The 2012 Budget for a class of seven-year-olds… and voters

By Shern Ren | November 16, 2011
The Malaysian Insider

NOV 16 — Tomorrow my younger brother is going to school to collect the RM100 that the government has promised him as a school-goer. It’s all well and good for him to get a bit more spending money, but what difference does it make in our national Budget? Here’s an imaginary conversation that will take place tomorrow in a school far too close to home…

Hi, and welcome to Class 1 Malaysia in SJK Pelancar(1). As you’re all aware, our class president (who’s also the class treasurer) has magnanimously decided to give RM100 to all schoolchildren — that’s you and me! But before you all line up to receive his magnificent gift, he’s asked me to make a little speech about how far we’ve come as a class.

There are fifty of us in this class, 1 Malaysia. Who’s bringing in the dough? Well, 21 of us are employed, but only six of us will have any qualification higher than the SPM. Only three working people earn enough to pay any class fees at all to the class fund, which makes it all the more interesting that two of you guys are actually working for the class and earning your living from that same class fund. Don’t get too comfortable in your job though — there are eight fellows from other classes like 1 Donesia willing to do our jobs for half the price, or two of them for every five of us.

Now the poorest 20 of you, on average, know what it’s like to live on only RM11.50 a day, or a monthly household income of RM1,500 — which you must stretch to cover your rent, loans, and utilities as well as the lousy canteen food.

The next 20 of you, on average, are a bit luckier to be getting by on RM27 a day, or a monthly household income of RM3,500 a month. But the richest 10 of you have RM73 a day to burn, or a monthly household income of RM9,500.

Among yourselves, you ten have concentrated 49 per cent of our class’s total income in the top 20 per cent of our class; the lowest 40 per cent have got only 15 per cent of our class’s total income. Good job, capitalists!

But the total household debt between you all is just over a million ringgit, while the total disposable income you’re hauling in is only about RM730,000, so you’d all better tighten your belts just the same

How’s the class fund doing, you ask? Oh, it’s in amazing shape. Our class currently owes various debtors something like RM773,800. Last year it was only RM720,500 — you really have to hand it to our class president to know how to spend.

Remember that there’s only three lucky guys earning enough to pay tax, and our current debt is going to be RM257,900 for each of them to fork up. Well, we’ve got a bit of time to pay off our debts I guess. but you three had better keep paying your class fees like there’s no tomorrow. After all, the interest repayments alone are costing us about RM40,000, or 10 per cent of our expenditure this year.

That’s right, the class president has promised us that we’ll spend about RM400,000 as a class this year. Good news is, that’s about as much as we’ve actually spent as a class last year. Bad news is, he promised us that we’d only spend RM373,000 the year before.

So if we keep spending more than our president says we’ll spend, we’re looking at something actually closer to RM440,000 of spending money for his pet projects this year. I guess you know now why our class owes so much money, don’t you?

It’s okay, the president promised that the class fund will rake in RM330,000 of revenue this year — a third of which will come out of a hole in the ground that his father’s Patronus managed to dig about thirty-five years ago.

Look, there’s only three guys paying about RM11,000 each in class fees — you seriously can’t expect us to actually earn the money we’re making, do you? Us spending more money than we’re making is business as usual by now, you know; we’ve been doing it for thirteen years now and our class is still here. It’s not like our debt is going to reach a million ringgit or anything. And even if it does, we’ll be a developed class by then! I’m sure we’ll think of some way to pay it off.

I guess you would have realised by now that we still have a long way to go as a class. With 15 of our 21 working people unqualified for anything more than filing papers and driving lorries, and eight fit strong 1 Donesians waiting at the door to undercut us, I’m sure you can imagine why the guy at the back is waving his hand and suggesting that we decrease our class fund spending and focus it on upgrading the workforce and reducing foreign labour. But don’t listen to him. (I hear he poked his pencil up his best friend’s nose, or something.)

But, you know, our class president has the perfect solution! He’ll start all kinds of magnificent construction projects so that you can all get paid by your own class fund to pour concrete in the hot sun if you can’t find a job on your own — and just to prove that he cares about education, he’ll even build schools too!

And even though you may each have a household debt of RM20,000 and a class debt of RM15,500 to pay off on only RM900 income per capita per month, I’m sure our class president will find a way to settle all our problems — as long as you give him another five years to do it.

That’s right, he’s going to need a bit more time. I’m sure you’ll give it to him, right? Think of the RM100 you’re getting today. And with that, can I get you all to line up for your money? That’s my good little boys and girls. Remember to kiss his hand!

This is what our workforce and Budget would look like if Malaysia were a class of fifty students. To find the real figures, simply divide by fifty and multiply by 28.25 million where applicable, which is the population of Malaysia as at 2010. (The World Bank estimates it to be currently 28.4 million; this is an upward adjustment of about half a percent.)

The size of an average household in Malaysia is 4.3 people. Both of these numbers come from Malaysia’s Department of Statistics here; the other budget figures come from insightful analysis by REFSA, especially its Budget and pre-Budget focus papers.

Also, SJK stands for “Sekolah Jenaka Kelakar”, which indicates that this is a work of parody.

To those who may take offense at the class’s president allegedly resembling a certain gentleman in power, I can only say that a bitten chilli is the surest cause of a burning tongue.

  1. #1 by monsterball on Wednesday, 16 November 2011 - 7:20 pm

    Now bribing school children to get parents votes.
    What will they not do next.

  2. #2 by yhsiew on Wednesday, 16 November 2011 - 9:37 pm

    BN should stop using innocent school children to score political credit.

  3. #3 by Ordinary on Wednesday, 16 November 2011 - 11:18 pm

    Under UMNO and its BN components, Malaysia is incurring much debt. If Malaysians, especially our Malay and Indian friends want to be rich like Singaporeans and people of Brunei, they must vote BN out in coming general election.

    What catches my eye is “LEAST CORRUPT”:

    5th most wealthy country in the world:
    5. Singapore $284,692 per adult.

    The tiny island nation of Singapore has the busiest port in the world and is the fourth largest foreign exchange trading center in the world. Singapore is a world leader in several economic areas including finance, casinos, oil refining and foreign trading. Singapore attracts business because its economy is known as one of the freest, most innovative, most competitive, most business friendly and LEAST corrupt in the world.

    Full report from Credit Suisse:

  4. #4 by Ordinary on Wednesday, 16 November 2011 - 11:22 pm

    Those MD (UMNO) and his managers (MCA, MIC, Gerakan, Parti Pesaka Bumi Bersatu, etc.) do not know how to run and manage the Company (Malaysia), the people of Malaysia still want them to run?

    You are only as smart as donkey if you choose them. Look at LEAST CORRUPT Singapore? That is the way to cause people to be rich.

    Malay and Indians should not be afraid of who rule the country!

  5. #5 by tak tahan on Thursday, 17 November 2011 - 12:48 am

    Ting Tong..correctly and well justifiable saying by Ordinary.Think for the national future other than race,religion and anything stupid as ketuanan bakayaro or whatnot.

  6. #6 by boh-liao on Thursday, 17 November 2011 - 1:30 am

    In PKR/PR controlled state, PKNS GM received RM1.4 million (salary n bonus) over 2 years
    Very well paid indeed

  7. #7 by k1980 on Thursday, 17 November 2011 - 7:49 am

    From today’s thestar—

    No right to deduct from RM100 aid

    Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin says he will personally look into claims that a school’s parent-teacher association (PTA) took half of the RM100 government aid meant for students. He stressed that the money was meant to go directly to the students or their families, and neither schools or PTAs have the right to make any deductions to the aid.

    The thieves have started to rob the kids!!

  8. #8 by k1980 on Thursday, 17 November 2011 - 7:51 am

    Instead of only RM100, the kids should stand up and demand a RM10 million condo each, like the one given free to makcik mamak

  9. #9 by Jeffrey on Thursday, 17 November 2011 - 9:42 am

    This bright young man here has used the RM100 here and class room of 50 analogy to discuss our political economy and how the govt has misallocated resources and leveraged up the debt to unsustainable level.

    Shern Ren, if you’re reading this, well done, you do everyone including me proud & I am impressed with your talent in expressing your views (on a matter distant from your field of speciality) in TheMalaysianInsider published here. You are the future of Malaysia that needs young bright minds here (instead of just running away), and I’m glad you’re back.

  10. #10 by dagen on Thursday, 17 November 2011 - 10:41 am

    If you cant impress the grown-ups then target the kids. Simple. That is pure cigeratte-style marketing strategy. The well informed are not pursuaded to smoke then go for the fools and stupid consumers and kids and yes those poorly informed consumers in the third world.

  11. #11 by k1980 on Thursday, 17 November 2011 - 11:04 am

    For every RM100 given out to a kid’s family, that family is going to have to fork out RM10,000 in extra taxes when the GST is implemented by BN.
    Net loss of RM10,000-RM100 = RM9,900

  12. #12 by Godfather on Thursday, 17 November 2011 - 11:47 am

    I’ve been told that all teachers must say something like “tolong undi Barisan Nasional” when they hand over the RM 100 to each student’s parent. We would need some teachers to stand up and confirm this.

  13. #13 by monsterball on Thursday, 17 November 2011 - 1:27 pm

    They stand up and confirm…….they will either be transferred or frustrated to resign.

  14. #14 by Loh on Thursday, 17 November 2011 - 4:23 pm

    ///The other sweetener from the deal, which has taken over a year to seal, is that there will be no increase in the concession period of the existing trunk of the North-South Expressways. It remains at 2038 but the operator of the highways, which is going to be called PLUS Malaysia Sdn Bhd, needed to harmonise the expiry of existing concessions to 2038 from the varying expiry dates of all the toll roads it owns to make the deal bankable.

    That means that Penangites, who will see the concession agreement of the Penang bridge increase from 2021 to 2038, would have to bear with paying RM7 one way for another 17 years.

    Commuters in Penang will have one solace: the current charge of RM7 remains until the concession period ends instead of the old agreement which calls for a 10% increase in toll rates every five years.///–

    Let us say that one travels on the Penang bridge once a week and pay 7x 52 =364 Rinngit a year. In the first 5 years, it costs a total of 1820 Ringgit. The next five years, he pays 10% more for a total of 2002 Ringgit. After paying 3,822 Ringgit he enters 2021 and the bridge will be free ride. The new agreement would mean that he has to pay Ringgit 1820 a year for an additional 17 years, which amounts to Ringgit 30,940. So for a saving of 91 Ringgit for five years or a total of Ringgit 455 Penangites will have to pay a total of Ringgit 30,940 over an additional 17 years. Is it fair for Penangites to foot the bill so that users in other highways can ‘enjoy’ a saving?

    The concession for Plus was initially for 30 years, from 1988 until 2018. With some waivers of price increase, the government had allowed the concessionaires to collect tolls until 2038. How many times had the concessionaires waived the 10 per cent increase over the past 23 years? Let’s say they did it three times, and delayed the toll increase by 30%. The loss of 30% in earning relates to the remaining period of the 30-year concession. The extension of the concession was given when the remaining period of the right to collect tolls was less than 20 years and yet they were given the right to collect tools for an extension of 20 years. That would mean that the concessionaires had a 70 % advantage in not increasing the toll rates (the rate would catch up over the extended period), assuming the volume of traffic remains the same. Obviously the volume of traffic using the toll roads increases over time, and in 20 years, the volume could easily quadruple. That means the concessionaires had a three fold increase in earning by pretending to hold back price increase. The government knowingly pretends to care about the welfare of road users and conveniently enriches the concessionaires.

    Do we believe that the government does not have accountants who could work out the ’present values’ of the contract to award a fair compensation if it was indeed helpful to delay the increase on the toll rates?

  15. #15 by Loh on Thursday, 17 November 2011 - 4:29 pm

    ///The new agreement would mean that he has to pay Ringgit 1820 a year for an additional 17 years, which amounts to Ringgit 30,940.///

    Sorry, they is an error in the calculation. It should be 364 Ringgit a year, and in 17 years, Penangites would be required to pay an additional Ringgit 6,180 if he uses the bridge once a week. That 30,940 figure is wrong!

  16. #16 by Loh on Thursday, 17 November 2011 - 4:34 pm

    ///’Solar-powered talking Bibles’ used on Muslims
    2:25PM Nov 17 | 47
    UPDATED 3.16PM Islamic affairs exco Hasan Ali says the high-tech device is among eight ways in which Christians are subverting the faith of Muslims.///–Malaysiakini

    That is not subversion; that is modern technology, and nobody is barred from using it.

  17. #17 by Loh on Thursday, 17 November 2011 - 4:38 pm

    ///Tsu Koon will not contest next election
    Aidila Razak | 10:08AM Nov 17 | 57
    UPDATED 11.25AM ‘I have decided not to participate as a candidate in any seat, Parliament or state, in the coming GE.’///–Malaysiakini

    But Koh did not announce that he would not accept appointment as senator. That announcement could be more appropriate.

  18. #18 by cemerlang on Thursday, 17 November 2011 - 8:41 pm

    When I was 7 years old, I remember singing Negaraku every morning. My arithmetic teacher taught me 2 apples – 1 apple = 1 apple and 2 apples + 2 apples = 4 apples. Arithmetic teachers and Mathematic teachers should be real good in numbers. Other teachers should also be equally good. Meaning the whole education institution should be really good. Or am I just assuming only ? Those years have gone and now I am just wondering.

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