Archive for October 6th, 2012

Politics in Malaysia is the most profitable business

Steve Oh

I am sure most Malaysians will agree with Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak in a recent speech that there is more to corruption than government abuses. What more is not conjecture as much of it is in the public domain.

Surely it must be evident from the various writings in Malaysiakini, CPI and other weblogs unless someone is so out of touch with the present reality and fails to recognise the angst and anger of many civic-minded Malaysians who see their country sliding down the slippery slope.

It is true what Najib said that “What is often neglected, however, is the fact that corruption and corrupt behaviour is entangled deep with the moral fabric of all societies.”

He went on to say, “It is critical, therefore, people in positions of power and authority to exemplify the values they wish their constituents would follow”.

But does Najib believe what he says?

And more importantly where is the walk besides the talk?

All we have seen seems to be in the contrary. We are wont to ask, “Where is the example from the people in positions of power and authority?” Read the rest of this entry »


The 2013 Budget: Najib’s Last Hurrah? (2)

[contd from The 2013 Budget: Najib’s Last Hurrah? (1)]

Taken as a whole, Malaysia appears to have accumulated debt rapidly even as it loses competitiveness and is thus precariously placed. The Budget Speech made no reference to these issues despite the urgency and importance of these facts to the economic health of the country.

A full and transparent accounting is imperative to permit the development of strategies to avoid a debt crisis of the type affecting many of the countries, large and small, in the EUROZONE.

Current Economic Developments and Prospects

The preliminary estimates of growth cited in the Prime Minister’s Budget Speech for the first half of 2012 are somewhat exaggerated and contradicted by recent economic indicators. Inflation has been under estimated and thus there is an illusion of a high rate of GDP growth in the first half of the year. What growth occurred can be largely attributed to expanded exports of oil and gas and an expansionary fiscal policy adopted in the Budget for 2012.

There are recent indications of a slowdown in exports resulting partly from weaknesses in global commodity markets; industrial output has also shown weaknesses. Growth in the second half of the year is likely to fall short of growth in the first half. Thus, the projected rate of growth of between 4.5 and 5.0 percent for the current year as a whole is unlikely to be achieved. A lower growth rate has implications for revenues; lower tax receipts will mean a higher deficit further compounded by rising public expenditures. Thus, the overall deficit for 2012 is almost certainly going to exceed the projected figure of 4.5 percent cited by the Prime Minister.

The claim that there was “robust private sector investment” is not supported. If anything, private sector players e.g. IPPs such as YTL, Genting Power etc., have divested. Read the rest of this entry »


Land Grab Malaysian-Style

By Thomas Fann

This is not a new issue, in fact it is 21 years old.

It all began when the Barisan Nasional government, with its overwhelming majority in Parliament, passed by 99 to 25 votes the 1991 Land Acquisition Amendment Bill, or Act A804. The rephrasing of sections of the Land Acquisition Act 1960 basically gave incontestable power to state governments to seize private land for development by private companies and individuals. Lands originally acquired for public purposes can also be used for private development.

Before Act A804, land could only be acquired for public purposes or for public utilities like building of roads, schools, hospitals, pipelines, water or power plants, etc. With the addition of “..for any purpose which in the opinion of the State Authority is beneficial to the economic development of Malaysia”, no land is safe.

The term “beneficial to the economic development of Malaysia” is as subjective as you can get. A piece of land can be acquired to build a posh five-star hotel, an amusement park or a golf resort because in the opinion of the government it would bring in the tourist dollar and create jobs for locals, not to mention enriching the private companies who would, of course, be paying taxes.

To really make the Land Acquisition Act water-tight for the acquirer, Section 68A says that acquisitions cannot be invalidated by reason of any kind of subsequent disposal or use (etc) of the acquired land. This new provision aims at preventing the bona fide of the acquirer or of the purported purpose from being challenged in court. You can only challenge the quantum of the compensation offered, the measurement of the land area, the person whom compensation is payable to, and the apportionment of the compensation.

The leader of the opposition then, YB Lim Kit Siang in opposing Act A804, gave this dire warning – “When it becomes law, it will destroy the constitutional right to property enjoyed by Malaysians for 34 years since Merdeka, and become the mother of all corruption, abuses of power, conflicts-of-interest and unethical malpractices in Malaysia…”

Was Kit Siang just over-reacting or scare-mongering when he said that or is it a prophecy that was and is being fulfilled till today? Read the rest of this entry »


Najib – more Brown than Blair?

No time like tomorrow
Malaysian politics
The Economist
Another budget, more cash handouts and more dithering over an election date
Oct 6th 2012 | SINGAPORE | from the print edition

THE prime minister, Najib Razak, fancies himself as the Tony Blair of Malaysian politics. Like the former British prime minister, Mr Najib purports to be a progressive reformer, on a mission to “modernise” his country. The British-educated Mr Najib also likes to pay as much attention to the spin on his policies as to their substance. He even hires former Blair advisers to make sure he gets it right.

For all that, Mr Najib increasingly resembles the hapless Gordon Brown, Mr Blair’s nemesis and successor. For years Mr Brown agitated to push his rival aside. When at last he succeeded, Mr Brown blew it by missing the chance to call an early election while he was still relatively popular. Rather than winning his own mandate, Mr Brown, unelected and indecisive, watched his authority drain away until he was boxed into calling an election right at the end of his term—which he then lost. Read the rest of this entry »