Archive for category Economics

DAP committed to make life better for all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or region

It was quite a nostalgic occasion for me when the founder members of the Bintulu DAP Branch came on stage to be recognised and given a souvenir to commemorate their signal contribution to the founding to the Bintulu DAP Branch in 1978, as I was here in Bintulu 41 years ago.

It is very heart-warming to see the old warriors, men or women, who had toiled, with their sweat, blood and tears, in the past four decades to build DAP in Bintulu, Sarawak and Malaysia to what it is today.

Bintulu of 1978 is very different from Bintulu of 2019, but the commitment of the DAP, to make life better for all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or region, remains constant and unchanged.

Some thirty years ago in February 1990 when Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad first announced Vision 2020 of Malaysia becoming a fully developed nation in the year 2020, he referred to 19 countries that were generally regarded as “developed countries”. Read the rest of this entry »

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Patriotic Malaysians must reject the post-14GE Siren Song which can only end up in Malaysia becoming a failed, rogue and kleptocratic state but which is becoming stronger and more brazen because of desperation

The Siren Song sung after the historic May 9, 2018 decision in the 14th General Election is becoming louder and more brazen because of desperation.

Patriotic Malaysians must reject this Siren Song for it can only end up in Malaysia becoming a failed, rogue and kleptocratic state.

The whole purpose of this Siren Song is not to compete with Pakatan Harapan government to make Malaysia a top world-class nation of unity, justice, freedom, excellence and integrity and to show the world that Malaysia is a success story from the Alliance of Civilisations and not a basket-case of a failure from the Clash of Civilisations, but to destroy the Pakatan Harapan Government, even if the price is to usher in an era of division and instability and to destroy the Malaysian nation altogether.

Immediately after the 14th General Election, these conspirators had hoped that Pakatan Harapan Government would disintegrate and implode from internal contradictions because it was an untested coalition of four political parties – DAP, PKR, Bersatu and Amanah.

When this did not take place, the decision was taken to launch an untrammelled campaign of lies, fake news and hate speech to destabilise the country and incite inter-racial and inter-religious polarisation and conflict, and this is why Malaysia has suddenly become a major test-case in the world as to whether a multi-racial, multi-lingual, multi-religious and multi-cultural nation like Malaysia can survive the existential threat posed by fake news and hate speech.
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Asyraf’s lies and hate speeches are the real threats to Malay and Malaysian dignity and the reasons why strong corrective action are necessary and imperative to prevent fake news and hate speech to incite inter-racial and inter-religious polarisation from destroying Malaysia

Pembohongan dan ucapan kebencian daripada Asyraf adalah satu ancaman terhadap maruah orang Melayu dan rakyat Malaysia dan menjadi satu sebab perlunya untuk satu tindakan yang tegas untuk mengekang berita palsu dan ucapan kebencian — yang menghasut polarisasi antara kaum dan agama — daripada terus memusnahkan Malaysia

Bekas Presiden Majlis Peguam Malaysia, Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan telah mendedahkan bahawa kenyataan Ketua Pemuda UMNO berkenaan “10 alasan kenapa Perdana Menteri Dr Mahathir wajar singkirkan DAP dan PKR” gagal untuk melepasi ujian fakta kerana tidak dapat disokong dengan sebarang bukti sokongan. Namun begitu, perkara ini tidak menghentikan penyebaran berterusan berita palsu dan ucapan kebencian yang bertujuan untuk menghasut polarisasi antara kaum dan agama dalam Malaysia pasca PRU-14.

Ambiga berkata beliau mempunyai 50 alasan mengapa UMNO tidak perlu kembali berkuasa. Kini alasan itu bertambah kepada 51.

Penyebaran penipuan, berita palsu dan ucapan kebencian untuk menghasut polarisasi dan konflik antara kaum dan agama kelihatan seperti sudah menjadi satu-satunya strategi pihak Pembangkang untuk melawan usaha Pakatan Harapan untuk dalam menjayakan sebuah Malaysia Baharu yang menjadi negara terulung berteraskan perpaduan, keadilan, kebebasan, kecemerlangan dan integriti.

Saya pernah berharap Kongres Maruah Melayu dapat menjadi perintis untuk satu kempen yang melibatkan semua rakyat Malaysia untuk mencapai Zaman Kegemilangan Malaysia sebagai negara terulung berteraskan perpaduan, keadilan, kebebasan, kecemerlangan dan integriti serta membuktikan kepada dunia bahawa Malaysia adalah kisah kejayaan pertemuan empat tamadun besar dunia – Melayu / Islam, Cina, India dan Barat – bukannya menjadi gagal kerana Konflik Peradaban.

Harapan ini ternyata silap. Read the rest of this entry »

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Parliamentary Caucus of Institutional Reform and Good Governance should pioneer new thinking on vital national issues – how to ensure affirmative measures are need-based and not race-based; how Malaysia can be a leading nation of integrity and a showcase to the world of the success of Alliance of Civilisations instead of a failure because of a Clash of Civilisations

Kaukus Reformasi Institusi dan Tadbir Urus Parlimen patut menjadi perintis pemikiran baharu isu-isu penting negara — bagaimana untuk memastikan langkah tindakan afirmatif berasaskan kepada keperluan dan bukan berasaskan kaum; untuk menjadikan Malaysia negara berintegriti terulung dan menjadi contoh kejayaan Perikatan Peradaban kepada dunia

Saya ucapkan terima kasih kepada Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim kerana menganjurkan seminar ini dalam kapasiti beliau sebagai Pengerusi Kaukus Reformasi Institusi dan Tadbir Urus Parlimen. Penubuhan kaukus ini merupakan salah satu elemen terpenting dalam proses reformasi parlimen sejak kerajaan Pakatan Harapan dibentuk selepas Pilihan Raya ke-14 yang bersejarah. Selain daripada pembentukan kaukus ini, enam jawatankuasa khas parlimen juga telah ditubuhkan bagi memberikan lebih banyak ruang kepada backbenchers di Parlimen untuk memastikan kerajaan tindakan kerajaan disemak oleh Parlimen.

Kewujudan struktur dan proses akauntabiliti baharu ini tidak mungkin berlaku di bawah pentadbiran yang lepas di mana parlimen dilihat sebagai sebuah cop (“rubber stamp”) yang digunakan oleh kerajaan untuk memaksa kelulusan keputusan secara tidak demokratik seperti yang dapat kita lihat dalam pembentangan Rang Undang-undang Akta Berita Tidak Benar yang bertujuan untuk menutup keburukan berkenaan skandal 1MDB.

Acara hari ini adalah contoh yang kuat di mana Ahli Parlimen, melalui kaukus ini yang terdiri daripada semua parti yang diwakili di Parlimen, dapat memberikan input mengenai isu-isu penting polisi untuk dipertimbangkan secara serius oleh pihak eksekutif.

Isu yang dibincangkan hari ini — pemahaman kita mengenai bagaimana kemiskinan didefiniskan dan ditangani melalui polisi kerajaan — telah diperkatakan dalam berita di kebelakangan ini setelah satu laporan dikeluarkan oleh Pelapor Khas PBB berkenaan Kemiskinan Ekstrem dan Hak Asasi Manusia Profesor Philip Alston, pada 23 Ogos 2019 yang menyatakan Malaysia mengurangkira (“undercounts”) jumlah rakyat miskinnya. Read the rest of this entry »

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Call for a ten-year moratorium on fake news and hate speech to create racial and religious polarisation for Malaysians to concentrate on making the country a top world-class nation

The latest news is about Vietnam climbing in the ranking of best countries in which to invest this year, surpassing other Southeast Asian nations such as Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.

A recent report by the US News and World Report ranked Vietnam eighth out of 29 economies, up from 23 last year.

Neighbouring nations of Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia, meanwhile stood in thirteenth, fourteenth and eighteenth positions respectively.

According to the report, Doi Moi (renewal) economic policy reforms beginning in 1986 have helped Vietnam’s transition to becoming a more modern, competitive nation.

Vietnam’s continued efforts to lessen international isolation are shown by joining the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in 2007 and participation in free trade negotiations with the Trans-Pacific Partnership in 2010.

It is also a member of the United Nations, the Asean Regional Forum and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum, among other international organisations, stated the report.

The ranking of the best countries to invest in by the American media company draws from the results of a global perception-based survey and ranks countries based on the highest scores among nearly 7,000 business decision-makers on a compilation of eight equally weighted country attributes, including corruption, dynamics, economic stability, entrepreneurial, favourable tax environment, innovation, skilled labour force and technological expertise.

Neighboring nations of Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia, meanwhile stood in thirteenth, fourteenth and eighteenth positions respectively. Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysian must buckle down to deal with economic and educational problems which have hampered the country’s growth potential

My visit to Chennai, Salem, Bangalore and New Delhi has reinforced me in my belief that Malaysians must buckle down to deal with the economic and educational problems which have hampered the country’s growth potential.

As former Finance Minister and Council of Eminent Persons (CEP) chairman, Tuan Daim Zainuddin said early this week, Malaysia must fix the education system and move ahead to ensure that the New Economic Policy was implemented on a needs-basis rather than race-basis.

He said that the NEP has polarised sections of society and it would be to Malaysia’s peril to disregard this.

He warned that there were groups who had managed to sabotage the NEP with race, religious and linguistic rhetoric.

Daim’s advice should be heeded by all Malaysians. Read the rest of this entry »

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Economic performance of Pakatan Harapan government in past year not doing too badly despite the prophets of gloom and doom as well as legacy problems of past administration

Despite the picture of gloom and doom painted by the advocates of klepto-theocracy as well as the legacy problems of the last administration, the economic performance of the Pakatan Harapan government in the past year had not been doing too badly.

The latest OECD 2019 Economic Survey of Malaysia released last week has this to say about the Malaysian economy:

“Malaysia’s economy is doing well, but social and governance challenges must be addressed.

“The new government prioritises inclusive growth and improving trust in public institutions.

“Further progress towards the planned target of high-income country status by 2024 will also require focusing on productivity growth with structural reforms to move up the value chain and improve skills.

“Ensuring environmental protection will improve the quality of growth.”

It forecasts growth is set to moderate in the near term, mainly due to slowing global trade. Read the rest of this entry »

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R. Chander, first Malaysian Chief Statistician (1963-1977) praises Guan Eng for early statement on national debt and stresses urgency of coherent plan to manage Malaysia’s public sector debt

I have received an expert opinion on Malaysia’s public sector debt by Dr. R. Chander, the first Malaysian to hold the office of Chief Statistician of Malaysia (1963-1977) and who went on to serve as the Senior Adviser to the World Banks’ Chief Economist/Vice President from 1977 to 1996. Upon retirement from the Bank, he had served as interntional adviser to multiple international agencies and governments.

Dr. Chander said he was encouraged by the speed with which the Pakatan Harapan government had come to grips with the most pressing issues and praised the Finance Minister, Lim Guan Eng for making an early statement on Malaysia’s debt situation.
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Managing Malaysia’s Public-Sector Debt

By R. Chander

BACKGROUND

This note, in three parts, focuses on the public sector debt in Malaysia. Part I presents a brief overview of the manner in which the Najib administration approached the issue of public sector debt. Part II presents a summary view of the assessment made by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in the course of the annual Article IV Consultations completed earlier this year. The IMF Report was critical of the manner in which debt reporting was conducted by the previous administration. Part III looks to the future and makes a number of observations concerning the most appropriate manner in which the new Pakatan Harapan government could better manage Malaysia’s public sector debt.
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Reports of the World Bank and IMF

In past week the World Bank and the IMF have issued reports and statements concerning the Malaysian economy. The IMF released a brief statement entitled IMF Staff Completes 2018 Article IV Visit to Malaysia while the World Bank published its report in the Malaysia Economic Monitor.

The IMF note highlighted in highly nuanced language, in summary form, the outcome of the Annual Article IV Consultations with the Government.

The highlights made reference to recent economic performance and revised forecasts for the current year and expected growth in 2018. The revisions in the estimated and projected GDP growth rates for Malaysia are thus in step with revisions that the IMF has made for almost all countries since it issued its earlier estimates and forecasts.

Beyond the reference to growth prospects the statement took up a number of other policy concerns. It made veiled statements about the need for “higher revenues”—alerting all and sundry that taxes will have to be raised; it reminded the need to implement the adjustment programs outlined in the 11th Five Year Plan; etc. meaning that reform policies are not being implemented. The statement is thus a rap on the Government’s knuckles .

It is not inappropriate to read between the lines from the following:

“In the medium term, fiscal policy should follow a gradual consolidation path, and the composition of adjustment could be improved to make it more revenue based and to make room for the structural reforms and increased social spending for inclusive growth. Medium term fiscal targets should be better communicated.“

The statement contains cautionary remarks that urge the Government to pay heed to the downside risks it faces for which it is ill prepared. Read the rest of this entry »

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Instead of a meaningless “hero’s welcome home” in KLIA last night, is Najib prepared to convene a special Parliament on 1MDB scandal to clear and cleanse Malaysia of the infamy and ignominy of a global kleptocracy?

The Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak returned to “a hero’s welcome” at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) last night after his recent visit to White House and meeting with US President Trump.

What was the “hero’s welcome home” for?

Was it for representing Malaysia bearing gifts like a vassal state to the White House in the meeting with US President Donald Trump, with three “value propositions” to strengthen the US economy to make America great again – as stated in the White House transcript of the 5-minute 58-second exchange between Najib and Trump in their meeting?

Although the Finance Ministry Secretary-General Tan Sri Irwan Sregar has denied that Najib was bearing gifts to Washington to “strengthen the US economy”, the Prime Minister himself has not made any denial in the past four days.

I do not think Najib could deny what was clearly stated in the transcript of the Najib-Trump 5-minute 58-second exchange at the White House meeting, as the transcript was released by White House itself.
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Where Crony Capitalism Rose and Prosperity Fell (and Vice Versa)

Matthew A. Winkler
Bloomberg
FEB 20, 2017

With populists emulating autocrats from Azerbaijan to Zimbabwe, free markets are being forced to confront crony capitalism.

One response is visible in the reversal of fortunes of Malaysia and Indonesia. The two nations still wrestle with the politics of ethnicity and religion at odds with the capitalism of market competition. In Indonesia, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, a Chinese Christian who is the governor of Jakarta, is running for office while defending himself against charges of blasphemy against Islam in a country of predominantly Muslim voters. Malaysia’s embrace of an ideology of Malay supremacy and the low interest rates that invite a debt bubble are impediments to a dynamic economy.

But the historic advantage that Malaysia, with just 30 million people, has enjoyed over its Southeast Asian neighbor of 250 million is disappearing amid a barrage of corruption allegations challenging Prime Minister Najib Razak. Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysia starting the new year not just with double whammy but a multitude of whammies!

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s hint to the first Cabinet meeting of the year on Wednesday that 2017 is going to be an “interesting year” has already been more than fulfilled in the first five days of the year.

The new year in the past five days started not just with a double whammy but a multitude of whammies, including:

  1. The Malaysian ringgit currency starting the new year with a new record low of RM4.5002 against the US dollar since the 1998 Asian financial crisis, signifying very tough economic year for Malaysians;

  2. The gutting of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) although it was already quite impotent to fighting grand corruption. No “tiger” or “crocodile” had been caught by the MACC,but there seems a “devil’s bargain”: that the MACC is given the green light to go after civil servants so long as they leave the politicos and their “favourite” civil servants alone.

  3. Read the rest of this entry »

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Don’t just think of our grandkids, but think of the grandkids of all Malaysians

I must thank the Minister for Tourism and Culture, Datuk Seri Nazri Abdul Aziz for his being so solicitous over my welfare, suggesting that I should be caring my grandchildren in my twilight years.

But Nazri cannot be more wrong, for we should not just think of our grandchildren, but also about the grandchildren of all Malaysians.

In fact, I call on all Malaysians, regardless of age, to transcend race, religion or region, to be solicitous of the national welfare and should involve themselves in ensuring that the country is a better place of our grandchildren and their children.

I put Nazri’s suggestion on my Facebook yesterday, asking whether I should listen to his advice.

The overwhelming majority, almost unanimous, view was in the negative, and some of the comments are as follows: Read the rest of this entry »

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Trump Tantrum Puts Malaysia in Spotlight

By WILLIAM PESEK
Barron’s
November 24, 2016

It’s time the nation’s embattled leader looked in the mirror and examined his role in the ringgit’s recent plunge.

No country in Asia plays the blame game like Malaysia. When the economy crashed in 1997, it faulted speculators and Jews. When it stumbled in 2013, it fingered the Federal Reserve. When Prime Minister Najib Razak tried to explain away an ongoing corruption scandal, he talked of overseas conspirators. Malaysia’s latest scapegoat? Donald Trump.

Granted, this last deflection isn’t as fanciful as the others. Malaysia has as much, or more, to lose from the president-elect killing the Trans-Pacific Partnership as any nation engaged in the deal. And Trump’s shock victory on Nov. 8 has emerging markets running scared about the direction of American economic and foreign policy.

But blaming Trump for the ringgit’s dismal performance is just shameless. Valid reasons for the currency’s 5% plunge over the last 17 days include an outsized dependence on oil revenue, the failure by a succession of leaders over the last 20 years to restructure the economy and the scandals overwhelming Najib’s government and his party. Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysia’s Running Out of Trump Cards

By Andy Mukherjee
Bloomberg
Nov 13, 2016

Amid a deepening emerging-market rout, three of Donald Trump’s seven promises to American workers are making Asia particularly nervous.A U.S. withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership would kill the 12-nation deal, while labeling China as a currency manipulator is set to provoke a tit-for-tat response. If the president-elect delivers on those two threats, the export-led region will wait for Trump to make good on his vow to end “all foreign trading abuses.”Although no Asian nation would relish the prospect of an all-out trade war, Malaysian investors are perhaps most at risk.

Why Malaysia? China, Japan, South Korea, India and Singapore are among America’s 15 biggest trading partners; Malaysia is not. And while it’s a TPP member, the accord’s demise is the least of Kuala Lumpur’s worries. It might even be a short-term boon. After all, the Southeast Asian country is an energy and palm-oil exporter. It’s not terribly competitive at much else.

Opening up Malaysia’s consumer economy of 30 million people as part of the free-trade bargain could turn a fast-vanishing current-account surplus into a permanent deficit. That would weigh on the ringgit, scare away investors in Malaysian bonds, and lead to a spike in companies’ cost of capital.

But TPP being dead doesn’t help either. For one, dollars are in short supply in the banking system, and therefore a flight to safety among investors jittery about a Trump presidency makes Malaysia a particularly vulnerable emerging market. Read the rest of this entry »

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No Break for Worst Asian Currency as Clouds Gather Over Malaysia

Y-Sing Liau
Bloomberg
August 4, 2016

The bad news just doesn’t stop for Asia’s worst-performing currency.

Already reeling from a renewed slump in oil prices and a political scandal that just won’t go away, the Malaysian ringgit is now facing the prospect of another cut in interest rates. It’s the region’s biggest loser in the past month and analysts still see scope for it to drop more than 2 percent by year-end.

The currency’s slide highlights all is not well as the nation’s economy heads for its worst performance this decade. Crude oil’s plunge to a four-month low this week undermines the finances of net oil exporter Malaysia, while the appeal of its relatively high bond yields is being tempered by the scandals surrounding a troubled state investment fund. Rabobank Group and UBS Group AG both predict Bank Negara Malaysia will add to its first rate cut in seven years in coming months. Read the rest of this entry »

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Is the TPP really a leap forward for Malaysia?

Shankaran Nambiar
East Asia Forum
13 February 2016

Malaysia’s leadership must be extremely satisfied on two counts: their success in negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement and the parliament’s favourable position on the agreement.

It is amazing that Malaysia has negotiated to preserve the Bumiputera agenda, obtain a minimum five-year grace period to reform state-owned enterprises (SOEs), and gain exemption for Khazanah from investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions for two years after the deal comes into force.

There were fears that the TPP would necessitate the dismantling of SOEs, prise open the government procurement market and cause the whittling down of the Bumiputera agenda. Those anxieties are unfounded. The TPP has turned out to be an agreement where the Malaysian government can have its cake and eat it too.

While maintaining the Bumiputera agenda may be a victory of sorts in the short term, it reduces the impetus for drastic economic reforms. The push towards greater private sector participation, in particular, will be further postponed. Economic efficiency may have been sacrificed in an effort to appease a significant domestic political constituency. The TPP negotiations presented a trade-off between obtaining political support for the agreement and striving to achieve efficiency and greater social welfare gains. It seems that the end result tilted in favour of the former. Read the rest of this entry »

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IMF report on Malaysia, politically correct but revealing

– Ramon Navaratnam
The Malaysian Insider
9 February 2016

The preliminary International Monetary Fund (IMF) staff report on the Malaysian economy was published by the press on February 5.

The report followed intense IMF annual consultations held between January 11 and 22 in Kuala Lumpur and Kuching. Pity Sabah was left out.

The IMF report was too politically correct but nevertheless revealing.

IMF mission chairman Dr Alex Mourmouras in his press release subtly suggested that the Malaysian economy faced multiple shocks including “political developments and capital outflows”.

Both these factors reveal that in addition to external problems, there are also serious internal issues within our power to control and overcome.

But how much have we done to overcome these critical domestic issues? Read the rest of this entry »

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Why Malaysia’s 1MDB scandal is denting growth

Leslie Shaffer
CNBC
29th January 2016

Thought the long-running political scandal over Malaysia’s deeply indebted sovereign fund was over?

It isn’t and the festering scandal is likely to weigh on the economy and may eventually spur a ratings downgrade, Oxford Economics says.

That’s bad news for Malaysia, which is already suffering from a slide in the price of commodities, an important chunk of the economy and a key source of revenue for the government. The currency has tumbled and the government’s debt levels have climbed, fueling investor concerns.

“Just as it appeared that the long-running scandal over state investment company 1MDB had been satisfactorily resolved, the issue has reignited with an appeal against the ruling exonerating the prime minister,” Christine Shields, lead economist at Oxford Economics, said in a note Friday. “The issue is a real worry as it is eroding confidence and contributing to risk aversion about the country.” Read the rest of this entry »

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