Slow and Steady ascending skywards if you believe the BN-led Government.
Yes, listening to the team led by Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi for the last four years, the story is rosey, with GDP growth rocking at 5.5% to 6.0% annually, and Vision 2020 is still within the UMNOputra leaders' sight. The MCA and MIC and other minor players within the 14-member ruling coalition remain dumb and deaf. The "elegant silence" malaise has taken deep roots, thanks to the CEO!
But feel the pulse of the comon folks in the street, vocalised by the Opposition, especially the nine-year-old born-out-of-Reformasi Parti Keadilan Rakyat, the country's economy is continuing a downwards slide. In Desi's vocab, Towards the Abyss.
A highly respected economist, who is non-partisan by the way in the sense he's not a member of a government or Opposition party and who raised quite a controversy in releasing data some time ago on behalf of ASLI which clearly showed the Bumi share equities of the national wealth had exceeded the 30% target, stated that the Government leaders are in s state of "denial". They under-state the inflation rate -- wow, just 2.0% to 3.0% -- when the Joe and Jane public could hardly survive with RM10 for two square meals a day!
Okay, Desi won't like to remian in pessimistic mode for now, let's cut to the chase and hear some remedies being bandied about. I call these little candle of light glimmering athe end of the nation's tunnel,erhaps we emerge seeing some pocketfuls of rainbow?
_____________________ FORUM REPORT ____________________________
Reprising his journalism modus operandi, YL Chong reports from the scene (belatedly, a newshound's unmitigated sin!) with a thousand AP (non-RM20k-generating kind!)-ologies:
Organiser: Strategic Information and Research Development Centre
Topic: MALAYSIA'S ECONOMIC DIRECTION:
FOR BETTER OR FOR WORSE
PKR Secretary-General Sdr Khalid Ibrahim and Treasurer Sdr William JK Leong made official presentations based largely on the party's Malaysian Economic Agenda, first revealed by party President Datin Seri Wan Azizah Ismail when she launched an alternative Budget Day recently at Parliament House a few days before the Government's Budget 2008 was tabled. In gist, this blueprint also called "The New Deal", spelt out a NEEDS-BASED economic agenda to replace the out-dated National Economic Policy much maligned because of rampant abuse and exploitation by the elite and well-connected politicians in UMNO.
In other words, while the concept and objectives of the NEP -- planned to run only for 20 years from 1970 -- were good and noble, the implementation was defective, ending with disastrous results.
Desipte being an affirmative action instrument, the NEP has failed to redistribute wealth equally in order to improve life for the middle and lower-income groups in Malaysia. Instead, a disproportionate amount of wealth is in the hands of the politically well-connected and elite high-income group.
Khalid -- a corporate involved in initiatives such as Permodalan Nasional Berhad as well as that famous Londonraid eons ago in taking control of Guthrie Bhd and of course who recently contested the Ijok by-election -- stressed that the battle is against Class Warfare, not across Racial Lines. Under PKR's New Deal, affirmative action must be needs-based, not race-based.
PKR's ultimate goal is to restructure society's wealth distribution to create a large middle-class and smaller upper and lower classes for a politically stable and harmonious society.
Khalid lamented: "Unfortunately, the country (after gaining Independence from British colonialists' yoke) was then hijacked by economic imperialists in the name of affirmative action under the guise of the NEP and its successors. Today, the poor are getting poorer, while the middle classes are stagnant, and the reins of the economy are held fast by the elite."
He cited the cases of Terengganu and Sabah, who have the most income-generating resource, petroleum, yet they rmain the lowest per capital-earning states among Malaysia's 13 states.
Leong, a successful lawyer who has established a name in company restructuring and MBOs, in a simple-to-undersatnd slide presentation, had these salient points to share:
+ 20% of the population control51.3% of the nation's wealth,
40% control 35.2% of the nation's wealth, and
40% control merely 13.5% of the nation's wealth.
These huge disparities show the dismal failues of the National Economic Policy after 37 years, and that's why PKR has come up with this New Economic Agenda to address the most urgent issue facing the nation -- the present "economy heading south very quickly" that spells doom for the country if not checked now!
+ GDP Per Capita of Malaysia in the 1960s was on par with other Tiger econies like Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea;
but by the year 2004, Singapore's Per Capita outranked Malaysia's more than 5 times;
Taiwan's and South Korea's outranked Malaysia's by more than 3 times.
So Malaysia -- Quo Vadis?
Leong reported that the adverse effects of the NEP and its subsequent re-modelled policies still very race- and quota-based had resulted in, and will continue to result in:
* BRAIN DRAIN
Examples of corruption, leakage and wastage scandals Leong cited include:
+ Consultant fees and additional work have pushed up the cost of repairing the RM120mil Middle Ring Road Two by almost four times, incurring additional cost of RM70mil.
+ The Maltrade building was supposed to cost RM167mil eventually cost RM287mil.
+ Compensation to Gerbang Perdana Selatan Bersepadu Bhd following cancellation of the Johor bridge project had ballooned, according to the Works Ministry, from RM100mil to RM360mil.
(YL Chong stoopping here to catch some breath:)* CORRUPTION -- never-ending policy?
RESUMEd @10.50pm after CONSUMing nice dinner in the open to enjoy the enervating evening breeze. But meanwhile, in a cas of GREAT MINDS THINK ALIKE, I was already thinking about "V" when he paid me a visit vvia Comments:)
Greetings Desi, another excellent post. The content reminded me a 2006 film, entitled 'V for Vendetta', this is an action-thriller film set in London, England in a near-future dystopian society. The film follows the 'V', a freedom fighter seeking to effect socio-political change while simultaneously pursuing his own personal vendetta. The film is an adaptation of the graphic novel 'V for Vendetta' by Alan Moore and David Lloyd.The film is well worth a watch, and is an eye opener to how governments manipulate / suppress the truth. This always happens here in Malaysia, and in other countries too.Of course Malaysia still has a little way to go before it reaches the stage of the fictional England depicted in 'V for Vendetta'.Here are two meaningful quotes from 'V for Vendetta'
1. "People shouldn't be afraid of their governments, governments should be afraid of their people"
2. "Artists Use Lies to Tell the Truth; Politicians Use Lies to Cover It"This film should be seen by everyone as it is a real wake-up call to each and every thinking person.
By 'V', at 2:51 PM "
For aMore on "V", come back tomorrow for a Sundae Inter-nude:)
Dear "V", if thou track Desi down tomorrow at mazy hazy Furong call me a 012-9702285, don't bring SpecialBrunch!and we'll tehtarik over CON BF? Give me a yellar Midnight Voiz via email@example.com also cun!:)
Okay, back to Forum-ing.
Leong also lamented about the PKFZ fiaisco whose price shot up from about RM1bilto RM4.6bil, and the Government in a matter of weeks gave the "cronies" it a "soft-loan" to overcome the sand-duned project, and again tax-payers were made suckers to bail out these marine vultures.
Of course, we all have heard about the six-year-old delay in the Mindef's order for six Patrol Boats, whose costs had ballooned to RM6.75billion and no sight of all the boats (scheduled delivery was April 2007 for the finalone!) except for two half-past six jobs!
Leong wants the DPM-cum-Defence Minister Najib Tun Razak to explain the naval scandal, noting that:
PV1 was planned for delivery March 2004; actual delivery June 2005.
PV2 planned for delivery January 2005; actual July 2006.
I think the songs of lament for PV3, PV4, PV5 and PV6 are best left for the Deputy Prime Minister's children to sing. Desi and chorus are bowing ouch!
Leong warned fellow Malaysians to wake up from their slumber and do something about the status of the country's economy before we graduate into the fantastic league of Somalia and Zimbabwe.
He opined that the BN Government had been siphoning off Petronas huge profits to bail out one mega disaster after another, but what happens when the oil monies run out.
Desi adds that The National Oil Corporation already has warned that NegaraKu would become a net importer of oil in a few years, and oil reserves would dry out come 2015.or is it 2025? I seem to hear different years beng mentioned, or are the Petronas figures just the figment of some smartaleck's imagination? (Just like we don't know if its stated revenue and profit figures were real!)
Three comenters, Sdr Din Merican (Visiting Fellow at Uni versity of Cambodia), Prof Rajah Rasiah (University of Malaya), and Dr Lim Teck Ghee (Researcher-consultant -- yes, he was once head of ASLI's thinktank and proud deliverer of that famous NEP equities report showing that the 30% Bumi target was far exceeded years ago, but the powers-that-be at ASLI dissociated themselves form the good economist's fine work, and was Desi surprised?:(x) -- later picked the Presenters' brains with interesting observatons and questions.
Let me start with Dr Lim, who commended PKR for its courage to come up with what he termed as a new "Social" economic agenda to address the ails of the country's when the incumbent government leaders were mostly in a "denial mode".
Lim said it was a "breakthrough" document when Parti Keadilan Rakyat presented its blueprint as it dared "bite the bullet". For the first time, an Opposition party chose to face head on the realities brought about by New Economic Policy, especially its negativities much publicised recently by outcgoing EU Commissioner Thierrry Romnel as indeed, the NEP has exacted high social and economic costs to Malaysia, resulting in problems well enunciated by Leong -- corruption, business patronage, and wealth concentration in a small, elitist group with much manipulation of its implementation that resulted in the irony of the fact that only 10% of the Malays actually benefited from the NEP in the last 37 years.
"It is refreshing to find a redominant Malay group finally come out with an economic blueprint that does not impose racial quotas and targets. This courageous effort deserves all concerned citizens' support," Lim added.
The programmes outlined y Khalid Ibrahim and William Leong are "do-able", and Lim hoped the party leaders will continue to hold dialogues with the pblic to "flesh" out the programmes' objectives and action plans in detail to truly address the citizens' many concerns and at least provide some hope of checking the economic slide faced by the country.
Prof Rajah Rasiah said too often, the government and the controlled mass media have been "spinning" on the "real situation" with respect to information pertaining to the workforce skills, the wastages and seepages of government's funds as well as mismanagement and misallocation of resources and funding.
As for Din Merican's off-the-cuff's statements, I must AP(non-RM20k-generating-kind!)ologise I was nodding my head most times and failed in taking notes, and one Bogger-mate Bernard Khoo forgot to oblige Desi's request to bring along his secretary despite my lure of never-ending privately-funded tehtarik.
But I remember one quote which Din did reprise, quoting his mentor (Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, curent, ex-, or ever-shall-be mentor?) the former PM's quoting of The Bard at a recent dialogue with Bloggers at Putrajaya: " There is something rotten in the House of Denmark/Malaysia."
PS: I promised Din more lineage if he should seduce me with more kopi lau at Silva's, Subang Jaya while I pledged I'll return the flavour with Haridas' besta tehtarik laced with ... no,not arsenic, but Miss Sunthi.:) By the way, Sunthi's not a lady, it's scientific name for halia. If you need to ask Desi what that is, my answer is "Thou art Malaysian, HA!":(