Archive for November, 2014

The fall in the oil price is the biggest thing to happen for six months

Hamish McRae
The Independent
30 November 2014

Every swing in commodity values has winners and losers, but here there are many more winners

The fall in the oil price is big. It is big in terms of the raw numbers, a decline on the Brent reference price from above $115 (£74) a barrel as recently as June, to below $73 on Friday. We are starting to see that feed through to heating oil and the price at the pumps. But more important is the impact it has on the world economy. This is the biggest single thing that has happened in the past six months – and it comes in the nick of time, making the recovery in the developed world much more secure. Whenever there is a big swing in prices there are winners and losers, but the winners far outnumber the losers.

The basic point here is that high energy prices are like a tax on global growth. The oil price affects all energy prices and the more money that flows to the producers, the less there is in the consuming nations to spend on other goods and services. Read the rest of this entry »

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Oil: The Good, the Better, the Ugly

By Alen Mattich
Wall Street Journal
Nov 28, 2014

Oil prices have fallen a long way this year. They might fall much further still.

Crude prices have fallen 36% since their summer peak, then sent into a tailspin by the failure of OPEC, the cartel of oil producing countries accounting for 40% of global supply, to trim its output quotas. And history suggests prices can fall substantially further.

It’s worth bearing in mind that for nearly two decades to 2005, crude oil prices largely ranged between $20 and $40 a barrel in today’s money. The average inflation-adjusted price of West Texas Intermediate oil since 1970 is a little under $55 a barrel compared with a little under $70 now.

That’s not to say that’s how far they’ll drop.

A rapid technical snap-back is always a possibility. But the fundamentals seem stacked towards lower rather than higher prices for now.

Which will make for some interesting economic dynamics. Read the rest of this entry »

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How low can it go? Oil, gas prices in freefall as OPEC reels from US fracking
November 29, 2014

Drivers paying less at the pump due to free-falling oil prices can thank the U.S. energy boom for generating shale oil – and weakening OPEC’s ability to keep the cost of a gallon of gas high.

In just a matter of months, the price of a barrel of oil has dropped from more than $100 to about $70, and gas is now cheaper than it has been in years. But a recent report conducted for the American Petroleum Institute claimed oil would cost twice as much as it does now if it weren’t for America’s fracking boom, which wrings oil and natural gas out of shale miles underground.

But the next question could be whether the fracking industry can survive the low prices it brought.

“The shale boom is on a par with the dot-com boom,” Russian oil baron Leonid Fedun of OAO Lukoil told Bloomberg. “The strong players will remain, the weak ones will vanish.” Read the rest of this entry »

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How corruption abroad threatens U.S. national security

Doyle McManus
Los Angeles Times
Nov 29, 2014

When the militants of Islamic State swept across Iraq last June, they numbered no more than 12,000 and they faced a U.S.-trained, U.S.-equipped Iraqi army that boasted some 200,000 troops.

And yet it was the Iraqi army that collapsed.

What happened? It was more than simply incompetence among Iraqi generals and ethnic tensions among the ranks. The hidden factor that gave Islamic State its victory was Iraq’s rampant corruption. The Baghdad government’s army had 200,000 troops on paper, but many were “ghost soldiers,” fictional troops whose wages went into their officers’ pockets. The unfortunate troops who showed up often lacked equipment and ammunition because their officers had sold it on the black market.

“I told the Americans, don’t give any weapons through the army — not even one piece — because corruption is everywhere, and you will not see any of it,” Col. Shaaban al-Obeidi of Iraq’s internal security forces told The New York Times this month. “Our people will steal it.”

We often look at corruption as a secondary issue in international affairs: as a moral problem that allows Third World governments to steal from their people and gets in the way of equitable economic development.

But the lesson of the collapse of the Iraqi army, an army built with $25 billion in U.S. aid, is this: Corruption isn’t only a moral issue; it’s a national security issue, too. Read the rest of this entry »

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Only relief of the dreary 2014 UMNO General Assembly politics of fear, hate and lies is admission by Muhyddin that it will only take 2% shift in voter support to end six decades of UMNO rule

The only relief in the dreary 2014 UMNO General Assembly politics of fear, hate and lies is the admission by the Deputy Prime Minister and Deputy President, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin that it will only take 2% shift in voter support to end six decades of UMNO rule in the country.

It is a reminder as to how close the UMNO/BN government would have been voted out in the 13th General Election in May last year, if the electoral process had been really clean, free and fair, minus all the constituency gerrymandering and the undemocratic abuses and malpractices in the country.

As Muhyiddin admitted, a loss of two per cent voter support will translate to Barisan Nasional being reduced from its 133 seats won in the 13GE to 103 federal states, less than half of the 222-seat Parliament – comprising 68 UMNO seats and 35 non-UMNO seats.

A loss of five per cent voter support would have slashed the total BN seats to 81, comprising 53 UMNO and 28 non-UMNO seats.
It is precisely because of this fear of losing Federal power which explains why the 2014 General Assembly is such a disappointment to Malaysians who had hoped that UMNO leadership would rise to the occasion to establish its claim to continued rule in Malaysia by articulating a vision for a better tomorrow for all Malaysians.

Instead, moderate, rational and patriotic Malaysians, whether Malays, Chinese, Indians, Kadazans, Ibans or Orang Asli, were subjected to a week-long torture of the politics of fear, hate and lies – holding out no uplifting vision for the future, whether for Malays or Malaysians. Read the rest of this entry »

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Passed over for promotions, Sarawak Dayaks seethe at civil service discrimination

by Desmond Davidson
The Malaysian Insider
30 November 2014

A list of promotions, purportedly in the Sarawak Road Transport Department, has sparked outrage among Dayak professionals and civil servants in the state over what they see as proof of discrimination against non-Malay Bumiputera in the federal civil service.

The list, which has been posted on a blog and on Facebook, names eight Malay enforcement officers as “berjaya” (successful) in securing promotions from the N27 scale to N32, while three Dayak officers were listed as “simpanan”, or reserve.

To Dayaks – as Sarawak’s indigenous people are called – the list confirms what they have felt all along and what has also been noted in the just-released Malaysia Human Development Report 2013 – that discrimination exists within the Bumiputera working in the civil service, with Malays given preference over natives.

The list was posted on November 25 on, a blog on Dayak interests which has a wide following among Ibans, a branch of the Dayak people.

“Dayaks are only qualified to become ‘reserves’ until when? I fear the ‘tsunami of young Dayaks’ could undermine the Sarawak government if nothing is done to help the Dayaks,” wrote the author of the post, Mr J. Read the rest of this entry »


Is this the party that gave us the Tunku, Dr M?

29 November 2014

Umno was the party that moved for Malaya’s independence and later the formation of Malaysia together with Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore.

Back then, Umno was a party of civil servants and intellectuals that advanced the cause of the Malays.

But if after the first couple of days of the Umno general assembly, Malaysians still believe in this party that gave us giants such as Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman, Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, Tun Hussein Onn and Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, they must be: a) suffering from permanent brain damage b) illiterate c) recent “citizens” d) Umno members e) all of the above.

It is not only the ridiculous fighting talk that has been nauseating, but the sheer obtuse nature of the debate and for want of a more palatable word, stupidity at display.

It is the ruling party since Merdeka, that is some 57 years ago, and yet it talks of an economic jihad for the Malays and Bumiputera as if the government it controls has done nothing.

It is the ruling party with access to all security information and yet one leader can brazenly say a Quran has been burnt in Kedah without any proof, and with a denial from no one less than the Kedah menteri besar. Read the rest of this entry »


Triple politics of fear, hate and lies at the UMNO General Assembly

The UMNO General Assemblies this week have been a disastrous demonstration of the triple divisive and dirty politics of fear, hate and lies.

The underlying theme of the UMNO General Assemblies was to propagate the siege mentality that the Malays and Islam are under attack, but not to allow any critical or rational thinking and inquiry as to whether and how after 57 years of UMNO rule under six UMNO Prime Ministers, the Malays and Islam are under siege in 2014.

If Malays and Islam are indeed under siege today, then UMNO which has ruled the country for 57 years with six UMNO Prime Ministers, must bear the fullest responsibility and blame.

Are the present UMNO leaders, led by Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin as UMNO President and Deputy President as well as Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister respectively, prepared to admit that the 57 years of UMNO rule and the six UMNO Prime Ministers since 1957 had been such dismal failures as to result in Malays and Islam facing unprecedented siege in the nation’s history?

If 57-year UMNO rule under six UMNO Prime Ministers have brought such disastrous results to the Malays and Islam, then the answer must be found in removing UMNO from Putrajaya and not in perpetuating UMNO rule at the national level! Read the rest of this entry »


What Umno reps need to talk about

By Azly Rahman
Nov 27, 2014

As a child growing up in the birthplace of Umno in the 60s, who saw his beloved grandfather a devoted member of this party of the 50s cry like a child in a corner by his radiogram when Abdul Razak Hussein died in the 70s, and one who has studied how this party stopped progressing by the early 80s, degenerating from a party of pride and dignity to pariah and dying with diseases of greed and gluttony by late 90s, I would like to suggest the following be discussed in order to lend the benefits of a life-support system to it.

I am also suggesting a poem be read out by the members. The following should be my humble suggestions for Umno, a party my ancestors, too, were members of, to undertake:

*Coming up with strategies to create a better understanding between the races, since we’ve been together for centuries?
*Designing our education system to be inclusive of all Malaysians with each race treated on equal terms,
*Helping any group progress, regardless of race, religion or political affiliation, since we are all lawful citizens and we are not going back to “where we belong”,
*Dismantling all systems that will perpetuate hatred amongst us and redesign our lives around celebrating our strength in diversity, Read the rest of this entry »

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MCA, MIC and Gerakan utterly irrelevant, but have Sarawak and Sabah also become irrelevant in BN national decision-making process on issues directly affecting the two states?

When buckling under pressure from the rightists and extremists in UMNO and UMNO-sponsored NGOs, the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak not only reneged on his specific promise in July 2012 to repeal the Sedition Act, but added salt to injury by declaring that the Sedition Act would be further strengthened and become even more draconian and repressive.

MCA, MIC and Gerakan are utterly irrelevant in the UMNO-dominated Barisan Nasional scheme of things, as evident by the way the views of these three parties and their leaders were ignored and not even sought in Umno-BN’s major decision-making process.
However, are the views and legitimate interests of Sarawak and Sabah similarly disregarded in the Umno-Barisan Nasional national decision-making process, especially in matters directly affecting the people in the two states?

Najib announced yesterday that the Sedition Act would not only be retained, it would be fortified, so as to deal with calls for secession of Sarawak and Sabah.

Have the Sarawak and Saban Barisan Nasional leaders been fully consulted and given their consent to the proposal to criminalise calls for secession of Sarawak and Sabah by making them offences under the repressive Sedition Act?

DAP opposes any call for the secession of Sarawak and Sabah from Malaysia but I fully agree the Sarawak Land Development Minister Tan Sri Dr. James Masing that only a small group of people have advocated secession of Sarawak and Sabah and instead of criminalising such calls, the wisest political and nation-building response is to engage with these groups to find out what are the causes of their unhappiness. Don’t kill the messenger but miss the message! Read the rest of this entry »


Najib making Umno less relevant, says columnist

The Malaysian Insider
28 November 2014

Umno is losing its appeal among more Malaysians, and its president Datuk Seri Najib Razak has been the cause of this with new approaches that pushed the party out of the political spotlight, effectively making it less relevant to the people, The Edge Review columnist, Bridget Welsh, wrote.

Among these were the “outsourcing” of Umno’s traditional role as defender of the Malays to right-wing groups like Perkasa, competing with PAS to be the defender of Islam, use of government resources and machinery to dispense patronage, and relegating the party to the sidelines in the making of government policy.

Writing in this week’s edition of the digital magazine, Welsh, a political analyst, said Najib had changed Umno’s role and in so doing, made the party “less politically relevant”.

She noted that Umno has long relied on the “racial insecurity” of Malays to maintain power but outsourcing its role as defender of the Malays to other groups had “marked the start of Umno’s slide to the sidelines”.

Although these groups received government funding and were closely linked to Umno, holding memberships in both, they had come to take over Umno’s position in spearheading calls to protect Malay interests.

The next approach, competing with PAS to “position Umno as the defender of Islam in Malaysia” effectively moved Umno further from its “moderate roots”, causing it to be perceived by the public as becoming more zealous and hardline. Read the rest of this entry »

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In Umno’s youth ‘rejuvenation’, mutton dressed as lamb?

by Joseph Sipalan
Malay Mail Online
November 28, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 28 — At 65, Umno is old, older even than Malaysia, and worryingly for the party now, its current leaders are not much younger.

As the anchor of Barisan Nasional (BN), it is the oldest and longest ruling party in the world, having governed the country since 1957. The country has need of transformation and Umno, according to its leaders, is also in dire need of reform and “rejuvenation”.

Umno knows it must ring in the new, but to ring out the old is where it is finding strong resistance. Leading up to the ongoing Umno General Assembly, party leaders have sent clearer and clearer hints, all but opening the exit door and ushering out those whom they think should leave.

The transformation is not solely about internal renewal. Umno’s top leaders have conveyed that the stakes are the party’s continued survival and, by extension, the continuity of the only ruling government that Malaysia has ever known.

In the next general election no more than four years away, there will be an estimated four million youths who will qualify as new voters, adding to the 17.8 million who may cast ballots if they all register as voters.

Magnifying the sense of urgency is the belief that Umno is progressively losing support from the rural Malays ― traditionally its core power base ― due to increasing migration to urban areas. Read the rest of this entry »

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Will criticising Umno now be labelled seditious?

by Sheridan Mahavera
The Malaysian Insider
28 November 2014

The hardliners in Umno have won and they want every Malaysian to know this.

Any criticism that even touches on Islam, the Malays and the rulers will be seen as an attack against Umno, and vice versa.

This is the message from the first day of the Umno assembly and the party’s conservatives have proved how influential they are as they have managed to get their president, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, to go back on his own word.

And this has serious repercussions for the man on the street, said noted political analyst Prof James Chin, as it could signal an increased clamp down on legitimate dissent. Read the rest of this entry »

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Khairy isn’t the problem, it is us

27 November 2014

Khairy Jamaluddin reminds us of our biggest problem here in Malaysia. But the problem is not Khairy. It is us, Malaysians.

We are too gullible; too believing; too easily duped by form over substance; too game to discard evidence and rely instead on occasional warm fuzzy rhetoric.

Khairy Jamaluddin, the Oxford-educated erudite politician, the young voice of reason who was going to pull Malaysia from the cusp of racial and extremist ruin, was a figment of our own imagination.

It was the height of stupidity and no small measure of irresponsibility to believe that one ambitious politician would enter the corrupt and extremist eco-system of Umno and would somehow, not only emerge undamaged but would be able to, turn the hordes of blinkered and self-serving individuals into a legion of progressive and moderate souls. Read the rest of this entry »

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Najib buckles under pressure to renounce the repeal of Sedition Act and becomes hostage to rightists and extremists who are opposed to policy of moderation and GMM

Although the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s buckling under pressure to renounce the repeal of the Sedition Act, which he had promised two years ago in July 2012, has not come as a total surprise to Malaysians, it is nonetheless heart-rending to see the sixth Prime Minister succumbing to threats by rightists and extremists in UMNO and UMNO-sponsored NGOs and becoming a hostage to elements which are opposed to the policy of moderation and the Global Movement of Moderates (GMM).

Now I understand why the sudden urgency for the Prime Minister to table a White Paper and move a motion in Parliament to condemn Islamic State yesterday – which was made without any advance notice to MPs as the decision was apparently made only on Monday night: – i.e. to camouflage Najib’s betrayal of the cause of wasatiyyah and his initiative of the Global Movement of Moderates, which had been the subject of his three speeches to the United Nations General Assembly since Sept. 2010, when he delivered his UMNO Presidential Address this morning.

The rightists, extremists and the opponents of the campaign of wasatiyyah have cause to celebrate, for they have made it very clear that they will be drawing the line in the sand at the 68th UMNO General Assembly whether to tolerate or topple Najib as Prime Minister and UMNO President before his terms were up.
Read the rest of this entry »


As Umno opening acts, analysts see wings telling stale tale with ‘regressive’ rhetorics

By Zurairi AR
The Malay Mail Online
November 27, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 27 — For all their sound and fury in opening the much-anticipated Umno general assembly, its youth and women’s wings appear to be mired in partisan and parochial issues that political analysts said is distancing the ruling party from its ambitious reform agenda.

After a full day of speeches from the wing leaders and delegates which one analyst called “regressive” rhetoric, several pundits recommended Umno work on offering fresh ideas that will bridge the divide among the different races in order to capture the attention and imagination of their countrymen for the future.

“I think Umno needs a new voice, not one that reminds us of old news… Umno leaders need to come up with extraordinary ideas, only then can they show their leadership,” Prof Dr Jayum Jawan, a political analyst with the National Professor Council, told Malay Mail Online over phone.

“We need new ideas to strengthen Umno, its unity, and the good relations between Malays and non-Malays. Coming from its important wings, this is pretty disappointing from Umno’s top leaders.”

In his winding-up speech yesterday, Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin called on Malays to rise and defend themselves from an onslaught of insults and challenges to their special position in the country, declaring that the country’s majority ethnic group has been patient enough. Read the rest of this entry »


Call for Parliamentary Select Committee to mobilise support for moderation and draft laws and measures to deal with the Islamic State threat

DAP welcomes the White Paper “Ke Arah Menangani Ancaman Kumpulan Islamic State” and the Prime Minister’s motion seeking Parliament’s support with Government’s efforts to deal with the Islamic State threat and to “menyeru semua lapisan rakyat Malaysia mempergiatkan usaha dan komitmen mereka untuk bersama-sama menyokong Kerajaan menangani ancaman berkenaan”.

Before I proceed further, let me state that the White Paper on the Islamic State is one of the three unfinished business which Najib should have completed in the present meeting of Parliament which ends tomorrow.

While welcoming the White Paper on Islamic State, I want to place on record the people’s disappointment and disapproval that the Prime Minister has refused to complete the other two unfinished business before Parliament adjourns tomorrow, viz:

Firstly, the Report of the Royal Commission of Illegal Immigrants in Sabah (RCIIIS), which is meant to end once-and-for-all the 40-year problem of illegal immigrants in Sabah which had multiplied 15 to 19 times in four decades from 100,000 in the seventies to 1.5 million to 1.9 million at present.
Read the rest of this entry »


Seruan supaya sebuah Jawatankuasa Pilihan Parlimen ditubuhkan bagi menggembleng sokongan untuk kesederhanaan dan menggubal undang-undang untuk menangani ancaman Islamic State (IS)

DAP mengalu-alukan Kertas Putih “Ke Arah Menangani Ancaman Kumpulan Islamic State” dan usul Perdana Menteri untuk mendapatkan sokongan Parlimen ke atas usaha Kerajaan bagi menangani ancaman IS serta untuk “menyeru semua lapisan rakyat Malaysia mempergiatkan usaha dan komitmen mereka untuk bersama-sama menyokong Kerajaan menangani ancaman berkenaan”.

Sebelum saya teruskan, izinkan saya menyatakan bahawa Kertas Putih mengenai IS adalah salah satu daripada tiga urusan Najib yang belum selesai yang sepatutnya siap dalam sidang Parlimen kali ini yang berakhir esok.

Sambil mengalu-alukan Kertas Putih mengenai IS, saya ingin merakamkan kekecewaan dan rasa tidak senang rakyat kerana Perdana Menteri telah enggan untuk menyelesaikan dua lagi urusan lain yang belum selesai sebelum Parlimen ditangguh esok, iaitu:

Pertama, Laporan Suruhanjaya Diraja Pendatang Tanpa Izin di Sabah (RCIIIS), yang bertujuan untuk menamatkan masalah 40 tahun pendatang tanpa izin di Sabah yang telah bertambah sehingga 15 malah 19 kali ganda dalam tempoh empat dekad dari bilangan 100,000 orang pada tahun tujuh puluhan hingga 1.5 juta hingga 1.9 juta pada masa ini.
Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysia reaping inequality, corruption and racial envy from race-based policies

by Anisah Shukry
The Malaysian Insider
25 November 2014

Malaysia’s affirmative action policies in the past 40 years have created a culture of dependency, corruption and racial envy, a prominent Malaysian economist said today.

‎Tan Sri Dr Kamal Salih, an adjunct professor of Economics and Development Studies at Universiti Malaya (UM) said that the‎ benefits of the development policies did not truly extend beyond the first 20 years of the New Economic Policy’s (NEP) implementation.

“The problem over the decades involved has not been with the intent nor the content of the NEP and its successors, but the manner of their implementation, which have produced new inequalities, poverty and vulnerabilities in the development process.

“While no further progress has been made in reducing inequality in income distribution over the last decade, the NEP had resulted instead in creating a culture of dependency, corruption and racial envy.” Read the rest of this entry »


UMNO must draw the line in the sand and the UMNO General Assembly this week is the last opportunity for UMNO to demonstrate whether it stands for moderation or extremism

The Prime Minister and UMNO President, Datuk Seri Najib Razak asked the very pertinent question on Sunday at the Federal Territories UMNO Convention on Sunday, “Where have we gone wrong?”, lamenting that whether UMNO had built mosques, set up parent-teacher associations or provided housing, none of these efforts had translated into political support because UMNO leaders hoarded handouts for their own supporters instead of giving it to the community.

Two former Prime Ministers and UMNO Presidents have given different responses to Najib’s question.

In his blog, Malaysia’s fourth Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad blamed the “warlord” mentality in UMNO, and urged the UMNO delegates at this week’s UMNO General Assembly to criticize the party leadership on several issues which are “hot” now.

He said previous UMNO Presidents had also been criticized and emerged victorious afterwards, citing as examples Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Razak and Tun Hussein.

He said he himself was “attacked and almost lost my position”. Read the rest of this entry »