Archive for category Lim Teck Ghee

Can Malaysia step back from the brink?

– Lim Teck Ghee
CPI/The Malaysian Insider
January 21, 2014

In early 2011, I provided a paper to the United Nations system in Malaysia on various scenarios facing the country, giving special emphasis to the impact of political and economic issues on social development. In it, I explored three scenarios:

• A best case one where the government can achieve its goals and targets as set out in various government documents,

• A midway scenario where targets are partially achieved, and

• A worst case scenario where targets are mostly not achieved and where the economic, political and social situation deteriorates significantly over the medium-term.

Unfortunately, the worst case scenario is becoming a reality. Excerpts from the report below identify the key steps and processes leading to the establishment of an autocratic ethnocracy which would be a huge step backwards for the country.

It is still not too late for the Prime Minister and other leaders, especially from the BN and Umno, to lead the country away from the worst case scenario outlined in the paper.

But time is running out. Read the rest of this entry »

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What is wrong about TITAS

by Dr Lim Teck Ghee
18th July 2013

Pandan Member of Parliament Rafizi Ramli’s support of the proposal by the Ministry of Higher Education to make the Islamic and Asian Civilisation Studies (TITAS) course compulsory in private tertiary institutions (IPTS) is a disappointment. More disappointing is the reasoning behind his support for the introduction of the subject.

His argument that “politically, it’s not helping when it’s made too much of a fuss, because it fits the Malay right-wing argument that the Chinese and non-Malays refuse to understand and look down on everything Islam” smacks of crude political opportunism.

Members of the public who see him as a potential future leader expect him to take on and not surrender to Malay right wing opinions that are based on irrational and mischievous thinking.

Rafizi should know that the religious and socio-cultural conflict in the country is not because the non-Malays refuse to understand and look down on everything that is Islamic. The great majority of Malaysians respect the faith of their neighbours even if they may not understand it. What they resent and oppose is the state-sponsored assertion of dominance and superiority of a religion that is different or not their own. Read the rest of this entry »

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Implausible Nonsense: Malaysia’s Political Theatre

Dr Lim Teck Ghee
CPI
5th July 2013

There are two types of nonsense – plausible and implausible. Plausible nonsense is when someone spins a story to children, which although implausible to adults is plausible to young minds. Though not believable to adults, most children stories have the redeeming value of being educational and entertaining.

Then there is implausible nonsense which does not make any sense at all. Clowns and buffoons engage in implausible nonsense for the purpose of entertaining audiences and bringing comic relief.

In Shakespeare’s plays, his clowns and fools did not only invite laughter but they often had something profound to say. The Shakespeare fool, who is usually a person of low or common birth, provided insights into the main characters belonging to the nobility as well as shedding light on the central themes of the play. Read the rest of this entry »

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Smoke gets in our eyes: A way out

Dr Lim Teck Ghee
24.6.2013

Returning to Kuala Lumpur after several weeks abroad, the pea soup of polluted air that greeted our descent was the worst I have ever experienced. It seemed to stretch interminably for miles on end far beyond the horizon. The acrid smell of burnt wood induced bouts of coughing amongst fellow passengers as we queued for our taxi ride. “Welcome to foggy Malaysia”, someone remarked in a futile attempt at raising everyone’s spirits.

On board our taxi, the friendly Pak Cik driver asked where we had come from and how long we had been away. He was quickly absorbed in talking about the number one topic currently on the mind of millions in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia as lungs continue to be assailed by the smoke coming from the Sumatra fires.

The taxi driver’s point was indisputable although diplomatically expressed. Neighbours in an apartment or kampung should keep their own as well as the common environment hazard-free and clean. They also need to watch out for each other.

Clearly Indonesia needs to do more to get its act together to prevent the illegal burnings that are an annual occurrence. But as noted by the former Singapore Prime Minister, Goh Chok Tong: “Forest and peat fires are not easy to put out. They are not like our lalang or bush fires, small and confined. They burn and smoulder over thousands of acres in remote places far from the reach of fire fighters. So it is best to prevent man-made, illegal fires from being started in the first place.”

Past attempts at preventing illegal fires have failed miserably – not only in Indonesia but also Malaysia. Because they have failed, tens of millions of ringgit and thousands of billions of rupiah have been spent purchasing the latest haze monitoring equipment to keep us informed, and fire-fighting and rain-inducing equipment to help put the fires out. In the meantime, incalculable sums are being lost in terms of the impact on productivity, health, tourism revenue, and other knock-on effects. If the haze persists for a few months, we may be talking of losses of billions of dollars and perhaps even a few points shaved off the region’s GDP. Read the rest of this entry »

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The 2013 Election Results: Back to the Drawing Board for Both Coalitions

by Dr. Lim Teck Ghee

Finally the general election is over. For politicians and analysts, the work of number crunching, deciphering the results and trying to understand the choices made by voters is just beginning.

Some conclusions are easy to arrive at. Firstly, despite a skewed electoral playing ground and the rolling out of more than RM2.6 billion worth of financial and other incentives to voters, the BN could not improve on its 2008 performance. Although it regained power in one state and has a comfortable majority at parliamentary level, its share of state and parliamentary seats has been substantially reduced. Had a fair election prevailed, it would have been consigned to the opposition benches. In fact BN lost the popular vote count by a substantial margin nation-wide. In most if not all electoral systems found in the world, it would have been booted out of office. In our case, it came dangerously close to it. Read the rest of this entry »

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Stealing the elections: Act One

by Dr Lim Teck Ghee
Centre for Policy Initiatives

Even before the dust has set on the fixing of the polling date, the Barisan Nasional (BN) had already begun the hijacking of the elections. With the apparent connivance of the Election Commission (EC) – the pit bull ensuring BN’s electoral victory for the past 12 general elections – they have imposed a 10-minute slot for Pakatan Rakyat (PR) parties to explain their polls manifesto over the official media.

According to Rais Yatim, the Information, Communications and Culture caretaker minister, the short time offered to PR will be more than enough to showcase their pledges. Although an attempt has been made by the EC at damage control over the government’s ludicrous but at the same time deadly serious intent – it has explained that the opposition had misunderstood the offer which was intended to be serial and not one-time – the objective of the government is clear.

This is to use its monopoly of the official (and much of the unofficial print) media to ensure a BN election victory by seeing to it that the public – especially rural and Malay voters – will hear only the good side and promises of the BN and to downplay, ignore or demonize the PR side. Read the rest of this entry »

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Whistleblower on hidden truths of the pork import business

Introduction by Dr Lim Teck Ghee
Centre for Policy Initiatives

On 5 March 2013, CPI posted an article on ‘NEM at ground level: same old model, no paradigm shift’. The article revealed how pork importation has degenerated from a freer market to a semi-monopoly controlled by a business-political mafia and which involves the highest level of leadership in the Ministry responsible.

On 13 March, the Malaysian Association of Pork Importers (MAOPI) issued a press statement – apparently available only to the Chinese mainstream media – in which it denied the charges in the CPI article and alleged that the contents of the article were untrue and aimed at smearing the good name of MAOPI.

Since then we have received further damaging disclosure from both members and non-members of MAOPI on the subject.

We are reproducing below unedited excerpts from another informant. Read the rest of this entry »

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RCI proceedings: Facing up to the truth of where Malaysians come from

By Dr. Lim Teck Ghee | Sunday, 20 January 2013 11:03
CPI

The pro-Umno author and blogger Syed Akbar Ali, in a post critiquing the Royal Commission of Inquiry on illegal immigrants in Sabah, has argued that it would not be out of place to have a Royal Commission of Inquiry to investigate why one million immigrants who were mostly Chinese and Indians were given citizenship in Malaya in the 1950s (see his post of 17 Jan 2013).

According to him, “surely there must be at least five million Malays on the Peninsula today who may be wondering why or how that particular incident happened? Were they consulted? Was there a public referendum?”

He also asserted that “Let’s not argue about the fairness. Let’s have a RCI first on the issue – how and why 1.0 million Chinese and Indians (including my mamak gang of course) were given citizenship.”

He may have made his proposal provocatively or tongue-in-cheek but a variant of it has appeared as one of the lines of defence used by the former prime minister in justifying the distribution of identity cards to foreigners and their registration as voters in Sabah. According to Dr Mahathir Mohamed , “One should also look back and remember that Tunku Abdul Rahman was worse than me, he gave one million to citizenships to people who are not qualified and not even tested”.
Read the rest of this entry »

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Time to set up a Ministry of Minority Affairs

By Dr. Lim Teck Ghee | 04 January 2013 09:19
CPI

As we begin a new year, a rash of old issues and challenges confront the country. Chief amongst them are racial and religious tensions and a rising sense of marginalization and alienation among our minority communities while at the same time the majority community feels threatened and insecure.

Many of these problems are deeply entrenched. Their effects are no longer confined to a small part of our body politic or emerge as isolated and unconnected events. They have infiltrated into all sectors of society and cast a shadow in the life of every Malaysian – in our everyday thought processes, in our consciousness and in our actions.

The problems that are associated with the ethnic and religious divide between Malays and non-Malays and between Muslims and non-Muslims will not be resolved quickly. There is no magical remedy.

Many of these problems stem from our seriously weakened social cohesion and the growing disunity that our nation has experienced during the past four decades. The intangible but potent glue of harmony, sense of community and commitment to realizing the common good that binds countries and their people together has long broken down in Malaysia.
Read the rest of this entry »

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Umno and the burning down of 1Malaysia

Dr Lim Teck Ghee
CPI
14 December 2012

The Prime Minister, Najib Razak, has stated that his vision of 1Malaysia is intended to counter the growing national divide between Malaysians on race, religion and other sensitive socio-cultural issues. He has also argued that the aim of the vision is to strengthen national unity on the basis of inclusiveness – “this policy means that we’ll try to be as inclusive as possible, in a sense that we should have a government that is able to reach out to all communities”. (Interview with CNN, Talkasia, 1 Nov 2010)

Not only was this vision of 1Malaysia markedly absent from the recent Umno general assembly but the real driving force of the party – one completely at odds with 1Malaysia – emerged from the shadows during the singing of a song by Tokyo Umno Club representative Arif Yassir Zulkafli.

The lyrics of the song ‘Lagu Warisan’ can be seen to encapsulate the ideological leifmotif of Umno. It provided the emotional and psychological high point of the meeting and explains why the song left delegates in tears and in spontaneous rendition.

It also explains why the Umno mind and mentality has remained unchanged during the last 66 years of the party’s existence – insecure, envious, delusional, un-accepting of other Malaysians, and propagating a bankrupt doctrine of ‘Blood and Soil’ nationalism akin to that of the Nazis and fascists.

Blood and soil nationalism refers to an ideology that focuses on ethnicity based on two factors – descent and homeland. Readers interested in learning more about blood and soil nationalism can read the Wikipedia. Read the rest of this entry »

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Refsa on subsidies: Still off the mark

Dr Lim Teck Ghee
CPI

The response by Research for Social Advancement (Refsa) institute to my note is disappointing. It provides little value added to the current knowledge on subsidies in Malaysia; repeats various motherhood statements about the need to rein in subsidies and selectively focuses on so-called various ivory tower statements that they have detected in my note to triumphantly declare victory.

The major contention in my note is necessary to repeat:

It is necessary to remind the REFSA-IDEAS team that subsidies have an important role to play in providing a safety net for vulnerable groups. They help bring down the cost of living as well as enable access to health, education, transport and other necessities.

They are a necessary burden in a highly skewed capitalist economy such as Malaysia’s where the lower classes of labour do not get the fair remuneration that they are entitled to or deserve. Read the rest of this entry »

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Budget 2013: Federal government subsidies go up in flames while poor Malaysians watch

By Teh Chi-Chang, CFA
Executive Director
REFSA (Research for Social Advancement)
Friday, 12 October 2012

We write to rebut Dr Lim Teck Ghee’s assertion that “There is little empirical research to back up what has become an increasingly popular line of argument” that blanket subsidies such as for cheap petrol and sugar “benefit upper-class Malaysians who consume much more than their poorer cousins[1]”.

These are the basic facts:

  1. The federal government subsidy bill is expected to exceed RM42 billion this year.

  2. If we can agree that subsidies should go only to the poor, and we define the poor as the bottom 1/3rd of households, there will be 2.3 million households or nearly 10 million Malaysians[2] who will get subsidies.

  3. RM42 billion is enough to give these bottom 1/3rd of households RM1,650 per month – which will more than double their current incomes of RM1,500 per month!

Read the rest of this entry »

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REFSA’s and IDEAS’s Misplaced Focus on Critiquing Subsidies in the 2013 Budget

Dr Lim Teck Ghee
2nd October 2012

In their joint statement recently released on 28 September, IDEAS (Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs) and not-for-profit research institute REFSA (Research for Social Advancement) drew attention to the “shocking federal government subsidy bill for 2012” which according to them is now expected to hit RM42 billion, a massive RM9 billion or 27% above the RM33 billion originally forecast for the year.

While it is true that subsidies have quadrupled in the past five years, and some of it is wasteful and not efficiently targeted at the most needy or priority sectors, the REFSA-IDEAS contention of the debilitating effects of subsidies on our economic health needs to be challenged.

Yes, blanket subsidies for cheap petrol and sugar do result in a degree of excessive and wasteful consumption. However the extent is debatable, and even if considerable, is not a sufficiently compelling reason for their immediate removal. Read the rest of this entry »

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Education blueprint: Don’t stampede us into approval

By Dr Lim Teck Ghee | Friday, 21 September 2012 10:30
CPI

I call on the Government not to stampede Malaysians into approving the education blueprint recently presented to the public. This is because there are many unresolved and critical issues which need clarification and deliberation before the blueprint can be considered a satisfactory framework for responding to the deep crisis in our education system and the many challenges that we face in economy and society.

Rushing the blueprint as the final roadmap just ahead of the coming elections not only smacks of political opportunism but it will also adversely impact our students through its untimely implementation of contentious policies in key areas. 
 
Is a new NEP part of the blueprint?

In my opinion, the draft although containing some useful recommendations for reform, has many shortcomings, including the failure to address key problem areas arising from past politicization of the educational system. This politicization associated with the implementation of the New Economic Policy in education has led to a drastic fall in standards as well as the declining quality of human resource development and a less resilient, cohesive and competitive society. It awaits a fuller discussion and analysis in the revised report. 
Read the rest of this entry »

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Tweaked crime statistics: Who should respond

Dr Lim Teck Ghee
CPI

Below we are reproducing views from several CPI columnists and regular contributors on the whistleblower’s letter detailing the way in which crime statistics have been processed to provide the misleading conclusion that crime is on the decline in the country.

We await with interest the official response – whether from Hishamuddin Hussein, the Home Minister or Koh Tsu Koon and Idris Jala, the two ministers concerned in the Prime Minister’s Department or from Ismail Omar, the Inspector General of Police.

We had earlier published the letter of explanation on the collection and recording of crime statistics by ACP Razali Mohamad Yoosuf in response to the initial article by myself on why our police are impotent against the tide of rising crime.

We look forward to publishing any further response from ACP Razali and his colleagues in the PDRM or from any other of the alleged implicated stake players on the latest developments on this subject which is of so much concern to our citizenry.

It is important that some official response be forthcoming because at risk is not simply the public’s confidence in crime statistics and the police but at risk is also the public’s confidence in the other officially generated statistics on the country’s development as well as the public’s perception of the professionalism, independence and integrity of the civil service.

Few Malaysians will ever again look at official statistics without wondering how they have been fudged and manipulated by the government for political advantage. Read the rest of this entry »

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Why police are impotent: A response to PDRM

— Lim Teck Ghee
The Malaysian Insider
Aug 03, 2012

AUG 3 — I thank the Polis Diraja Malaysia for the response to my commentary on why the police are impotent in fighting rising crime in the country.

Massaging of official statistics and reports

Firstly, with regard to the lengthy explanation on how the crime count statistics are generated, whilst the information is quite useful, it does not make a convincing case that the crime rate has dropped dramatically during the past three years.

I am sure that the police leadership — as with the ordinary man in the street — is aware that police reports generated through the official reporting system considerably understate the actual incidence of crime.

Furthermore, methodologies, definitions and categorisations vary from year to year. These changes, together with other forms of “massaging” (authorised and unauthorised) are the most likely explanations as to why there has been such a sharp fall in the reported crime statistics in the past three years compared with 2008. Read the rest of this entry »

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Bad start Mr Chief Secretary

— Lim Teck Ghee
The Malaysian Insider
Jun 29, 2012

JUNE 29 — In his first public interview since assuming the position of Chief Secretary to the Government, Dr Ali Hamsa said all the politically correct and bland things that one expects from someone eager to show Malaysians that he is up to the challenge of a big job.

From being a cheer leader attempting to rouse the morale of his troops (according to him, the performance of the civil service has been “excellent”) to sounding patriotic and humble (“We need to continuously raise the bar to be among the best…”; “we can’t treat what we do as a job as what we do must benefit all Malaysians”), the orchestrated and carefully calibrated interview with the New Straits Times was clearly meant to impress and get Malaysians on his side.

Unfortunately, it failed to address the two most important failings of the civil service. Read the rest of this entry »

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Correcting the civil service racial imbalance

Dr Lim Teck Ghee
CPI

Can the government promise that all young Malaysians will be given fair treatment, and racial or regional discrimination will not be tolerated in order to encourage non-Malay recruitment into the civil service?

Once more the government appears to be clueless and befuddled as to why the non-Malay young do not want to take up civil service jobs. Once more, there will be a taskforce and a high-level committee at work to produce yet another report on how to attract non-Malays to join the service.

Once more the almost obligatory letters are appearing in the mainstream papers applauding the government (in this case) the Public Service Commission new chairman for his bold initiative in proposing a study “to nail down…the reasons for the poor number of applications from non-Bumiputeras for public and civil service jobs”. Read the rest of this entry »

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Why the PM should scuttle the coming FGVH IPO

— Lim Teck Ghee
The Malaysian Insider
May 18, 2012

MAY 18 — Prime Minister Najib Razak last week announced a “windfall” of RM15,000 to each Felda settler family.

The planned payout is to come from the initial public offering of the Felda Global Ventures Holding (FGVH). As part of the IPO of FGVH, Felda will be disposing 1.21 billion of its current FGVH shares at RM4.65 each, and from which Felda stands to make RM5.62 billion if these are fully taken up.

Among the targeted anchor investors are Employees Provident Fund (EPF), Permodalan Nasional Berhad (PNB), Lembaga Tabung Angkatan Tentera (LTAT) and other national and Bumiputera funds.

Ahead of the share sale to be held by June, Felda settlers have been given an assurance by Najib that the listing would yield profits. He had also lashed out at those opposed to the scheme, saying that they are merely trying “to confuse” the people.

At this stage it is not clear yet who is trying to confuse the settlers or other Malaysians since the planned IPO is a highly complicated transaction whose full details have not been thoroughly unravelled and evaluated by professional market analysts. This is because many analysts are fearful that they may antagonize the government and end up on the wrong side of the authorities.

Felda accounts for around 18 per cent of the country’s total palm oil output. The idea behind FGVH is to turn this newly created corporate entity into a “global conglomerate”. Read the rest of this entry »

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Lim Teck Ghee responds to Chandra Muzaffar’s refusal to engage on the Net and his threat

by Dr Lim Teck Ghee
CPI
09 May 2012

Commentary
In my note to Chandra on May 6 which he acknowledged, and which was sent well before this latest rebuttal, I had written:

“I hope we can have a sustained discussion on the important subject that you have identified. I don’t think a one-off debate is a good way to have that discussion. I know politicians and their supporters love it but we are not politicians.”

Chandra’s latest reply continues to insist on a one-off debate and argues that a prolonged discourse in lieu of a debate will “generate more heat than light”.

I disagree. So do the great majority of online commentators that have followed our exchange. Despite attempts by cybertroopers to disrupt feedback, many readers have encouraged us to engage over the Net that is an open and unfettered public space in which they can also contribute their say.

If I had thought that the scholar rather than the ex-politician in Chandra would prevail, I was mistaken. Read the rest of this entry »

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