Archive for December 6th, 2013

Power tariff – the last straw that broke the camel’s back?

Liew Chin Tong
Dec 6, 2013


The spate of new taxes and price hikes, the latest being the electricity tariff hike, have caused me to doubt whether the government under Najib Abdul Razak has any idea about the macroeconomic risks that Malaysia faces.

Against the backdrop of an uncertain global economy and the likeliness of the quantitative easing tapering, domestic demand is crucial in sustaining the Malaysian economy. Yet the spate of new taxes and price hikes will produce an opposite result: the further decline of domestic demand.

Will the electricity tariff increase become the last straw on the camel’s back that will see the Malaysian economy collapsing due to the confluence of several domestic and global factors?

The electricity tariff will be increased by an average of about 14.89 percent for Peninsular Malaysia, and by about 17 percent for Sabah and Labuan from next year.

The average electricity tariff in Peninsular Malaysia will be up 4.99 sen per kWh or 14.89 percent from the current average rate of 33.54 sen/kWh to 38.53 sen/kWh.

For Sabah and Labuan, the average tariff will be up 5 sen per kWh or 16.9 percent from current average rate of 29.52 sen per kWh to 34.52 sen per kWh. Read the rest of this entry »


Malaysia ruling party tightens embrace of Islam to gain support

By Stuart Grudgings
10:42 p.m. CST, December 5, 2013
Chicago Tribune

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 6 (Reuters) – Malaysia’s ruling party, stung by an election setback in May, is burnishing its Islamic credentials, aiming to gain ground among majority ethnic Malay voters in a move that could heighten concern over growing religious intolerance in the multi-racial Southeast Asian country.

The coalition led by the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) suffered its worst election result, hurt by the desertion of ethnic Chinese voters and many urban dwellers, including Muslim Malays, its traditional bedrock of support.

Ahead of the party’s annual general assembly this week, Prime Minister Najib Razak shored up his support by making concessions to the party’s conservative wing, rolling back his previous liberal social reforms, boosting steps to favour ethnic Malays economically and stressing UMNO’s role as a protector of the Islamic faith.

That has enabled him to push forward with unpopular economic steps to tackle the country’s chronic fiscal deficit, most recently the announcement of a 15 percent rise in electricity tariffs from January.
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Triple woes for Malaysia in the 2012 PISA international student assessment for mathematics, science and reading

If only Malaysia had made slight progress in all the three subjects of mathematics, science and reading in the 2012 PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) as compared to the previous PISA test in 2010, the Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin would have highlighted the issue in his speech when opening the annual general meetings of Umno Youth, Wanita and Puteri on Tuesday night (the PISA results were released earlier the same day) as evidence that Malaysia was progressing towards a world-class education system under his leadership.

But the 2012 PISA results were more grounds for despondency rather than celebration, and this is why Muhyiddin was conspicuously silent about the PISA results – unlike his Singapore counterpart, Education Minister Heng Swee Keat who said on the same day the PISA results were released that he was “very happy that Singapore’s 15-year-olds had done “very, very well” in 2012 PISA, as the Singapore students ranked second in mathematics and third in science and reading in the global assessment taken by about 510,000 15-year-old students in 65 countries and regions.

The Thai Education Minister, Chaturon Chaisang was upbeat with the results of the Thai students scoring 441 in reading, 427 in mathematics and 444 in science (beating Malaysia in all three subjects), saying that the Thai ranking demonstrated the country’s potential and could attract investment.

Malaysia has more than enough reasons to rue the 2012 PISA, as the country has proclaimed that it aspired to be in the top third of the countries in the world in terms of performance in international assessments, as measured by outcomes in the PISA or Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) by 2021. Read the rest of this entry »