State of GLCs a matter for concern


A MAJOR topic at the inaugural Malaysian Economic Symposium held on July 26 at the Parliament Complex was government-linked companies (GLCs). The big issues about GLCs are not only their large presence in the economy but also their governance.

As mentioned in the symposium, which was jointly organised by the Office of the Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat, the Backbenchers Council and the Parliamentary Caucus on Reform and Governance to get a deeper understanding of the challenges facing the economy, there are so many GLCs that nobody knows what the total number is. The other concern is their lack of transparency and accountability.

About 15 years ago, the then prime minister launched the GLC Transformation Programme to raise the standards of corporate governance in government-linked companies following the guidelines issued by the Securities Commission and Bank Negara Malaysia, as part of the reforms to make the economy more resilient to external shocks.

The New Economic Model report to the National Economic Action Council also stressed the need to reform GLCs so that they do not affect adversely the efficiency and competitiveness of the economy and become an obstacle towards making Malaysia a fully developed high income country.

Khazanah Nasional, Employees Provident Fund (EPF) and Permodalan Nasional Berhad (PNB) adopted these guidelines to strengthen their internal checks and balance and make their major GLCs more attractive to local and foreign investors. Good governance in the companies owned by these three national institutions is important as their shareholdings in the corporate sector account for a big share of the market capitalisation.

Further, as the country’s national wealth fund, Khazanah realised its responsibility as an MoF (Ministry of Finance) Inc corporation to set the tone for good governance.

EPF and PNB are responsible for paying good dividends to millions of their subscribers. Like Khazanah, they too insist on their investee companies to adopt good governance practices so that when they do well in the market place, the benefits will go to their subscribers.

One of the important guidelines in good corporate governance is that the board of directors should be evaluated on the “fit and proper“ criteria before they are appointed. One major requirement in the criteria is that the nominee for board appointment should not be politically connected or linked so as to protect the independence of the board from outside interference.

A good board should have the committees on audit, nomination, renumeration and risk management actively checking the management and also providing it with professional advice and recommendations.

The presentation by the university professor at the symposium highlighted the political links of GLCs, with many ministries involved in overseeing them. Thus, the ministries dealing with rural and land development, technology and research, tourism, sports, youth and culture are among the ministries which have GLCs to implement their policies and projects.

Ministerial influence on the GLCs is not always good. The federal GLCs are MoF Inc in ownership but administratively, they answer to the ministers. Often, the GLCs have bumiputra partners who are linked to the top circles or their own relatives in forming joint venture business to provide the privatised services to the ministry.

With the political connections, the contract prices that the ministry pays to the GLCs for supplying the work orders or purchases may well be above the market price. The GLCs are thus operating at the expense of taxpayers.

Some politicians use GLCs and trustee foundations under religious authorities to promote their political activities under the guise of CSR (corporate social responsibility), like sending pilgrims to Mekah, sponsoring religious events, building surau or paying for goodwill golf trips overseas, including their wives’ travel costs.

States also have their GLCs established as Mentri Besar Inc companies or as subsidiaries of statutory bodies like state economic development corporations (SEDC) and state agricultural development corporations. Many of these GLCs have joint ventures with bumiputra partners who are politically linked. Malay property developers have raised issues over the SEDCs which build shop lots and commercial buildings at lower cost because they get priority access to state land and often at lower than market price, thus undercutting the genuine Malay private sector.

The Pakatan Harapan government has pledged that the appointments to GLCs will be non-political in the sense that politically active persons will not be appointed as directors of the companies. The government wants to bring professionals to serve on the GLC boards to improve their performance. The definition “non- political“ should include persons holding any kind of party positions because those at the lower levels can be just as ambitious in using the GLCs for gaining influence among the top leaders.

Some professionals have left active politics but remain advisers to a political party or are business associates with high-ranking politicians or are married into powerful political families. It’s not clear whether such professionals can be considered as independent or free from politics.

A good board should respect the views of its committees on nomination, remuneration, audit and risk management. These committees are mandatory for listed companies and banks as the Securities Commission and Bank Negara are very strict about good corporate governance to provide the internal checks and balance to prevent the board from making wrong decisions or from being influenced by the chairman’s personal or political interests.

The government should make it compulsory for all GLCs to be similarly regulated, especially those under the control of state governments and statutory bodies as they are highly politicised.

Business associations have always complained in every dialogue with the government that the GLC sector is too large and is crowding out the private sector. As growth is fundamental so that more wealth can be created in the economy to generate the resources for the government to spend on the poor, it should consider reducing the size of the GLC sector so as to strengthen the investment climate and provide more room for the private sector to expand locally. Those GLCs that are a financial burden to taxpayers should be closed down or sold off before they cause a financial crisis to the country.

Tan Sri Mohd Sheriff Mohd Kassm Kuala Lumpur
Related posts:

Govt Linked Companies (GLCs) – Monsters in the house?

 

Govt-linked companies (GLCs) shake-up as they sing a different tune

TNB blames technical glitch! Explain discrepanccies in bills, TNB told

TNB blames technical glitch! Explain discrepanccies in bills, TNB told


Negligence, Technial among TNB faults

TNB to re-credit those overcharged

Advertisements

The cradle of Chinese leadership



Westerners do not understand how vital a competent government is in China.

中国政府有时就像家长,既要赚钱养家又做好榜样

Set in stone: Staff members walking near a statue at the Party School of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China in Beijing as the party opened its leading school for cadres to a rare visit by foreign journalists. — AP

It is back to school for thousand of cadres of the national party to brush up on the country’s progress.

EVERY year, thousands of party cadres from the Communist Party of China (CPC) returned to school to learn about the latest direction of the country as it progresses.

At the Party School of CPC Central Committee (CCPS) – the key cradle of China’s leaders – the trainees are taught Marxism classics, moral and conduct while receiving anti-corruption education.

They are also exposed to the latest in technology and various skills to lead the rural villagers out of poverty as the nation is striving towards its “Chinese Dream” of building a well-off society for all.

Located opposite the Summer Palace in Beijing, the school also conducts training and guidance to improve the governing ability of cadres while motivating them to serve as firm followers and loyal practitioners of Xi Jinping’s Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era.

Just last year, 137 training sessions were organised for nearly 11,000 cadres all over the country.

The school opened its door to a group of foreign journalists recently.

We were led to a class which was in progress and the trainer, who requested to remain anonymous, was giving a lecture on various tra­n­s­formation and innovation prog­rammes to improve the environment and livelihood of rural villagers.

During the short visit, we listened in on the trainer telling cadres about the use of flush toilets.

For many of us, we have taken for granted the availability of flush toilets in our homes or offices.

But for those dwelling in the mountainous areas far from water sources in China, this sanitary ware is a luxury.

The locals from a village in Shangdong have invented their own “dry toilet” in which they covered up waste with organic materials.

“The toilet does not stink at all and it is environmentally friendly.

“A little effort makes big changes in improving the environment and the people’s lives,” the trainer told the cadres, believed to be grassroots leaders from the rural areas.

The trainer also told the class the story of a village in Tonglu of Zhejiang province where the locals turned their rural agricultural home into a famous tourist spot.

He said the locals successfully transformed an abandoned pig pen into a popular cafe.

“There is a very expensive type of coffee known as mao shi kafei (Indonesia’s kopi luwak) in the world.

“If rich people can sit at a stinking pig pen while tasting a cup of expensive coffee, isn’t this another way of enjoyment?” asked the trainer.

He was motivating the class cadres to be creative and to transform abandoned poultry farms into money-making businesses as well as preserve old buildings that have witnessed special events.

The trainer also showed the class modern farming techniques known as the Integrated Rice-Duck Farming by raising ducks in the paddy field.

“With modern technology, we are able to calculate the suitable number of ducks for a paddy field of a particular size and the timing of releasing the birds,” he added.

With over 100 trainees but only a handful of female cadres, the class also learned about homestay and handicraft-making programmes.

In a tea session with the media, vice-head of academic affairs of the school, Wang Gang said currently, there are some 1,600 cadres undergoing training at the campus.

Asked why men outnumbered women trainees by a large margin, Wang Gang said they have another programme catering for female cadres.

He, however, did not elaborate.

The CCPS – also known as China National Academy of Governance – was set up in 1933, 12 years after the founding of the CPC.

Over the decades, it has groomed a large number of governing elites and talent for the party and the country.

State leaders such as the late Mao Zedong, Liu Shaoqi and Hu Jintao have served as its president.

The CCPS campus houses a museum, a sports centre with various facilities including swimming pool, squash court, ping pong tables and a gym for the trainees, who are required to stay in the campus throughout their training period.

Apart from providing training to the cadres, the CCPS also serves as a high-end think-tank for the party and a national research institution for philosophy and social science.

It has also taken part in exchange programmes and activities with political parties from 159 nations, 21 international and multilateral organisations.

Last year, the school received 1,248 visitors.

CPC, with over 90 million members, is the biggest political party in the world.

Source link 

 

Related posts:

 

China start-up ‘Little Red Book’, Xiaohongshu valued at US$1bil

 

China ready to move into the trade and world leadership vacuum created by the US

 

China top paper warns officials against ‘spiritual anaesthesia’, the root of corruptions

The founder of modern China chairman Mao Zedong.

 

 

Declining performance of Malaysia’s civil service, World Bank report


KUALA LUMPUR: The performance of Malaysia’s civil service has been declining since 2014, according to a World Bank report, which also expressed concerns about the sustainability of the country’s public sector wage bill.

The report, which came about following the visit of World Bank vice-president for East Asia and Pacific Victoria Kwakwa to Malaysia last December during which she met the Prime Minister, also ranked Malaysia lowly in its indicators for accountability, impartiality as well as the transparency and openness of its public service.

The report – which is included in the World Bank’s six-monthly economic monitor on Malaysia – will be formally launched today.

World Bank lead public sector specialist Rajni Bajpai said that while Malaysia was doing better than others in South-East Asia, there was a very “big gap” in the performance of its civil servants with Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries.

She said the report decided to compare Malaysia with the OECD countries as it was hoping to move from a middle-income status country to that of high-income.

“When you compare Malaysia with others in the region, Malaysia has been doing pretty well but we see that the performance has stagnated.

“If you look at the indicator for government effectiveness, Malaysia is still above in the region but in 2018, the performance is below that of between 1991 and 2014.

“If you take the average of that period between 1991 and 2014, it was higher than that in 2018, which means the performance is declining,” she said in an interview.

There were also some indicators in which Malaysia ranked even below the region, said Rajni, adding that this included accountability, impartiality and the openness of its public sector.

“There is a strong perception … that recruitment of the civil service is not fair and neutral (with) Malaysia scoring very poorly on the indicators for impartiality in the government.

“It’s the lowest ranked, even below the region and way below the OECD,” she said, adding that the government in its election manifesto had suggested setting up an Equal Opportunities Commis­sion meant to tackle discriminatory practices in both the public and private sector.

“Malaysia also scores very poorly on the openness indicators. Malaysia is not a very open economy in the sense that data sharing is a very big problem.

“The government does not share of a lot of data, even within its own departments or with the citizens.

“And citizens’ feedback and voices are not factored by the government into the design of programmes,” she said, adding that the report would suggest the setting up of an institutional and legal framework for open data sharing.

Another indicator that Malaysia performed “not very well”, according to Rajni, was in digitisation and technological advances, which the government had not been able to integrate into its system to provide services.

The report, said Rajni, also focused on another critical element in Malaysia’s civil service, in that the recruitment, which was carried out by the Public Services Department, was overcentralised.

Describing Malaysia as one of the “most overcentralised”, she pointed out that in many countries, this function had been devolved to other departments and even state governments.

“Overcentralisation does not allow for the people who actually need the public servants to do certain jobs … because they don’t have the right people or the recruitment takes a very long time,” she said.

OECD countries, said Rajni, had been using a competency framework for the recruitment of their civil service, which defined the kind of roles and skills needed in the public sector, rather than taking in people generally for everything.

Among the indicators that Malaysia performed very well were for the ease of doing business – for which Malaysia is ranked 15th – and the inclusion of women in its civil service.

“Women occupied almost 50% of the civil service although there are some issues with women in higher management,” said Rajni.

Other indicators that were highlighted in the report included political stability, regulatory quality, rule of law and control of corruption.

Source link 

 

Related stories:

Public sector needs further reforms, say experts

Concerns over sustainability of wage bill

Penang to downsize civil service – Nation

 

Malaysia to become high-income nation

https://www.thestar.com.my/business/business-news/2019/07/02/malaysia-to-become-highincome-nation/

Related posts:

Huge Civil Service Size, Attractive Emoluments and Benefits are costing Malaysia !

 

Bloated civil sevice in Malaysia must cut down the size and salaries

 

Corruptions, Conflict of interests, politicians and Malaysian bloated civil service

Malaysia needs structural reforms says global investor

Middle-income trap, brain drain and high public service spending among Malaysia’s risks

Warning to civil servants: stop bodek-bodeking, Serve people and govt of the day or else ..

Malaysia’s Human Resource Development Fund (HRDF) a ‘personal piggy bank of sr managers!

 

Malaysia world’s No.1 highest civil servants-to-population ratio! Its tenure of service legally vulnerable but notoriously difficult to dismiss 

Apr 5, 2016 Now, it has been proven that the  administrative capital of Putrajaya has the … Evidently, obesity is manifested in the abdominal fat around the …

A destiny tied to China – Tackling it the British way


Impractical move: China is generally aware that the Hong Kong people cannot sustain any form of protest because rent and bills need to be paid and protests don’t gain a voice, neither by yellow shirts nor umbrellas. — AFP

The future of the Hong Kong people lies with China but the challenge for Beijing is to make Hong Kongers feel that they are a fundamental part of the Middle Kingdom.

If there is a history lesson that the Chinese can learn from British Malaya in handling the Hong Kong protests, it’s that the British administered their colonies well and without the need for any heavy-handed approaches, even they robbed these colonies of their rich minerals.

YOU’VE got to hand it to the British because they are really the masters at the game. Anyone who has studied basic Malayan history would know that officials during colonial times merely identified themselves as advisers.

They were British civil servants, but they called the shots.

Adding insult to injury, the Malay Rulers – as the Sultans were called then – were “led” to believe they still ran the states.

Under British Malaya – a set of states on the Malay peninsula and Singapore under British rule between the 18th and 20th centuries – British colonial officials had the last say on almost everything except religion and customary matters, which they cleverly left to the palaces.

So, in theory, the Rulers held their positions, kept their perks and all royal protocols befitting royalty, but their wings were clipped.

These were the federated states, but in the case of Straits Settlement states, British governors were appointed.

So, the famous Malacca Sultanate, with its rich lineage of Sultans, found itself having a governor, a Caucasian, as did Penang and Singapore.

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad put it aptly when he said last week in his speech in Britain that “Malaysia is a member of the Commonwealth, but there is nothing much in common with the wealth dominated by certain countries”.

“The British acknowledged the Malay Sultans as Rulers, but the Sultans never ruled. Therefore, when they criticised us as dictators, I don’t think they really meant it,” he said.

There was more. Under British rule in the 20th century, the British introduced repressive laws such as the Internal Security Act (ISA), used against communist insurgents.

Under the ISA, a person could be held for 60 days in solitary confinement and up to two years’ extension without trial.

Despite this, the British told the world, with a straight face, that they taught us, the natives, principles of justice, democracy and fairness, and that we all cried when they abandoned us when the Japanese invaded Malaya in 1941, and when we gained independence in 1957.

Our first prime minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, kept the law when the Union Jack was lowered in 1957, which marked our independence.

Not many Malaysians are aware that the British imposed the ISA. Of course, during that era, only the radical left-wingers, with communist tendencies, were detained.

One ISA detainee, who was imprisoned under the British and then under the Malaysian government, said: “With the British guards, they would cheerily come every morning and wished the detainees a good day.” That was the difference.

Fast forward to 2019 and the massive turnout in Hong Kong against the controversial extradition Bill, with proposed amendments allowing for criminal suspects to be sent to China, has made international news.

It has prompted concern in Hong Kong and elsewhere that anyone from the city’s residents to foreign and Chinese nationals living or travelling through the international financial hub could be at risk if they were wanted by Beijing.

Basically, Hong Kong residents would rather face HK courts than be deported to mainland China.

Many have no faith in China’s judicial system compared to the British-style HK courts, which inherited the British legal system, and where most of the judges and lawyers are also British-trained.

The HK people can’t be blamed for their anger and suspicion since the international community has read of Chinese nationals being short-changed, or even neglected by the courts in the pursuit of justice.

And we can even read of income tax defaulters, under investigation, being hauled off to undisclosed locations, while dissidents have been taken away, and disappeared without a trace.

This bad press, verified or otherwise, would have scared many people, even though one wonders how many of these HK protesters believe, in their hearts of hearts, that they would ever get arrested and sent to China.

But the irony is that under British rule in HK, like many governments, the British widely used the law as a tool to consolidate control of Hong Kong in the hands of a privileged minority.

Legal expert Richard Daniel Klien wrote that “the British enacted legislation which in some respects instituted two sets of laws – one for the Europeans and another for the Chinese. Laws were passed to ensure no Chinese would live in the most desirable parts of Hong Kong, which the British wished to preserve as their exclusive enclaves.

“In a land in which ninety-eight per cent of the population were Chinese, English was the official language.

“The Chinese language was not permitted to be used in government offices.

“Laws regulating conduct were written exclusively in English, a language which the vast majority of the population could not understand.

“The astonishing truth of the failure of the Hong Kong Chinese to develop a significant pro-democracy or pro-independence movement, while other British colonies obtained independence long ago, testifies to the success of the British laws in accomplishing the goal of continued colonial rule over this land of six million inhabitants.”

MK Chan wrote in a law review report that “to most people in Hong Kong, the preservation of the existing legal system is of crucial importance to the high degree of autonomy the post-colonial Hong Kong Special Administrative Region is supposed to enjoy under Chinese sovereignty according to the “One Country, Two Systems” formula.

“However, this widely shared perception is flawed for one simple reason: the legal system in Hong Kong today has its own serious defects. It is not only alien in origin,” and “markedly different from the legal system in the People’s Republic of China but also defective and inadequate”.

No protest has gained voice, neither through yellow shirts nor umbrellas. And no protests were staged because the British didn’t allow elections during the colonial rule from over a century and a half.

The 1995 Hong Kong Legislative Council election for members of the Legislative Council of Hong Kong was only finally held that year – it was the first and last fully elected legislative election in the colonial period before the nation was returned to China two years later. So much for democracy and freedom.

No HK resident protested that only the white men could hold top posts in government bodies, places where there were many qualified HK civil servants who could speak and write in English better than their superiors.

To put it bluntly, there was not even a squeak – and we know how corrupt the HK police were in the 1970s – about the force being headed by Britons.

To be fair, the British transformed HK from a barren island to an international hub, with a working administration system that has won the confidence of the international community.

However, the responsibility of the British ended in 1997 when HK was handed over to the Chinese. It has lost its right to tell the Chinese what to do.

But what has brought this resentment towards China, from HK Chinese people, and perhaps, even a yearning, for British rule?

Not long ago, it was reported that some localists had taken to thumbing their nose at “China’s heavy-handed meddling” by waving the British flag at football matches, booing the Chinese anthem and chanting “We are Hong Kong! Hong Kong is not China!” in English.

Reports have also surfaced about a small Hong Kong-United Kingdom Reunification Campaign, which angled for a return to British rule but ultimately dismissed as quirky.

Then there are HK people who talk about the “good times” under British rule.

If there is a history lesson which the Chinese can learn from British Malaya, it’s that the Brits administered their colonies well and without the need for any heavy-handed approaches, even as they robbed these colonies of their rich minerals.

Reports of Beijing’s transgressions in the territory, such as the kidnapping by mainland agents of local booksellers, or the National People’s Congress purportedly stepping into local judicial cases, won’t win the hearts of the HK people.

Beijing must put on a softer face and display plenty of patience in dealing with HK. There is really no rush for China, especially with risking an international black eye at a time when it can ill afford to do so.

Yes, China is concerned about how its billion people will react if they see these hot-headed HK protesters abusing policemen.

The lessons from the breakup of the Soviet Union – and the wounded pride and dignity that follows – are always etched in the minds of Chinese leaders.

When CNN and BBC reporters talk about individual rights, they have no idea what Beijing or even the Chinese diaspora think.

But the people of HK must also accept the harsh reality – HK is now China’s sovereignty, and more and more of its independence, or even importance, will slowly fade away.

China doesn’t need HK as much as it used to as a strategic financial hub, because Chinese cities, including Beijing and Shanghai, have even eclipsed the former island nation. No matter how big or how long these protests run for, China knows the HK people don’t have the stamina, because rent and bills need to be paid, and protest sittings on streets don’t last anyway.

And the other blow is the British government’s refusal to grant citizenship to the 3.5 million Hongkongers born there under the British flag.

China needs to work harder on winning hearts and minds, and to make the HK people feel they are a fundamental part of China, and Chinese culture and pride.

HK people have always been independent because they were brought up differently and under different sets of political and legal systems, and that must be understood. There is no need to ramp through any laws, indicating that the HK people are unhappy.

The destiny of the HK people lies with China, and not Britain, but the challenge for Beijing is to make the people of HK feel those sentiments and be proud of it.

And speaking of extradition, let’s not forget that the US is also seeking to get WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange extradited from the UK for alleged crimes under the Espionage Act 1917, of which remains unclear.

He is the first journalist to have the book thrown at him for whistleblowing.

That’s not all. The US wants Huawei chief financial office Sabrina Meng Wanzhou to be extradited from Canada over charges which smell suspiciously like trumped up accusations. – by wong chun wai

Source link 
Read more:  

Young guns taking charge – Asean+

 

Wong Chun Wai gets honorary doctorate

 

‘Neighbour from hell’ torture

 

Chapter One: The Malaysian Mule

 

Can these parents prove their drug mule daughter’s innocence?

 

China takes moral high ground in face of US power play


The Sino-US trade dispute is not only a game between representatives of the two countries at the negotiating table, but also a contest between the two sides in the field of international public opinion. In this dispute, which may evolve into a protracted confrontation, China has no choice but to take international justice and law as the criterion. While striving to safeguard its own core interests, China is also committed to international morality.

Over the past year and more, the tactics used by China and the US in the trade war have drawn a sharp contrast, highlighting the new trend of the strategic game between emerging powers and already existing powers in the new era.

China is actively opening to the outside world to reduce trade restrictions, while the US frequently imposes tariffs on other countries. China never threatens other countries, but seeks common interests through negotiations. The US frequently resorts to a maximum pressure approach. China respects the international system and acts in accordance with the principles of justice. The US does not obey rules, and uses what is appropriate and discards what is not. China respects each other’s concerns about economic interests, while the US only considers its own interests. China has resolutely defended and safeguarded the basic principles of the WTO and put forward a reform plan. The US threatened to withdraw from the WTO to act according to its will. 

Welcome to America Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Uncle Sam, which prides itself on international justice, has arrogantly put “America First” above international justice and law. Closing the door for selfish gain, Washington is slipping from the moral high ground. China adheres to principles, is calm and rational, pursues fairness and justice, opens the door to common prosperity and cooperation, and presents itself as a responsible major country. 

Theodore Roosevelt once said, “If we are to be a really great people, we must strive in good faith to play a great part in the world.” The use of unilateralism to force opponents to surrender has caused the biggest blow to the international free trade system since the end of the Cold War.

At this time, it has become the common responsibility of the international community to work together to consolidate and improve the existing international economic and trade system so that it is fairer and more reasonable and not hijacked by the US.

It appears that the US is decoupling with China, in fact, the US is decoupling with the world. As the largest developing country and the world’s No. 2 economy, China has the responsibility and wisdom to play a bigger role in promoting globalization.

The conflict between China and the US tests the level of political governance, the potential of economic development, the unity of the people and the global influence of the two sides. The future depends more on who can be a positive force for world peace and development.

China’s economic and trade links with the rest of the world have never been so extensive and deep as they are today. The further development of globalization and the progress of the world political and economic governance system need China’s contribution.

China is an emerging power. The rise of any big country in history will not be smooth. A great power that can truly stand firm on the world stage may start out lonely, but in the end, it becomes more and more cohesive. The trade war has put China through the test that a rising power must endure. It has strengthened our confidence to firmly occupy the international moral high ground.

China’s past success lies in its ability to accurately grasp the convergence between China’s “potential” and the world’s “potential.” China’s sustainable development in the future depends on how we take advantage of the trend of world development to develop ourselves, and use our own reform and opening-up to promote world development.



Source link 

 

RELATED ARTICLES:

Related posts:

 

Photo: IC https://youtu.be/tGD072hQGP8   The US has no lack of a “criminal record” in terms of technology theft.  The US has r…

‘Money/cash is King’ comes back to bite Pakatan


Politicians using cash to buy power and votes has created a culture in  Malaysia in which people have started valuing money more than truth, hard work and honesty. 

THE enduring potency of the ringgit caused by former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s “Cash is King” regime came in for much ridicule in the last election campaign, much to the chagrin of the perpetrator of this philosophy.

In all his speeches and media interviews in the last two years before 2018’s 14th General Election, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad never failed to hammer home the point that Najib told him this when he asked why he was giving out cash hand-outs in so many forms to the people, and very freely too.

His intended message to the voters was that Najib used this tactic to “buy” votes, as Malaysians will eventually be beholden and grateful to the man who dishes out cash. Whether those receiving it deserved it or not did not matter, everyone wanted the money and many did not care where it came from.

For a long time, money and power worked like a firewall around Najib and his Cabinet, which made him believe cash was indeed king as they blithely went about plundering the nation.

It has been established or is being established at Najib’s on-going corruption trial involving the alleged siphoning of funds from SRC International Sdn Bhd, that money was freely dished out for political support, popularity and reverence, among others.

Mahathir’s campaign was direct and simple, that it was borrowed money and stolen funds from the people that was being given out, and this campaign strategy worked. It thus showed that anti-corruption is an easy sell and proved that most Malaysian voters did care about abstract ethical issues like corruption.

Unbelievably, even many of the beneficiaries of Najib’s largesse had obviously voted against Barisan Nasional while some others became turncoats shamelessly, leaving the flagging party.

But one year after dismantling the Cash is King mantra, it somehow appears to be coming back to bite Dr Mahathir and the Pakatan Harapan leadership. The new mantra among many Malaysians now is that they don’t seem to have enough money all the time.

True, the cost of living never came down substantially after the abolition of the GST (goods and services tax), but we cannot deny that it did lower shopping bills in places like hypermarkets as there was no SST (sales and services tax) levied at such outlets.

RON 95 petrol, which is currently used by most motorists, is capped at RM2.08 a litre which is about 40 sen lower than the actual price it would have been if the old managed float system based on global crude oil prices was in place

Not very tangible for the average Malaysian, right? Do they even care to understand the intangibles that they are benefiting from as a result of several new policies and taxes? No! Looks like Malaysians are not prepared to ask what they can do for the country, it is always what the country must do for them.

Nearly every person I meet seems to have just one thing to say: nothing has come down. All prices have remained the same while some have only gone up. And that Pakatan has not delivered or is slow in keeping its promises.

And strangely, I have been noticing a pattern where those providing certain home services like courier and telecommunication technicians actually volunteer to say that times were better under the Barisan government as they had more money to spend.

“It is very difficult now, we have less money to spend compared to last time when BN was in power. Pakatan Harapan is not keeping its promises,” a Pos Laju staff told a friend of mine without being asked.

I’m one who views surveys by certain groups and parties, especially the random ones, warily as the respondents do not necessarily reflect the actual feelings on the ground. So I make it a point to talk to strangers about this subject whether in public stations or while in a queue waiting to pay something.

What I notice is that while people may be a tad bit sympathetic when I tell them they have to give Pakatan more time because of certain extenuating circumstances, generally, they are unhappy.

The bottom line of their unhappiness now is all about cash. They are receiving less money from the government, never mind what they were enjoying in the past was stolen or borrowed money.

This group of people don’t seem to be outraged, which we all should naturally be, at past leaders who had virtually abused their power to rob the nation’s coffers, a fact which has emerged or is being exposed in many key institutions.

They claim that the BR1M (Bantuan Rakyat 1Malaysia) payments are now lower and many recipients have also been removed from the list as they do not qualify under the minimum household income requirement. So what is wrong with that? Why do you want money that does not belong to you or you don’t deserve?

Yes, it’s true that the Bantuan Sara Hidup (BSH, as BR1M is now called) has been reduced by RM200 to RM1,000 but Pakatan has made sure that only really needy Malaysians get such welfare aid, as it had been greatly abused in the past.

And to make sure those really in need receive more help, the government is giving out an additional RM100 for each child below 18 years of age whose guardians are BSH recipients, for a maximum of four children. And if the child is disabled, it is for a lifetime, no age limit. So if a BSH recipient has four children below 18, he or she gets a total of RM1,420. This is higher than before.

Malaysia has thrived because of a culture of opportunity that encourages hard work in the private sector. Of course, the social restructuring policy, which was aimed at giving a hand to the have-nots to give them a lift, played a role.

But this should not go on forever, the number must reduce eventually as those benefiting should finally be able to help their families to grow away from this dependency.

The growth of this form of welfare state funded by projected or borrowed income — or worse still, by funds siphoned from government coffers — is turning Malaysia into a land where many expect, and see no stigma attached, to receive regular financial support.

I find this a growing and dangerous trend, when undeserving Malaysians sit back idly and wait for these cash hand-outs as an entitlement instead of a privilege. And what’s more distressing is to see politicians feeding this cancer as a way of continuing to stay in power.

The actual meaning of the phrase “Cash is King”, as most of us know, is a term reflecting the belief that cash money is more valuable than any other form of investment tool for businesses. For individuals, it is meant to be a fund which is easily accessible for urgent expenditures or purchases.

It is not a phrase that politicians or others use to indicate that they can buy power and votes so that they are able to be in absolute control of the nation for as long as they want. Unfortunately, though, many have done this and it has created a culture in Malaysia in which the people have started valuing money more than truth, hard work and honesty.

Cash is not king when it is stolen from others or, worse still, from public funds placed under your trust or control. That is called cashing in. It is surely not king if it is obtained by unfair trade practices or it is beyond a fair deal.

In this context, something that Dr Mahathir said about two years before the last election shortly after he decided to re-enter politics stands out in my mind. He had said: “You see the collapse of moral values in Malaysia is terrible. In the future we are going to be like those countries where bribery is a part of daily life — you can’t do anything without bribery.”

This is what he is trying to dismantle after he came back into politics at the age of 93, so we should give our wholehearted support to him and Pakatan for a better and cleaner Malaysia for all.

Source link 

Expect the unexpected from Dr M – Analysis

 

 

Mediocre future? If selection at the matriculation level is not based on meritocracy, the quality of our tertiary institutions will be …

Meritocracy Vs. Mediocrity  Education system must champion meritocracy THE country is facing yet another controversy of its own …

The Pakatan government has little choice
nor time to check the slide on its popularity and goodwill from voters.
WHAT a difference a y

 

Crime and cost of living are top concerns for Malaysians – Ipsos Global Research

 

 

 

 

 

 


Pakatan Harapan government plunges in popularity


 

 

The Pakatan government has little choice nor time to check the slide on its popularity and goodwill from voters.

WHAT a difference a year makes. In a week, the Pakatan Harapan government will mark its first year in power but in stark contrast to the height of popularity it enjoyed then, support for the coalition has plunged.

A recent poll by the Merdeka Centre showed that the administration’s approval rating sank to 39% in March, a drastic drop from 79% recorded in May 31 last year.

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s performance approval rating as Prime Minister declined too – from 71% in August 2018 to 46% last month.

The survey firm polled 1,204 registered voters in March to gauge their opinions on the country’s economy, leadership and current issues.

Pakatan’s descent in popularity was attributed to the state of the economy as felt by consumers, the perceived strength of the government, anxieties over Malay rights and privileges and the treatment of other races in the country.

According to the findings, public satisfaction in Pakatan’s administration of the economy fell from 60% to 40% with voters largely unhappy with the rise in the cost of living.

The majority of respondents also disagreed with policies such as the move to abolish the death penalty while many were also against the scrapping of exams for Primary 1 to 3 and the plan to impose taxes on sugary drinks. Only 34% of voters polled were of the view that the country was headed in the right direction, with Malay respondents weighing in lower at 24%.

The survey showed that the main concern of Malaysians was the economy at 63%, followed by race-related issues and the flip-flop on decisions such as the government’s decision to withdraw from ratifying the International Conven­tion on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Icerd).

On the plus side, worries over corruption declined to 23% from 33% while 67% of respondents agreed that the government should be given more time to fulfil its election promises.

Its support rating may have dropped but to be fair, the Pakatan government has not done too badly since taking over, considering the state of the economy and the massive debts that it inherited from the previous disgraced administration.

Of course, there is much more to do, like addressing the cost of living, fulfilling housing needs and providing sustainable healthcare but the government has already fulfilled nearly a third of its pledges, im­p­roved its overall financial position and has made significant moves to tackle corruption in the civil service.

Ironically, the freer media landscape today is contributing to the perception that the Pakatan government is performing poorly or unable to handle issues raised by the opposition, especially those related to race and religion.

Malaysia has risen 22 places to rank 123 out of 180 countries in the latest World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders (RSF). It now tops countries in South-East Asia – above Indonesia (124), the Philippines (134), Thailand (136), Myanmar (138), Cambodia (143), Singapore (151), Brunei (152), Laos (171) and Vietnam (176).

Unlike in the past, opposition parties now get unfettered coverage in the media and the welcome change has led to the diffusion of a more diverse range of views.

However, the new government has been rather inept in conveying its message on a wide range of issues in the print, online and social media since taking over Putrajaya.

It is also guilty of being sluggish in countering negative reactions or stemming news designed to elicit racial or religious sentiments, as could be seen in the cases of ratification of the Icerd, the Rome Statute and the Seafield Sri Maha Mariamman temple riots.

Opposition politicians and their supporters have been quick to exploit this weakness to manipulate opinion in the freer media environment.

A recent example is lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah’s briefings to the media in the ongoing trial of former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak over funds worth RM42mil from SRC International Sdn Bhd. It is clear that he is using the media to advocate the defence’s contention that Najib’s bank account was misused by people who were unauthorised, including Jho Low, as well as some rogue bankers.

In statements designed to strike a chord with those who may find it tedious to follow the proceedings, he claimed that the former PM would most likely turn out as a “victim” in the end.

As for getting away with untrue claims in the media, one such example was a supposedly secret “side agreement” for the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) to enable a trade-off of 4,500 acres of land to China Com­munications Construction Company Ltd (CCCC). It was based on a non-legally binding Memoran­dum of Understanding (MoU) under which the Malaysian Investment Develop­ment Authority (Mida) was supposed to assist local companies to cooperate with CCCC to create special purpose companies for development of the economic accelerator projects worth RM10bil over 10 years.

Instead of clarifying the matter immediately, the media handlers of the Transport Ministry and Mida left it to Dr Mahathir’s special envoy to China, Tun Daim Zainuddin, to respond instead.

Ineffective communication teams in the various ministries and the lack of media coordination among them are the main reasons why Pakatan appears to be losing control of its narratives on performance and service.

What Pakatan needs is expertise and a clear media strategy to re-establish political credibility and trust among the people, especially the now disillusioned voters who had pinned their hopes on a better “New Malaysia”. Instead of just leaving the ministries to handle their own issues, the approach should be on keeping to the same page, through synchronisation of information and making better use of social media to enable agencies to engage directly with citizens.

With Malaysians having higher expectations and lower levels of patience, the Pakatan government has little choice nor time to check the slide on its popularity and improve on its public relations.

Veera PandiyanAlong the Watchtower by M.Veera Pandiyan

Media consultant M. Veera Pandiyan likes this quote by George Bernard Shaw: The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.
Related posts:

New Malaysia should push for meritocracy

The Meritocracy Paradox Pakatan Harapan’s unexpected win in the
recent 14th General Elections sent a signal that it is time for the
cou…

%d bloggers like this: