Archive for October 20th, 2015

Solving Malaysia’s economic crisis

New Mandala

Ahead of the Government’s 2016 budget, Malaysia is staring down fiscal challenges unlike any that it has faced over its history as an independent nation.

In this special in-depth report, Datuk Ramesh Chander and Bridget Welsh examine whether Malaysia can resolve its economic woes, and offer several key reforms to get the nation back on track.

2015 – a year of economic decline
This year has seen tumultuous changes across the entire spectrum of the Malaysian body politic and economy. Unlike in earlier years of Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s six-and-a-half year tenure, Malaysia’s economy is now seen to be in trouble, with contracting growth, rising inflation, continued high levels of capital flight, declining consumer and investor confidence, and a depreciating currency.
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Has Hasan Arifin been appointed PAC Chairman with a pre-fixed agenda to exclude Tony Pua from PAC’s 1MDB investigations?

I want to congratulate the new BN MP for Rompin Datuk Hasan Ariffin on his election as Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) for he has an unenviable task – as he does not have months, but only weeks, to establish himself as an independent and intrepid PAC Chairman whose remit is the integrity of government finances and who will uphold it against transgressors, whether the Finance Minister or Prime Minister.

When accepting the appointment as PAC Chairman particularly at these trying national times, Hassan must be armed with the maxim “Let justice be done though the heavens fall” in discharging his duties as PAC Chairman, because it will be a test whether he is prepared to lead the PAC to serve the higher national interests if this conflict with his loyalty to the party, the UMNO/BN government coalition and the Prime Minister himself.

Ariffin should be aware that an inquiry into the 1MDB transactions is in fact an inquiry into Najib’s role in 1MDB, Najib’s most controversial brainchild.

He should not accept his appointment as PAC Chairman if he is not prepared to rise above party interests if they conflict with national interests, such as to take a stand against the transgressions if any of the Finance Minister-cum-Prime Minister, especially as he seems to be pivotally involved in all 1MDB’s key and strategic decisions.

Having been blocked for some three months from conducting 1MDB investigations by the simple expedient of the Prime Minister promoting the PAC Chairman and three members as Minister or Deputy Minister in the sudden Cabinet reshuffle on July 28, Malaysians who want the PAC to immediately get on with its 1MDB investigations without any further delay, must have cringed at Ariffin’s comments after his appointment envisaging the possibility that the PAC under him might not even be able to meet at all this year. Read the rest of this entry »


The final countdown, earthquakes and iPhone

Liew Chin Tong
19 Oct 2015

MP SPEAKS Much as it sounds like cliché, our time is indeed both the best of times and the worst of times. In such a confusing time, clarity is in short supply.

Three things may help us to describe the state of affairs in Malaysian politics better: that the final countdown is imminent; that there were major political earthquakes, tectonic shifts and realignments in 2015; and that the voting public is waiting for something transformative, a bit like the iPhone when it was first created.

The final countdown

The joint press conference by former rivals Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah surprised some of us. Many of us were even amazed with the unprecedented statement by Majlis Raja-Raja Melayu (the Rulers Council) on 1MDB and the falling ringgit, as the council usually restricts its pronouncements to matters relating to Islam and national unity.

Since the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997 and the sacking of Anwar Ibrahim from the government in 1998, Malaysia has been a nation impatiently waiting for change. But change has been meagre, if any.

And we are now entering another crisis – a ‘perfect storm’ crisis that engulfs the nation on multiple fronts – politics, economics, finances, ethnic relations and so on. Read the rest of this entry »