Archive for category Budget Debate

As 2020 deadline looms, Malaysian students fail to shine in science

by Boo Su-Lyn
The Malay Mail Online
November 2, 2015

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 2 ― Less than 13 per cent of those who sat for the Form 3 PT3 examination last year scored at least a C in both science and mathematics, Putrajaya has revealed, despite Malaysia’s aim to achieve developed nation status in less than five years.

The Education Ministry also said that the average percentage of secondary school students who qualified for the science stream, based on their results of the previous Form 3 PMR examination, only hovered around 30 per cent over the past 10 years, though Malaysia has been aiming for a 60:40 ratio of science/ technical/vocational and arts students since 1970.

“The most probable reason for this could be the new format for the PT3 science and maths papers,” Education director-general Datuk Seri Dr Khair Mohamad Yusof told Malay Mail Online in a recent email interview, in explaining the PT3 science and maths results.

“There were very few multiple choice questions which most students are very familiar with; and the test items demand a lot of thinking on the part of the students to gauge their understanding of the subject matter rather than regurgitating rote-learned concepts.

“It does not encourage teaching to the test and teachers need to engage the students in the learning process by asking more higher-order thinking questions. It is hoped that this kind of format will encourage the students to learn meaningfully and in future, the PT3 results will become better,” he added. Read the rest of this entry »

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So, where did the RM2.6 billion go? Tell us, Najib

Phlip Rodrigues
25 Oct 2015

COMMENT When a sea of placards washed over the face of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak on Budget Day, it created huge waves in the annals of Malaysian politics. Never before in the history of parliamentary democracy had a prime minister had to face the ignominy of seeing his role flashed in loud, clear and bold message across the national stage.

For Parliament is the time-hallowed podium where the actions and thoughts of the elected representatives are in full play for all to see. What the opposition lawmakers did on that memorable day is an act of patriotism: they do not want to see the country destroyed by a prime minister whose every action is a tight slap on democracy.

Parliament is a fitting place to debate with intelligence and vigour the problems and ills of the country – be they social, economic, political. More importantly, it is the ideal arena to drill the prime minister on his deeds as the head of government.

But Najib chooses not to engage in the cut and thrust of political life, which is the hallmark of a healthy and vibrant democracy. Instead, he treats Parliament with contempt when he ignores the existence of the opposition and cares only for his own skewed views.

His words have become his laws and as a result, justice and truth have taken a terrible beating. He comes and goes as he wishes and most of the time, his seat, given by the people to serve the people, is left cold and empty. Read the rest of this entry »


I would have advised Najib to refund the RM2.6 billion “donation” to the Treasury as one way to resolve the RM2.6 billion “donation” scandal during the debate on 2016 budget if I had not been suspended from Parliament for six months

The 1MDB “Monster” is claiming more and more victims, and I am only the latest one – suspended from Parliament for six months because I had said what is in the heart of all thinking and patriotic Malaysians, viz:

*firstly, that the Public Accounts Committee investigations into the RM50 billion 1MDB scandal should not have been suspended for three months as national interests demand that 1MDB investigations should be conducted as a matter of greatest urgency and priority; and

*secondly, there has been too much avoidance and evasion of responsibility by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his government in giving full accountability for the twin mega scandals in the country, the 1MDB and the RM2.6 billion “donation” in Najib’s personal banking accounts resulting in an unprecedented crisis of confidence in the Malaysian government.

This is why the Malay Rulers on October 6 had come out with an extraordinary statement calling for 1MDB investigations to be completed “as soon as possible” and for the “appropriate stern action” to be taken against all found to be implicated. Read the rest of this entry »


Najib’s 2016 Budget made history as a budget which could not generate any budget euphoria as it was snuffed out within seconds of delivery by phalanx of Opposition MPs standing up and displaying “Mana RM2.6 billion” placard

Prime Minister-cum-Finance Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s 2016 Budget made history as the first Malaysian budget which could not generate any budget euphoria as it was snuffed out within seconds of delivery by the phalanx of Opposition MPs standing up and displaying the “Mana RM2.6 billion” placard.

Normally, the budget presented by a Finance Minister in Parliament on a Friday would be able to generate a budget euphoria for weeks, or at least for the immediate weekend, with glowing economic reports and superlative accounts of the government’s budgetary plans, but Najib’s 2016 Budget failed dismally on this account, with the country overcast with hazy sky and noxious air which for weeks had closed schools, disrupted the economy and created havoc in the life of Malaysians.

In fact, events in the 24 hours after Najib’s delivery of the 2016 Budget had continued to be relentless in stamping out any ember for any post-budget euphoria, for instance:

1. the report by The Australian yesterday that a sixth foreign government, Australia, has joined five other countries, namely Switzerland, United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Singapore and United States in the ever-widening international inquiry into Malaysia’s biggest scandal in history, the RM50 billion 1MDB (well exceeding the RM42 billion normally associated with the scandal, according to Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin in his last speech as Deputy Prime Minister to the UMNO Cheras Division on July 26); Read the rest of this entry »

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Can Malaysia withstand external headwinds?

Penang Institute
24 Oct 2015

In the last year or so, the Malaysian economy has been affected by two main external headwinds. Firstly, the fall in commodities prices has dented the country’s finances. Secondly, the possibility of US increasing its interest rate has caused some repatriation of foreign investment funds, thus affecting investment climate and ringgit’s value against major currencies.

Therefore, can the Budget 2016 help the country withstand further external economic headwinds given that the US Federal Reserve has hinted that interest rates are projected to rise? A separate press statement will cover the Budget’s impact on households. Read the rest of this entry »

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Budget 2016: Subsidy cuts and other things Najib didn’t tell you

Nigel Aw
Oct. 24, 2015

Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak offered a list of good news under Budget 2016 which included a hike in civil servants’ pay, increase in BR1M cash handouts, and Goods and Services Tax rebate for mobile phone purchase.

But where is all the money coming from when the country is facing falling revenue from a slump in commodity prices?

Malaysiakini uncovers the ‘bad news’, by breaking down Budget 2016 for you based on ministries which have suffered the worst cuts.

What the premier failed to mention in his budget speech include the likelihood of pricier cooking oil, more expensive train and flight tickets on ‘uneconomical’ routes, the poor having to pay for their electricity bills, and other subsidy cuts. Read the rest of this entry »

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What happened to high-income agenda, economists ask of Budget 2016

by Anisah Shukry
The Malaysian Insider
24 October 2015

Economists said they had expected far more from Budget 2016 that is supposed to propel Malaysia towards high-income nation status in five years’ time.

Economic analyst Dr Muhammad Abdul Khalid said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had inadvertently revealed in his speech yesterday that the country was not entirely on track to becoming a high-income nation in five years.

“According to the Performance Management Delivery Unit (Pemandu), the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) should grow by 6% each year for Malaysia to achieve high-income status yet Najib said GDP will only grow between 4% and 5% in 2016.

“Even this year, GDP is expected to expand between 4.5% and 5.5% only, not 6%,” Muhammad told The Malaysian Insider.
He said Najib, who is also finance minister, had also not addressed the fact that the ringgit’s depreciation against the US dollar would make it more difficult for the country to achieve high-income status.

He explained that a high income nation requires the country to have USD$15,000 GDP per capita, but with the weakened ringgit, Malaysia was off target by 17% “just by doing nothing”. Read the rest of this entry »

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Unable to handle GST, 68-year-old shuts up shop

by Looi Sue-Chern
The Malaysian Insider
18 March 2015

Moey Kok Meng and his family are clearing out his sundry shop in Air Itam. His final day of operation is next Wednesday.

“I am shutting down because of the GST (goods and services tax). I don’t think I can do business with the tax implemented,” he said.

Moey, 68, said he made the decision to close his shop, which has been in operation for 48 years, before Chinese New Year last month.

He said one of his three daughters had asked him if he was able to deal with the GST, and the question made him realise that he could not.

“I don’t know (how to operate) a computer. I don’t understand the system… how it works. Even after reading it and getting others explain to me, I am still unsure of how to do my business with it.

“I am just running a small, simple business. It is all giving me a headache, so I surrender,” he said. Read the rest of this entry »

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DAP proposes a two-day special Parliament meeting on Jan 26 and 27 on the revised 2015 Budget instead of Najib unilaterally announcing restructuring of the 2015 Budget in utter contempt not only of Parliament but also of Cabinet

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, seemed bent on announcing his restructured 2015 Budget tomorrow.

This will mean that the revised 2015 Budget is made not only without parliamentary sanction or approval, but also without Cabinet approval or sanction.

This is because the Cabinet would only meet the day after on Wednesday, January 21 2015.

This is most irregular and improper, revising the 2015 Budget after the Dewan Rakyat had approved the original budget on Nov. 25 after more than a month of debate, both on general policy as well as during the detailed committee stage, by MPs from both the Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat in the Dewan Rakya

This could only mean that what the MPs from both BN and PR had said on the 2015 Budget, both during the policy and committee stage debate, were an utter waste of time, resources and effort as far as the Finance Minister was concerned!

Now Najib proposes to announce his revised 2015 budget tomorrow, when clearly it has not been cleared or approved by the Cabinet.
Read the rest of this entry »

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It is not too late for Najib to convene a special meeting of Parliament to present the revised 2015 Budget

The question the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak must answer is why he is not convening a special meeting of Parliament to present the restructuring of the 2015 Budget.

As it is Parliament which approved the RM273.9 billion 2015 Budget, it is only right and proper, fully in accord with the principle of parliamentary democracy, that Najib should convene a special Parliament to present the restructured 2015 Budget because of the weakening of ringgit and the plunging oil prices.

It is not too late for Najib to do what is right, and convene a special meeting of Parliament to present the revised 2013 Budget as a special Parliament can be convened even within 48 hours. Otherwise, Najib would be showing utter contempt to Parliament and the principle of parliamentary democracy. Read the rest of this entry »

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Call on Cabinet tomorrow to convene a special Parliamentary meeting end of this month to present a revised 2015 Budget

The Cabinet tomorrow should do what it should have done at its last Cabinet meeting for 2014 on Dec. 17 – to convene a Special meeting of Parliament this month to present a revised Budget 2015.

When the Budget 2015 was drawn up, it was based on the oil price assumption of US$100 (RM357) per barrel.

Since the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak presented Budget 2015 on Oct. 25, Brent crude prices had fallen from US$100 to a six year-low of US$47.36.

Oil and gas-related income is a backbone of the Malaysian economy as it currently accounts for 30% of the government’s total revenue.
With the plunge in crude oil prices, the Government is duty-bound to revise the 2015 Budget and seek parliamentary approval for revision of the 2015 Budget.

The Cabinet should decide on convening a Special Parliament before the end of January now that Prime Minister who is also Finance Minsiter has finally conceded today on the need to restructure the 2015 Budget. Read the rest of this entry »

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2015 Budget (5) -The Debt Bombshell: New Revelations

2015 Budget (5) – A Critique
by Economic Observer
19th October 2014

In his speech, the Prime Minister studiously avoided any reference to the size of the public debt which now requires an allocation of RM 23.2 billion or almost 11 percent of the Budget to service the accumulated debt of the Federal Government now estimated to amount to RM 568.9 billion accounting for 52.8 percent of GDP, a level marginally below the established ceiling.

These numbers exclude the contingent liabilities of the Federal Government and other off budget borrowings.

Nor did the Prime Minister mention the level of debt carried by households, now in excess of 85 percent of GDP.

What is wholly inexcusable is the failure on his part to refer to the bombshell dropped in the Treasury’s Economic Report concerning the size of the nation’s external debt.

The Economic Report discloses that Malaysia’s external debt totals RM 729 billion, equivalent to 67.6 percent of GDP. This compares with a debt level of RM 335.6 billion or 31.1 percent of GDP before the revision.

This more than doubling of the external debt cannot be swept under the carpet. It is shameless in the manner in which the Prime Minister dealt with the issue. Read the rest of this entry »


2015 Budget (4) – The National Agenda: Increasing equity ownership of Bumiputeras

2015 Budget (4) – A Critique
by Economic Adviser
18th October 2014

In indicating a further RM 600 million to EKUINAS to enable it to increase Bumiputera corporate equity the Prime Minister observed that the Bumiputera have yet to achieve the 30% target.

He further noted their effective control over corporations is currently only around 10%.

The Prime Minister appears to be playing to the right-wing gallery in his party by making these assertions which are unsubstantiated.
No details have been provided or reference made to any rigorous study.

Even a cursory review shows that GLCs are almost entirely Bumiputera controlled. The GLCs listed on the stock exchange account for almost 30 percent of paid up capital. Read the rest of this entry »


2015 Budget (3) – Implementing GST

2015 Budget (3) – A Critique
by Economic Observer
18th October 2014

The Prime Minister has attempted to offer soothing statements concerning the scope and coverage of the GST.

He has listed a whole list of items that will be exempted. While the list may be impressive, the value of the items that will be exempted remains shrouded.

Such claims as “ Of the 944 goods and services in the basket of goods of the CPI, the prices of 532 items or 56% are expected to reduce up to 4.1%.” or “Meanwhile, about 354 goods and services may experience some price increase but less than 5.8%” offer little clarity. No indication is given about the burden to be borne by an average household or the percentage by which the CPI will rise.

The Prime Minister indicated that the GST will yield RM 23.2 billion in gross revenue. However, with the implementation of GST, the Sales and Services Tax (SST), will be abolished resulting in revenue foregone of RM13.8 billion.

He went on to state: “This means that after deducting RM13.8 billion and RM3.8 billion from a revenue of RM23.2 billion, the Government will have a balance of RM5.6 billion.”

He went on to claim that of the total, RM4.9 billion was being channeled back to the rakyat through assistance programs such as the increase in BR1M.

“Finally, net revenue collection from GST will only amount to RM690 million.” This latter statement is remarkable indeed and is designed to minimize the collection from this new tax.

The Minister has side-stepped pertinent questions concerning the impact of the GST on middle and low income households by referring to the tax reductions. Read the rest of this entry »


2015 Budget (2) – Economic Performance & Prospects

2015 Budget – A Critique (2)
by Economic Observer
17th October 2014

There exists a long held convention for the Annual Budget Speech to serve as a vehicle for reporting to the nation recent economic performance along with a candid account presenting near term prospects.

Sadly the Minister has chosen to ignore tradition.

In a speech of almost 30 pages, hardly a page and a half are devoted to a discussion of recent developments or the prospects for the year ahead. What little is said about recent performance consists of broad generalizations.

Growth merits a few lines; little is said about price developments, private consumption which is a measure of the people’s wellbeing.

Cynically much is made of the performance of the stock market but not a word is said about the growth in private debt or about the leakages that the economy has suffered through massive capital flight.

The reference to investment trends is based on data relating to approvals rather than actual investments. Read the rest of this entry »

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2015 Budget – Policy Challenges and Rhetoric

2015 Budget – A Critique (1)
by Economic Observer
17th Oct 2014

The Prime Minister-cum-Finance Minister in his opening remarks observed that economic planning and policies of a country need to be adjusted according to developments and challenges in the domestic and external environment.

He went on to add that Malaysia is in need of a move to be an economy based on knowledge, high skills, expertise, creativity and innovation.

A laudable statement indeed which will not be disputed or attract criticism. However, this statement is nothing more than a platitude and rhetorical in scope. It is patently clear what the challenges are.

The nation is grappling with the dangers associated with the continued brain drain, and the continued neglect of the education system. Read the rest of this entry »


A critique of the 2014 Budget Speech

by Budget analyst

A careful analysis of the 2014 Budget Speech by the Prime Minister-cum-Finance Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak is most revealing and disappointing as there is little by way of an exposition of the challenges the economy faces.

The customary presentation of data on the performance, in the current year and prospects in the year ahead, are matters that are dismissed in a few perfunctory sentences.

The speech gives little information on basic macro-economic assumptions used in basing the revenue and expenditure forecasts that make up the Budget.

The speech gives no hint of how the Government proposes to deal with the less than robust external environment in which the key Malaysian export markets – China, US, the EURO zone – will continue to record sluggish demand.

The price for Malaysian oil and gas are likely to be weaker because of increasing supply from US shale oil and the re-entry of Iranian oil into global markets. With greater supply and lower demand, prices are likely to be lower. Malaysian oil and gas exports will undoubtedly feel the impact. Read the rest of this entry »


Dua mesej Belanjawan 2014 – Malaysia terus menjadi negara yang “mempunyai jenayah besar, tetapi tiada penjenayah” dan para menteri pula kebal daripada tindakan undang-undang walaupun cuai dalam tugas

Beberapa jam sebelum Perdana Menteri merangkap Menteri Kewangan Datuk Seri Najib Razak membentangkan Belanjawan 2014 di Parlimen dan mengumumkan pelaksanaan Cukai Barangan dan Perkhidmatan sebanyak 6% bermula April 2015, Mahkamah Tinggi Kuala Lumpur membebaskan bekas Presiden MCA dan Menteri Pengangkutan Tun Dr. Ling Liong Sik daripada tuduhan menipu kerajaan dalam skandal Zon Bebas Pelabuhan Klang (PKFZ) yang melibatkan berbilion-bilion ringgit.

Keputusan Mahkamah Tinggi Kuala Lumpur itu membawa dua mesej yang memberi kesan langsung terhadap Belanjawan 2014, Rancangan Transformasi Nasional Najib dan arah tuju negara dan ekonomi Malaysia di masa depan, iaitu:

  • Malaysia terus menjadi negara yang “mempunyai jenayah besar, tetapi tiada penjenayah”, di mana rakyat Malaysia menjadi mangsa korupsi dan skandal raksasa dalam keadaan kerajaan dan agensi pencegahan rasuah, iaitu Suruhanjaya Pencegahan Rasuah Malaysia, tidak mampu berbuat apa-apa untuk memerangi korupsi yang melibatkan “jerung” dan bukan hanya “ikan bilis”; dan

  • Menteri kabinet kini kebal daripada hukuman jika mereka cuai dalam menjalankan tugas rasmi, termasuk tugasan di peringkat kabinet.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Improving budget management: Our obssession with the 55% debt ceiling

– Sakmongkol AK47
The Malaysian Insider
October 27, 2013

MPs were supplied with voluminous documents relating to the state of the economy. We were ploughing through the documents to analyse the management of the economy while Najib drone on waxing lyrical, poetic and at times, waxing sarcastic over his thematic budget. 2014 has another theme. The theme of the 2014 budget is ‘Strengthening economic resilience, accelerating transformation and fulfilling promises’. If that makes him happy, so be it. Giving an artful theme to the budget does not make it a better budget. The devil is in the details.

But where is the promise of giving RM1200 BR1M which he sold the voting public in last May’s elections? Where is the promise to narrow the gap between the rich and the poor?

Najib has reneged on this promise and stated poker-faced about paying out reduced BR1Ms. The scaled down BR1M hand-outs are downsized by the financial capacity of the government. Finally the chickens come home to roost. He has to face reality something the opposition MPs have warned continuously- that out of control spending is bad for the economy.

Public debt is now more than the 55% legislated debt ceiling simply because this government hides the real debt by various tricks. Eventually the weight of public debt will come down crushing. In 2013 alone, the deficit incurred by some GLCs amounted to RM93billion. When opposition MPs say this budget is for the rich, it wasn’t said out of spite. In 2013, the BR1M given to poor people amounted to RM7 billion.

Compare this to the freedom given to some GLCs to overspend by RM93 billion. The people who should be grateful are not the ordinary rakyat but the BN politicians and their corporate conspirators for being able to hide from the rakyat the magnitude of their extravagance. They should be grateful the public hasn’t turned on them yet. Maybe we should do a Louis and Marie Antoinette on them and that is not even Islamic law.

In the coming days, we will dissect his budget. Apart from minor jeering, we did not steal the Finance Minister’s thunder. We jeered only when he made political capital of certain portions of his presentation. Read the rest of this entry »


Duo message of 2014 Budget – Malaysia continues to be land of “heinous crime without criminals” and Ministers enjoy immunity and impunity for Ministerial dereliction of duties

A few hours before the Prime Minister cum Finance Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak presented his 2014 Budget in Parliament announcing the regressive and controversial 6% Goods and Services Tax (GST) from April 2015, the Kuala Lumpur High Court acquitted and discharged former MCA President and Transport Minister Tun Dr. Ling Liong Sik for cheating the government over the multi-billion ringgit Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) project scandal.

Without going into the details of the case against Liong Sik, the Kuala Lumpur High Court decision carries two messages which have a direct bearing on the 2014 Budget, Najib’s National Transformation Plan and the future direction of the Malaysian nation and economy, viz:

• Malaysia continues to be a land of “heinous crimes without criminals”, with Malaysians victimized by mega corruption and scandals which neither the government nor the anti-corruption agency, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), could do anything to combat when confronted with “grand corruption” involving “big sharks” instead of “ikan bilis” in the Malaysian corruption waters; and

• Cabinet Ministers are now given a blank cheque to enjoy immunity and impunity for whatever dereliction of duties in the course of official duties, including up to Cabinet level.

Read the rest of this entry »