But only by a whisker…
But it’s a no brainer really since I know that Anwar is a good orator.
However, I’m glad to say that the speakers did not overly succumbed themselves to spew rhetorics all over the place (although I did wish Shabery could wipe his mouth once in awhile). And my little hope that the debate would be an informative and exciting one did quite come true. Kudos to both speakers.
First, lets start with Shabery Cheek. He started off well. But somewhere in the middle, he lost focus. He did not even answer a question by Zulfkifli Sulong’s first question convincingly. The question was simple – what happened to the amount of RM4 billion saved from the increase of fuel price in 2006 and the purported RM13 billion saved in last month’s increase of fuel price? He went off topic and failed to answer it correctly. Good dodging technique I supposed. The 4th floor boys should have prepared him for this.
I know I should not judge the man harshly because he is a newbie in the cabinet. First time minister. But he disappoints me when he would launch a personal attack on Anwar Ibrahim everytime he was unable to debate a certain point credibly. But on the other hand, Anwar, with all the skeletons in his closet was an easy target for Shahbery’s personal attacks on him. Anwar could only smile or tap his forehead everytime Shahbery launch these attacks on him.
When Anwar wanted to highlight the IPP issue, Shabery could have easily refuted Anwar’s claim by saying that at that time, the beneficiaries of the lop sided agreement between TNB and the IPPs were companies well connected to Anwar i.e., Malakoff etc. Shabery also could have easily invalidated Anwar’s claim that the government does not care about the people by mentioning the many incentives the government had given to the people since the general election.
To cut the story short, Shabery’s failure in this debate epitomizes the quality in Pak Lah’s administration. Maybe he should just resigned since he could not defend his boss’ flip flop decisions.
Next, Anwar Ibrahim. He started off well, and ended it well. Too bad it was only an hour’s show. I’m quite surprised that Anwar did not launch into an endless tirade of speeches unrelated to the topic at hand. There were moments where he dwelled too much on the inefficiencies and mismanagement of the current government but I guess he deserved to gloat about it because during his day, under the stewardship of Dr Mahathir, the government had managed the economy rather efficiently. And to quote him “we are now comparing ourselves to Venezuela, Somalia, Iran etc when in the 90’s we are at par with Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea”.
Anwar was spot on when he said he does not criticise Petronas. To him, Petronas is doing a marvellous job. It was the BN government whom he is criticising. I could not agree more with that statement. It is ironic that Anwar is defending Petronas while people like KJ and his minions are openly criticising Petronas and wanting them to make public their already publicized accounts. My previous article about Pak Lah backstabbing the nation should also apply to KJ.
If Umno lets KJ to rule them all, it would be like handing him a knife/keris to stab the whole nation at the back.
Okay, continue on. Anwar however, was not quite right when wanting to reduce the price of fuel to RM2.20 per litre. In his calculations, RM5 billion is needed for this (he did not say how he derived at this amount). He would slash the 40% reserve capacity of TNB and renegotiate the IPP agreements. That would save him about RM2 billions. Then, he would take RM1 billion from Petronas’ special dividend payout to subsidize the price cut further.
This is a very, very short term and simple way out which will have a negative impact on the economy. I assume the RM5 billion is the amount to be subsidized further on top of the already heavily subsidized fuel price for this year alone. Assuming the fuel price remain constant next year, another extra RM5 billion is needed to maintain next year’s fuel price. Do we need to further cut the reserve capacity of TNB? Do we need to have another round of renegotiation with the IPPs? I’m sure Anwar would have other ideas from where to find the money when the time comes.
But my point is, Anwar should not come out with plans that is just merely “taking money from left pocket and put it in the right pocket”. He should have thought it in a much bigger picture. He should increase the personal income tax of the rich, create national buffer of fuel stock (very much like rice buffer), and find ways to increase the income of the nation through foreign direct investments. As it is, the FDI of the country is decreasing due to lack of leadership from the current government.
These measures sound simplistic but they have their merits. And it is way better and more responsible than to simply provide immediate relief to the people without buffering the nation’s income to supplement the increase in cost of living. That is akin to the style of Pak Lah’s administration.
As a conclusion, I still feel that the debate is pointless. What do we have in the end? The fuel price is still RM2.70, Pak Lah’s cabinet ministers are all unable to fend their own decision, all economic advisers of the government failed in doing their jobs, Anwar reaffirmed that he is just a populist leader without any clear and viable economic gameplan, and Pak Lah is still the Prime Minister we wish we never had.
On another note, as I write this, Anwar Ibrahim was just arrested near his home with about 20 men wearing ski masks. I find this appalling to say the least. The police seems to never learn their lesson. Why do they need to have up to 20 men wearing ski masks to arrest him? Anwar is not an ordinary criminal. He is an extraordinary ex-criminal. The matter could have been done in a more friendly and proper way. Syed Hamid Albar needs to resign for the lack of tact and subtlety. Musa Hassan should be demoted to become a constable in the process.