needed for our nation to be counted among the very top countries in the world. We want that competitive edge, and to be a knowledge-based society – but we must always work towards those goals in ways that are sustainable, inclusive and equitable. No Malaysian must ever be left behind. All must participate and benefit from this amazing journey that we are on.

We invite you be to part of that journey, and I hope today we are able to shed light on the tremendous opportunities that Malaysia has to offer. We urge to you to look at our potential; to look at the great achievements the government’s transformation programme has delivered, and continues to deliver; and invest in Malaysia.

 

Will Dr. M make ultimate U-turn if Harapan wins GE?


July 25, 2017

Will Dr. M make ultimate U-turn if Harapan wins GE?

by Alyaa Azhar

http://www.malaysiakini.com

Image result for Mahathir--The Political Fox

 

Do you trust a political fox in the national hen house? Lest it be forgotten–Mahathir is an enigma with a Machiavellian streak. I do not expect that he will change his stripes. It is too late for that. Furthermore, the over-confidence shown by Pakatan Harapan politicians and analysts who support them is worrying since they underestimate the advantages of incumbency Najib possesses. Who will conduct elections if there are indications that one might lose. And politically astute Najib, who may be corrupt and incompetent, is not likely to commit a political hara kiri by doing so. It would be more reasonable to assume that he would create the pretext for emergency rule and govern the country Erdogan (Turkey) style. –Din Merican

Many breathed a sigh of relief after Pakatan Harapan finally came out with its line-up but there are those, especially among hardcore supporters of the Reformasi movement, who are slightly uneasy with seeing former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad sitting as chairperson of the coalition.

Their concerns are understandable. After all, this was the man responsible for throwing PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim behind bars in the first place, they contend.

Even those who do not really follow politics know that it was Mahathir’s sacking of Anwar as Deputy Prime Minister that gave birth to the Reformasi movement in 1998.

So can he be trusted to ensure that Anwar would indeed become the country’s eighth Prime Minister should Harapan emerge as the victor in the 14th general election?

And despite Mahathir’s apparent dislike of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, evident through his non-stop criticisms hurled at the latter and even his exit from UMNO a third time (Mahathir was first sacked from the party by Tunku Abdul Rahman in 1969), what would happen if UMNO were to decide to abandon Najib?

Image result for najib razak quotesYes, he didn’t be betray country, he just sold national assets to cover 1mdb losses

 

Would Mahathir leave Harapan and return to UMNO again, the party he had led for more than 20 years?

After all, it would not be the first time he would re-enter the country’s largest political party. Or would Mahathir, like two of his predecessors (Tunku Abdul Rahman and Tun Hussein Onn), remain outside UMNO until his very last breath?

Crossed red line

Image result for najib razak quotes

Many still believe this bull from Najib Razak

Providing his take on this, PKR Secretary-General Saifuddin Nasution Ismail believes that Mahathir has long crossed the “red line” when it comes to UMNO.

“The more I engage with him (Mahathir), I can only conclude that there is no turning back for him. Even though the source of anger could be Najib alone, but by now I think he realised that the whole system is corrupt.I have no doubt to dispute his sincerity, commitment and dedication to work together with the opposition,” said Saifuddin to Malaysiakini.

Although there is that possibility of Mahathir betraying Harapan if UMNO were to reject Najib, political analyst Khoo Kay Peng pointed out that the tables would turn if Harapan were to win in the general election.

“UMNO members will flock to Bersatu,” he said. Khoo also believes that Mahathir might be open to cooperating with UMNO as he “still has a strong brand value for Malays”.

Image result for merdeka center for opinion research director ibrahim suffian

Ibrahim Suffian says, “the issue of Mahathir going to UMNO would be moot”. After all, the former Prime Minister fathered UMNO Baru, which Najib Razak inherited.

Concurring that there will be no chance of Mahathir returning to UMNO as long as Najib remains as Prime Minister, Merdeka Centre programme Director Ibrahim Suffian also believes that the “entire political equation” will change should Harapan were to wrest Putrajaya from Barisan Nasional. “The issue of Mahathir going to UMNO would be moot,” he said.

Trust needed

And Harapan leaders, he added, do not really have a choice in the matter as they have decided to have Mahathir as a leader and must therefore only trust him.

“For those folks who have doubts about Mahathir, they have to make some compromises. They can’t have the cake and eat it, too.” The possibility of Mahathir betraying Harapan may be low but Khoo believes Harapan has not made enough preparation to face the possibility of a betrayal by Mahathir.

“They can’t simply because they don’t have time, choice and resources to focus on something else.But what Harapan should do is at least identify a clear line of leadership succession,” he said.

“Leaders who continue to make wrong decisions must be accountable and make way (for others).”

Harapan may be a little too relaxed in the matter. But for Saifuddin, the only plan that matters right now is none other than to defeat UMNO and BN. “In terms of time frame, we only have less than a year, probably less than six months from now.

No question of betrayal

Image result for saifuddin nasution ismail

Saifuddin Nasution Ismail–“There is no question of betrayal because we formed a partnership to become the next government.”

“We only have one plan and that plan is crystal clear, which is to take over the government.” Saifuddin also believes that concerns of a betrayal by Mahathir “do not arise at all. There is no question of betrayal because we formed a partnership to become the next government.”

For his coalition partner Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) Deputy President Salahuddin Ayub, now is the time for Harapan partners to put all their suspicions of Mahathir aside. “What’s more important is to build up the confidence to the public. We don’t have time to dig up all the sins Mahathir did during his 22 years (as Prime Minister),” he said.

And there would be no point in doing so, he added, citing his past experience in PAS when Anwar was sacked as the country’s number two leader.

“We accepted Anwar and his party at the time. It would not bring any benefit if my friends in PAS then and I, were suspicious of Anwar. It’s not our business to become the judge in whatever Mahathir did in the past. Amanah is not a court of law,” he added.

But shouldn’t Harapan at least have a contingency plan on the possibility of Mahathir betraying Harapan? Salahuddin is of the opinion that it would not be good for Harapan to have such a mindset and pointed out that the agreement signed between Harapan and Bersatu when the latter joined the coalition last year was enough to bind them.

Admitting that anything can happen in politics, Salahuddin, however, cited his observations of Mahathir, having engaged closely with the 92-year-old in the past two years.

“What I can say about Mahathir is his consistency. From day one of the Citizens’ Declaration, he never went back on his word. If I think he was the kind of person who flip-flops on his statement, he would not be the type of leader that I would want, too. He is very firm on his stand to face Najib, the 1MDB issue and to build this country.”

Admitting that he was initially quite guarded when it came to Mahathir as he thought that the latter only wanted to replace Najib and would ultimately return to Umno, Salahuddin now believes that Mahathir has “served his purpose”. He also allayed fears that Mahathir had been resorting to his “dictatorship style” in meetings.

A mellowed Mahathir

“This is from the bottom of my heart – in many meetings, we could debate with him, we could argue with him (and even) oppose him. Sometimes there are among us who are particularly vocal during meetings but he didn’t mind, he could accept it. Sometimes he even changed his original idea to follow the voice of the majority. If Mahathir behaved like a dictator in the meetings, I don’t think we would have remained with him for long.”

Like Salahuddin, having been in the opposition for a considerable amount of time, Saifuddin admitted that his previous topic in political ceramahs was all about attacking the Mahathir administration.

“But finally I realised we are all human. To move on, we have to learn to forgive and forget. That’s how I have positioned myself.”

So has all been forgiven just because Mahathir is now the federal government’s prime critic? That may not be the case but Saifuddin argued that allowing Najib and UMNO to continue to lead Malaysia would “only be a disaster”.

“Once it reaches the point of no return, then everything is too late. So before we reach that point, with whatever forces that we have, no matter the differences, I think we need to emphasise more on the things that can make us be united.”

Muzzling Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad


July 12, 2017

Muzzling Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad

by S. Thayaparan@www.malaysiakini.com

“The one pervading evil of democracy is the tyranny of the majority, or rather of that party, not always the majority, that succeeds, by force or fraud, in carrying elections.”

– John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton

COMMENT | So now we have proof that UMNO members “cover” for their president. We have proof that the corruption of UMNO Presidents are covered up by UMNO members. We have proof that UMNO members will overlook any kind of malfeasances to keep their leader in power.

Image result for Mahathir and Zahid Hamidi

All UMNO Leaders are filthy rich

We have this proof because UMNO Vice-President Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who is now acting Deputy President of the party, admitted as much when he told former Prime Minister and de facto opposition leader Dr Mahathir Mohamad to shut up or recite Quranic verses to Allah, whichever comes more easily.

This is what Zahid said: “He unveils the flaws of the present leaders, don’t forget we also used to cover his flaws. Don’t let it be our turn to show his shame and ‘scabs’. There is so much that we can reveal.”

Let us unpack this statement. We can discern three important facts from it.

1) Zahid does not dispute that the current UMNO leader and Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak has “flaws” and in this case, the only flaws that the current de facto opposition leader Mahathir is unveiling are the numerous corruption scandals that are plaguing this regime. You would note that the UMNO acting Deputy President is not disputing those flaws, indeed he acknowledges them as human “weakness” that every UMNO politician (leader) has.

2) He acknowledges that UMNO members “cover” the flaws of their leaders. So, as an UMNO member, he is admitting that over the years Umno has engaged in acts to cover the possibly criminal or unconstitutional acts of their leaders to safeguard the position of Umno and the position of the President of UMNO and the office of Prime Minister of this country.

3) That by claiming “there is so much we can reveal”, Zahid is admitting that UMNO members have evidence of wrongdoing and have purposely concealed these alleged criminal acts from the state security apparatus, the Judiciary, the Press but more importantly, the public.

So, let me be clear. What Zahid’s statements reveal is that (1) UMNO members know that their leaders are corrupt (flaws); (2) that UMNO members cover for their leaders; and (3) UMNO members have evidence of the wrongdoings of their leaders.

How do UMNO members cover for their leaders? Now, I am just spitballing here, but they would have to ensure that their leaders are insulated from the banalities of accountability. This would mean that independent institutions that are meant to investigate and prosecute the “flaws” of politicians would have to be accountable to members of UMNO, whose primary goal is to cover for their leaders.

This would mean that the security apparatus, the judiciary and the press would have to answer to UMNO because these would be the institutions that the UMNO leader and Prime Minister would need “covering” from.

In other words, UMNO members, like Zahid and every other UMNO member who are covering for their dear leader, are collaborators and/or accomplices to the crimes committed by their President. I am merely clarifying what the acting UMNO Deputy President said.

Image result for Mahathir and Zahid Hamidi

Partners in Power or Rivals for Power?

So, when UMNO members defend the indefensible, when they claim that their leaders have done no wrong, when every state apparatus clears UMNO leaders of wrongdoing, what we are left with is the knowledge, articulated by the UMNO deputy president, that all this was done because UMNO members cover for their leaders.

So, this means that the so-called Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on the foreign exchange market (forex) issue of the past is merely an attempt by UMNO members to “reveal” the wrongdoings of Mahathir? This would also mean that this RCI is indeed politically motivated in defence of the current UMNO President and Malaysian Prime Minster because Zahid publicly threatened to “reveal” the “shame” and “scabs” of the former Prime Minister.

And why was Salleh shocked?

So, let’s take this issue of the “appointments as additional judges to the Federal Court”, which has received a fair amount of justified criticism from members of the Bar and former judges. Former Chief Justice (CJ) Abdul Hamid Mohamad had warned that “an extension of a CJ’s tenure beyond the 66 years and six months may compromise the independence of the Judiciary”.

In other words, what the Najib regime is doing may affect the independence of the Judiciary. This brings us to Communications and Multimedia Minister Salleh Said Keruak’s shocking revelation that Mahathir, in his interview with The Guardian implied that jailed political prisoner Anwar Ibrahim “was fixed up by a corrupt Judiciary and the Judges were dishonest”.

Here is the problem. If UMNO members cover for their leaders and the only way they can do this is if they control the apparatus of the state, then why is it shocking that a former Prime Minister implies that the state, through the Judiciary, covered up a political problem for an UMNO President?

If UMNO members cover for their leaders, and the only way they can cover for their leaders is by controlling the apparatus of the state and concealing evidence (as articulated by Zahid), then why is it a surprise to the Communications and Multimedia Minister that the former Prime Minister implies a conspiracy by the state (during his tenure) to imprison a political opponent?

If by stacking the Judiciary in favour of UMNO politicians means that it would be easier to “cover” the flaws of UMNO Presidents, then why should we be surprised by the fears and warnings that this would lead to an unnatural relationship between the executive and the Judiciary as articulated by former CJ Abdul Hamid?

With this in mind, how can we not believe that this move by the Registrar of Societies (ROS) to compel the DAP to hold a further round of its central executive committee (CEC) elections is anything but a political gambit by the UMNO state to neutralise a political opponent of a compromised UMNO President before the upcoming general election?

Concerning this crippling of the DAP, this quote from Lim Kit Siang’s blog needs to be addressed.

“In fact, it has led even independent observers to swallow hook, line and sinker to believe in these fake news and false information. For instance, one independent commentator described the whole ROS fiasco as ‘a ticking time bomb of DAP’s own design’ that should have been addressed a long time ago in a transparent manner. How is the ROS fiasco ‘DAP’s own design’?”

Which is the more plausible proposition?

1) That I have swallowed hook, line and sinker the fake news and false information of this regime and its propagandists.

Or

2) That I was sincerely questioning the strategies (as it were) of an opposition political party that is in the cross hairs of this regime, the state apparatus that they control and the propagandists who serve them.

I will leave rational readers to decide which they think is more plausible. Ultimately, muzzling Mahathir says more of the collective guilt and complicity of UMNO members, rather than the agenda of the former Prime Minister turned de facto opposition leader.