28-Day Countdown to 13GE – Najib’s “Alice-in-Wonderland Statistics in his Transformational Malaysian Economy”


I have received an email from a retired international banker from the Malaysian Diaspora, who describes himself as a “Fact-Finder” monitoring the Malaysian economy, sharing his outrage on what he described as Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s “Alice-in-Wonderland Statistics in his Transformational Malaysian Economics” in his hour-long television interview on Tuesday.

I find this email so interesting, perceptive and pertinent that I am reproducing it in full, viz:

Misuse of Data

The Prime Minister cut a rather sorry figure in his appearance on TV3’s programme entitled ‘Conversation with the PM’ aired on March 12th.

His remarks were a disappointment as he indulged in delivering clichés and ‘feel good’ statements concerning the state of the economy. He missed an opportunity to present a clear a vision of what he stands for.

There was no indication of the range of policies a Barisan National Government under his leadership, if re- elected, would offer.

He failed dismally to state how a new administration would tackle the host of problems that have accumulated during his four-year watch. The most significant of these problems are:

• The sharp increase in debt, both public and private;

• The persistent Federal Government deficits despite GDP growth rates averaging 5 percent per annum;

• Stagnant wage and earning levels that have failed to reflect the fruits of growth;

• The failure of private investment to respond to the so-called stimulative and incentive measures announced in successive Budgets;

• The ever-growing cancer of corruption.

There were two key themes in his interview that responded to a ‘soft’ questions posed to him.

Najib was in a pure electioneering mood wherein he was at pains to criticize the Pakatan Rakyat’s election manifesto by claiming that the promises it contained would be impossible to deliver.

However, he made no attempt to indicate as to what the BN offered in terms of specific policies and measures that would go towards meeting the challenges confronting the nation and in uplifting the living standards of the vast majority of the population facing widening income disparities.

The second theme taken up by him was a rather brazen set of claims about economic well-being that are patently false.

Bernama quoted that Najib said that when the BN goes to the polls to seek a fresh mandate from the people, it was on the basis of a very solid track record. He went on to say: “We can show the people that we have delivered,” he added.

He is further quoted by Bernama as saying: “When we talk about benefits to the people from 2009 to 2011, our Gross National Income (GNI) per capita has grown from US$6,670 to US$9,970, roughly about 49 percent.

“There is no country in the world that has achieved this kind of result,” he said.

To appreciate fully the import of these statements, it is appropriate to point out:

• GNI per capita is measured in current prices; therefore never used to calculate a growth rate. In national accounts, all growth rates are calculated in CONSTANT PRICE terms. E.G. GDP growth rate is always in constant prices.

• The numbers cited by the Prime Minister are a fabrication and deviate widely from the GNI per capita numbers for Malaysia published by the World Bank on its web site :

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GNP.PCAP.CD/countries/MY-4E-XT?display=default
The World Bank website shows that the numbers were:

2009—– US$7,550
2010—– US$8,090
2011——US$8,770

• The World Bank calculations are in US dollars with certain adjustments to ensure inter-country comparability of GNI per capita levels AT A POINT IN TIME. This is the so-called World Bank Atlas method and the almost universally accepted measure for reporting per capita GNI. The World Bank data sets NEVER show growth rates of GNI per capita in US dollars OVER TIME in the way Najib has done. Thus, the 49% figure is based on an inappropriate calculation and the number is wholly meaningless and therefore misleading. The true measure of a country’s performance is shown by the GDP growth rate expressed in constant prices. On that basis the Malaysian economy grew at approximately 5.0 percent per annum over the three year time span cited by Najib.

• It is also wholly inappropriate to use flawed calculations of the type cited by Najib in inter-country comparisons. Thus the statement: “”There is no country in the world that has achieved this kind of result,” is nonsensical.

To place matters in perspective, Najib has made three claims.

• First, that Malaysia has achieved a GNI per capita level of US$ 9,970 in 2011. This is incorrect. The World Bank figure was US$8,770. Thus he overstated the level by US$ 1,200. This is a sizable overstatement.

• Second, he has calculated a growth rate based on current price terms. This is an inappropriate measure. If indeed he wishes to make the point that there has been per capita income growth, he should have used GDP per capita numbers in constant prices. Had he done so, the rate of growth would have been around 3 percent per annum.

• Third, he has attempted an implied inter-country comparison of erroneous growth rates when he says “… no country has achieved…”———– this is totally wrong. These are Alice in Wonderland statistics not worthy of the Prime Minister.

This is patently a classic example of how to lie with statistics and hoodwink the public at large. However, serious analysts and market observers will see through this shard. Najib’s credibility will be seriously impaired and the entire attempt will be seen as a cheap stunt and bring shame to the country.

The Prime Minister is an economist by training and should know better unless of course he is totally ignorant of basics. Or perhaps he believes that the public at large can be fooled into believing made-up numbers such as these and misrepresentations based thereof.

It is thus legitimate to ask the Prime Minister: Where is there tangible evidence of such a huge increase in terms of per capita household consumption? Where is the evidence that households now enjoy income levels of this magnitude? With manufactured statistics such as these, the Prime Minister has lost all credibility! ”

Malaysians are entitled to a response from Najib whether he had lied in his statistics or whether he had been grossly misinformed and misguided by his coterie of economic advisers to make false claims in the hour-long television interview about Malaysia’s per capita GNI growth from 2009 – 2012, in particular about Malaysia being the world’s fastest country in per capita GNI growth in the two years from 2009 to 2011?

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  1. #1 by john on Thursday, 14 March 2013 - 2:35 pm

    Heh, you just gave C4 the clues to ‘worm/snake’ out of this mess of his own making/stupidity. Cue words ” misinformed, misguided ” and if you’re back BolehLand he will appoint you his new ‘economic adviser’. There, All kotim not my (C4’s) fault for the BIG LIE on national live broadcast. ( No even got cow sense, a MMK celup, a Fake and that’s C4 excuses in truth )

  2. #2 by balance88 on Thursday, 14 March 2013 - 3:34 pm

    Looking at the way our leaders are behaving and commenting reminds me of Saddam Hussein. I remember when George Bush ordered the attack of Iraq, Saddam Hussein was propagating to the Iraqis that their army have successfully repelled the US troops but in actual fact the US army had beaten the Iraqi army flat out and was just a day or 2 from entering the city. And some Iraqis indeed believed their leader only to find out later that they had been lied to.

    The misuse of information, I believe, was intentional to hood wink the kampung folks and those who just accepts information at face value. Any student of economics will tell you that when we do a comparative analysis of income levels over time, we must based it on constant prices. Otherwise the conclusion would be grossly misleading.

    Well, with a govt controlled media, we can expect a lot of disinformation out there. But it does make Malaysia look stupid to the international community. Maybe the PM was suggesting that the top echelon of people did had at least a 49% increase in their income over this period of time? Well, certainly not the masses. We are still struggling with constant wages with rising cost of living.

  3. #3 by lee tai king (previously dagen) on Thursday, 14 March 2013 - 4:09 pm

    Oh come on. How dare you challenge cintanegara’s hero. Jib has the benefit of cintanegara’s PRINSIP2 EKONOMI POKOK RAMBUTAN. And these economic principles are superior to all the economic principles in the world. Get it?

    JJ1B.
    RR1C!

  4. #4 by Loh on Thursday, 14 March 2013 - 4:28 pm

    ///It is also wholly inappropriate to use flawed calculations of the type cited by Najib in inter-country comparisons. Thus the statement: “”There is no country in the world that has achieved this kind of result,” is nonsensical.///-the author

    Because no country other than Malaysia uses this type of calculation to mislead the people.

  5. #5 by bush on Thursday, 14 March 2013 - 4:52 pm

    Even with 49% increase per capita, the rakyat still suffer with the high property value which has gone up to double since 2009 to 2012.

    The transformation implemented has made the rakyat poorer and nation dept (540 billion) keep increasing.

    Theie spending (with more depth) is called “TRANSFORMATION” program which only benefit the Cronies and not the rakyat.

  6. #6 by Bigjoe on Thursday, 14 March 2013 - 5:11 pm

    When Najib said these “facts” – the look on his face was the same look when he said he did not know Altantuya. Brrrrrr…..!!! I get chills…

  7. #7 by monsterball on Thursday, 14 March 2013 - 5:29 pm

    Najib is not only reduced to be caretaker.
    He has proven time and time again….a liar…totally insincere.

  8. #8 by Winston on Thursday, 14 March 2013 - 5:48 pm

    It’s a waste of time talking about those in the ruling party.
    They spent decades stripping bare the country.
    And they are going to spend whatever time they have left before the GE go try to stay out of jail.
    Or worse.
    The only recourse left for Malaysians is to vote them out in the coming GE!
    Just do it!!!!

  9. #9 by lee tai king (previously dagen) on Thursday, 14 March 2013 - 6:01 pm

    What jib did was much much worse than misleading the people. What he did was plain lying – it was an outright lie.

    No head of state in the world ever does something like. He is not fit to be pm.

    Now jib tell us again, what really happened to altan? Dont lie cause the truth will be revealed.

  10. #10 by cseng on Thursday, 14 March 2013 - 6:32 pm

    Najib has brought m’sia to whole new level, never before.

    1. Blatant lies, live casting thru tv123.
    2. ‘Racist Rated’ melayu only movie screening.
    3. ‘Muslim Rated’ FAMA event, only to Muslim allowed.
    4. Most tainted electorate rolls coming GE.
    5. Political hooliganism, disrupting peaceful ceramahs.

    Instead of answering and look into issues, he mum, he dodge, he silence, issues. Replaced them with arrogant, clinches, feel-good, rhetoric 1 M’sia style of statements daily, as good as a poster boy.

    Transformation?

    Charles Darwin said, “it is not the strongest, the smartest, nor lie the most, nor the dirtiest survived, it is those adapt to changes, evolve and survived”.

    Jacky chan said, “achiever seeks for solutions, loser looks for excuses”

    So, he transformed into lies, into dirt finally into excuse and vaporises into air.

  11. #11 by tak tahan on Thursday, 14 March 2013 - 8:15 pm

    Wow! We have the world top liar,racist,not clean,thuggish PeeM in the ‘supposed-to-be’ the best democracy nation in the the near future!! To laugh or not? Hahaha..Under Umno/BN ruling we can only hope for much worse to come,forget about anything ‘best’ statements from this idiot and primitive thuggish gang.They are unable to distinguish between good and bad or right and wrong.They are overriped(tua),incompetent(tak ada guna) and corrupted(busuk).Ged rid of them-ABU!

  12. #12 by chengho on Thursday, 14 March 2013 - 8:18 pm

    anything significant from Dapter , don’t think so , apart from racist and ABCD.

  13. #13 by monsterball on Thursday, 14 March 2013 - 9:32 pm

    As if chengho is contributing anything significant.
    He is the dumb dumb in this blog.

  14. #14 by cinaindiamelayubersatu on Thursday, 14 March 2013 - 9:47 pm

    anything significant from umnoputra, dont think so, apart from keris and ABU

  15. #15 by waterfrontcoolie on Friday, 15 March 2013 - 7:11 am

    Many of those who support the current policy have nothing in mind except self preservation. Thety have no conscience of moral or fairness to the rest of the society. They will spin just like the mamak just to ensure that whatever they have stolen from the nation will remain intact if not being given further chances to steal more! That is why, cintanegara is just sitting under the rambutan trees counting the fruits once a year, as for the rest of the year he has to depend on the stolen fruits of the rest of the farmers. This agenda has been allowed to ooze through a good majority of the society; if unchecked we will slide down to what we hated the most the creation of a so-called Socialist Utopia where everyone expect the others to work: Akin to Animal farm story! Soon enough Malaysians will begin to think like cintanegara/chengho; the world owes us a living!

  16. #16 by chengho on Friday, 15 March 2013 - 7:12 am

    Say NO to Pakatan , ABCD

  17. #17 by john on Saturday, 16 March 2013 - 5:23 pm

    A DumbHo has no say, hence is A B U the majority says ! Comes G13 Is Pakatan Rakyat’s Victory March To Putrajaya !
    ( BTW, from now is chengho@ DumbHo )

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