Archive for January 11th, 2012

Guan Eng says national debt ‘dangerous’, potentially disastrous

By Shazwan Mustafa Kamal
The Malaysian Insider
Jan 11, 2012

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 11 — Massive borrowing and irresponsible spending by the Barisan Nasional (BN) government will result in Malaysia becoming a fully indebted nation before the end of the decade, Lim Guan Eng said today.

The Penang chief minister said that Putrajaya’s debt to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio has increased yearly from 53.1 per cent in 2010 to 53.8 per cent last year and is expected to hit 54.8 per cent this year.

“This is extremely dangerous, and even more disastrous when coupled with statistics from Bank Negara’s Annual Report 2010, which revealed that Malaysia’s household debt at the end of 2010 was RM581 billion, or 76 per cent of GDP, thus giving us the dubious honour of having the second-highest level of household debt in Asia, after South Korea.

“In absolute terms, federal government debt rose by 71 per cent in four years to RM456 billion at (the) end (of) 2011 from RM266 billion at end (of) 2007,” said Lim in a statement today.

The DAP secretary-general said by following the same expansion rate, national debt would be a projected RM780 million by 2016 and RM1.3 trillion by 2020. Read the rest of this entry »


An independent judiciary… really?

by Dr Kamal Amzan
The Malaysian Insider
Jan 11, 2012

JAN 11 — We are a funny lot.

Just because of one acquittal, we claim to have an “independent” judiciary. Forget about Eric Chia, forget about the first sodomy trial, forget about what happened to Teoh Beng Hock and let us all just focus on this one and only trial.

From the mainstream media to the online news portals, the response from the government and the opposition leaders to the verdict was akin to striking the lottery.

Today’s headlines in the Star and NST, “Government says it shows freedom of judiciary”, “Slow reassertion of Malaysia’s public institutions”, “Court ruling clears government of baseless accusations.”.

Really? I may be wrong but to claim the judiciary’s independence from one trial verdict seems a bit premature, no? Read the rest of this entry »


Time to Pull ‘CSI: Malaysia’ Off the Air

By William Pesek
Jan 11, 2012
Bloomberg: The Ticker

If there’s any economy in Asia that needs a change in narrative, it’s Malaysia.

When the resource-rich nation of 28 million people has made headlines globally in recent years, they have been about sodomy charges against opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, tension between Muslims and Christians, Beyonce’s bellybutton offending local sensibilities or murder investigations involving high-ranking officials. Malaysia really could have its own CSI crime drama.

Far from finding all this entertaining, many foreign investors eye Malaysia with skepticism. That’s a shame given the huge potential of an economy growing 5.8 percent. When you consider Asian economies that deserved far more attention in 2011 than they received, Malaysia is Exhibit A. It’s high time for Prime Minister Najib Razak to change the story, to shift the focus toward reforms, not tabloid scandals. Announcing the end of affirmative-action policies that hurt Malaysia’s competitiveness might be just the thing. Read the rest of this entry »

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Hold The Accolades!

by M. Bakri Musa

Now that Judge Mohamad Zabidin Diah has acquitted Anwar Ibrahim on his “Sodomy II” charge, there is no end of praise heaped upon the judge specifically and the system of justice generally. Prime Minister Najib was quick with his smug assertion that “neither politics nor politicians have any influence over the dispensation of justice.” Foreign governments too have been effusive with their praises. Some now brazenly call for Anwar Ibrahim to apologize for his earlier criticisms of the system.

Hold the accolades! This sordid trial reveals everything that is rotten with the Malaysian system of justice. This case should never have been prosecuted in the first place. That it was reflected the level or more precisely lack of professionalism on the part of these career prosecutors. As for the trial, there were many instances where the judge could have thrown the case out, as when the physical evidence was introduced. Now the learned judge used that as the reason for acquittal. Read the rest of this entry »


Anwar verdict resets Malaysian politics

By Simon Roughneen
Asia Times

KUALA LUMPUR – A not-guilty verdict in a sex scandal case against Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim could prove a game-changer in the run-up to elections due by 2013 but thought by many analysts to be held this year.

After months of railing against what he deemed trumped-up and politicized charges, Anwar cut an understandably cheerful and relieved dash on Monday morning when speaking to perhaps 3,000 supporters outside the Kuala Lumpur court where he was acquitted of charges of sodomizing a male party aide in 2008. Sodomy is a criminal offense punishable by 20 years in prison in Malaysia, where Muslim citizens are subject to sharia law. Read the rest of this entry »


Malaysia’s Moment of Sanity

By Bridget Welsh
The Wall Street Journal

Yesterday’s acquittal of Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim on the charge of sodomy ends two and a half years of a bad sequel. After being convicted once in 2000 on the same charge and subsequently exonerated on appeal, this time the court found that the prosecution failed to prove its case.

The decision is a moment of sanity after three years of political turmoil since the March 2008 polls. That election effectively broke the stranglehold on power of the incumbent Barisan Nasional, the National Front coalition, which lost its two-thirds majority in parliament. After the loss, the ruling United Malays National Organization seemed to go back to its mode of personal-attack politics, as practiced by former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. The new accusation against Mr. Anwar also signaled a return to the ways of the Mahathir era. Read the rest of this entry »


National debt to equal GDP by 2019 if Putrajaya remains spendthrift, say economists

By Yow Hong Chieh
The Malaysian Insider
Jan 10, 2012

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 10 — Malaysia’s national debt will hit 100 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2019 should Putrajaya continue to borrow more than it earns, economists say.

Malaysian Institute of Economic Research (MIER) distinguished fellow Mohd Ariff Abdul Kareem warned that the federal government revenue was growing too slowly to keep up with its borrowings, which hit 53.1 per cent of GDP in 2010.

He said while the current size of government debt relative to GDP was not troubling, the pace of its growth in recent years was cause for concern.

Debt-to-GDP ratio jumped from 41.4 per cent in 2008 to 53.1 per cent in 2010 while government debt grew 14.6 per cent in 2008 and 18.3 per cent in 2009, far outpacing the country’s GDP growth, Ariff noted.

“If nothing is done to reverse the current trends in government expenditures and revenues, extrapolation suggests that Malaysia’s national debt will explode to 100 per cent of GDP by 2019.

“Should the debt growth gather speed, this can happen sooner,” he told The Malaysian Insider via e-mail. Read the rest of this entry »