Malaysia gets ‘D’, South Korea ‘A-’ in handling of tragedies, says Bloomberg columnist

The Malaysian Insider
MAY 02, 2014

Putrajaya was once again slammed by a Bloomberg columnist who compared Malaysia’s handling of the MH370 saga with South Korea’s response to the recent Sewol ferry tragedy.

In a scathing attack, columnist William Pesek said he would give top marks to South Korea for their handling of the ferry tragedy but found Malaysia sorely lacking in handling the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

He said the incidents could be described as tests for the two governments, if not of Malaysian and South Korean societies.

“The grades so far? I’d give Korea an A-, Malaysia a D,” he said in his Bloomberg column titled “One missing jet, one sunken ferry, two responses”.

Pesek said in the two weeks since the ferry sank, killing about 300 people on board, the South Korean government had reacted with self-questioning, shame and official penitence.

“President Park Geun Hye issued a dramatic and heartfelt apology. Her No. 2, Prime Minister Chung Hong Won, resigned outright. Prosecutors hauled in the ship’s entire crew and raided the offices of its owners and shipping regulators. Citizens and the media are demanding speedy convictions and long-term reforms,” he said.

On the flip side, there was no such reaction on the part of Malaysian authorities 56 days after MH370 vanished, said Pesek.

“No officials have quit. Prime Minister (Datuk Seri) Najib Razak seems more defiant than contrite. The docile local news media has focused more on international criticism of Malaysia’s leaders rather than on any missteps by those leaders themselves,” he said.

Pesek said although both countries are democracies, the key difference is the relative openness of their political systems.

“One party has dominated Malaysia since independence, while Korea, for all its growing pains and occasional tumultuousness, has seen several peaceful transfers of power over the past quarter-century.

“Unused to having to answer critics, Malaysia’s government has responded defensively.

“Korean officials, on the other hand, are reflecting, addressing the anger of citizens, and delving into what went wrong with the shipping industry’s regulatory checks and balances,” he pointed out.

Pesek said South Korea was most likely to emerge from the crisis stronger than ever, unlike Malaysia.

He said this could be seen from the way both countries handled the 1997 Asian financial crisis.

Pesek said Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who was the prime minister then, had blamed the ringgit’s plunge on some shadowy Jewish cabal headed by George Soros instead of internalising what had gone wrong.

“It didn’t admit it had been using capital inflows unproductively and that coddling state champions – including Malaysia Airlines – was killing competitiveness. Never did the ruling United Malays National Organisation consider it might be part of the problem.”

Pesek said South Korea, on the other hand, forced weak companies and banks to fail, accepting tens of thousands of job losses.

South Korean authorities, he said, clamped down on reckless investing and lending and addressed moral hazards head-on.

“Koreans felt such shame that millions lined up to donate gold, jewellery, art and other heirlooms to the national treasury.”

Pesek said while South Korea’s response wasn’t perfect, the country’s economic performance since then speaks for itself.

“Now as then, Korea’s open and accountable system is forcing its leaders to look beyond an immediate crisis. Ordinary Koreans are calling for a national catharsis that will reshape their society and its attitude toward safety. Park’s government has no choice but to respond.

“Malaysia’s government, on the other hand, appears to be lost in its own propaganda.

“To the outside world, acting Transport Minister (Datuk Seri) Hishammuddin Hussein performed dismally as a government spokesman: He was combative, defensive and so opaque that even China complained.

“Yet Hishammuddin is now seen as prime-minister material for standing up to pesky foreign journalists and their rude questions. The government seems intent on ensuring that nothing changes as a result of this tragedy.

“As hard as it seems now, South Korea will move past this tragedy, rejuvenated. Malaysia? I’m not so sure.” – May 2, 2014.

  1. #1 by CMN on Sunday, 4 May 2014 - 8:00 am

    To give Msia a D is actually an overstatement.

    Imagine the “reactive” approach adopted by H2O (his twitter’s callsign) despite coming into 60 days. I have been following his PC on a daily basis. Nothing you hear or learn except countless self-defence statements.

    There’s a basic difference between “reactive” vs “proactive” in managing an uncertainty. Proactive will lead media/public to pursue what Govt’s next steps are. Reactive is how the water (H2O) will respond to what media/public proposes. If you trace back, H2O does nothing on daily basis but to prepare answer/self-defence statement for what he was grilled on previous days.

    Going into day 60. DCA, MAS’ chief still cant get the numbers correct.

    Sometimes i really ponder. If a minister were to responsible for such a aviation incident and who should that be? If a minister were to responsible for such a weak air defence – no response to a UFO? Who should that be?

    Transport Minister and Defence Minister?

  2. #2 by Bigjoe on Sunday, 4 May 2014 - 9:10 am

    D not bad already. Hyundai is A while Proton not even grade – and we pay BILLIONS EVERY YEAR to keep a few thousands employed and Mahathir’s ego..

  3. #3 by pulau_sibu on Sunday, 4 May 2014 - 9:31 am

    I could give Korean only a C

  4. #4 by yhsiew on Sunday, 4 May 2014 - 10:21 am

    Malaysia should get “F” for cheating – for editing the audio recordings.

  5. #5 by boh-liao on Sunday, 4 May 2014 - 10:42 am

    The grades so far? I’d give Korea an A-, Malaysia a D,” Bloomberg columnist

    WHOA lau eh, Bloomberg columnist SO generous 1 lah, ‘D’ 2 M’sia while lots of rakyat tot d grade ought 2 b an ‘F’

    Mayb d columnist did not know dat d audio recordings hv been intentionally EDITED n did not factor dat in his generous grading of 1M’sia

    “Hishammuddin Hussein performed dismally as a government spokesman”
    “Yet Hishammuddin is now seen as prime-minister material

    OMG! REALLY meh?
    CAN meh dis najis’ cousin INfamous as a mouth foaming rabid dog which copy-cat-ed najis in brandishing a kris while yelling 4 Chinese bl00d during UmnoB’s AGMs?

    Dis hisap felo CAN’T hide n pretend dat he did not do dat – it is all over d Internet, just Google “Hishammuddin kris”

    OMG, WHAT did rakyat M’sia do 2 deserve these 2 bl00d thirsty kris waving cousins, while not forgetting an ambitious botak, scion of a corrupt n lying exPeeM

  6. #6 by pulau_sibu on Sunday, 4 May 2014 - 3:25 pm

    muslim ministers don’t cheat, else will be stoned to death

  7. #7 by TheWrathOfGrapes on Monday, 5 May 2014 - 10:15 am

    Guys, I think there has been a huge misunderstanding here. Malaysia always has its own ranking and criteria for ranking. Forget about those international rankings which are conspiracies to put Malaysia down – those are mere perceptions and not grounded on facts. Here is the Malaysia Boleh grading scale for the uninitiated:

    A = Awful
    B = Boleh (so so lah)
    C = Can make it
    D = Distinction
    E = Excellent
    F = Finest

    That’s why Hisham’s performance is graded “D” – he passed with Distinction which is why he is Prime Ministerial material (by Malaysian standards, of course).

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