GE13: DAP, a clever ruse to kill two birds with one stone? Naughty, dishonest ROS?

A decision by the Registrar of Societies (ROS) not to recognise the DAP’s central executive committee due to its controversial party elections held in December last year has kicked up a storm within the party’s top brass. 

Lim Kit Siang in tearsDAP_Lim-Kit-Siang-in-tears

A LETTER from the Registrar of Societies (ROS) on Wednesday has become a bone of contention with DAP leaders, who now want to contest the general election using the PAS and PKR symbols.

At an EGM at the party headquarters on Thursday night, the leaders debated the letter from ROS and at a press conference afterwards they slammed the ROS and its “despicable act” to stop the DAP from contesting in the elections.

The ROS letter, DAP claimed, means that its central executive committee (CEC) is now powerless, that its secretary-general Lim Guan Eng cannot sign any letter of authorisation for election candidates and that the DAP can no longer use its cherished Rocket symbol.

Ros_Abd Rahman

The letter, however, merely states that the ROS is studying the party’s registration following a dispute among DAP members over the Dec 15 elections.

The letter also says, pending the final disposal of the dispute, the CEC that came into power after the elections is not recognised.

But the DAP seized the letter as an opportunity to grandstand and turn the blade against the Barisan Nasional, claiming that they have been made powerless and unfit to contest in the elections.

Guan Eng was visibly angry and his father, party adviser Lim Kit Siang, was in tears as they announced, with great emotional effect, the alleged import of the letter a day before nominations.

They also issued an ultimatum that the ROS must withdraw its letter by 3pm yesterday or the DAP will contest under the banner of its allies.

Any verbal reassurances by the Election Commission or ROS that the DAP could continue to use its Rocket banner and issue authorisation letters were not good enough.The ROS letter must be withdrawn.

With an eye on the Chinese voters, the DAP has interpreted the ROS letter as it wants and is laying down impossible conditions that government agencies cannot adhere to.

The ROS has been probing a dispute over the Dec 15 CEC elections after several DAP members lodged complaints with the ROS and demanded action.

Their complaints centred on a rectification of the results announced by the party, nearly a month after the party elections, that an error had occurred in the counting of votes using a spreadsheet software.

In the rectification, Guan Eng’s political secretary Zairil Khir Johari, who initially lost in the election of 20 CEC members, had actually won the 20th spot.

The party claimed the delay in announcing the new results was because of the holiday season and on learning the mistake, the DAP had bravely faced it and rectified it.

But members cried foul and started going to the ROS, complaining about various shortcomings in the election, including alleging that there was a deliberate attempt to manipulate the results.

They alleged that no Malay candidates had won and that the party leaders saw fit to “elect” one after the elections were long over.

They also alleged that over 700 party members were not notified of the AGM and had not participated and had they voted, the results would have been different.

The DAP members from Sepang, Seremban and Johor have been persistent in their complaints, even bringing their own counsels to the ROS.

Zairil, after his election as a CEC member, was named as candidate for the Bukit Bendera parliamentary seat, vacated by Liew Chin Tong who has moved to contest the Kluang parliamentary seat.

Whether intentionally or not, the ill-timed letter from the ROS has been seized by the DAP for its own grand theatre ahead of nominations today.

Inevitably, the Barisan is on the receiving end of a drama that is played before the Malaysian public, as a case of outright repression of the DAP.

This despite a statement by ROS director-general Datuk Abdul Rahman Othman, issued late yesterday, that the DAP is not de-registered and that the party can use the Rocket symbol.

Deregistration is not a new thing in our politics and has happened many times before, including to Umno in 1988, and if any such calamities were to fall on the DAP, it is not an exception but the rule. It is how the ROS keeps political parties in check.

But for now, the fact remains that the ROS letter does not even mention deregistration but the DAP leaders are stretching it, for their own political purposes, to read what they want into it an act of repression against the DAP.

As such, they say they have no choice but to use the PAS and PKR symbols.

DAP has been grandstanding on using the PAS symbol since last month and PAS has been reciprocating that the DAP is free to use the party’s moon symbol.

The political implications of this are obvious the DAP using the PAS symbol will force Chinese voters to view PAS favourably while at the same time dispelling the notion, held among many Malays, that the DAP is Chinese-centric, anti-Islam and anti-Malay.

It’s a clever ruse by the DAP, helped along by PAS, to kill two birds with one stone.

Naughty, dishonest ROS

QUESTION TIME  It looks like other Malaysian bodies besides those responsible for curbing corruption are being “naughty and dishonest”, the latest being the Registrar of Societies (ROS) which has draconian powers to oversee societies, including political parties.

Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud famously (notoriously?) labelled the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) investigation of himself for graft as “victimisation”, and reserved his cooperation because he believed that they have been “naughty and dishonest”.

“They (MACC) don’t deserve my cooperation because they have been naughty… and they have not been honest,” he said recently.

Change some names, and the DAP is now a victim of “naughty and dishonest” investigation by the ROS. This is likely closer to the truth than the MACC allegations by Taib who continues unscathed despite everything. What’s more, delve deeper into the latest issue and you will wade deep into a conspiracy theory to rival any book by Jeffrey Archer.

NONEThe DAP – yes, to its discredit then – had a “technical glitch” during its December elections for the central executive committee (CEC) which resulted in a minor revision to its election results. The studious ROS began investigations, but only decided not to recognise DAP’s CEC several months later, yesterday – just two days before nomination day. How convenient.

According to DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, the letter was faxed to the DAP headquarters at 5.45pm yesterday in very questionable circumstances.

In a report by Malaysiakini, Lim (above) told reporters that ROS director-general Abdul Rahman Othman had personally met him in his office in Penang on April 5, where the latter agreed to postpone the ‘routine’ investigations in view of the looming elections to May 9, four days after the elections.

“Abdul Rahman personally guaranteed to me that he would not make any decision until investigations are complete, and until he obtains a full report from his investigator.”

But then the letter not to recognise the DAP’s CEC still came.

Lim has cried foul, and indeed that is what it is, coming so late in the day when the ROS has had many months to investigate the “technical glitch”.

Meantime, the Election Commission said that the DAP will be able to field candidates as usual on nomination day, regardless of the Registrar of Societies’ decision to suspend the party’s central committee.

‘No comfort at all for DAP’

Should that not give some comfort to DAP that it can contest under its own banner and put up its own slate? Apparently not, and here is where the conspiracy and plot thickens and links up with the other ingredients for a good, juicy stew.

What gives? If the ROS does not recognise the DAP’s CEC and has given notice to the DAP that it does not recognise the CEC before nomination day, how can the CEC make any legally binding decision on its slate of candidates? There is the possibility that its entire slate of candidates can be disqualified on nomination day itself.

Even if they are not on nomination day tomorrow, post-elections, it is possible to challenge the legality of DAP’s candidates. A compliant judiciary could negate the results of elections where DAP candidates stood. And if DAP MPs and state assemblypersons are suspended on Monday May 6 – the day after the elections – via court injunction, power can’t be handed over.

mahathir um forum 140313 01Thus far, three agencies are implicated in this conspiracy: The ROS with its draconian powers granted during ex-PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s (right) dictatorial grip on the country when he tightened laws for societies to bring them under control; the supposedly independent, but not so independent Election Commission and its assurance which may lull DAP into complacency; and a compliant judiciary, courtesy again of Mahathir, which may be willing to play ball.

The bigger question is, who is the puppeteer pulling the strings behind the curtains? And are they actually so desperate and so fearful of losing as to resort to such measures to deny free and fair elections to remain in power? Indeed, is there such a plot in the first place?

Obviously, the DAP cannot and will not take chances, and unless it has iron-clad assurances that it can use its own logo and put up its own candidates, it will go ahead with its plans of standing under the PAS banner in the peninsular, and PKR for Sabah and Sarawak.

If they have to, it will be a major challenge, but the plot will backfire for those who may have engineered this whole thing. It will only help to push the somewhat disparate partners in Pakatan Rakyat even closer together and hasten the day when they will all stand under one banner.

And it is going to sicken further all right-thinking, reasonable and responsible Malaysians who badly – very badly – want to see elections fought on even terrain with everyone given equal opportunity to express their views and get their message across. So no one has an unfair advantage or obstacle.

Any measure which further enhances Pakatan Rakyat’s image as the underdog will help the coalition more than it harms.

BY P Gunasegaram
P GUNASEGARAM is founding editor of KiniBiz. He enjoyed reading Jeffrey Archer’s “First Among Equals”, especially the final twist about who would become prime minister.

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NFCorp Boss Charged With CBT in ‘Cowgate’ scandal!


KUALA LUMPUR: The executive chairman of the National Feedlot Corporation Sdn Bhd has claimed trial at the Sessions Court here to two counts of committing breach of trust and two counts of violating the Companies Act 1965 involving RM49.7mil.

Datuk Seri Dr Mohamad Salleh Ismail, 64, arrived in court at 2.15pm accompanied by his wife Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, their eldest son Wan Shahinur Izmir and other family members.

The charges were read to Dr Mohamad Salleh at 2.27pm before judge S.M. Komathy Suppiah in a packed courtroom.

The proceedings yesterday marked a new chapter in the NFCorp controversy which arose after the Auditor-General’s 2010 Report highlighted the failure of the National Feedlot Centre to achieve its target, and which grew with revelations that the company had used the government-funded soft loan for purposes not related to cattle breeding.

Dr Mohamad Salleh was charged with dishonestly misusing funds amounting to RM9,758,140 through four cheques to partly finance the purchase of two units of One Menerung Condominium in Block B here for the National Meat and Livestock Corporation Sdn Bhd, which he owns with one of his sons.

Day in court: Datuk Seri Dr Mohamad Salleh Ismail (right) leaving the courthouse after being charged. Also present were his wife Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil and their son Wan Shahinur Izmir Salleh (below).

According to the charge, he committed the offence in his capacity as an NFCorp director entrusted with control over the company’s assets.

He is said to have committed the offence at CIMB Islamic Bank Bhd in Jalan Burhanuddin Helmi, Taman Tun Dr Ismail, here between Dec 1 and 4, 2009.

Dr Mohamad Salleh was charged under Section 409 of the Penal Code which carries a jail term of up to 20 years, a fine and whipping.

He is also accused under Section 132(2)(a) of the Companies Act 1965 of committing the offence without approval from an annual general meeting of NFCorp to gain profit directly.

He is also accused of transferring NFCorp’s funds of RM40mil through a cheque into the National Meat and Livestock Corporation’s account at the same bank from May 6 to Nov 16, 2009.

For this, he faces charges of criminal breach of trust and violating the Companies Act.

Deputy Public Prosecutors Dzulkifli Ahmad, Awang Armadajaya Awang Mahmud and Azimul Azami prosecuted while the defence was led by Badrul Munir Bukhari.

Pleading for a lower bail, counsel Badrul Munir said Dr Mohamad Salleh had given his full cooperation to the police and prosecution, and his client was in court to clear his name. He applied to release the accused on a RM50,000 personal bond for each charge.

Dzulkifli said the prosecution had no objection to the application as they did not see why Dr Mohamad Salleh would flee the country. He, however, said the accused should surrender all his travel documents to the court.

Dzulkifli applied to the court under Section 165 of the Criminal Procedure Code for a single trial for all the charges.

Judge Komathy agreed to a single trial and set bail of RM500,000 with one surety for all four charges.

She also ordered Mohamad Salleh to surrender his passport pending mention of his case on April 13.

Wan Shahinur Izmir paid the bail.

Shahrizat was impassive in court and declined to speak to reporters after the proceedings.

Malaysian minister to step down in midst of ‘Cowgate’ scandal

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, right, is greeted by Malaysian Minister of Women, Family, and Community Development Shahrizat Abdul Jalil before a town hall event at the International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilization on Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (EVAN VUCCI / AP)

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, right, is greeted by Malaysian Minister of Women, Family, and Community Development Shahrizat Abdul Jalil before a town hall event at the International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilization on Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (EVAN VUCCI / AP)

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — A Malaysian minister said Sunday she will step down amid accusations that her family misused a 250 million ringgit ($83 million) government loan meant for a cattle project to purchase condominiums, vacations and a Mercedes.

The scandal, dubbed “Cowgate,” has greatly embarrassed Prime Minister Najib Razak ahead of general elections widely expected to be called by June.

After months of resisting calls from critics to step down, Shahrizat Abdul Jalil said she will resign as minister of women, family and community on April 8 once her term as senator ends.

Shahrizat said her decision had nothing to do with the cattle project run by her husband and three children but that she is stepping down as a “responsible member of the government.” She will, however, stay on as chief of the women’s wing of the ruling Malay party.

The scandal emerged last year after the auditor-general’s annual report said the National Feedlot Center run by Shahrizat’s family had not met its goal of making the country 40 per cent self-sufficient in beef production by 2010.

Since then, opposition parties have accused the company of using a government loan allocated for cattle rearing to purchase property including luxury condominiums in Malaysia and Singapore and other personal items. Shahrizat’s family has denied any wrongdoing, saying the company was allowed to use the loan at its discretion and that the properties would earn it rental income.

Police have recommended that the company’s directors be charged with criminal breach of trust but the attorney-general has asked police to conduct further investigations.

Najib said Shahrizat’s resignation was a sacrifice in the interest of the government and party.

“Although there is no proof so far that she had committed any offence in terms of law, because the (project) has drawn controversy and dispute, she was willing to withdraw from the government,” the national Bernama news agency quoted him as saying.

Analysts said Shahrizat’s resignation wasn’t surprising as Najib isn’t likely to renew her senatorship.

“Cowgate is a big blow to Najib as it shows he is slow to act on allegations of high-level corruption,” said James Chin, a political science lecturer at Monash University in Malaysia.

Najib’s National Front coalition suffered its worst performance in 2008 polls, losing more than a third of Parliament’s seats to a resurgent opposition amid widespread discontent over the government’s handling of problems such as corruption and racial discrimination.

While the ruling coalition isn’t expected to lose power in upcoming polls, scandals such as Cowgate make it tougher for Najib to consolidate his power. General elections are not due until 2013 but are widely expected in the next few months.

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Will 11.11.11 be lucky for you? Do you have superpowers, politician?

Will 11.11.11 be lucky for you?

It’s finally 11.11.11 today! A date that had been widely speculated as being either auspicious or really unlucky. Numerologist Sanjay B Jumaani tells us why this date is such a huge deal, in his own words.

11.11.11 has already put people in a tizzy, from expectant mothers wanting to check if it’s an auspicious day to deliver, to many couples wishing to tie the knot. And in fact, the sequence of numbers has also become popular for product or service launches, and other planned events – as the date is easy to remember. Even Hollywood is not far behind – with a film being made on it and even titled, “11/11/11”. Closer home, director Imtiaz Ali and Ashtavinayak, the producers of the much awaited Ranbir Kapoor starrer, “Rockstar” have chosen the date, considering it auspicious.

We always discourage expectant mothers to ‘choose’ the delivery date urging them to leave it to Mother Nature, unless in specific complicated cases where it is compulsory to opt for a C-section. 11/11/11 as a date is particularly special because of the repetitions of No 1, but apart from that, each number or planet has its own beauty and charm, lending us both strengths and weakness. This date is governed by primarily number 2 (1+1=2) Moon, number 9, Mars (Scorpio Ruler) and number 8, Saturn (11+11+2011=8). Let’s analyse this…

It’s a moon walk!: People born on the 2, 11, 20 and 29 in any month are termed as number 2 people, ruled by the Moon. Cancerians are also governed by Moon. In fact, the first time man set foot on the Moon, it was a date adding to number 2 (July 20), which was also during the Cancer period when Moon is in full flow. Moon, as one can see is a dreamy, romantic, gentle, but laid-back planet that lends gift of imagination, and creativity, hence, most number 2 people are very gifted and talented. Many songs in Bollywood have been inspired, and pictured on the Moon. Some of the great Bollywood actors of all times are ruled by number 2, such as Amitabh Bachchan – (October 11), Shah Rukh Khan – (November 2), Sanjay Dutt (July 29), Ajay Devgn (April 2).

Also number 2 Moon-ruled Cancerians to have made it big are Priyanka Chopra – (July 18) and Katrina (July 16).

So a person born on such a date would surely have some great talents, but the Moon also has a flip side – it can make a person restless, moody and lack continuity in plans. Moon as we know effects even the vast ocean. The high and low tides in the ocean are due to the phases of the Moon.

A study even revealed that lunatics are most affected during the full moon. Hence, it is also considered inauspicious to start something during such a period. During 11/11/11, the Moon will be on the decline, hence one must not attempt anything important, unless it cannot be helped. As per astrology, it is generally safe to venture out when the Moon is about to grow.

Why men are from Mars: Number 9, Mars – (Scorpio Ruler) is a fiery hot planet. Scorpions or those born on the 9, 18, 27 are hence, usually impulsive, accident prone, stubborn and inflexible.

However, one must not over do red as Mars is fiery, and can make one impulsive, rash. World over, the accident ratio of red cars is the highest amongst all colours. Most countries use red as a signal of warning or to symbolise ‘stop’ for road signals.

Meet the lord of judgement: 11+11+2011 = 8 which is Saturn (Shani) is known to be the strict Lord of Judgement. So, those born on 8, 17 and 26, along with Aquarians, Librans and Capricorns are influenced by number 8. Saturn may appear to many as harsh, but is actually ‘just’. Look at the Libran symbol – the weighing scale – which means balance.

To sum it up 11/11/11, I would say, treat it just like a normal day of the year, and you may not have many problems. You should, however, refrain from using 11/11/11 as an auspicious date even if you may think it is so, because as they say – it can be lucky for some, but not for others. So, better not take a chance.

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YB a mind reader?


If you are not the Prime Minister or on whispering terms with him, don’t pretend you know when the election will be called.

“Just because you wear a T-shirt with a Superman logo, it does not mean you have superpowers”

EVEN at the eleventh hour, some Malay­sians were still speculating whether something big – other than the once-in-a-lifetime wedding date – would happen on 11.11.11.

Yesterday, my smartphone was bombarded with SMSes asking whether Parliament would be dissolved today.

The spread of such speculation can be blamed on politicians who think they can read the Prime Minister’s mind.

Since speculating on the election date has fevered Malaysians, let me list 11 things po-liticians – to borrow a DAP battle cry in the Sarawak polls – should ubah (change) about themselves.

1) If you are not the Prime Minister or on whispering terms with him, don’t pretend you know when the election will be called.

Yes, it is a powerful feeling to have people lean closer to listen to your theory that it is 11.11.11 because 11 is the PM’s favourite number. But such coffeeshop talk is not good for those planning a life in November.

2) Don’t be a jack-in-a-box politician.

Just like a certain party president who appeared out of nowhere and was PhotoShopped cycling next to the Prime Minister, there are political unknowns who suddenly pop out like a jack-in-a-box.

On the day Parliament is dissolved, they declare themselves a candidate.

If you want to be a candidate, at least let your presence be felt. Perhaps tweet (ie on the Auditor-General’s Report) or lead a fiery protest against something (ie Elton John’s concert).

3) Don’t be a foul-mouthed politician.

Just because you wear a T-shirt with a Superman logo, it does not mean you have superpowers to abuse your rivals with expletives that will make even Kim Kardashian blush. Win over your voters with a cause.

4) Don’t pull a Carlos Tevez.

Make sure that you don’t miscalculate and book your holiday on the day Parliament is dissolved. If not, you would end up holidaying in China while your comrades are campaigning.

They would accuse you of behaving like the Manchester City striker who was charged for refusing to play when told to do so by his coach.

Perhaps you should listen to more coffee shop talk on when Parliament will be dissolved.

5) Don’t be a yo-yo politician.

Meaning: don’t be consistently inconsistent. Don’t say “yes” to hudud today and “no” tomorrow. Chameleons are great for the Animal Planet series but not for Parliament.

6) Stop being a drain-orientated politician.

If you are a politician of a certain status (ie an exco member), don’t proudly tweet that you are solving your constituents’ drainage problem.

Your state has bigger problems than a blocked drain. Leave that to your municipal councillors.

7) Be a frog prince.

Don’t be a political frog who would jump party the moment you experience a political awakening while sleeping in Parliament.

Surprise your voters so that when they “kiss” ugly you, you turn out to be a frog prince as honourable as Nelson Mandela.

8) If you are not Nelson Mandela, don’t compare yourself to Nelson Mandela.

There are politicians from both sides of the political spectrum who have shamelessly compared themselves to Mahatma Gandhi, Dalai Lama and Nelson Mandela.

Funny thing is that some of them are more Silvio Berlusconi than Mandela.

9) Quit if you are a has-been politician.

There’s nothing more dangerous than a politician who is looking at the rear-view mirror of his political career.

A has-been politician might join a “trustworthy” non-governmental organisation and start accusing his party of things (ie corrupt practices) he was blind to when he was in power.

10) Don’t promise to build a bridge even when there’s no river.

That’s all. Oops, only 10 whereas I promised 11. Well, like a politician, I lied.

Budget 2012 to ride Malaysia Election, a wake up call!

Good handouts before election

Comment By Baradan Kuppusamy

The Prime Minister is hoping to draw support with the goodies promised under the Budget as the battle in the next general election looms large.

THE Budget 2012 announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak in Parliament on Friday specifically targets selected groups like civil servants, retired military personnel, other pensioners, students, policemen and even taxi drivers who are all crucial to Barisan Nasional in the coming general election.

They form a large chunk of Malaysian voters and with their support, Najib is hoping to ride the 13th general election in style in the “do or die” battle ahead.

Najib has spread out the budget’s largesse with care across the political spectrum, making every ringgit count and for the first time, also to Chinese, Tamil, mission and madrasah schools to upgrade their facilities.

Najib hopes to shore up support from these groups or win back some that were lost to the Pakatan Rakyat coalition which has been promising assistance to marginalised communities with its alternative budget as read out by its leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim at a press conference three days earlier.

The Treasury-bursting Budget is generous with civil servants about 1.3 million of them who are expected to be the backbone of support for Barisan Nasional.

(See Next: The best civil servants in the world – MALAYSIA BOLEH)

They get the retirement age raised to 60, a half-month bonus or RM500 minimum, and a new salary scheme that would see quick promotion and wage rise.

The populist measure to abolish school fees, although small by middle-class standards, would be a big, annual sum for the poor and well received. A universal and free education is the dream of most democracies.

In addition, RM100 to each student from Year 1 to Form 5 and a RM200 book voucher for students in Form Six and tertiary institutions would bring cheer to many school goers living in the lower income brackets.

For the first time too, the Government is specially addressing Tamil, Chinese and madrasah schools with RM100mil each to upgrade facilities.

Whereas help was doled out on an ad-hoc basis before, now these schools can plan and upgrade their facilities, classrooms and other amenities with money available. This allocation buys both MIC and MCA bragging rights with the people.

Business, environment and other special groups, usually targeted under previous budgets, were largely ignored or given token assistance.

The assistance given to taxi drivers is extraordinary and come several months after those in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor gathered and met Anwar at the Civic Centre here to highlight their plight.

Anwar had promised them a better deal when Pakatan Rakyat comes to power.

In this budget, Najib is seeking to wean taxi drivers off from Pakatan Rakyat. The budget has many goodies for them, abolishing exercise duties and sale tax for their taxis.

Additionally, road tax has been abolished and a payment of RM3,000 announced for disposing of old taxies. BSN will also have cheap loans at 2% interest for acquiring new taxis.

Taxi drivers are important during general election as they are used to ferry voters to and from polling booths by both coalitions. Having them behind you is opportune. Besides, they also talk with passengers and woo them.

Rural Malaysia, especially Sabah and Sarawak, will get the lion’s share of the rural allocation of RM5bil to upgrade basic facilities, provide clean water and electricity, which alone has been given RM3.2bil.

It is a recognition that the rural vote in Sabah and Sarawak saved Barisan in 2008 and heavy emphasis is given to them to keep the rural votes.

Najib is laying out the red carpet to the rural voters, even the estates have been included this time with a RM100mil allocation for clean water supply. No longer do they have to depend on dirty ponds for their water supply.

Najib’s emphasis is on the Barisan mainstay groups rural folk, civil servants, retired military personnel and others to shore up support for the ruling coalition.

Najib hopes to undercut the Pakatan appeal with these populist measures in the big battle that is shaping up soon.

About 60,000 long neglected armed forces retirees also stand to benefit with a one-off RM3,000 payment in “recognition of their sacrifices” but this is really to shore up support after the “Mohamed Sabu” debacle when the PAS deputy president likened soldiers and police as stooges of the colonial regime.

The RM300mil to construct a new outpatient wing is another well-earned populist measure because many people, usually the poor and retirees, flock to the overcrowded outpatient clinics in HKL.

The crucial Felda voters are also not left out with its listing in the offing that would create, in Najib’s word, durian runtuh for settlers.

With these selective populists’ measures, Najib is preparing the political ground to make it favourable for a general election expected to be called sometime early next year.

His forecast for 2012 growth is on the high side of 5% to 6% because the world, on which we depend to sell our products, is in a downturn and probably heading for a recession.

But Najib is optimistic that domestic demand and commodities export will keep Malaysia afloat.

The Budget then is the last ace in Najib’s sleeve before he faces the people and he has assiduously spread the available cash to people who matter for the ruling coalition civil servants, retirees, armed forces staff, the rural folks, a big chunk of Malaysia expected to deliver when the time comes.

Goodies with polls in mind

On The Beat By Wong Chun Wai

The challenge would be to take advantage of the momentum that now favours the ruling coalition.

IT’S clear that Budget 2012, which was unveiled by the Prime Minister last week, is the strongest build-up to the next general election.

More money was given to civil servants and pensioners, and there were plans to list the Felda Global Group’s commercial unit, Felda Global Ventures Holdings Sdn Bhd, on Bursa Malaysia, which would bring the settlers a windfall. All of this would surely lock in a huge chunk of voters.

There was more – the government offered a one-off RM500 cash handout to households with a monthly income of RM3,000 and below, as well as a RM100 cash aid for primary and secondary pupils (Year 1 to Form 5) and RM200 book vouchers for students.

Ex-members of the special constabulary and auxiliary police as well as widows and widowers would also receive a one-off payment of RM3,000.

The list was impressively long. Everyone got something, in the words of Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak. In his parting shot, he reminded the Opposition bench that they too would get better allowances starting in January.

But to many analysts, the Budget was tilted in favour of the rural heartland wherein lies the traditional base of Umno and the votes would go strongly to the Barisan Nasional.

The urban middle class isn’t likely to be happy with Budget 2012. While there were provisions that would benefit the middle class, such as the first-time home scheme, tax exemption for contributions to missionary schools and houses of worship and tax incentives for private schools, they do not see direct benefits.

The middle class, which makes up the 2.4 million taxpayers and carries the burden for 27 million people in the country, deserves better.

Although there are 6.4 million registered taxpayers, only 2.4 million are paying up. The rest are ineligible because they are either retired, have stopped working or have incomes below the taxable bracket.

Until the Government has the political courage to impose the Goods and Services Tax (GST), which would be a broad-based consumption tax, there is no possibility of a reduction in personal and corporate taxes.

It would have been unrealistic to expect any such tax reduction, though, but increase in EPF contributions from employers for workers earning more than RM5,000 could have at least brought some cheer to the middle class.

Be that as it may, the middle class must not forget the benefits that they enjoy and which are sometimes taken for granted, such as subsidies for petrol and essential food items, for instance. Also, keeping the sin taxes at current levels would certainly benefit those who need the occasional mug of beer or a pack of cigarettes.

The general consensus is that the Budget has created a feel good factor, and even opposition politicians have conceded this. It is a strong follow-up to the slew of political reforms announced by Najib last month.

The question now is when the Barisan will call for the polls. The challenge would be to take advantage of the momentum that now favours the ruling coalition, especially with surveys showing that Malay voters have returned to the Barisan.

It has been said that one reason why PAS decided to abandon its welfare state plan in favour of an Islamic state was because the party found its share of the Malay votes sliding drastically. Even Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim came out to support the implementation of hudud laws, with an eye on Muslim votes.

The remarks made by PAS deputy president Mohamed Sabu, describing communist leaders as freedom fighters, also scarred the party badly.

There is speculation of a November polls but this writer does not think it will happen. Between Nov 14 and Dec 14, school halls have been booked for the SPM exams and many teachers will be acting as exam invigilators, not as election officials.

The PM is also scheduled to perform his Haj, along with 28,000 Malaysian Muslims, and would be away from November. The last chartered flight out of Mecca is Dec 12.

The much speculated Nov 11 date, which is said to be Najib’s favourite number, also does not hold water or make much political sense as it is a Friday, which is hardly the best day for polls.

From Nov 29 until Dec 3, the Umno general assembly will be held in Kuala Lumpur. Here, the Umno president would make the rallying call to the troops, remind them to close ranks, let him have the mandate to choose the candidates and tell them that losing is not an option.

The monsoon season, from the end of November until end of January, which hits the east coast states every year is also a factor that needs to be considered when setting the date for elections.

Many Malaysians would also be away at this time, taking advantage of the holiday season to clear their leave and to spend time with their families. No one would be in the mood to listen to politicians.

Finally, in January the Barisan would have its final opportunity to win over Chinese voters, many of whom still favour the opposition. Chinese New Year will be on Jan 23 and in the weeks before the celebrations, we can expect the political drums to be louder.

The window period for the polls could be between March and May. Given the uncertainties of the global economy and uncontrolled external forces, Najib has little time left to take advantage of the feel good factors.

Will you take the RM100?

Why Not By Wong Sai Wan , October 14, 2011

The 2012 Budget offered quite a number of cash handouts – a first in Malaysian history – and questions are already being asked about who deserves the financial aid.

TWO working mothers looked at each other when told that their two school-going children will each get RM100 from the Government next year under the 2012 Budget.

Almost together, the women, both professionals, said: “What can you get with RM100 these days.”

When told that if they had college-going kids, they would also be entitled to a book voucher of RM200 per child, they gave the bearer of the news the same “big deal” look.

This conversation was related by a friend who was appalled by the attitude of his two colleagues towards the welfare assistance that Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced last Friday.

I was not surprised by the reaction because I too heard similar comment from my friends.

After all, we are all in the same boat – we are all urban middle-class people who always claim that “we get nothing from the Government”.

The middle-class always feel that they have to bear the brunt of any taxation decision, including having to pay more than our Singaporean cousins for a not so fancy car.

They argue that they are among the 1.7 million out of the over 10 million workforce who pay income tax and, in some cases, pay more than their bosses, who get away by using all sorts of tax avoidance tactics.

The middle-class now cites Warren Buffett’s recent statement to justify the need to tax the rich.

As one of the world’s richest men, he acknowledged that his secretary paid more taxes than he did. (He said this when trying to justify US President Barack Obama’s plan to tax wealthy Americans.)

Buffet is the third richest man in the world and is worth US$47bil (RM147bil) at last count.

Some are even arguing for the immediate imposition of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) so that the per­­so­­nal income tax could be reduced.

The middle-class claims that the GST is a consumption tax that means one is only taxed if one buys something.

So if you are frugal as Buffett, who does not buy much for himself, then you will pay minimal tax.

After having to go through the 117 paragraphs of Najib’s speech twice, I feel that there are many things for everyone, even the middle-class.

Education is now absolutely free and according to the PM there is not supposed to be any other fees that are usually collected at the beginning of each term.

Textbooks have been free for quite a number of years thus the only expenditure at the start of school is for uniforms, shoes, exercise books and stationery.

The RM100 aid will not cover all of this but according to my better half it should cover one set of uniform (about RM60), a pair of shoes (RM30) and two pairs of socks (RM10).

While we middle-class urban folks may thumb our noses at the RM100, it is still a reasonable sum.

At the beginning of a school year, it becomes a useful amount, especially to the office boys, clerks, village folk or those living in the longhouses of Sarawak.

To them it is a lot of money. It will work out to be quite a sum if a family has three or more kids.

But there is so much more in the Budget.

There is the RM450mil women and children hospital to be built near the KL Hospital (HKL) and by many accounts it will be a fantastic facility.

Many middle-class families will not even think of going to a government hospital.

They would rather pay thousands of ringgit to seek treatment at expensive private hospitals, which we all presume provide better treatment.

A rich friend of mine called me about three months ago and insisted that we publish his account at the HKL where he sought treatment when his ulcer perforated.

Carl Chow, who suffered a stroke a few years ago, has been in and out of private hospitals for various ailments and considers himself an expert on hospitals.

“The service, treatment and care I received from the moment I was admitted have opened my eyes. It was much better than my regular private hospital, which was more interested in my wallet than my well-being,” he said.

Carl told me that from now on he will seek treatment for all his ailments at the HKL.

“It’s a matter of perspective and once I went through what I did, HKL is the best hospital in the country,” said Carl.

However, I leave the final word on the Budget goodies to the Prime Minister who remarked: “For those who can afford it, you can decide not to accept the money.”

So will you take the RM100?

> Executive editor Wong Sai Wan has a feeling that the school cash aid and the book allowance will become an annual affair.

The best civil servants in the world-MALAYSIA BOLEH

Best bloated civil service

* With 1.3 million civil servants to a population of 26 million, Malaysia has one of the highest civil servants-to-population ratio in the world by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development standards.

* In 2009, Malaysia’s civil servants-to-population ratio was the highest in Asia Pacific. The ratio was 4.68 per cent, compared to Singapore’s 1.5 per cent, Indonesia’s 1.79 per cent, Korea’s 1.85 per cent and Thailand’s 2.06 per cent all of which have less than half our ratio.

Best way to bleed a budget dry

* Much of the budget (2011) continues to go into operating a bloated civil service. As much as three quarters of the national budget is spent on paying salaries and other benefits to over 1.3 million civil servants.

* A post-2011 Budget dialogue highlighted the massive amount (35 per cent of the total RM162.8 billion operating expenditure) to be spent on emoluments, pensions and gratuities of civil servants. A panelist, Ministry of Finance budget division director Datuk Dr Rahmat Bivi Yusuff admitted that there is a need to trim the civil service to reduce the budget deficit.

Best way to bankrupt this nation

* Whilst it is the growing trend of many countries to reduce their civil service, the PM’s Department in particular, has done the opposite. It more than doubled its number of civil servants from 21,000 to 43,554 this year. In stark contrast, the White House employs only 1,888 staff.

* The White House budget is US$394 million for 2011. The PM’s Department has been allocated a whopping RM18.14 billion for the year 2011, almost double the RM10.2 billion 2010.

* Pemandu, which stands for Performance, Management and Delivery Unit, was set up last year under the Najib administration as one of the pillars in his Government Transformation Plan… is a massive drain on resources. In a span of two months the government spent RM20 million just to pay 50 consultants,.

Best contradiction of 1Malaysia

* As at 31 December 2009, the racial breakdown of the Malaysian civil service comprising 1,247,894 employees was as follows: Malay (78.2 per cent); Other Bumiputras (7.7 per cent); Chinese (5.8 per cent), Indian (4.0 per cent); and Others (4.2 per cent).

* “This is the worst multi-racial composition of the government service, with the lowest Chinese and Indian representation in the public service in Malaysia’s 53-year history. This is clearly seen from the three sets of comparative figures of the racial breakdown of the civil service before the NEP (1971) and as compared to Dec. 2009 – Malays (60.80 per cent and 78.2 per cent); Chinese (20.2% and 5.8 per cent); Indians (17.4 per cent and 4.0 per cent); and Others (1.6 per cent and 4.2 per cent).

Best in corruption

* Last year two out of five civil servants were deemed corrupt by Cuepacs. It was described as a worrying trend that needed to be tackled urgently.

* Cuepacs President Omar Osman revealed that a total of 418,200 or 41 per cent of the 1.2 million civil servants in the country were suspected to be involved in corruption last year (Bernama, 2 June 2010).

Best “dumping ground”

Mohd Ariff Sabri Abdul Aziz, a former state assembly member of Pahang who is a member of Umno and who uses the pen-name Sakmongkol AK47, in his blog entry wrote: “Government service shouldn’t be treated as a dumping ground for academic rejects and mediocre material. Let’s demand a certain high standard and ensure we bring in talent that supports the demand for high standards.

“What has the government done to improve the efficiency and competence of government servants? There isn’t really competition there if the service is dominated by one race. There isn’t sufficient quality if the entry-level qualifications are so-so.

“Yet each year, to placate civil servants, the PM will appear on TV to say, we honour our civil servants because they have done a good job, blah blah. Which is not entirely true. The service is slow, the quality of officers is questionable.”

But Umno likes Muhyiddin’s make-believe. The next General Elections must be close at hand. Civil servants are made to believe that Umno is their (political) paymaster and they owe it to Umno. The party’s leaders would do or say anything to convince the government servant of this, even praising them as “the best civil servants in the world”!

S’pore’s Budget 2011 made Malaysian’s blood boil!  

Makes my blood boils! WAKE UP!!!

I was in Spore when their 2011 budget was tabled. There were two items that impressed me most ….. can’t remember all: 

Growth and share concept: Spore govt will gives away cash amounting to SGD800.00 to individuals and between SGD5,000.00 – 2,000.00 per household. The estimated per household should average more than SGD3,000.00 or about RM10,000.00!!

How can they afford this? Simple– the Spore govt owns all public utilities eg Electricity, water, MRT and investment arms like Tumasek and sovereign funds. Profits from these organisations are distributed back to their citizens, with the rich getting minimal and the lower income group getting the larger share.

How does that compare with BN govt? Cronies get richer by the days and subsidies are cut. Yes, for political expediencies the PM givesaway RM200 to selected constituents for their votes!! Big joke!!

Employers CPF contributions are increased to ensure workers can have more money when they retire.

What goodies do we have for our 2011 budget? Spend more on arms and patrol crafts that costs RM 1 Billion EACH! Computers procured at RM 40,000 EACH, Costs overrun on almost all govt projects.

You are right (above message)…..the following is the report of their 2011 Budget.

Makes me mad as hell…..with the imbeciles over here, both out & within government!!!


What do you expect when we have a bunch of idiots running this country compared to S’pore who have the brains and that is why S’pore is developed and successful. As long as this bunch of idiots are still around Malaysia will continue to be where it started. They only know how to talk and bad mouth about others and refuse to accept their mistakes. This is BN so come the next election throw them out…….don’t worry if Pakatan can run this country because when the Egyptian went to the street to throw their President out they don’t even know what their future lies for them and whether if there is a leader to replace their current President. Their objective was to get rid of him and they stay focus…….in Malaysia we have capable leaders in Pakatan to rule this country so there is nothing to be afraid of voting them into power.. We have nothing to lose but more to gain because after 53 years – enough is enough…do it for the future generations. With BN there is no future because these idiots only look after their own future. Nothing for you and me, all Malaysians, WAKE UP !!!!   

Singapore Budget goodies unveiled
By Angela Lim – February 18th, 2011
Singaporeans will receive a total of S$6.6 billion of benefits in the 2011
Singapore Budget  announced by Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam on Friday.

$3.2 billion Grow and Share Package: Theaverage Singaporean household will receive S$3,500 from this year’s Budget.This will come from the S$3..2 billion to be spent on the “Grow and Share Package” and S$3.4 billion in longer-term Social Investments for households this year.

All adult Singaporeans will also receive Growth Dividends to share the fruits of last year’s exceptional economic growth. The majority of Singaporeans – 80% – will get $600 to $800 each.

CPF rate revision: The Government will raise the employer contribution rate to CPF accounts by another 0.5 percentage points, from 15.5% to 16%, which will restore the total contribution, rate to 36%. The additional 0.5% will go into the Special Account.

The Government will also revise the CPF salary ceiling from $4,500 to $5,000 per month to keep pace with income growth in recent years. This will align the salary ceiling back to the 80th percentile income, and help middle-income Singaporeans.

Radio and TV licence fees removed permanently: The annual licence fee of S$110.00 for televisions and S$27.00 for vehicle radios will be removed with immediate effect. Those who have not paid this year’s fees will not have to make the payment, while a refund will be given to those who have already paid.

Mr Tharman said that’s because the fees are losing their relevance. He said televisions are no longer limited to middle and higher-income groups, with 99 per cent of lower-income households owning them today.

Tax cuts: Singaporeans will receive a personal income tax rebate of 20% for individual resident taxpayers for YA 2011. The rebate will be capped at $2,000.00 Taxes will be reduced significantly for middle and upper-middle income families. Marginal tax rates will be reduced for first S$120,000.00 of chargeable income.

Levy increase for foreign workers: The Government will also introduce more levy increases on foreign workers for all sectors this year. Most of the additional measures will be phased in at six-monthly intervals, starting only from 1 January 2012, and extending till 1 July 2013, one year beyond the previous schedule.

S$10 billion home upgrading: $10 billion will be spent to upgrade homes and rejuvenate estates over the next 10 years. This is a major effort to preserve the value of HDB flats and will go towards the Home Improvement Programme (HIP), Neighbourhood Renewal Programme (NRP) and Lift Upgrading Programme (LUP), it will invest up to $55,000.00 per flat.

Low-income groups will also receive additional housing subsidies to better afford their homes. The Government will set aside S$175 million each year for the new Special CPF Housing Grant to help the bottom 50% Singapore households own their homes.

For more details, refer to the speech summary below or read the full transcript here.

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Wake-up call for Malaysian Chinese voters!

1Malay or 1Malaysia? Malaysia All Screwed-Up!

1Malay or 1Malaysia?

All Older Malaysians are much to be accountable of what Malaysia is in today… Tolerances had been abused, and patience had been taken for granted… We are now what we had been—–By doing nothing Right then, that is how we had ended up to what is Today!!

If we choose to remain as what we had done, then we will expect nothing more than what we already had today!!

Malay, Chinese and Indian are all Malaysian brothers and sisters. But BN has screwed Malaysians and Malaysia up.

Malay 1st…. Malaysian 2nd

When a Malay, Chinese and Indian, all Malaysians, apply for:-

1)   Scholarships, Malays will get it first irrespective of bright Malaysians

2)   Entry to the local universities and best courses such medicine, dentistry, law, Malays will get it first irrespective of quality. Residential hostels, Matriculation courses, MARA Uni , Malays will get 90% to 100%. (By the way, matriculation exams are internally set by own lecturers – about thousands of straight A’s students in Matriculation compared to the straight A’s STPM which are few. This is “Malay meritocracy vs Malaysian meritocracy”!

3)   Social Welfare, Malays will get it first irrespective of how poor the Malaysian rakyat is

4)   Business Contracts,  Malays will get it first irrespective of who can offer the best value, quality and unblemished track record. Even when blacklisted, Malay associations have the right to complain because the rakyat owes them a living.

5)  Sharing of wealth and equity, IPOs, ASB, Malays will get it first. Even with ASB for Malays give higher returns and principal guaranteed capped at RM200K instead of other bonds for Malaysians with lower yield capped at RM50K.  This will be ongoing. WhyMalays cannot reach 30% equities? Statistics are manipulated so that valuation of shares are based on par value (Imagine valuing CIMB, Maybank, Sime darby etc at par value of RM1.00 instead of market value of RM12 etc. Malaysians must accept these assumptions or make sure this is hidden or else priviledges are gone..!! )

6)   Low cost houses, lands, houses even bungalows , Malays will get it first because they are the supreme race and the rest of Malaysians are immigrants. Quotas for Malays are 30% to 50% with steep discounts to be subsidized by the rest of the Malaysians.

7)   Important Senior management jobs, CEO positions in government linked companies, Malays will get it first irrespective of the best qualified and most capable Malaysian candidates.

8)   Government linked positions, civil positions , nurses and teachers training, Malay will get first irrespective whether they are qualified

9 ) Religious land for worship or terms of God , Malays own it and the rest must obey.

10) Demonstrations, freedom of expressions, racial blurs, Malays can have their say, others under ISA …

Now you know why it is Malay 1st,  Malaysian 2nd Education, welfare, economic, business policies are to benefit Malay first then Malaysian 2nd.  The rest of the rakyat, who works hard, contribute to nation building will continue to be Malaysians 2nd.. ‘

So it is not so difficult to understand if a Malay Indonesian Badminton player is paying against a Chinese or Indian Malaysian, those who subscribe Malay 1st, Malaysians 2nd will cheer for the Malay badminton player.

When there is a citizenship application of a Malay Indonesian and a qualified non Malay, the Malay Indonesian will get it irrespective of merits.

That is why we have Malay is 1st class other Malaysians 2nd class.This is the only country that has racism and special rights enshrined in the constitutions because Malay is supreme.

So if you have the opportunity to migrate to be treated fairly and justly,why stay? Malaysians 2nd means you will always be an immigrant. Why become an immigrant with 2nd class rights when other countries are willing to give you the same rights.

1Malaysia to appease Malaysians 2nd class hope until the elections…

Wise UP Malaysians! Vote wisely. 






Khoo Kay Peng speaks out..  Can Najib Walk his Talk?

So far, the judgment is NO.   Again the saying pertaining to this, Your actions is so loud (not walking your talk) that I cannot hear what you are saying (all your speeches are for nothing) NEM, NEP, Perkasa & Malay First, Malaysian Second: Time is Running Out for PM Najib

PM Najib is forced to go back to the Barisan old script when he was asked to react on his deputy’s statement that he was “Malay 1st, Malaysian 2nd”.   Najib defended his deputy, “Being a Malay doesn’t mean that you are against 1Malaysia or you don’t think like a Malaysian.” “Similarly, if you are a Malaysian Chinese, it doesn’t mean that you don’t think like a Malaysian or subscribe to the concept of 1Malaysia,” he said.

Najib’s knee-jerk reaction on Muhyiddin’s statement unmasks his own understanding about nation building and the 1Malaysia concept.

The lack of national affinity and shared destiny is the main obstacle for 1Malaysia. It is sad to note that the 1Malaysia founder himself does not share the vision of nationhood and citizenship. If Najib does not trust his own nation building agenda, he should not have misused the name, Malaysia .

1Malaysia is not consistent with Ethnicity 1st, Nationality 2nd.

We cannot blame Muhyiddin for his lack of national identity because nation building was not featured in the Barisan rule over the last 5 decades. Barisan is an antithesis to 1Malaysia and nation building. The most important element in a nation building project is to outlaw racial discrimination. Barisan is the epitome of racism and racially based politics.

Najib cannot remain coy and silent on the demands, attacks and allegations made against the Chinese community, in particularly, by Perkasa.

Interestingly, a politician such as Ibrahim Ali needed racism to resurrect his career. Of course he is enjoying the media limelight at the moment. At the Aljazeera interview, he lambasted “If these people say that they are second-class citizens, don’t talk s**t! Don’t talk s**t! I repeat three times, don’t talk s**t!”

“We, the Malays have forgiven them a lot, we have sacrificed a lot of our interests,” he added.

I would like Ibrahim to clarify what interests?   It appears that Muhyiddin is now clamouring to ride on Perkasa’s wave by declaring that he is “Malay 1st” and “Malaysian 2nd”.

Regardless of the publicity stunt and damage control, Najib knows that his defence of Muhyiddin and his statement is going to tear his concept to pieces.   His administration is dragging its feet on the NEM details and mechanism. It makes us wonder if there is any meat at all in NEM.

Time is running out for him. Another talk but no walk is going to put him on the same pedestal as Abdullah Badawi.

Najib should state his stand on Perkasa and Ibrahim Ali’s disrespect for non-Malay citizens. They (Najib, Muhyiddin and Ibrahim) should remember that their salaries and perks are paid by Malaysians of all races. Not by the Malays only.


Posted by Khoo Kay Peng .

If you had never voted… for once in your life… VOTE in the 13th GE. This is your last chance to make a change for the sake of your next generation- Now or Never

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Obama Wants $1.5 Trillion In Tax Hikes, Mostly On Rich, Draws Election Battle Lines

Janet NovackJanet Novack, Forbes Staff I write from D.C. about tax and retirement policy and planning.

Official presidential portrait of Barack Obama...Image via Wikipedia

President Barack Obama will call today for an additional $3.2 trillion in deficit reduction over the next decade, including $1.5 trillion in tax hikes, mostly on the rich. His plan also includes $1.1 trillion in savings from winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and $580 billion in savings from “mandatory” programs, including $248 billion in Medicare cuts, but significantly, no increase in the age for Medicare eligibility and no Social Security trims.

Contrary to earlier press reports, however, the plan Obama is sending to Congress’ Joint Select Committee On Deficit Reduction—the so-called Super Committee– won’t include a special  new  millionaire’s tax. Instead, Administration officials said in a background briefing with reporters Sunday night, Obama will call for tax reform to be based on five principles and one of those will be the “Buffett rule”—in honor of Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett who has complained for years that he pays taxes at a lower rate than his secretary.  An official put the rule this way: “People making more than $1 million should not pay a smaller share of their income in taxes than middle class people pay.”  The other four principles, he added, are that tax reform should lower rates; reduce the deficit (in other words raise taxes) by $1.5 trillion over 10 years; close “wasteful loopholes and tax breaks”; and “boost job creation and growth.”

Republicans, too, favor tax reform and lower rates, but have ruled out raising any new revenue. On Thursday House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) declared tax increases “off the table”.  In an interview on NBC’s Meet The Press show Sunday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) dismissed any consideration of tax increases as “a bad thing to do in the middle of an economic downturn.”

The August political deal that raised the nation’s debt ceiling and averted a Treasury debt default created the Super Committee and charged it with coming up with a plan by Thanksgiving to trim at least $1.2 trillion from the deficit over 10 years. The Super Committee is  made up of six Democrats and six Republicans and if it deadlocks—or its final product is voted down by Congress or vetoed by Obama–automatic budget cuts would kick in. Republicans insist the $1.2 trillion should come solely from cuts to spending, including to entitlement programs like Medicare and Medicaid.

Significantly, the Administration official said Obama is making his embrace of Medicare cuts contingent on tax increases being included in the final deal.  “He’ll say he’ll veto any bill that takes one dime from the Medicare seniors rely on without asking the wealthy and the biggest corporations to pay their share,’’ the official said in a preview of Obama’s remarks. In another move that should similarly please his restive Democratic base, Obama is excluding from his proposal any change  to Social Security, including a reduction in inflation adjustments for Social Security recipients that was part of a bigger deal he tried to strike with Boehner in July. “It’s his vision,  not a legislative compromise,” an Administration official explained. “It’s inherently different form the grand bargain he was working on with the Speaker.”  A higher age for Medicare eligibility was also, reportedly, considered as part of the failed bargain with Boehner but won’t be in Obama’s proposal. (Currently, Americans become eligible at 65 even if they haven’t yet claimed their Social Security benefits.)

In the Sunday night preview, Administration officials cast Obama’s plan as a total of $4.4 trillion in net deficit reduction —including cuts that were made in discretionary spending as part of the August deal and prospective savings on interest costs. (While Republicans are sure to dismiss Obama’s counting of war savings, they have done the same thing in their deficit plans.)  Moreover, an Administration official noted, the $4.4 trillion is net of the cost of Obama $447 billion “jobs” proposal—a package of payroll tax cuts, infrastructure spending, and help for the unemployed designed to attack the nation’s stubbornly high 9.1% unemployment rate. Obama has proposed paying for that too with tax hikes Republicans have rejected, including a limit on mortgage, charitable and other deductions for the well off; elimination of the “carried interest” tax break enjoyed by the managers of hedge funds and other partnerships; and the repeal of various tax preferences enjoyed by oil and gas producers, including Exxon Mobil,  Chevron and BP.

Indeed, most of Obama’s tax proposals will apparently repeat those he has made before. For example, $800 billion would come from letting the Bush tax cuts for families earning more than $250,000 expire at the end of 2012, meaning the top rate on ordinary income such as salary would rise from 35% to 39.6%. Last month, in a New York Times op-ed, Buffett called for two higher tax rates—one on income over $1 million and the other on income over $10 million. Published reports over the weekend variously suggested Obama would endorse a new millionaire’s rate or release some sort of proposal for a minimum tax on millionaires—say to replace the current convoluted alternative minimum tax.  But Sunday night, the Administration official said the Buffett rule was simply a principle for tax reform.

Most people earning more than $1 million are already taxed at a higher effective rate than their secretaries. In 2008, for example, taxpayers with adjusted gross income between $1 million and $10 million paid an average of 24.5% of their adjusted gross in federal income tax, compared with an average of 12.6% for those earning $100,000 to $200,000, and 8.4%  for those earning $50,000 to $100,000. But the 400 highest income taxpayers do pay a lower effective rate  than mere millionaires—an average of just 18.1% in 2008. That’s because the top 400 get the bulk of their income from capital gains, which are taxed at a top rate of 15%, scheduled to rise to 20% when the Bush tax cuts expire at the end of 2012. If tax reform is to insure that billionaires pay a higher effective rate than the upper middle and middle class it would have to reduce or eliminate the break for capital gains—something that was done in Reagan’s 1986 tax reform but that doesn’t sit well with most Republicans today.

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Obama tax plan draws election battle lines

Stephen Collinson

An impassioned US President Barack Obama has set up an acerbic and personal clash with Republicans, demanding $US1.5 trillion ($A1.47 trillion) in new taxes on the rich in a plan aimed at slashing the deficit.

“This is not class warfare, it is math,” Obama declared, arguing that without tax increases on those who could afford it, the budget gap – which is casting a shadow over future generations of Americans – could never be closed.

“All I’m saying is that those who have done well, including me, should pay their fair share in taxes,” Obama said in a speech that effectively staked out the ground on which the 2012 presidential election will likely be fought.

But Republicans immediately came out against the move, making it more likely that a fierce partisan row over taxes and spending will rumble on and define the terrain of the 2012 presidential election.

“Pitting one group of Americans against another is not leadership,” said Republican House Speaker John Boehner.

A fiery, populist Obama laid out a plan few experts believe has any chance of passing Congress but which will make clear the battle lines between the White House and Republicans on the lumbering economy.

“We can’t just cut our way out of this hole,” Obama said in the White House Rose Garden, laying out his plans to cut $US3.0 trillion from the deficit with a mixture of spending cuts and tax hikes.

“It is only right we ask everyone to pay their fair share,” Obama said, in a direct challenge to House of Representatives speaker John Boehner, who has categorically ruled out any tax increases to trim the budget gap.

“We can’t afford these special lower rates for the wealthy. We can’t afford them when we are running these big deficits,” Obama said, fighting for the end of tax cuts for the rich passed by former president George W Bush.

“Middle class taxpayers shouldn’t pay higher taxes than millionaires and billionaires. That’s pretty straightforward. It’s hard to argue against that,” said Obama, who has seen his approval ratings hammered by the slowed economy.

In a sign of the antipathy between Obama and Republican leaders after months of political confrontations, the president took personal aim at Boehner’s refusal to contemplate any tax revenue raises.

“The speaker says we can’t have it ‘my way or the highway’ and then basically says ‘my way or the highway’.”

“That’s not smart. It’s not right.”

Obama’s plan amounted to suggestions to a congressional supercommittee charged with finding up to $US1.5 trillion in deficit cuts by November.

The president threatened to veto any bill produced by Congress that was based on cutting medical benefits for the elderly but did not include increased revenues drawn from higher taxes on the rich and corporations.

Obama’s plan effectively forced Republicans to defend continued favourable tax treatment for the wealthiest Americans and corporations while unemployment is at 9.1 per cent and economic frustration stalks the United States.

But Republicans, who say tax hikes would penalise small business and lower growth, reacted with contempt to his speech.

“Veto threats, a massive tax hike, phantom savings, and punting on entitlement reform is not a recipe for economic or job growth-or even meaningful deficit reduction,” said Mitch McConnell, the top Republican in the Senate.

Mitt Romney, a leading Republican contender to take on Obama in the 2012 election, also rejected his plans as the action of a president who he portrays as out of his depth on the economy.

“President Obama’s plan to raise taxes will have a crushing impact on economic growth,” Romney said.

“This is yet another indication that President Obama has no clue how to bring our economy back.”

Obama’s plan includes $US1.2 trillion in cuts in federal discretionary spending already agreed in August as part of a compromise which ended a standoff with Republicans over raising the federal debt ceiling.

It includes $US580 billion in spending cuts across all mandatory spending programs and $US1.1 trillion of savings realised from drawing down US troop numbers in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Tax reform would result in $US1.5 trillion in savings, and a further $US430 billion will be found in additional interest savings elsewhere.

Included in the spending cuts will be $US248 billion in savings from Medicare programs for the elderly and $US72 billion in cuts from the Medicaid service for the poor, officials said.

© 2011 AFP

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Winds of change blowing in Malaysia;Dawn of a new era?

Winds of change blowing


THE relief that greeted the Prime Minister’s announcement that the Internal Security Act (ISA) 1960 and other repressive laws would be abolished was difficult to define for several reasons.

First, nobody expected Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to have gone so far in throwing off decades of unjust laws. When it happened, it took time to sink in, after more than a generation of having to endure those laws.
Najib Tun RazakImage by KamalSelle via Flickr

Second, mention of two new laws to replace the ISA tempered the plaudits from critical observers. Would that mean returning to square one through a bait-and-switch?

Third, those who had banked on the Government retaining the ISA in some revised form were caught unawares. Regardless of their own views of it, they insisted there would be little change, seeking to vindicate themselves and “save face”.

All these have been efforts to adjust to a new national reality post-ISA. A fourth reaction comes from political opportunism: robbed of their thunder, the Opposition tried to diminish the significance of the Government’s move.

To others, however, the state’s abandonment of these repressive laws is both historic and definitive.

Of all the Governments that had presided over the ISA through the decades, Prime Minister Najib’s has been the one bold enough to do the decent thing of abolishing it.

It is not because this is possible only now since Malaysia no longer needs the ISA, because the country has not needed it for a long time already. Besides, some close to the seat of power still insist such preventive detention laws are needed.

It is untypical of any government to renounce a sweeping law that gives unparalleled powers to it. Dumping the ISA not only took guts, it showed a rare selflessness that placed actual national interest above perceived (by some) national security interest.

Doubts over the two new laws to replace the ISA may be natural but unwarranted. Both laws would relate to Article 149 of the Federal Constitution, which would shift more responsibility on preventive action from the Cabinet to Parliament, with emphasis on any use of these laws against a “substantial body of persons” rather than isolated individuals.

Malaysian parliamentarians have grown more alienated from the ISA than ever, even before the 2008 general election that made an unprecedented number of Opposition candidates MPs. Also, the aversion to draconian laws among Barisan Nasional MPs is far greater than any pro-ISA sentiment among Pakatan Rakyat MPs.

There is therefore no going back to anything like the ISA now. Any return to the spirit, if not the letter, of the ISA can only backfire badly on the Government and discredit it politically.

Until recently, there was the prospect of merely tweaking the ISA. But it soon dawned that simply twiddling the dials of a bad law would not make it good.

The toughest part of the journey towards abolishing the ISA is over. That was not in Parliament, the Opposition or the public, but in places closer to the Government, including some governmental agencies and NGOs.

Activists tempting ISA arrests may want credit for piling on the pressure until its final annulment. However, the opposite is more likely: raucous activism helped to make the ISA seem useful, even indispensable, while also weakening arguments for its abolition.

The authoritarian mentality sees any threat or challenge to the status quo as grounds for using greater force, not less. And such a mindset has hitherto had its hold on the levers of power such as the ISA.

For now, the case remains to be made as to why the two proposed laws are needed, what they should entail, and how their operation can respect civil liberties. Transparency would help public support for them, or at least mitigate any animosity.

The scheduled abolition of the ISA and other repressive laws has meant raised expectations of a new era of civil liberties. Law enforcement and maintenance of public order would then depend more on informed consent than submission or capitulation.

The implications place the ball in the court of key national institutions: Parliament, the judiciary and the police. They need to respond to signal assent, since they stand to benefit.

Parliament should exercise its lawful prerogatives to the fullest extent the political transformation affords. This begins and ends with every parliamentarian acting in his or her legitimate capacity.

The judiciary should assert its constitutional role by acting vigorously in concert with other major national institutions. It should no longer shy from a judicious activism that serves the national interests.

The police stand to gain the most from this push to enhance investigative norms, focus on criminal intent, seek admissible evidence and develop standard operating procedures instead of relying on non-contestable shortcuts like the ISA. Moving away from easy catch-all measures like ISA arrests and detentions can also improve the work ethic and public image of the force.

This aspect of the political transformation is an assurance that Malaysia’s development is also political and social, not just economic. It enables the country to move ahead of others in the region that may be more developed only economically.

For Malaysia itself, it is a large step towards Vision 2020, most of whose nine development objectives are not economic but political and social. No nation aiming to be fully developed can neglect them.

The small-minded may scoff at the transformation Najib announced on Friday. And only the mean-spirited would refuse to give credit for the new direction.

To say all this is mere election fluff ignores the fact that it is neither fluff nor as shortlived as an election campaign. To insist it is only a political move forgets that dismissing it is just as political.

Besides, if the ISA had been initiated and executed for political reasons, it should not be unnatural for its annulment to be so as well.

Dawn of a new era


Najib deserves credit for his move to reform some of the country’s most unpopular laws.

IT was the best gift for Malaysians on a special day. It is also a reminder that the nation has grown up and that we should move forward, leaving our baggage behind.

In a nutshell, the Prime Minister has stepped out of the shadows of his predecessors. It is a major step into the future. Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak couldn’t have chosen a better day to make the announcement to do away with some of the country’s most unpopular laws.

It surely has not been easy. When bits of news filtered out about his Malaysia Day speech, there were doubts as to how far he would go.

Those who were privy to inner-circle discussions on how the speech would be crafted crossed their fingers and hoped there would be no last minute changes.

After all, as a politician, the Prime Minister has to balance the needs of the conservatives, right wingers and liberals within his party and also the Barisan Nasional coalition.

The PM understands fully how much the world has changed. The global political landscape has been altered drastically and the lessons to learn are that if leaders cannot change, the people will change them. There is plenty to learn from history, some very recent too.

The more conservative in Umno are still grappling with the changes, preferring to hold on to something which they are familiar and comfortable with. They are trying hard to understand where Najib is taking Malaysia to.

The younger ones, while looking apprehensively at the lack of changes in Umno, have tried hard to push, worried that the country’s ruling party could be losing its connection with the Twitter and Facebook generation. It’s not wrong to say that the PM has been watching, listening and feeling it all over the last three years.

On Aug 28, this scribe wrote that Najib’s call for greater democratic space, including doing away with censorship laws and setting up a Parliamentary Select Committee to review electoral laws, was just a prelude to his address on Sept 16.

I wrote that “it is almost certain that he will expand on democratic reforms with an outline of the changes he wants to implement in Malaysia. It won’t be promises but changes that would be set out in black and white.

“The fresh democratic reforms will surprise even his critics, particularly those who are pushing for a greater civil society.

“In short, the new democracy that he wants to see would recognise the calls by Malaysians. It is the Middle Malaysia that he wants to address. He will say that yes, he hears these voices.”

But even this writer was surprised at how far he was prepared to push. I dared not commit myself to put into words that he would repeal the Internal Security Act, but Najib has proven his doubters and critics wrong. He proved that he walked the talk.

As expected, everyone is trying to claim credit for the changes. The Opposition, still reeling from the shock, has said these would not have happened without their pressure and protests.

Then there are the usual cynics.

I think the point is this: It does not matter who is right, but what is right. It does not matter who did it, so long as the right thing gets done. Malaysians cannot be partisan on issues that affect us all.

Najib deserves credit for having the courage to take the bold steps. His New Democracy thrust is certain to continue.

The ISA will be repealed, no one should even doubt it anymore. An Anti-Terrorism Act – specifically for terrorists and not for political opponents, as in Britain and the United States – is likely to take over.

The Police Act would be redefined and possibly the right to assemble, which could be made clearer by designating places, time and how gatherings should be done.

An example to look at is Hong Kong, where night protests are directed to specific roads that would have little impact on businesses. Even then, gatherings are allowed on only one side of the road so that traffic can continue to flow on the other side.

In New York, there is a designated spot not far from the United Nations building for protest gatherings. A spot could be set up not far from the Parliament for similar purposes.

As in football matches in Britain, where police resources are used to safeguard public safety, organisers of protest gatherings in stadiums could be asked to put up deposits for police security and possible damages.

But the Printing Presses and Publications Act is still a thorn on the side for the media. Najib has taken the first step to abolishing this much hated law by allowing a one-off permit without the requirement for annual renewal. The Government must commit itself to a total abolishment, however.

An independent media council to be run by editors will finally be formed after 54 years of independence, and repealing the law would certainly be on the agenda of journalists. After all, no one needs a permit to start a blog or an online news portal, so why impose a permit for print?

The reforms have left a feel-good feeling but the Prime Minister has to follow up with an equally impactful Budget speech. All these reforms are good but they won’t put food on our tables.

Ordinary Malaysians are worried about the rising cost of living and middle income Malaysians are hit the most by monthly tax deductions.

In the rural areas of Sabah and Sarawak, where food and fuel need to be transported into the interior, the costs are even more enormous.

Malaysians want to hear how the Government intends to help them face the economic uncertainties, the spiralling cost of food and how to be confident about the future.

Malaysians are not expecting their Government to adopt a populist approach of promising the sun and the moon, which will bankrupt the nation. But they want the Government to be equally responsible in sharing the burden by cutting out excessive financial waste and leaks.

Najib’s challenge would be to balance the budget in the face of a slowing economy and at the same time appease the people ahead of a general election.

The Budget Speech is on Oct 7. Can Malaysians expect the Big Day to be soon after the PM has announced his economic plans for the country?

Related posts:

Towards a brave new Malaysia, keep lobbying and pushing for change!

Changes in Malaysia’s horizon; Keep the momentum up!

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