The keys to China’s success


China National Day_Female guard  Female Honor Guards train for National Day celebration Video: http://t.cn/RhmCK8o

The institutional system and decision-making capabilities of democratic centralism have proven to be the country’s advantage

This year marks the 65th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the 60th anniversary of the establishment of people’s congress system and the 65th anniversary of the establishment of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. In the past 65 years China has developed rapidly and has made great achievements. Democratic centralism is the core mechanism of the China model, the key to the China miracle, and China’s advantage compared with other major developing countries.

China is still a developing country, and it lags behind the developed countries in many aspects. But it would be wrong to always attribute the developed countries’ achievements to their democratic system. It’s also wrong to deny China’s success because of some partial setbacks or mistakes and to blame these on China’s democratic system.

Democratic centralism is an institutional system as well as a decision-making model. Democratic centralism is an organization principle of the governing Communist Party of China, as well as national organizations, which links the CPC and the national mechanism based on the people’s congress system.

Under democratic centralism, the decision-making process is first democratic discussion and then consensus on opinions on a democratic basis, which guarantees the decision-making process responds to public opinion to the greatest extent.

Currently there are two major political systems in the world: democratic centralism and representative democracy. If we want to make a comparison between the two systems, we should first make sure the premise of “comparability” holds. In other words, China should be compared with those developing countries that also have a long history, huge population and suffered a long time as a colony or semi-colony.

We can divide all the 12 countries with populations of more than 100 million into three groups. The first contains developed countries such as the United States and Japan, whose development is not due to representative democracy, but freedom of speech, rule of law, a market economy and exploitation of other countries.

The second group contains countries that have turned to representative democracy such as Russia. In the 1990s, the former Soviet Union fell apart and terrorism was widespread. The public called for Vladimir Putin’s “controllable democracy”, which has enabled Russia to revive.

The third group contains those developing countries that were colonized for a long time, such as Bangladesh, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia and Pakistan.

Representative democracy is the bottleneck for most of these countries’ development and their people’s welfare because of strong social forces and weak national power. The political organizations and family forces behind representative democracy make local social forces in these countries ever stronger, while national power is often too weak to turn national will into reality in this political system.

Some Western people compare India with China and expect India, the largest democracy according to the West’s definition, to surpass China someday because they believe that representative democracy is the biggest advantage of India.

Yet in the Human Development Index, China has risen from the rank of 101 in 2001 to the rank of 91 in 2014, while India has dropped from 122 in 2001 to 135 in 2014. In the Poverty Population Index, 11.8 percent of China’s population is below the international poverty line, while the percentage of India is 32.68. In the Corruption Perceptions Index, China ranks 80th while India ranks 96th. In the Ease of Business Index, China ranks 90th while India ranks 134th. In 2013, China’s per capita GDP was $6,629, which is more than four times the $1,592 of India. The gap of per capita GDP between China and India is larger than two decades ago.

Why has the gap between China and India become larger? India is a democratic society but still has some feudal legacies, and the unfairness under feudalism can hardly accelerate market economy development. As to its “superior” political system, Indian-American political commentator Fareed Zakaria describes it as “bandit democracy”. That means, a candidate who committed a crime yesterday may be elected today. India has about 2,000 parties. The country’s high degree of fragmentation means it fails to propel public policies that benefit its citizens. The representative democracy of India is fragmented democracy that lacks authoritative policy execution.

Compared with the major developing countries that practice representative democracy, China’s centralized democracy guarantees freedom, autonomy, a market economy and also authoritative governmental organizations. China has a lead in governance compared with other major developing countries mainly because of democratic centralism.

Democratic centralism has gone through the first stage during the revolutionary period, the second stage during the first three decades after the founding of New China, and the third stage during the three decades after reform and opening-up. From history and reality we can clearly see the advantages of this political system.

By Yang Guangbin (China Daily)/Asia News Network

The author is a professor of political studies with Renmin University of China.

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17th Asia Games 2014 Medal Tally – 30/9/14

Rank Country Gold Silver Bronze Total
1 China 120 76 58 254
2 Korea 50 53 59 162
3 Japan 37 50 54 141
4 Kazakhstan 15 16 24 55
5 Iran 12 11 10 33
6 DPR Korea 8 10 11 29
7 Qatar 8 0 3 11
8 Chinese Taipei 8 8 14 30
9 Thailand 7 4 14 25
10 India 6 8 31 45
11 Uzbekistan 5 5 13 23
12 Hong Kong 4 6 20 30
13 Mongolia 4 4 10 18
14 Malaysia 3 9 9 21
15 Bahrain 3 5 1 9
16 Indonesia 3 4 7 14
17 Myanmar 2 1 0 3
18 Vietnam 1 9 20 30
19 Singapore 1 4 7 12
20 Kuwait 1 3 2 6
21 Saudi Arabia 1 1 0 2
22 Tajikistan 1 1 0 2
23 Pakistan 1 0 1 2
24 UAE 1 0 1 2
25 Macau 0 3 0 3
26 Kyrgyzstan 0 2 2 4
27 Philippines 0 2 2 4
28 Turkmenistan 0 1 2 3
29 Laos 0 1 1 2
30 Bangladesh 0 1 0 1
31 Lebanon 0 1 0 1
32 Iraq 0 0 2 2
33 Sri Lanka 0 0 1 1

Hunting for dream homes at MAPEX


Mapex Home_Sept 2014

Mapex 2014_SeptSome 20,000 visitors made their way to the Malaysia Property Exhibition (Mapex) 2014 at the Subterranean Penang International Convention and Exhibition Centre (SPICE) in Relau, Penang, in search of their dream home.

From landed properties to high-rise units, the Mapex City 2014 showcased projects by reliable developers with prices which ranged from RM346,000 to RM15mil.

Event organising chairman Ng Chin-U said the three-day exhibition held from last Friday to Sunday saw developers generating RM48mil worth of sales.

It was the second Mapex this year. The first, which was held during Chinese New Year in February at the G Hotel Penang, saw about 30,000 visitors and a total sales of RM130mil recorded.

Ng said buyers might be adopting the wait-and-see approach as the Budget 2015 was just around the corner.

“The cooling-off measures on the property market may be one of the factors as well, as generally buyers are more careful,” he said.

Cooling-off measures include 70% loan policy for third property purchases, requiring the housing loan limits calculated based on net income instead of gross and loan tenure reduced from 45 years to 35 years.

Ng added that those who missed the exhibition this time around could look forward to next year’s Mapex, which is scheduled to be held during Chinese New Year in February.

Organised by the Real Estate and Housing Developers’ Association (Rehda) and Henry Butcher Malaysia (Penang), the exhibition was participated by a total of 16 exhibitors who took up 30 booths.

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng who opened the exhibition on Saturday, urged Bank Negara to reinstate the developers interest-bearing scheme (DIBS) for first-time buyers as well as increase and extend the scheme by Syarikat Jaminan Kredit Perumahan (SJKP) to buyers of affordable homes costing from RM72,500 up to RM400,000.

“Ever since DIBS was abolished, many first-time buyers of affordable housing could not obtain bank loans to buy their own homes.

“Up to 70% of the housing loan applications for low-cost and low medium-cost homes have been rejected by private banks,” he said.

He added that legal fees should be part of the DIBS package and stamp duty should be waived to lower the initial entry cost for first-time home buyers.

Rehda Penang chairman Datuk Jerry Chan said the exhibition was largely focused on Penang properties.

He said Rehda Penang had been trying to help first-time house buyers.

Besides that, Chan said that during the recent Mapex, organisers donated RM50,000 to six charitable organisations namely DHome Mental Health Association, The Salvation Army Penang Children’s Home, Grace Harmony Home, Children Protection Society , Penang Cheshire Home and St Nicholas Home Penang.

Also present during the opening were state Housing, Town and Country Planning Committee chairman Jagdeep Singh Deo, state Agriculture and Agro-based Industry, Rural Development and Health Committee chairman Dr Afif Bahardin, state Religious Affairs Committee chairman Datuk Abdul Malik Abul Kassim and state Tourism Committee chairman Danny Law.

The developers who took part in the exhibition were Eco World Development Sdn Bhd, SP Setia Bhd Group, IJM Properties Sdn Bhd, Asas Mutiara Sdn Bhd, Chong Company Sdn Bhd, Sunway Grand Sdn Bhd, BSG Property, Ivory Properties Group Bhd, Ideal Property Group, Airmas Group, Tambun Indah Land Bhd, Tropicana Macalister Avenue (Penang) Sdn Bhd, MTT Properties & Development Sdn Bhd, Palmex Industries Sdn Bhd, Inspirasi Elit Sdn Bhd and Plenitude Bayu Sdn Bhd.

Kwong Wah Yit Poh and Property Guru were the Chinese media partner and online partner respectively.

Source: The Star/Asia News News Network

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Property prices to further rise in Malaysia, Credit Suisse predicts


Malaysia property_pricesuptrend Star

Higher selling prices does not necessarily mean bigger profits for developers with Credit Suisse noting that developers’ cost of doing business has reportedly risen 20% in the first half of 2014. “Margins are being compressed,” it said in a sector report on. The firm is negative on the sector.

Malaysia Property Guru-Prices-UpPETALING JAYA: Property prices, which rose 8% in the first quarter of this year, will continue to head north, as developers pass on the rising cost of building houses to buyers, according to Credit Suisse.

But higher selling prices does not necessarily mean bigger profits for developers with Credit Suisse noting that developers’ cost of doing business has reportedly risen 20% in the first half of 2014.

“Margins are being compressed,” it said in a sector report on Monday. The firm is negative on the sector.

Property sales, especially in the affordable category, had slowed since the start of the year with measures to curb speculative purchases dampening sentiment in the property market.

The report indicated that the Government was considering additional measures to cool down rising prices with specific plans to address the issue of affordable housing.

Credit Suisse said it believed that measures to facilitate home ownership among the lower and middle income groups such as allowing developer interest bearing schemes for first-time house buyers or those below a certain income level, would be positive for the market.

“However, a blanket policy to stop the rise in property prices would be negative as sentiment is already so low,” it added.

According to the Real Estate Housing Developers Association’s first half of 2014 property industry survey, a majority of developers are either neutral or negative about the outlook for the second half of 2014.

This sentiment is expected to carry through to next year, with only 13% of respondents optimistic about the outlook in the first half of 2015. Developers have been holding back new launches this year, with only 39% of respondents launching in the first half compared with 52% a year ago.

Take-up rates fell to 49% in the period, the first time it dipped below the 50% level.

The main reason for slower sales was the difficulty for buyers in securing financing. Properties priced between RM250,000 and RM500,000 saw a 30% rejection rate, while properties prices between RM500,000 and RM700,000 experienced a rejection rate of 24%.

Additionally, growth in housing loan approvals has slowed since December 2013 and fell 13% year-on-year in July 2014. For the first seven months of the year, total housing loan approvals were up only 1% year-on-year at RM68bil.

But despite the soft market condition, Credit Suisse said it believed that prices would continue on an uptrend next year as input costs are pushed up by the Goods and Services Tax (GST).

“Residential properties are GST exempt, but developers would look to pass on the higher costs via higher launch prices,” it said.

Sources: Credit Suisse/PropertyGuru/The Star/Asia News Network, Wed Sept 17 2014

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Malays are lazy, dishonest and prefer to be Mat Rempit, Tun Dr Mahathir lamented!


Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said Malays are still unwilling to change their “lazy” ways

Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said Malays in the country are lazy, dishonest and complacent.

In an exclusive interview with Mingguan Malaysia, Dr Mahathir said Malay men are also lagging behind the women, with many of them preferring to become ‘Mat Rempits’.

“The Malays are lazy and they are not interested in studying. If we go to the universities, 70% of the students are women, so where are the men?,” he asked.

“They prefer to become Mat Rempit, that is why I said they are lazy,” Dr Mahathir was quoted in the report.

In the interview, the longest serving former premier had also said that the largest race in Malaysia has not changed their “lazy” ways and also lamented over the fact that he has not been able to change that during his tenure as Prime Minister.

“I have never wanted to fool myself. If they’re lazy, I call them lazy. If people don’t like it, then be it. When I was UMNO president, I used to nag all the time,” he said commenting on the criticisms he received over his comments.

Dr. Mahathir also added that apart from being lazy, the Malays tend to be dishonest where money is concerned, and often forget themselves when they have money.

“Now I have a bakery. I want to say honestly, I am ashamed because among the Malay, Chinese or Burmese or any other workers, the Malay ones sometimes when they see money, they forget themselves, they become dishonest,” he said.

He said he was forced to sack many of his Malay staff working in The Loaf, his Japanese-inspired bakery, for swindling money.

In the interview, Dr Mahathir also said that Malays often refuse to pay their debts, although they have the means to do so.

“How many Malays are there who refuse to settle their debts? They receive scholarships and student loans but refuse to pay back.

This is not a question of being unable to, they have the money but just refuse to honour their commitments. We must be honest,” he was quoted.

He said this was the reason why many contacts are being awarded to the Chinese, who he said are more trustworthy, than the Malays.

“We have to be trustworthy so people will give contracts to us. When we want to give contracts, we give to the Chinese instead because we know they will do their work properly. This is our weakness, we are not trustworthy.”

He said Malays should also take the Japanese as an example to become better.

“Why did I introduce the Look East policy in 1982? It was because I admired the Japanese for their attitude when it came to work,” he said.

Contributed by Izza Izelan, Astro Awani September 14, 2014

 

Mahathir Mohamad_Laxy Malays The familiar lamentations of Dr Mahahir

The former premier’s latest remarks about ‘lazy Malays’ cause a stir among Malaysians.

TUN Dr Mahathir Mohamad used to have only two upmarket bakery outlets known as The Loaf – one in the picturesque Telaga Harbour, where luxury yachts berth in Pulau Langkawi, and the other at Pavilion, Kuala Lumpur.

The number of his outlets, which sell breads and pastries using Japanese techniques, has grown to more than five. As such, he has to hire more staff.

A few months ago, a manager was caught stealing money from the cash register.

The suspicion began when the daily collection was not deposited into the bank. The Malay manager was caught red-handed and the incident infuriated Dr Mahathir.

“I am operating a bakery and have given many opportunities to Malays to hold management positions. Unfortunately, time and time again, honesty and integrity appear to be lacking as there have been staff who keep stealing money,” he said at the launch of the book Wahai Melayu: Allah Tak Akan Ubah Nasib Melayu Kalau Kita Tak Ubah Nasib Kita Sendiri by Anas Zubedy.

“They do not seem to understand that it is wrong to take what is not theirs; they do not think of the big picture or the long term,” he said.

The statesman repeated the criticism in an interview with Utusan Malaysia last Sunday.

That led to various interpretations, particularly on his criticism of the leadership, especially the current prime minister, especially at a time when the Umno general assembly is coming up.

But those present at the book launch believe that his remarks were in line with what he has consistently brought up, whenever the occasion suited it. They dismissed any suspicion of political conspiracy.

The book by Anas, a writer and speaker on motivation, is aimed at young Malay entrepreneurs. In the foreword, the author debunks the myth that the Malays are a lazy race who are only good in politics and the arts, but not in business.

“These are self-limiting artificial boundaries and we ought to break them,” he writes.

“What we need to do is to find the right motivation and inspiration for a specific culture like the Malays.”

But in his hard-hitting speech, Dr Mahathir spent 20 minutes arguing that Malays “lack honesty and inte­grity” and that they fail to “handle money properly” unlike the Chinese or even Myanmar nationals.

Ethnic Chinese, he said, were more honest compared to native Malays where money is concerned. He said these were the reasons for the Malays’ economic failures.

“We have to be trustworthy so people will give contracts to us. When we want to give contracts, we give to the Chinese instead because we know they will do their work properly. This is our weakness – not being trustworthy,” he added.

“If we fail, we should not blame anyone but ourselves. We have failed because we did not do what was right,” he said.

In the Utusan interview, Dr Maha­thir said Malay men were still lazy, citing the gender imbalance at institutions of higher learning, where the majority was women.

“They (the men) are not interested in studying and revising. If we go to the universities, 70% of the students are women. Where are the men?”

“They prefer to be Mat Rempit, that is why I said they are lazy.”

Dr Mahathir’s comments raised a storm, with some in social media suggesting that he should be arrested for sedition. The Selangor chapter of Malay rights group Perkasa, however, termed his remarks as “father­­ly advice”.

Veteran journalist Datuk Kadir Ja­­sin reportedly said people should not get upset or sulk over Dr Maha­thir’s remarks, especially with regards to the Malays being lazy, as there were those who were hardworking and excelled in whatever they did.

“Give them a crutch and they will turn it into a paddle and a pillar,” he said, adding that there were those from the community who had succeeded and made a name for themselves in the country and all over the world.

Citing legendary warrior Hang Tuah’s famous rallying cry that Malays would not vanish from the world, Kadir said the Malays were rulers and made up the bulk of the civil service, such as the police force, Customs and Immigration departments, and the teaching profession.

Not all Malaysians would agree with Dr Mahathir’s assessment, with some saying he is still caught up in racial stereotyping, even if it is aimed at his own community.

Nobody in his right mind would say Malays are lazy, Chinese are greedy, or Indians are disho­nest. In fact, few Malaysians, especially the younger ones, would link any race in Malaysia with any specific trait or even a vocation.

The NEP has, in many ways, succeeded in its two-pronged strategy of eradicating poverty for all Ma­­laysians as well as reducing and subsequently eliminating identification of race by economic function and geographical location.

Lazy and indolent natives were a favourite theme of 19th century colonialists who wanted the natives to work at producing food while putting migrants to work on the modern economy for their benefits.

Thus grew the myth of “lazy” natives and this myth continued after independence and was even believed by some Malaysians. It was only put to rest by scholars like Syed Hussein Alatas, who wrote a seminal work The Myth of the Lazy Native to explain British colonial policies.

Dr Mahathir is, however, a smart man.

Not only was he the longest ser­ving prime minister, but he also turned the country into an economic powerhouse, and only smart people could achieve that.

He also believed in throwing good money at individual Malays in the hope that he could achieve a successful Malay entrepreneurial class in a short time.

Some of his efforts ended in failure while others succeeded – but the failures always got the bigger headlines.

Thus was born one of the great themes of his political life – that he had failed to change the Malay mindset and that they preferred to live poor in a rich country.

Thus was also born the phrase, Melayu Mudah Lupa (Malays forget easily).

But while such generalisations will guarantee headlines, the reality is that one simply cannot tar a whole race with the same brush, the way you tar a person or two.

Dr Mahathir might have repeated the “lazy native” syndrome perhaps to get the attention of the Malays, in particular Umno members who are in the midst of division meetings and passing resolutions in support of Islam, Malays and the rulers.

It is a given that even after his retire­ment, Dr Mahathir needs to be at the centre of national life. He needs to have everything revolving around him and needs to command the national dialogue.

So he relies on an old theme that is sure to spark a huge controversy – like the myth of the “lazy Malays”.

But Malaysians want to move on. They want to get out of this race trap and the least said about such stereotyping would be better for Malaysia.

Comments contributed by Baradan Kuppusamy The Star/Asia News Network

The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own.

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Possibility of Third World War as Ukrainian Crisis Deepens!


WW3_EU_Russia
EU vs Russia

As possibility of third world war exists, China needs to be prepared

WW3_US vs Russia US vs Russia

As the Ukrainian crisis deepens, international observers have become more and more concerned about a direct military clash between the US and Russia. Once an armed rivalry erupts, it is likely to extend to the globe. And it is not impossible that a world war could break out.

The world war is a form of war that the whole world should face up to. During human evolution, the world war has entered its third development phase.

The first phase took place between nomadic societies and farming groups. The second phase was featured by colonial wars, with WWI and WWII as its special representatives.

Currently, the world has entered an era of new forms of global war.

Outer space, the Internet and the sea have become the battlefields of rivalry. Technology is the key, and the number of countries involved is unprecedented.

The rivalry on the outer space and the Internet takes place with the rivalry on the sea as the center stage. During WWII, some major powers attached significant importance to the sea.

Alfred Thayer Mahan, a US military strategist who died in 1914, coined the notion of sea power. He advocated valuing the naval forces, commercial fleet and overseas military base, which served for wars on the land.

But nowadays, we stress the importance of power in the sea. Judging from the contention of the global sea space, the Arctic Ocean, the Pacific and the Indian Ocean have seen the fiercest rivalry. It’s likely that there will be a third world war to fight for sea rights.

In an era when a third world war may take place, an important topic for the Chinese military is how to develop its power to maintain its national interests.

This should become the basis for its development, because since the founding of the PRC, the development of its military forces has been centered around maintaining its rights on the land. As the rivalry on the sea grows intense, China’s military development should shift from maintaining the country’s rights on the land to maintaining its rights on the sea.

Meanwhile, China is standing at the focal point of rivalries. This requires China to develop its military power based on a global war. China is in the heartland of the Arctic Ocean, the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean.

The development of China’s sea power touches the nerves of many countries. China needs to develop its military power to avoid being squeezed to a passive position.

China’s overseas interests have spread all over the world. As the US has been shifting its attention to the Asia-Pacific region, especially aiming at China, China’s overseas interests have been increasingly threatened by the US.

Without large-scale military power, securing China’s overseas interests seems like an empty slogan.

The long-range or overseas combat capabilities of China’s sea and air forces are quite limited yet. If we don’t view the development of sea and air forces with a farsighted view, we will face various restraints when building up the combat capabilities of sea and air forces or maintaining overseas interests. This will lead to the backwardness of China’s sea and air forces.

China should not be pushed into a passive position where it is vulnerable to attacks. We must bear a third world war in mind when developing military forces, especially the sea and air forces.

Posted in: Viewpoint By Han Xudong Viewpoint Source: Global Times Published: 2014-9-15 19:38:01

The author is a professor at the PLA National Defense University. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn

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Happy Malaysia Day? Economic assessment by the Performance Management & Delivery (Pemandu)


Pemandu_Happymalaysia

Toll roads criss crossing the nation and subsidsed food and petrol are signs of the nation’s prosperity

IN the cacophony assailing many parts of the world today, and where ills, tensions, warring and strife dictate much of daily life, we are living a life of plenty.

Pemandu_Idris JalaOur political climate is stable. We are at full employment, and our poor have enough to eat. Our children go to school and our graduates have opportunities.

We are attracting investments to our shores and multinationals are setting up shop. We are recognised for our talents and reforms, and are progressing headlong into a high-income, knowledge-based economy by the end of the decade.

If we are to be dictated by commentaries on social media alone, we will be sucked into a vortex of doom and gloom where everything has gone south and we should be defeated.

Social media, being free and rife, opens up also spaces for people to air their grievances whether valid or otherwise. But I believe we are maturing as a society and can learn to differentiate hate speech from the truth of good people trying to do good work to make a real difference for our future.

There is a lot going for us. Our GDP this year beat forecast to grow at 6.3%, while investments continue to impress even the cynical with its 12.1% spike this second quarter at RM53.1bil compared with the same period last year.

As a minister in the Economic Council, I was happy with the World Economic Forum’s resounding recognition of Malaysia as one of the world’s top 20 most competitive nations in the Global Competitiveness Report 2014. They described Malaysia as the highest ranked among the developing Asian economies and highlighted strengths in financial market development, efficiency in goods and services market, and a government that was able to tackle corruption and red tape.

This wasn’t the case just six years ago. In fact it was a whole different scenario, crippling even the best.

The US subprime meltdown sucker-punched Asia squarely in the gut and Malaysia was not spared. We had barely recovered from the economic hit of the 1998 Asian Financial Crisis, weighed down in debt and struggling with a ballooning deficit.

Our Prime Minister stepped into leadership at a particularly chaotic and trying time. America and Europe had plunged into severe economic recession. Asia, skittishly reacting to plummeting demand for its products and services, suffered also a jittery, highly volatile and unpredictable capital market.

The world was mired with insecurities and some first world countries embarked on austerity measures that further slowed any hope for growth and momentum. It was a dark period, especially for a relatively small and open market like Malaysia, straining to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Our Prime Minister recognised we cannot continue with business as usual. We cannot keep doing the same things and expect different results.

We had to act fast, and to take bold, radical steps to arrest slowdown, strengthen economic fundamentals and escalate efforts to grow our sectors to successfully compete with global players.

There was no room for complacency and half-measures.

The New Economic Model

Enter the New Economic Model. In 2009, a panel was convened to diagnose the nation’s economic health and to come up with a plan to transform government and the economy.

What really impressed me about the NEM was its mandate to pursue the high-income agenda, while keeping equally focused on inclusivity and sustainability.

I have often said that achieving high-income as a result of increasing GNI is easy enough. Do a few things right and we will get there.

But it is not enough. As a responsible government, we must make sure everyone benefits from prosperity. This wealth and wellbeing must be sustained so that our children and their children will live in a safe, progressive and prosperous nation.

Even developed countries struggle with the challenge of inclusivity. It is always missing in many international economic models resulting in unequal development – a combustible cocktail that has led to uprising and social dysfunctions as evident in the London riots, the Occupy movement and the Arab Spring.

Which brings me to this critical point that keeps governments awake at night – creating jobs for its people. There is no shortcut to this. It is the basis to secure stability and progress for any country, and allows people to feel confident and hopeful of their future.

The most sustainable way to create high value and quality jobs is through private investments. It is as simple and as complicated as that.

Investments

The domino effect of investment is obvious. Investments create jobs. The more people are gainfully employed, the more revenue a government will receive through tax and consumption. The more revenue we secure, the more government can spend on its people especially the poor and marginalised.

This is the “circle of life”, and private investment is the cog that will turn the wheel.

Under the ETP, private investment grew five times to 15.3% (CAGR 2010-2013) compared to 3.1% (CAGR 2007-2010). These are realised numbers and not merely committed so you can understand why I am very confident our economy is on track. (Chart 1)

Mida’s pipeline of approved investments in the last three years breezed past the goalpost of the 10th Malaysia Plan’s RM148bil annual target. In 2011, we recorded RM154.6bil, 2012 RM167.8bil and just last year, we chalked a whopping RM216.5bil. (Chart 2)

 

The ETP

Under the ETP, we deliberately chose the top 12 sectors which are strong revenue drivers and where we have the confidence to compete. These sectors alone will create 3.3 million high value, high income jobs by 2020.

In fact in 2010-2013, we logged 1.3 million employment in the NKEA universe, putting us on a sure footing.

In an advanced economy, workers will be paid higher wages, and this will lead to higher costs of production. In turn, we will experience a rise in the cost of living.

This is the flipside to being a high-income economy. You cannot have your cake and eat it too.

As long as the rise in income is higher than cost of living people will enjoy higher disposable income.

Today we are already seeing and feeling its effects. With the enforcement of the Minimum Wage Gazette 2013, it is unacceptable for Malaysians to earn less than the Poverty Index Line at RM900 per month (For Sabah and Sarawak, it is at RM800 per month).

Many employers were worried their production costs will escalate and their businesses will shut down. But as evident in many countries applying the same principles, what we will see in due time is efficient use of labour and resources, adoption of technology and overall greater productivity.

Managing finances

The common gripe I hear from some quarters is that they don’t feel the nation’s growing prosperity affecting them in any tangible or meaningful way.

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. We are one of the most heavily subsidised nations in the world where our annual subsidy ticket in recent times rose to a massive RM40bil a year, of which half is used for fuel.

So it is fair to say, each time you fill up the tank in your vehicle, you are feeling the country’s prosperity.

I could draw up a list. Toll roads that crisscross the nation; public hospitals for consultancy and medication capped at RM1 since 1982; billions spent to keep electricity tariffs artificially low; and subsidised food items across the smorgasbord of gas, cooking oil and rice.

There are four ways to fix our problems:

1. Reduce expenses

We are carrying a debt burden of RM568.9bil since the 1998 crisis. The government has over the years, borrowed money for development as a result of channelling revenue to subsidies.

This is untenable and unsustainable with the ballooning subsidy bill.

It is easy to keep dolling out the feel-good factors of more and more subsidies. But living this fantasy will only plunge our next generation into a quagmire of liabilities and the slow debilitation of a society in regress.

We have to gradually reduce our subsidies. This is the bullet we have to bite.

To give you a sense of possibilities, if we were to reduce fuel subsidies by 30% or 50% – and it is a reasonable expectation – that will release about RM15bil-RM20bil that can make tremendous headways in the lives of the country’s bottom 40%.

2. Increase revenue

GST will come into effect next year and will broaden our tax base. Currently only 1 million people pay tax for a nation of 29 million.

As a consumption tax, anybody buying will be contributing to the national revenue. Of course basic products and services will be exempted from GST to safeguard the interests of the vulnerable.

Even at 6%, it is estimated that we will be able to capture RM22bil in revenue annually whereas with the current sales and services tax we have been able to earn about RM15bil-RM16bil annually.

Once we are able to reach the international benchmark for GST, the upside potential in terms of revenue is tremendous. We can do a lot for infrastructure and people development, and improve our social safety nets.

3. Reduce deficit

In 2013, Malaysia for the first time moved into the fiscal Safe Zone matrix developed by the Boston Consulting Group.

The “safe zone” is for countries whose public debt is below 75% of GDP and deficit is at 4% of GDP or below. Public debt equals or above the GDP and deficit of 8% and above places a country in the “Danger Zone”.

With much resolve, we reduced fiscal deficit in the last three years from 6.6% in 2009 to 3.9% last year. We remain on track for this year’s 3.5% reduction, and by 2020, are confident of hitting budget neutral, as targeted. We are also steadfast in maintaining our debt below the 55% legislated ceiling. (Chart 3)

4. Proliferation of entrepreneurship and innovation

I am passionate about efforts to create conditions for people to become self-employed and run thriving businesses.

There is much room for growth amongst Malaysian SMEs. Local businesses are fighting for slivers of a domestic pie when in reality the world has opened up to us. We must let go of our comfort zones and learn to ride the waves.

Although Malaysia entered the industrial sector aggressively at about the same time as Taiwan and South Korea, we lag behind them in terms of innovation. Samsung is a great example of brand that has captured the imagination of a global audience and today takes on the likes of Apple.

Agencies such as Mida, SME Corp and Agensi Inovasi Malaysia (AIM) are here to support local companies so they are able to step up but companies themselves must develop a strong appetite for competition and become global champions.

It is inaccurate to say the government is doing very little to make things better for the rakyat today. To put it into perspective, you will feel the transformation if you are the segments we are reaching out to:

> 5.16 million students benefit from highly subsidised public education

> School students have not been left out. 1.2 million tertiary education students received RM250 book vouchers via the Baucar Buku 1Malaysia, whilst 5.2 million students received RM100 via the Back to School Assistance initiative

> The government also opened 6,843 pre-school classes and trained 20,138 pre-school teachers. Total enrolment of pre-schooling children increased to 81.7% or 793,269 with more children having better access to quality early childhood education and getting a head start before primary school

> More than 10 million people use public hospitals and clinics, benefitting from affordable health and care in 2012 alone

> 4.6 million out of 6.5 million households benefit from free and low electricity tariff

> 22 million registered cars and motorcycles in Malaysia with 13 million licensed drivers directly enjoying cheap fuel everyday

> 4 million people are using toll roads in Malaysia

> Commuters on public transportation benefit from the additional 38 new six car train sets on the KTM Komuter service. We also introduced 35 sets of new four car trains for the LRT Kelana Jaya line, created a new integrated transport terminal at Bandar Tasik Selatan and revamped Puduraya. They are now more spacious and convenient. Every single one of the 400,000 daily commuters feel the transformation.

> Tackling the bottom 40% enabled us to reach and improve the lives of 188,000 individuals who are now lifted out of poverty, of which 89% recorded increased income levels

> We worked on 54,000 hard core poor families and gave them cash every day in order to ensure they had enough to feed their children and put a roof over their heads

> In ‘teaching them how to fish’, these individuals were required to choose one of the 1AZAM programmes under the GTP so they could start their own small business and become self-sustainable

> Over 5,300 women entrepreneurs profited from training and reskilling to improve their economic value via micro credit assistance

> We have built over 4000 km of rural roads that is comparable to driving from Johor Baru to Dhaka, Bangladesh. About 2.1 million people have gained, allowing rural communities to trade and access goods and services

> 61,062 houses have been built and restored for the rural poor, benefiting 305,300 people

> Overall, a total of 5.1 million people have benefited from basic infrastructure such as new roads, and access to clean water and electricity

> Over 6.8 million low income Malaysians received assistance via BR1M

> Malaysia is only one of few countries that regulate and control many food items and this means all Malaysians can enjoy low food prices every day. Our CPI has been kept under check and has been easing slowly in recent months as prices begin to moderate

Government innovation

In July this year, Pemandu was rated one of the top 20 Leading Government Innovation Teams Worldwide by Bloomberg Philanthropies and Nesta. The accolade testifies to the commitment and work from our Prime Minister, ministries, agencies and civil servants.

It is also a recognition of Pemandu’s 8-step transformation process. A systematic and structured approach incorporating diagnosis, planning, execution and feedback – securing transparency and accountability.

Besides tracking Ministerial KPIs and holding regular Steering Committee Meetings, the Problem Solving Methodology (also known as the Putrajaya Inquisition) is held twice a year with the Prime Minister and top government officials to identify problems, make decisions and move milestone projects forward.

Success in sight

In the long-term, our economic transformation will bear fruits so all Malaysians – including the middle-class – will meaningfully gain. Better incomes, quality education, efficient public infrastructure, cleaner and greener cities, higher-paying jobs for graduates, and transparency and governance. These are fair expectations to ask of a government.

It is every government’s mandate to prioritise its citizen’s needs and to put in place policies that will safeguard the public’s wellbeing for this and future generations. We are no different. Even as we battle to steer the country into the economic ‘safe zone’, we must continue to be in service of the rakyat so that no one is left behind.

As evident, all of us are already ‘feeling’ the benefits of government initiatives in small and big ways and our lives are better for it.

It is about time we give credit where credit is due i.e. to our Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, Ministers, Chief Secretary and the civil servants.

Our Prime Minister has provided the right leadership to steer us in transforming towards achieving vision 2020. There is no doubting the results delivered so far since he became Prime Minister, although more needs to be done.

Having worked in his Cabinet for the last five years, I can say categorically that he works extremely hard and is totally committed to doing what is best for the country.

Given the various polarities of views and divergence of opinions amongst our multi religious and multi-ethnic society, he is taking us through a path of moderation.

I know a lot of people would prefer him to take their extreme position but as the leader of our country, it takes wisdom on his part to avoid knee-jerk reactions. Even if he is often provoked, he is patient enough to stay the course of moderation for the sake of our beloved country, Malaysia

I am a believer that Malaysia will stride on regardless of the bumps on the path to 2020. We must be patient even as we relentlessly pursue our goals.

As a Malaysian and Sarawakian, I wish each and everyone Happy Malaysia Day.

 By Idris Jala Transformation Unplugged The Star

Datuk Seri Idris Jala is CEO of Pemandu and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department. Fair and reasonable comments are most welcome at idrisjala@pemandu.gov.my

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Malaysian education: UPSR Exam leaks, okay to cheat our kids!


UPSR leak

 

Testing times indeed!

 

The UPSR leak fiasco seems to suggest we are in a real state of crisis and we are sending out a wrong messages to our kids – it is okay to cheat!

IT’S really incredible how so many of us have reacted over the leaked examination papers of the UPSR, which is merely an assessment examination for Year Six pupils. Yes, for 12-year-old pupils who are taking their first public examination.

The UPSR, to put it bluntly, has no serious bearing on how these kids will perform in future examinations nor will it have any impact on their careers.

But I guess not many would agree with my somewhat frivolous perception of the UPSR, judging from the kind of reaction that seems to suggest we are in a real state of crisis.

Education Ministry officials have been suspended, there are allegations of sabotage, possibly even political ones, and the police have been called in.

We hope the Inspector-General of Police won’t have to personally head a task force to nab the culprits.

I am not sure whether parents are upset that the papers were leaked, which in itself is incredulous, and a resit would mean the children having to go through another round of pressure, or is it because their holiday plans are now ruined?

The sad reality is that this is a country where parents and students are obsessed with the number of distinctions that one gets in public examinations.

Nowhere in the world, except perhaps in some other East Asian countries, do examination results hit the front page of the newspapers, or lead off the prime time news on national television.

And each year, we compare results like the way public companies compare their profit margins. The pressure is always to trend upwards. So, the focus will invariably be about how many more students have the perfect string of As as compared to the year before, giving the impression that we are in the business of producing super achievers.

Although the majority of students do not belong in this category, the perception is created that super-duper results are the passport for our children to become doctors, lawyers and engineers, and nothing less.

And every year, we have the same problem where the demand for places in universities for these courses far outstrips supply simply because there are so many students with the “right grades”.

Yet, many employers and top-notch foreign universities do question whether their grades actually match their abilities, and have their own ways to sieve out the real talents.

There are suspicions that we have lowered the passing marks and compromised our standards and in the process allowed more students to get these distinctions.

Of course, there are many who truly deserve the As, but it is most unfortunate that there are also those whose As can be questioned.

Forgive me if I sound dismissive and cynical because I come from the old school where we took our first public examination at Standard Five. That was the assessment examination and most parents would not get excited over the outcome of our performance.

It was kid’s stuff and they knew there was little bearing on our future, except perhaps to be enrolled into better classes or schools at the secondary level.

But when we took the Form Three Lower Certificate of Education, which is today’s equivalent of the PMR, it was real serious. You got kicked out from school if you failed.

That’s how it worked at that time with no free ride to the Fifth Form. The LCE required compulsory passes in Bahasa Malaysia, English and Mathematics.

The maximum number of As one could get was eight. If you got 5As, your name would probably show up in the newspapers.

But the standards were such that the grades truly reflected your real ability. An A in English for the LCE meant that you were speaking and writing the Queen’s English at that age already.

Today, most of our Form 3 students cannot even string a sentence together in English correctly. The fact that we are now considering including a compulsory pass in English at university level indicates that an A in that subject, whether at the UPSR, PMR or SPM level, is no longer an accurate reflection of one’s English proficiency.

After the LCE, we sat for the Malaysian Certificate of Education (MCE) where the maximum number of As was nine. It was a time when many Malaysians found places, on scholarships, to Ivy League universities in the United States and to Oxford or Cambridge in the United Kingdom. Yes, our MCE grades were deemed equal to the internationally-acknowledged O-Levels.

Now, despite the proliferation of the super achievers, we are told that fewer Malaysians are being admitted into these top universities.

And our students now have to prove their English proficiency to handle tertiary education overseas by taking the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) paper.

Let’s get our priorities right. The fact that the English paper was leaked even at Year Six level suggests that students are looking for help to pass a subject which they know is important.

What a contrast from those days when we had English-medium schools and getting a pass in English was not all that difficult.

And it is not just about the students. Two years ago, it was revealed that two-thirds of the 70,000 teachers who teach English in the country failed to meet the proficiency level in English for the Cambridge Placement Test.

The findings were revealed by the then Education Ministry deputy director-general Datuk Dr Khair Mohamad Yusof.

“When we did the initial profiling of the English teachers in Malaysia, we found that two-thirds of the teachers did not meet the proficiency level,” Dr Khair, who is now the director-general, was quoted as saying.

We really should be worried about how we can improve the standard of our education. There are many who love to score political points out of issues that affect our children’s education, including the UPSR leak fiasco.

We should start by doing a survey on how many of these politicians actually send their children to the government schools. Or are their own children not part of the system, but are instead in private or international schools, or even boarding schools overseas?

Let’s not play around with our children’s future. Year Six students shouldn’t be subjected to pressure cooker conditions in preparing for the examinations. And with this leak, we are now sending out a message that it is okay to cheat, even at this tender age.

Contributed by Wong Chun Wai on the beat The Star/Asia News Network

Wong Chun Wai began his career as a journalist in Penang, and has served The Star for over 27 years in various capacities and roles. He is now the group’s managing director/chief executive officer and formerly the group chief editor.

http://www.wongchunwai.com/

On The Beat made its debut on Feb 23 1997 and Chun Wai has penned the column weekly without a break, except for the occasional press holiday when the paper was not published. In May 2011, a compilation of selected articles of On The Beat was published as a book and launched in conjunction with his 50th birthday. Chun Wai also comments on current issues in The Star.

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