The architect of the NEP himself admits the policy's failure, even after extending its shelf life by two decades!
From the horse's mouth, as reported by the Malaysian Insider:
Malays ignored, are ‘beggars’ in own country, says Dr M
UPDATED @ 08:16:04 PM 24-10-2012
By Lee Wei Lian
October 24, 2012
Oct 24 — Malays are now beggars in their own country and need to support Umno despite all its flaws or their pleas will be ignored, said Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today.
“We are beggars in our own country and need help from others to get even a little bit,” said Dr Mahathir at the Malay Economic Congress today.
He said that the position of Malays has deteriorated due to their split in political support and they needed to unite behind Umno despite all its flaws in order to became the kingmakers and gain attention from the country’s leadership.
“Even though they are defective (cacat), if they win because of our support and our unity, our memorandums will be effective as their dependence will be on us,” he said. “Now if they read the memo, they will say no. If we become kingmakers, they will heed us.”
He also said that the Malay economy depends on politics.
“Strengthening our politics is our way to achieve economic success,” he said.
“I am not confident resolutions from this congress will get heeded as they (Umno) are not powerful,” he said. “We need to give them power so we get respect.”
Mahathir also said that as Malays have become weaker, the other races were “denying” the Malays their rights.
He said, however, that he was not a racist.
“I just want to divide the country’s wealth in a way that is fair,” he said. “We are 60 per cent of the population. We are just asking 30 per cent. Take the rest.”
Toward the end of his speech, however, Mahathir changed tack and told Malays to look within themselves for solutions to their problems.
He said that he also felt proud that there were now many Malay millionaires and billionaires, some of whom were able to compete outside the country without government help.
“We have to ask ourselves, did we fail because others obstructed us? That the government did not support us? Or that we didn’t make use of our chances?” he said.
DESIDERATA: I once served as inaugural News Editor at thinktank cpiasia.net started by an economist of world renown Dr LIM TECK GHEE (having served at the World Bank no less as well as at local universities...). I am proud to be associated with his mainly online website which by its full name CENTRE FOR POLICY INITIATIVES - based at KLSCAH, Jalan Maharajela in Kuala Lumpur -- fulfills a hiughly relevant role as an independent thinktank of key government policies, especially relating to the country's economy and corpoarte sectors, encouraging resaerch and publication for public discourse and ebate. A few years earlier, Dr Lim had released an well-rearched report under ASLI which in gist said the New Economic Policy's key objective of having Bumiputera achieving ownership of equities at 30percent had been overly achieved, standing at close to 45percent even as the government claimed the Bumiputera shares amounted to only 19 to 21 percent, hovering there with hardly any movement for a decade after the original expiry date of 20 years, from 1970-90.
At that time of the ASLI report release, much to Dr Lim's dismay, the top guns of Asia Strategy and Leadership Institute (with one of ex-PM's sons heading it as Chairman?) dissociated themselves from the report; of course, thie left Dr Lim with Hobson's chjoice but to resign almost immediately. Soon after, he started the cpiasia.net of which I am proud to have served as Editor for almsot two years.
Going back to the MI news report, if the reader takes Dr Mahathir at his word, it obviously is an open admission by the former prime minsiter that the Malays had not benefited from the NEP -- otherwise, HOW COIULD THEY HAVE REMAINED "BEGGARS" IN THEIR OWN COUNTRY?
After four decadeds plus two years of the never-ending policy as many critics have artistically coined the definition of the affirmative policies of the NEP, SOMTHING IS DEFINITELY NOT RIGHT IN THE MALAYS WITH SO MANY SPECIAL RIGHT AND PRIVILEGES STILL HAD NOT ASCHIVEDthe 30percet Bumi equities target; so WHY WOULD A GOVERNMENT CONTIINUE WITH A POLICY THAT HAD/HAS/ GENERALLY FAILED THE TAGRGET POPULATION OF SOME 60PERCENT?
Worse yet, IF DR Lim's ASLI study had been closer to the truth, THEN THE GOVERNMENT HAS BEEN/IS STILL GUILTY OF DISGUISING THE TRUE STATISTICS OF THE CORPORATE AND COMMONWEALTH OF THE COUNTRY'S SHAREHOLDINGS' DISTRIBUTION BY ETHNIC GROUPINGS. If this were son, then THE RAKYAT MUST WAKE UP TO THE FACT THE NEP HAD BEEN/CONTINUES TO BE ABUSED BY THE TOP 10PERCENT (?) OF BUMPIPUTERA -- we call them UMNOPUTERAS -- TO HELP THEMSELVES AND FAMILIES AND CRONIES. Recall how former Minister Rafidah Aziz behaved relating to special Bumi share allocations which her son-in-low got privileged recipient allocations amounting to millions? And of course, the more recent COWGATE benefiting Sharizat Jalikl's family by RM250million?
What's "wrong" with all these Wanita UMNO chiefs, past and present?
Did Tun Dr Mahathir at the Malay Economic Congress mention the wordTAMAK (GREED)? DESIDERATA2: Reprising one of Dr Lim's articles -- dated earlier this year BUT HIGHLY RELEVANT FOR MIND-BLOWING, yes? -- as published by THE MALAYSIAN INSIDER:~~~~~~~~~~~
Breaking up wealth concentration in Malaysia — Dr Lim Teck Ghee
February 01, 2012
FEB 1 — The past year has seen the government and the opposition unveil their respective economic reform policies. Even if these reform policies and their attendant programmes are implemented they will not be able to resolve the country’s economic problems. This is because the policies advocated by both sides of the political divide are merely palliative. They do not address the root or fundamental cause of the problem of structural deformation of the country’s economy.
How has this deformation come about? What are its characteristics? And what can be done to bring about a reversal or correction of the deformation so that we have a really transformed economic system that can live up to its full potential?
First we need to recognise that wealth in any country — and Malaysia is no exception — is created by economic activity engaged in by individuals or enterprises that bring profits or gains to the entrepreneur. Much of this wealth creation and subsequent accumulation is legitimate. It is based on material reward arising from work (or gift) and is socially and ethically acceptable. It comes from risk-taking and from the social utility and superiority of the products and services generated by the individual or enterprise.
Wealth generated and accumulated by individuals through legitimate means and conforming to the norms of justice and fairness is not only desirable but beneficial to society and the economy.
But what about wealth that is created or amassed by less than legitimate or illegitimate or illegal means? Is it a minor or non-issue and do we just ignore it as is the case with the Barisan Nasional government?
Outflow of massive illegal wealth accumulation
One important clue to the massive wealth capture by illicit means in Malaysia was exposed recently by the Global Financial Integrity, a US-based watchdog.
In its study on ‘Illicit Financial Flows from Developing Countries’ it estimated that Malaysia was fifth in the world on cumulative total illicit financial flows (IFF) since 2000.
For 2009 alone, IFF (non-normalised) amounted to approximately US$47 billion (approximately RM145 billion at the exchange rate of RM3.1 = US$1) and over the cumulative nine years, total IFF amounted to US$350 (approximately RM1,086 billion).
Two methods of estimation were used in the study, one being the World Bank residual model (using the change in external debt or CED), and secondly, trade mispricing (using the Gross Excluding Reversals method or GER).
Through the balance of payments (a component of CED), it captures unrecorded capital leakages i.e. illicit transfers of the proceeds of bribery, theft, kickbacks, and tax evasion. Outflow of unrecorded transfers due to trade mispricing was captured under the GER method.
Based on the study, Malaysia’s nine-year average normalised i.e. conservative IFF, amounted to US$14.2 billion (42 per cent; RM43.9 billion) due to CED while GER accounted for $19.6 billion (58 per cent; RM60.8 billion). Meanwhile, average non-normalised IFF was US$15.4 billion (44 per cent; RM47.5 billion) due to CED and US$19.6 billion (56 per cent; RM60.8 billion) due to GER.
MNCs and Illicit Financial Flows
According to the study, “illicit flows involve capital that is illegally earned, transferred, or utilised and covers all unrecorded private financial outflows that drive the accumulation of foreign assets by residents in contravention of applicable capital controls and regulatory frameworks. Hence, illicit flows may involve capital earned through legitimate means such as the profits of a legitimate business”.
If taxes were levied on the illegal outflows, the country’s finances would have benefitted to the tune of close to US$100 billion. When the GFI’s findings were made public recently, the finger of blame for the massive outflows was placed by the MP for Kota Belud, Abdul Rahman Dahlan, on multinational corporations (MNCs). Indeed, MNCs have been a convenient scapegoat for transfer pricing woes in developing countries where they have major operations.
One local observer — a specialist in transfer pricing — has demolished this accusation for Malaysia. According to his letter of December 27, 2011 to Free Malaysia Today, “transfer pricing has been the one of the most scrutinised subjects by the Malaysian Inland Revenue Board since the Transfer Pricing Guidelines was introduced [in 2003].”
He has argued that “more likely than not, where there are cases of transfer mispricing, MNCs would always step forward and rectify the situation. This is so because “getting caught by authorities in doing illegal activities will most likely cause serious damage to business integrity and reputation.”
He concluded that “compliance by MNCs is one of the most stringent as far as I understand from a corporate culture perspective, or at least for cases I have seen.”
So if MNCs are not the culprit for the illicit financial outflows, who are the real culprits?
The Global Financial Integrity study has noted that besides transfer pricing outflows — MNCs alone are not to blame for this; local conglomerates and GLCs also play the same game with greater insider knowledge — IFF was caused by illicit transfers arising from the proceeds of bribery, theft, kickbacks, and tax evasion.
Malaysia is in fact the only country where IFF is caused by a comparable proportion of transfer and non-transfer pricing transgressions.
Real culprits in illegal wealth accumulation and concentration
While the study has been helpful in providing some hard data on the quantum of the illicit financial outflows, it does not provide much assistance on other key details such as who are responsible for the outflow; the countries of fund relocation; etc.
At this stage, we can only hazard a guess as to the likely individuals or parties involved in the non-transfer pricing illicit outflow. The most likely culprits are those who have been able to accumulate enormous wealth and who for various reasons find it expedient or necessary to conceal their wealth accumulation as well as to diversity their wealth havens and assets away from Malaysia.
The GFI study does not cover the illicit wealth accumulated locally and not yet remitted to foreign shores. The size of this locally retained illicit wealth is likely to be several if not many times more than that sent abroad.
A crude estimate of the extent of legal wealth concentration in the country can be obtained from the 40 individuals identified by Forbes as the richest billionaires in Malaysia. Collectively this group was worth US$62.5 billion in 2011. In addition there must be many other extremely wealthy individuals who have avoided making the list through their ability to conceal their wealth and others who though not making the top 40 list still possess enormous wealth.
The most widely rumoured name not on the Forbes list has to be Taib Mahmud, the chief minister of Sarawak, who together with his family is reputed to have shares in more than 330 companies in Malaysia alone and more than 400 companies around the globe worth several billion US dollars.
Various quarters have questioned the legitimacy of the wealth accumulation engaged in by the chief minister. A recent article in the blogsite Sarawak Headhunter provides in-depth details into what is alleged to be the income stream of the chief minister’s financial vacuum machine.
- Income from timber licences;
- Surcharge on timber exports;
- Kickbacks from timber shipping companies;
- Agency and other fees levied on shipping companies;
- Privatisation of government companies;
- Illegal logging receipts;
- Federal government contracts;
- Alienation of state land to plantations; and
- State contracts
The chief minister has refuted these claims and has argued that that his daughter’s considerable property empire was amassed through the daughter’s and son-in-law’s business acumen in investing wisely the gratuity which Taib earned from his earlier service in the federal government.
This may well be true but if so, it needs to be substantiated by an opening of the financial records and bank accounts of the family and the companies owned or controlled by the family in Malaysia and abroad. Only then can the authorities and public determine the truth of the allegations of financial and political impropriety.
That the chief minister and his family own an extraordinary amount of wealth — held locally and abroad — at least is not denied. Some idea of the enormous size of the Taib family wealth emerged when Taib’s daughter-in-law filed a RM400 million claim on her estranged husband, Mahmud Abu Bekir Taib, in court recently, including what she claims is her share of property worth RM300 million.
These tantalising details of the extraordinary wealth accumulation by Taib and a small group of Malaysians show a common pattern. Firstly, they have all been beneficiaries of the Barisan Nasional government and its policy aimed at working with an elite few individuals in driving the economy forward.
Many if not all of the names that appear on the Forbes list are regarded as cronies of past prime ministers Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and the present Prime Minister Najib Razak, and are widely perceived as owing their considerable wealth to their political loyalty to the Barisan Nasional.
All the business empires of the former ‘Sugar King’ Robert Kuok, Genting Highlands’ late Lim Goh Tong, Public Bank’s Teh Hong Piau, YTL’s Yeoh Tiong Lay, Astro’s Ananda Krisnan, Air Asia’s Tony Fernandez and the rising Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary — deservedly or undeservedly — are seen as built on government preference and patronage. This connection is what has provided them with head starts and privileged monopolies without which their enterprises could never have come about, let alone flourish.
Getting to the bottom of how the business empires of our richest Malaysians have taken shape may be a useful way of dealing with the thorny question of how wealth concentration — whether legitimately derived or under a cloud of illegitimacy — has occurred.
We should have no illusions about the obstacles that lie ahead of such investigative efforts. We should also be mindful that in countries where illegal wealth accumulation by the leaders of impoverished countries has drawn national and international ire, attempts at recovery of the wealth, much of which has been spirited abroad and stashed in overseas banks and assets, has been a long-drawn and difficult process.
Admittedly the hope for any confiscation of illicit or illegitimate wealth is distant and dim. The time may not even be ripe to insist on a full-blown opening up of the records and having the truth come out on how the crème de la crème of our business and political leaders have accumulated their fortunes.
But there may be need for public scrutiny in a few special cases in Malaysia despite the concern that such efforts may be construed as an anti-capitalist or anti-Barisan
National discussion on wealth accumulation and concentration
The time is right at the least though for a national discussion on what are the pros and cons of the current economic system which encourages the concentration of wealth and its illegal outflows on such a systemic basis, and whether this is the right economic model for the country.
The time is also right to focus on sectors and processes which have been the main playgrounds of unfair or illicit wealth accumulation; and to implement actions aimed at decisively containing or neutralising them.
Best practice examples are readily available for example, in the natural resource sector of countries with the same natural wealth as us. These countries such as Norway have been able to avoid the mistakes that we have made in exploitation of our mineral and forest resources which have permitted opaque policies and procedures, and condoned corrupt or shady businesses that have reaped windfall illicit gains.
For the national discussion on wealth concentration and outflows to take place, we need to break the conspiracy of silence by our political elites that have befitted from the system and that have collaborated in the accumulation of illicit wealth and wealth generated from dubious means.
We need the professionals to play their role. We need more studies by academics and civil society to uncover where illicit and less than legitimate accumulations are taking place and what can be done to plug up leakages and bring to justice the offenders and culprits. We need more whistleblowers to step forward.
Discussion needs to be followed by action, whether by the Barisan or Pakatan government.
This action needs to be more than just the tweaking of economic policy as envisaged
by the Pakatan parties. It needs to be a fundamentally new paradigm of development
based on the de-concentration of wealth and its more equitable distribution.
New paradigm of development
The radically new paradigm of development that puts the spotlight on the wealth of the country (within and outside) as well as on the wealthy, and with a major focus on the eventual breaking down of wealth concentration — beginning with illicit wealth — is needed for three reasons.
Firstly, it is a superior approach to the narrowly race-based New Economic Policy model that has dominated the country’s economic life and which is based on a simplistic caricature of affirmative action policy.
Secondly, our oil wealth is rapidly depleting and our treasury is depleted. Going after wealth that has been illegally accumulated or rightfully belongs to the state will provide the country some breathing space until we get our act together on the other pieces of the bigger economic transformation jigsaw.
The final reason is that the primary cause of poverty and stunted development in Malaysia is an economic system that promotes excessive concentration of wealth.
So long as the excessive concentration of wealth exists, our poverty and deformed development problem will remain unresolved.
It has been said that economics is not only about production and wealth creation. It is also about morality, and the first moral principle is that the strong owe a duty towards the weak. It is the role of government to ensure that the strong and wealthy fulfil their duty and not to encourage them in wrongdoing in their obsessive wealth accumulation.
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication. The Malaysian Insider does not endorse the view unless specified. ************************************ DESIDERATA3: See how heART I work 4ye, my esteemed/ex-steAmed readers? ~~~ Reprising my own post here titled "Malaysia's Economy --heading...." dated 10/6/07:~~~~
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-ReformasiParti 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
* INEFFICIENCIES * CORRUPTION. 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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!":(