Monday, December 29, 2014

Bidding Farewell to Year of Tragedies

A Kadir Jasin

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THANK you for debating on the subject “Negara Banjir, PMBergolf di Hawaii”. Please continue.

In the meantime, let us also look back at the year that is about to end and see what is install for us in the New Year.

We may not like, but 2014 will go down in history as probably the most tragic and problematic year for us since Merdeka in 1957.

When we started the year, we thought that the attack on Sabah by the Moro gunmen in early 2013 was the worst that could happen to us. The handling of that incident did not make us particularly proud or confident.

Then came the sad morning of March 8 when a Malaysia Airline’s Boeing 777 jetliner operating as MH370 went missing. It is still not found nine months later.

Two hundred and thirty nine souls were on board as it left KLIA for Beijing on what was otherwise a routine medium-haul flight filled with returning Chinese tourists disappeared into thin air.

MH370 Missing Without A Trace Since March
 Then, just four months later on July 17, another MAS jetliner - MH17 was shot down over Ukraine killing all 283 people on board.

The lightning, in the case of luckless MAS, did strike twice and at the same spot. The airline had since became theoretically bankrupt and had to be rescued by its majority owner Khazanah Nasional Berhad.

MH17 - Malaysia's image lies in tatters
 Added to these tragedies were other equally burdensome events like the plunging crude petroleum, palm oil and rubber prices, the rising cost of living and growing political discontent, communalism and religious intolerance.

With the weakening of commodity prices and the fall in the demand for our commodities and manufactured goods by the global market, the ringgit’s exchange rates took a tumble.

Our currency was the worst performing emerging Asian currency so far this year with a 6.1 per cent loss against the dollar, according to Thomson Reuters data. Our stock market too lagged behind regional compatriots.

Rubber Smallholders: Backbreaking task for pittance
When the ringgit falls, our imports automatically become more costly. We are a big importer of foodstuff. Sooner or later, the higher import prices will be transferred to the consumers thereby translating them into imported inflation.

And now it looks like we are bidding farewell to 2014 and ushering in 2015 soaked in the worse floods in our country’s recent history.

The floods only worsen the rakyat’s hardship inspite of the RM500-million assistance announced by Prime Minister Mohd Najib Abdul Razak upon his hush return from conducting a “golf diplomacy” with the US President Barrack Obama in Hawaii.

On lap of luxury board: PM consulting on floods
The floods claimed not only lives but also destroyed personal belongings and livelihood of the victims. Rebuilding lives will take time and money. The rain and the floods mean rubber trees could not be tapped and palm oil fruits could not be harvested – a double whammy for the smallholders who are already suffering low commodity prices.

Come April we will have to face the GST whose effects nobody is sure of. Even the government is not able to give a definite answer as to the extent of price changes – up and down - the new tax will generate. In the meantime, producers and consumers are engaged in the game of wait-and-see, which will impact the economy in the short to medium term.

Oh, don’t forget the repeated landslides and flash floods up in the mountains at Cameron Highlands, which our brilliant officialdom had squarely blamed on the immigrant workers while turning blind eye to the scheming by the “pembesar”, the civil servants and the taukehs who misused and abused their power for the sake of money.

Cameron's floods: Blame it on immigrant workers

Call all these bad luck, bad feng shui, God’s wrath and punishment, but at the end of the day we suffer – physically, emotionally and image wise. Today, whenever a bad thing happens, the international media seek to link it to us.

So when a tragedy involving an Indonesian Air Asia Airbus A320 happened over the Java Sea on Dec. 28, the Associated Press headlined: “This Has Been A Historically Bad Year For Malaysian Air Travel” and another said: "Missing flight is 3rd Malaysia-linked incident". We have become synonymous with bad things and bad news.

In trying to justify and to come to term with these tragedies and problems, we have to look at ourselves and at the people whom we had elected to lead us.

Did they do a good job at stopping all these bad things from happening – those that are within their powers - and when these bad things happened did they do a good job at lessening our sufferings and predicaments?

We can blame it on takdir and on fate, but that’s for divinity to decide. As human beings and as Malaysians, we have to say that the buck stops somewhere here on earth.

And if we have a responsible government, the buck stops with it. But there’s a caveat. We the rakyat are the judges. We have to judge our government. Otherwise those self-aggrandizing politicians and civil servants will continue to award themselves with sterling KPIs while we suffer.

Tragedies and disasters: Cry the little people

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Negara Banjir, PM Bergolf Di Hawaii

A Kadir Jasin

[Komen “Anonymous” tidak akan disiarkan. Dalam blog kita ini, pembahas WAJIB ada nama. Nama samaran dan nama pena pun tak apa. Angka pun boleh. Guna nama sendiri macam saya lagilah bagus.]

MUTAKHIR, 27 Dis – MOHD Najib umum bantuan tambahan RM500 juta untuk bantu mangsa banjir di seluruh negara yang akan diuruskan oleh Majlis Keselamatan Negara dan percepatkan bayaran BR1M.

Mohd Najib melawat mangsa banjir di Kelantan
Original Post

NEGARA Banjir. Laporan terakhir lebih 90,000 terpaksa berpindah. Perdana Menteri bermain golf di Hawai dengan Presiden Amerika.

Adakah PM kita akan sambut 2015 di luar negara lagi?
Jadi “songsanglah” maklumat SMS pemuda harapan bangsa (PHB) di JPM yang memberitahu pada 15 Disember:  “Salam Datuk, rancangan cuti itu belum muktamad lagi...” dan separuh betullah khabar SMS ketua media PM yang berbunyi “…End of the year taking a break” tanpa menyebutkan di dalam atau luar negara.

Malaysian Insider memetik akhbar The Washington Post sebagai berkata Mohd Najib Abdul Razak adalah antara empat orang, termasuk Obama, yang bermain golf di Pangkalan Pasukan Marin Amerika di Teluk Kanehoe, Hawaii. [Kaki golf boleh baca di sini].

Negara Banjir PM Bergolf di Hawaii
Mungkin ini sebahagian daripada kunjungan minta ampun setelah beliau dibelasah oleh diplomat dan media massa Amerika kerana membatalkan cadangan beliau memansuhkan Akta Hasutan.

Tidak perlulah minta ampun atau minta persetujuan Obama atau mana-mana pemimpin dunia untuk memerintah negara. Atau apakah zaman menghantar bunga emas kepada kuasa besar berulang semula?

Kembali di tanah air, Bernama melaporkan 90,250 telah dipindahkan akibat banjir besar di Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang (negeri Mohd Najib), Perak dan Perlis.

Kemanan ditenggelami banjir
Seramai 32,343 di Kelantan diikuti Terengganu (28,991), Pahang (24,316), Perak (4,335) and Perlis (265).
Kata Bernama, inilah banjir paling teruk di Kelantan dalam ingatan. Banjir paling teruk sebelum ini berlaku di Lembah Kelang pada tahun 1971.

Pelancong British turut jadi mangsa banjir - Daily Telegraph, UK
Kerajaan telah membuat peruntukan RM50 juta untuk negeri-negeri terbabit, mengikut Menteri Kewangan Kedua, Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah.

Adakah PM kita itu akan terus berada di luar negara sehingga tahun baru atau akan pulang menyertai rakyat jelata yang dilanda dan dihimpit pelbagai mala petaka dan musibah?

Junjung kasih kepada Sultan Perak kerana menitahkan agar Krismas disambut sederhana di negari baginda sebagai tanda simpati  kepada mangsa banjir.


Monday, December 22, 2014

To Be beggars or Not, Is The Question

A Kadir Jasin

[NO anonymous comments will be published.  Please use Google Account, OpenID or Name/URL. Pseudonym is accepted. Thank you]

ARE Malay political parties beggars as Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had alleged on Dec. 20?

He said, in vying for support among the Malays they stripped the community of power and turned themselves into “beggars” to the Chinese.

The former Prime Minister said the contest among the three Malay-based – Umno, PAS and Keadilan - meant that Malay votes were split into three, forcing them to woo non-Malay support in order to secure the numbers necessary to rule and consequently placing real power in the hands of the minority communities.

He added that Umno, PAS and Keadilan (PKR) are all begging the Chinese to support them at the general elections in order to win.

“And when we are the pengemis (beggars), we are not the powerful ones anymore,” he said in a speech at the Nusantara Youth Convention in Kuala Lumpur.

The answer to the question whether Malay political parties are beggars is yes and no. By the look of things, the one that is really begging for Chinese and Indian votes is Umno.

The Umno-led Barisan Nasional was the one that was rejected by the Chinese in last year’s general elections. Despite fashioning himself as the Prime Minister for all and buttering the Chinese with gifts of money and entertainment, Mohd Najib Abdul Razak was resoundingly and was unequivocally rejected by them.

In the Pakatan Rakyat, the begging by the Malay-dominated parties, if any, is less obvious. This is partly because there is no dominant party in the pact. It is a partnership of equals. The PKR, DAP and PAS are of equal strength.

The Malays Are Strong?

Dr Mahathir’s assertion was rebutted by the DAP MP for Bukit Bendera, Zairil Khir Johari, who said that the Malay control of public spheres is now at its peak.

He expressed disbelief and dismay over what he called Dr Mahathir’s exercise in deception.

“Politically, every significant government post, from the prime minister of the Federation to 12 out of the 13 state chief ministers, is held by Malays.

“Malay dominance is also very visible in other institutions of state, such as the judiciary, the police force, the civil service and the army,” he said.

As I have argued repeatedly for decades, the power of the Malays rests with their number. Being in the majority and united, they controlled politics.

Political control is important to the Malays because they are not on control of the economy. I am speaking in past tense because I am not anymore sure if the Malays still control politics, despite Zairil’s assertion.

If were count the number of Malays in the Dewan Rakyat and the state legislative assemblies irrespective their party affiliation, we can say that the Malays still dominate. Out of 222 members in the Dewan Rakyat, 157 are Malays-Bumiputeras.

So, politically the Malays still dominate by way of arithmetic. But do they lead the debate and set the agenda? I am not sure.

Whether they have to beg other races in order to hang on to power or to win power is an open debate. Since the 2008 general elections, it is Umno that appears to be begging.

This is also one of the reasons putting Mohd Najib at odd with members and supporters of his own party. He is portraying himself as being desperate for non-Malay support, especially Chinese, at the expanse of the Malays.

But all his strategies in this direction had not produced results. The Chinese rejected Ajid Gor resoundingly during the 2013 GE, prompting him to blame the BN’s dismal performance on the “Tsunami Cina”.

In the present situation, the Malays are neither here nor there. The tree-way split has forced all the Malay-based parties to appeal (beg) to the Chinese to stay in power or to take over power.

Being used to enjoying the support of the non-Malays for so long, the BN is the one that is more desperate. If it continues to lose non-Malay support and the younger Malays continue to lean towards the PR, the BN could find itself on the opposite side of the House in the coming GE.

Are the Malays Economic Beggars Too?

Economically, despite the best efforts of the NEP and its successor policies the Malays are still lagging behind the Chinese and Indians.

The game of catching up that the NEP had intended to achieve had not succeeded. Bulk of the expenditures spent to eradicate poverty irrespective of race and to restructure society went to the Chinese long before the Bumiputeras felt their effects.

Maybe the Malays are not begging the Chinese as clearly in the economic sphere as they are in politics. But we cannot also deny the intricate interdependence between the Chinese and the Malays in the economy.

The Malays are producers and consumers. The Chinese are the middlemen and traders. The Malays are not consummate consumers. As such whatever is recommended to them by Chinese traders they will buy even at the risk borrowing at exorbitant interest rates.

Remember the stories of Malay rubber smallholders buying refrigerators during the Korean War rubber boom in the early 1950’s even though they had no electricity at home? They apparently used the refrigerators as cupboards.

They are still buying refrigerators and many more electrical goods from the Chinese at exorbitant interest rates. But they are also buying those big noisy exhaust pipes and strobe lights to fix to their ageing Proton Saga because the Chinese workshop operators say these accessories are good and make their cars run faster. In short, the Chinese sell, the Malays buy.

So the practice of “padi kunca” and other forms of consumption loans continues. The end result is this - the Malays own the land but its economic ownership is with the Chinese.

I have no answer to this. With the death of the rural economic institutions like the syarikat kerjasama (cooperative societies), cooperative shops and the rural rice mills, the Malay grass root business activities are now confined to the pasar mini, pasar malam, pasar tani, pekan sehari and roadside stalls. And their dependence on the Chinese increases.

Off course the NEP had enlarged Malay professional class. But they are limited to the government sector. Without government contracts and employment, very few can hope to make the grade.

It is for this reason that I tentatively support Mohd Najib’s call to the corporate sector in April to have better representation of gender, ethnicity and age in their employment. He wanted them produce sustainability reports that include workforce composition detailing ethnicity, age and gender.

But call alone is not enough. The PM must show that he means business. Show us the results. If he wants us to believe in his 1Malaysia, he must make sure that the Bumiputera economy is integrated into the national economy.

It is a recipe for failure once again if we continue to detach the Bumiputera economy from the overall economy. Bumiputera economy is too small to be sustainable and competitive.

The recently released reports by the Khazanah Research Institute and the UNDP amply show the dire circumstances the Bumiputeras and other poor Malaysians.

I hope, in between the urge to globe-trot and fiery speeches, the Prime Minister stays home and do the needful for the sake of the country and the people. The outlook for the coming year is frighteningly bleak.


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Gurindam Seloka Penghibur Lara

A Kadir Jasin

[Komen “Anonymous” tidak akan disiarkan. Dalam blog kita ini, pembahas WAJIB ada nama. Nama samaran dan nama pena pun tak apa. Angka pun boleh. Guna nama sendiri macam saya lagilah bagus.]

LAMA sudah kita tidak berseloka. Melepas rindu mengubat duka. Dalam Malaysia kita, Tanah Melayu tercinta, macam-macam ada.

Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman orang terbuka. Kalau bercakap jelas dan nyata. Kepada pemerintah dia berkata, cakaplah benar jangan berdusta. Maka murkalah para pembesar. Kerana peluru terkena sasar.

Itulah juga yang saya katakan. Khabar baik jangan diada-adakan. Berita buruk jangan disembunyikan. Rakyat jelata tidak bangang. Merekalah yang rasa susah dan senang.

Harga getah jatuh merudum. Pekebun kelapa sawit pun dah lama tak senyum. Penanam pada lebih-lebihlah lagi.
Dari dulu sampai kini. Kais pagi makan pagi. Sampaikan Felda Global pun dah mula rugi.

Ramai dok kutuk Ibrahim Ali. Melayu Cina kepadanya tabur benci. Mengata mengumpat berguni-guni. Tapi nak jawab hujah dia, tak berapa mengerti.

Kalau Tok Him satu duit tak guna, pasal apa puluh ribu Melayu ikut dia? Dia bukan ada kuasa. Dia pun bukan orang kaya. Dia tak bagi Bantuan Rakyat 1Malaysia. Tapi orang totok serta profesor, berduyun-duyun ikut dia.

Cakap Tok Him orang ramai peduli. Sebab dah tak percaya YB dan Menteri. Jadi jangan dok asyik nak perli-perli. Silap-silap YB hilang kerusi sebab rakyat tak undi.

PM pun kenalah berhati-hati. Jangan dok asyik nak pergi bercuti. Sambut tahun baru di luar negeri. Ada orang dia kata, belum tentu PM bercuti di luar negara. Masih berfikir dan berkira-kira. Sebab blogger dah mula tanya.

Berkenaan Mukhriz saya tak terkejut. Jawatan dalam MKT dah kena lucut. Dengar cerita di Kedah serabut. Sesama Umno depa dok berebut. Tapi orang PM kata, cerita itu fitnah semata-mata. Dalam MKT Mukhriz masih ada.

Mukhriz rampas Kedah dari Pas. Takkanlah jawatan dia mereka nak rampas? Kalau Presiden buat juga, nampak dia cari bahaya. Silap-silap Kedah Pas tawan semula. Jadi fikirlah sebelum buat apa-apa.

Di Selangor lain pula cerita. Dalam PRU BN menderita. Cakap besar tak terkata. PM percaya sangatlah “gumbira”. Bila bilang undi tinggal 12 kerusi saja. Mohd Najib kata dia malu tidak terkira. Tapi kong kali kong sama saja. Noh Omar tetap ketua.

KLIA 2 berlopak-lopak. Semua yang tengok tentu nampak. Inilah akibat pilih kontraktor haprak. Tapi jangan buat apa-apa. Dalam lopak boleh bela keli dan tilapia. MAHB boleh buat untung segera. Extraordinary income kata jurukira. Semua orang bertepuk gembira. Itulah standard KPI kita.

Banyak lagi yang boleh dicerita. Tanah runtuh dan mala petaka. Yang kena tangkap pendatang dan pekerja. Tauke besar bebas juga. Pegawai kanan buat macam biasa. Rasuah dan salah guna kuasa tetap berleluasa. Tunjuk simpati di bibir saja.

Wallahuaklam, susah kita nak kata.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Umno Leader Lodges Police Report Against 1MDB

A Kadir Jasin

[NO anonymous comments will be published.  Please use Google Account, OpenID or Name/URL. Pseudonym is accepted. Thank you]

THE 1Malaysia Development Berhad’s saga took a sensational and potentially dangerous twist today when an Umno deputy divisional leader from Penang lodged a police report against it.

The Batu Kawan Umno deputy divisonal chief (Datuk Seri) Khairuddin Abu Hassan made the complaint at the Dang Wangi police station in Kuala Lumpur. Read at Apanama.

Khairuddin speaking to the Press after making the report.
 Sources say a similar complaint with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission may follow.

More to come.



1MDB, in a statement, welcomes the police report. It says: “We are aware that a police report concerning 1MDB was filed earlier today by a politician in Penang. We have not seen any documentation related to this, so are unaware of the nature of the complaint.

"However, we are confident that it will have no legal basis. We welcome any investigation into our affairs and the opportunity to rebut malicious allegations.”

The Implications

A veteran lawyer who represented Umno and the government in many legal and constitutional cases said such a complaint is likely to be investigated under the purview of criminal breach of trust (CBT).

I am not sure how the “bangang” bloggers would react to the report. “Bangang” (stupid) was the term used by Umno President and Prime Minister, Mohd Najib Abdul Razak, to describe Umno-sponsored bloggers who attacked Umno leaders instead of the opposition.

The police report is the culmination of weeks of controversies surrounding the so-called sovereign fund.

On Dec 4, the company’s top-level delegation led by its Chairman, (Tan Sri) Lodin Wok Kamaruddin was said to have been grilled by (Tun) Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Others in the delegation were board member (Tan Sri) Ismee Ismail and Chief Operating Officer, Mohd Hazem Abdul Rahman. Ismee is also Executive Director and CEO of Tabung Haji.

Just over a week later, on Dec 10, the cabinet in its weekly meeting chaired by Deputy Prime Minister, (Tan Sri) Muhyiddin Mohd Yassin, also discuss the 1MDB issue. Mohd Najib was away on official visit to South Korea..

Sources said Dr Mahathir grilled the 1MDB team on the company’s modus operandi. He is said to be curious about the way the company funds its businesses, bearing in mind that it has a paid-up capital of only US$1 million (about RM3.4 million).

As of March this year, it has amassed assets worth RM51.4 billion and in the process piled up liabilities – mostly borrowings – totalling RM49.1 billion.

It registered a loss of RM665.3 million for the same period mainly due to staggering finance costs of RM2.4 billion compared with RM1.6 billion the previous financial year.

The Overpriced Penang Purchases

They were also asked about the price of two pieces of land in Penang for which the company was said to have paid way over the market price. Six days before last year’s General Elections, 1MDB bought the land for about RM1.4 billion from two Chinese tycoons.

Reports say, the land they purchased for RM400 million from Farlim Berhad are currently occupied by squatters and may be costly to resettle.
Penang Chief Minister, Lim Guan Eng, was quoted as saying that 1MDB paid way above market rate. He asked: “Why was the purchase price at RM1.38 billion – 95pc higher than what some of the land was valued at, just two years earlier in December 2011?”

The company is also said to have purchased a third and final piece of land on September 23.

The source said Dr Mahathir feels obliged to take up the matter with 1MDB and to speak openly on the subject because many parties had come to see him to inform him about the goings-on in the company.

He was disappointed that issues surrounding 1MDB was not seriously discussed by delegates at last month’s Umno General Assembly.

How could they when Umno President and Prime Minister is the man behind 1MDB and resolutions on the economy were drafted for the debaters?

Prime Minister’s right hand man, (Tan Sri) Jamaluddin Jarjis inspired the speeches. The debaters were literally ordered to read the texts he and his team - including key officers from Khazanah Nasional Berhad – wrote.

A Meeting With The Governor

Other sources told me that the 1MDB team also had a meeting with the Bank Negara Governor, (Tan Sri) Zeti Aktar Aziz) about the company’s borrowings.

But when my reporter asked an officer in the bank’s strategic communication department, she said they do not have a clue about the meeting, insisting that they do not know anything.

The sources said 1MBD had requested Bank Negara to extend it non-performing loan (NPL) period from three to six months and was agreed to.

It is understandable. No matter how unhappy Zeti might have been with 1MDB borrowing, an extension is needed. If it was not given, there would have been a massive default and Tier 1 banks that extended the loans would have to make huge provisions. This could lead to the downgrading of the local banking system.

1MDB’s ability to keep to the extended period, according to one source, depends largely on whether it will or can bring home the RM7 billion it parked in the Cayman Islands before the last GE.

The New Straits Times today reported that 1MDB has postponed the sale of up to RM8.4 billion sukuk (Islamic) bonds to next year. It said the delay came as the company is seeking an extension of two months on the construction of the US$3.2 billion (RM11.2 billion) power plant it won with partner, Mitsui & Co. earlier in the year.

Sources said some very harsh words and frightening warnings like “somebody is going to jail” were uttered at the meetings. One source said at the meeting with Bank Negara, Lodin had offered to resign immediately. But that is not the concern of Bank Negara. Lodin was appointed by the PM. If it is true that he offered to resign, he should tell that to Mohd Najib.


Monday, December 08, 2014

Leadership Issue: When PM Sues

A Kadir Jasin

[NO anonymous comments will be published.  Please use Google Account, OpenID or Name/URL. Pseudonym is accepted. Thank you]

AS we all know, the Prime Minister, Mohd Najib Abdul Razak had send legal notices to Pakatan Rakyat’s Members of Parliament Tony Pua Kiam Wee of the DAP and Rafizi Ramli of the PKR.

I had not wanted to comment on his action simply because I find politicians suing each other as infantile. But when the former PM, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad, commented that he never had to resort to legal action against his critics when he was in power for 22 years, I am compelled to put things in perspective.

Dr Mahathir said he would simply answer to the people whenever an issue arose. Damn him or praise him, he is in his own class. It is simply inappropriate to compare Mohd Najib to Dr Mahathir.

I believe that politicians, especially the elected ones should use the Parliament and State Legislative Assemblies to sort things out and to convince the people. They should debate and banter with the people as judges.

As elected representatives they make laws. They are their custodians. The courts merely interpret the laws they made. By resorting to the courts, the politicians are admitting that they can no longer defend themselves politically. They admit that they have lost the debate and can no longer rely on their wits and wisdom to survive.

Furthermore, in our country threats of legal actions are an effective way of shutting up opponents when nothing else works. Many such actions were abandoned or settled out of court when the threats are over. 

Phua Causes PM Stress

On Nov 24, Mohd Najib issued a letter of demand in which he accused Pua of making defamatory remarks against him on November 3 in relations to the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB). The PM alleged that Pua had caused him “tremendous stress and embarrassment.”

Tun Razak Exchange: 1MDB's connerstone project
Mohd Najib demanded that Petaling Jaya Utara MP publishes a retraction and apologise within 14 days in two national newspapers or face legal action for his speech recorded in a November 3 video entitled “Tony Pua: Najib is creating the biggest scandal ever in the history of Malaysia” in reference to 1MDB.

Then in early December Mohd Najib sent a similar letter through the same legal firm to Parti Keadilan Rakyat’s vice president and MP for Pandan, Rafizi Ramli, accusing him of making defamatory remarks on the removal of fuel subsidies.

Rafizi in a statement on Dec 4 said he received the letter from law firm Hafarizam Wan & Aisha Mubarak demanding an explanation for his speech “Kenapa Kita Pertahan Subsidi Minyak” (Why We Defend the Fuel Subsidy) on Nov 22.

Rafizi welcome PM's legal action
Both 1MDB and the abolition of petroleum subsidy are hot potatoes for the PM. 1MDB recently reported a loss of RM665.4 million for the year ending March 31, 2014. It has assets worth RM51.4 billion and liabilities (mostly debts) of RM48.9 billion. The total abolition of petroleum subsidy was to take advantage of the lower crude oil prices and also to dress up the book so that the target of reducing budget deficit this year to 3.5% of the GDP could be achieved.

Young vs Old

When you are a young and upcoming politician like Rafizi, being threatened with a sued by the PM gives you bragging right.

“I am proud to be sued by a prime minister, for defending the rights of the public to receive fuel subsidy of at least 30 sen per litre,” Rafizi said in a statement.

“[This is] amid the situation where the country’s leaders spend public funds nonchalantly in projects that burden the people such as 1MDB,” he added.

Like Mohd Najib, Rafizi too was educated in the UK. He graduated from the University of Leeds in Electrical and Electronic Engineering, passed the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales (ICAEW) examination and was admitted into the Malaysian Institute of Accountants (MIA) in 2003 and served Petronas from 2003 to 2009.

Like Mohd Najib and Rafizi, Phua too studied in the UK. He graduated from Keble College, Oxford University with a degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics and served as a consultant at Andersen Consulting for two years and as business development manager with Aqua Works and Engineering Sdn Bhd. Altogether he has more than six years of experience in the information technology and e-business consulting industry.

Phua warned PM on 1MDB
I would like to think that Rafizi and Chua are more of a match to the “shooting star” of Umno and the government, Khairy Jamaluddin, than the PM. For background and reflection about KJ, read here.

Mohd Najib should be picking up fights with people of his age and stature. While Rafizi is 34 and Phua is 42, he is 61.

Him taking legal action against Phua and Rafizi reminded me of Anwar Ibrahim making a police report over the Ummi Hafilda letter back in 1997. The letter was considered a “surat layang” and a “fitnah” until Anwar, on the advice of his lawyers, made a police report. Overnight what was considered by many, including Dr Mahathir, as a “fitnah” became a legal document that eventually resulted in Anwar’s downfall.

Similarly, Mohd Najib’s legal action against Phua and Rafizi could turn out to be a double-edge sword.

And maybe too that Mohd Najib is giving his own twist to Charles de Gaulle’s oft-quoted saying “I have come to the conclusion that politics are too serious a matter to be left to the politicians.”

So he is taking his spat with the young PR leaders away from the political sphere and into the legal arena. He is joining the crowd of desperate Malaysian politicians who are using the law to muzzle their adversaries and, along the way, make some pocket money.

Mohd Najib had also sued the portal Malaysiakini over readers' comments it published.

If indeed “the ballot is stronger than the bullet” as Abraham Lincoln had said, then, by the same token, the ballot is stronger than the lawyers. As an elected leader, the PM would be wiser to trust the voters than the lawyers.


Friday, December 05, 2014

Isu Kepemimpinan: Cakap Benar Mengenai Ekonomi

A Kadir Jasin

[Komen “Anonymous” tidak akan disiarkan. Dalam blog kita ini, pembahas WAJIB ada nama. Nama samaran dan nama pena pun tak apa. Angka pun boleh. Guna nama sendiri macam saya lagilah bagus.]

DALAM siri isu kepemimpinan kali ini, marilah kita berbincang sedikit mengenai ekonomi semasa. Tajuk ini mungkin berat tetapi sangat afdal kepada kelangsungan (survival) negara kita.

Saya tidak menyalahkan pemerintah dan media massa kawalannya kerana menghebahkan berita baik dan menguar-uarkan prestasi ekonomi yang dikatakan baik sehingga mendapat pujian pemimpin dunia.

Saya akui bahawa angka kasar menunjukkan ekonomi kita sihat. Pertumbuhannya jika diukur daripada keluaran dalam negara kasar (KDNK/GDP) adalah memuaskan. 

Tetapi angka kasar boleh memesongkan. Misalnya, banyak rumah, kedai dan ruang pejabat didirikan. Pembinaan rumah, kedai dan pejabat yang banyak itu menyumbang kepada pertumbuhan KDNK.

Tauke simen, pasir dan keluli buat duit. Perunding dalam dan luar negara buat duit. Pekerja binaan Indonesia, Bangladesh, India dan Myanmar buat duit. Penjaja nasi lemak Melayu di bahu jalan pun buat duit.

Tetapi kita juga tahu dan lihat banyak rumah, kedai dan pejabat tidak dijual atau disewakan, tidak didiami dan digunakan. Ada yang ditenggelami lalang, ditumbuhi pokok jejawi atau roboh terus. Iklan untuk dijual dan disewa menyakitkan mata.

Inilah yang ahli ekonomi sebut sebagai pertumbuhan yang tidak berkualiti atau penyalahuntukan sumber (misallocation of resources). Bila rumah, kedai dan ruang pejabat tidak digunakan maka tidak berlakulah penokokan nilai (value added) dan kesan serapan (trickle down effect).

Kalau rumah dijual dan didiami, kedai disewa dan perniagaan dijalankan, pejabat dibuka dan kakitangan diambil barulah berlaku penokokan nilai dan kesan serapan.

Tidak salah Menteri Kewangan Kedua, Ahmad Husni Hazadlah, menyatakan keyakinan yang matlamat mengurangkan defisit belanjawan 2014 kepada 3.5% KDNK masih boleh dicapai walaupun harga minyak jatuh teruk. Begitu jugalah kenyataan Ketua Pegawai Eksekutif CIMB, Tengku Zafrul Aziz bahawa asas ekonomi (economic fundamentals) negara terus kukuh dan Pengarah Eksekutif Institut Kajian Ekonomi Malaysia (MIER), Dr Zakariah Abdul Rashid melihat prospeks ekonomi sebagai bercampur (mixed).

Malangnya, bukan harga minyak mentah saja jatuh. Harga minyak kelapa sawit dan getah sudah lama merudum. Permintaan ke atas komponen elektronik masih kukuh. Tetapi dengan ekonomi dunia diramalkan beku tahun hadapan, permintaan mungkin tidak kekal.

Petronas telah pun mengurangkan perbelanjaan modal (capex) dan memberi amaran mungkin tidak boleh membayar dividen yang tinggi kepada kerajaan. Tetapi kalau dipaksa, Petronas akan tambah dividen dan  kurangkan lagi capex.

Kredibiliti Maklumat Rasmi

Soalnya, bolehkah kita percaya kepada dakwaan bahawa fundamental ekonomi kita kukuh apabila bukan saja harga komoditi utama kita jatuh malah kadar tukaran mata wang kita pun jatuh juga?

Sangat mengelirukan apabila Gabenor Bank Negara, Zeti Aktar Aziz, berkata bagus apabila nilai ringgit naik dan bagus juga apabila ia jatuh.

Harga saham dan jumlah dagangan di Bursa Malaysia semakin menurun. Prestasi syarikat-syarikat yang disenaraikan dengannya lebih banyak yang negatif daripada positif. Boleh kata majoriti melaporkan penurunan keuntungan.

Pada 1 Disember, kadar tukaran ringgit jatuh paling banyak dalam sehari sejak Krisis Kewangan Asia 1997-98 kepada RM3.4320 bagi satu dolar Amerika.

Pada 3 Disember, akhbar The Star (milik MCA dan mewakili sentimen masyarakat perniagaan Cina) menyiarkan analisis pendapatan suku ketiga tahun ini (Julai-September) bagi syarikat-syarikat Bursa Malaysia.

Ia mendapati hanya dua daripada lima sektor utama ekonomi meningkat. Automotif naik 18.2% dan perbankan 1.6%, tetapi perkhidmatan jatuh 58.5%, komoditi jatuh 37.7% dan minyak&Gas jatuh 29.3%. Perkhidmatan menyumbang lebih daripada 50% kepada kegiatan ekonomi negara.

Pada 4 Disember, akhbar yang sama menyiarkan analisis prestasi mata wang ringgit. Ia mendapati ringgit jatuh berbanding kebanyakan mata wang rakan perdagangan utama kita.

Ringgit jatuh 5.61% berbanding dolar Amerika, 5.58% berbanding dolar Hong Kong, 3.93% berbanding Baht, 2.93% berbanding Rupee, 2.44% berbanding dolar Taiwan dan 0.95% berbanding dolar Singapura. Duit kita naik berbanding Yen (9.40%), Euro (5.91%), dolar Australia (4.32%), pound Inggeris (2.31%) dan Rupiah (0.73%).

The Star juga meramalkan yang kelembapan eksport mungkin mengakibatkan Malaysia mengalami defisit kembar (twin deficit), iaitu defisit akaun semasa dan defisit perdagangan. Ia memetik ketua ahli ekonomi AllianceDBS (bank), Manokaran Mottain.

Lebih Baik Terus Terang

Banyak lagi fakta dan ramalan ekonomi yang menjurus ke arah keadaan yang sukar dan mencabar bagi ekonomi negara tahun ini dan tahun hadapan. Ekonomi Eropah diramalkan menguncup tahun hadapan. Ekonomi Australia sudah mula menurun. Hatta ekonomi China yang perkasa itu pun sudah mula dingin.

Jadi, bukankah lebih elok bagi kerajaan mengakui realiti semasa dan berterus terang kepada rakyat jelata. Lebih baik membuatkan mereka kurang gembira dengan menyatakan kebenaran daripada membuatkan mereka marah apabila malapetaka ekonomi melanda mereka.

Sama ada ekonomi kita akan mengalami krisis atau tidak tahun hadapan, satu hal. Itulah yang sedang diramalkan oleh pembangkang pusat.

Yang utama sekarang adalah berkongsi maklumat secara rasional dan terbuka dengan rakyat jelata. Bukan berdolak-dalik dengan mereka apatah lagi memesongkan mereka dengan berita-berita baik yang sengaja diada-adakan.

Rakyat tidak “bangang”. Mereka tahu “practical economy.” Mereka sudah rasa kenaikan harga akibat pemansuhan subsidi. Mereka tahu harga petrol turun, tapi harga diesel naik. Mereka rasa pelik. GST belum dilaksanakan, tetapi sudah ada barang yang naik harga kononnya kerana cukai baru itu.

Mereka tahu harga getah dan kelapa sawit merudum kerana mereka yang mengeluarkannya. Mereka tahu ringgit Malaysia tidak bernilai seperti dulu lagi kerana hari-hari mereka beli-belah sendiri. Jangan tunggu mereka marah. Terus teranglah dengan mereka. Jangan sekali-kali anggap mereka bangang, bodoh, dungu, tongong dan bahlul.


About Me

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I was born in 1947 in Kedah. I came from a rice farming family. I have been a journalist since 1969. I am the Editor-in-Chief of magazine publishing company, Berita Publishing Sdn Bhd. I was Group Editor NST Sdn Bhd and Group Editor-in-Chief of NSTP Bhd between 1988 and 2000. I write fortnightly column “Other Thots” in the Malaysian Business magazine, Kunta Kinte Original in Berita Harian and A Kadir Jasin Bercerita in Dewan Masyarakat. Books: Biar Putih Tulang (1998), Other Thots – Opinions & Observations 1992-2001 (2001), The Wings of an Eagle (2003), Mencari Dugalia Huso (2006), Damned That Thots (2006), Blogger (2006), PRU 2008-Rakyat Sahut Cabaran (2008), Komedi & Tragedi-Latest in Contemporary Malaysian Politics (2009) and Membangun Bangsa dengan Pena (2009).