As Dato’ Sri Najib Tun Razak’s approval level is getting higher and higher, my voice of highlighting a couple of weaknesses in the government might be getting smaller and smaller.
But worry not. I shall persevere. Hopefully, it is not a case of ‘syok sendiri‘.
The PM will announce the 10th Malaysia Plan and the New Economic Model (“NEM”) in Parliament tomorrow. I assume, for the case of the NEM, it will be the finalised version of the first draft proposed by the National Economic Advisory Council (“NEAC”) a couple of months ago.
One of the area which I am worried is the subsidy rationalisation initiatives planned by the government. You can read it here.
I want to highlight a portion of the linked article:
Question 6. Why are we not protecting the poor and the low income in this Subsidy Rationalisation proposal?
For every subsidy reduction proposal, the lab has recommended mitigation measures to protect the rakyat, particularly the poor.
For example, in the case of increases in the electricity tariff, the mitigation measures are as follows. For those whose electricity consumption is less than 100 kWh per month, the Government will continue with the current practice of giving it free of charge. For those who consume between 101-200 kwH per month, the existing tariff apply (no change). Based on our statistics, these two categories constitute 56% of all consumers.
In the case of fuel price increase, the mitigation measures include cash rebate of RM126 per year for car owner less than 1,000cc and RM54 per year for owner of motorbikes less than 250cc. Car and bike capacity is used as a proxy to determine the low income and the poor category.
In the case of flour, sugar and cooking oil & LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) cooking gas, the mitigation measure will include a cash rebate of RM20 per person per year. For a family of five, they will receive RM100 cash per year.
In other words, the solution of cutting subsidy is to give the people some money. A one time pay off actually.
This is similar to our former prime minister’s plan to lift the burden of the people when the fuel price was increased to RM2.70 per litre back in 2008. He gave each one of us RM625. But did this help alleviate the overall inflation and the strain in the lifestyle of ordinary men?
No it did not. In fact, RM625 for a family will be gone within 2 weeks and the prices of food and other necessities will still be high while their income remain stagnant.
Bear in mind, any increase in fuel prices will inadvertently increase the prices of other products. Even the price of teh tarik will increase.
I do not understand how this current government could not learn from the past mistakes. Giving RM126 to a car owner will not alleviate his cashflow in the middle to long term.
And now, prices of sugar, cooking oil and flour will be increased due to the impending cuts in subsidy. What do these people get in return? RM20. Prices of food will go up 20%, and yet, the people will get RM20 per year. There is no immediate changes in their income and yet their expenditure will be higher.
Who do you think this people will vote?
People with income under RM3,000 will not be happy as the government will take away their livelihood without thinking about a proper safety net.
Government is penalising the people in the present hoping for these same group of people to get benefits in the far future. The benefits?
USD15,000 per capita income in 2020.
Does Najib think he will still be around in the next 2 general elections for that to happen?
I don’t even see the step by step action plans in the NEM for that to happen. The NEM document is still a vague document. Will these people really get the benefits in 10 years time?
What is important to identify is the misappropriation of subsidies. Some people are talking about it. For instance, Air Asia gets exemption over their income tax. Astro has laws that enables them to reap maximum profits from this monopolistic business.
These cases have not taken into account. But when it comes to penalising the people, the government is the first to react. Now, they plan to increase the medical fee in government hospitals and clinics from RM1 to RM3.
Question 7. We should not remove subsidy on Education, Health and Agriculture.
The lab agrees. Education is indeed an investment on Human Capital. We will continue to spend to provide subsidies on education such as scholarships, text book assistance, food, etc. However, we will remove wastages and abuse – we abolish the subsidised fee for foreign students.
For Health, we will continue to provide subsidies but with nominal outpatient fee of RM3, which incidentally is one of the lowest outpatient fee in the world. For Agriculture & Fisheries, we continue the subsidies but we will improve implementation so that the subsidies will receive to target audience
The savings from this is not much (just a few millions), but the political backlash from this will be huge. In other words, RM2 pun nak berkira ke? Imagine how much money can be earned by the government if Air Asia has to pay their income taxes; just like MAS.
It is sad that the government is punishing the common people now and yet at the same time, continue giving the rich avenues to get richer. What are the avenues for the common people to get richer now? Care to share?
Cut subsidy, cut spending, save this, save that.
Behind our backs, pour more money to the select few.
But when it comes to the ordinary rakyat, you share the burden.
I also want to alert the government whether the NEM has taken into account any worse case scenarios that might happen within this next 10 years or so. Have they tested the resilience of our economy?
What if there is an oil crisis in 2012? What will the government do? Pump more subsidy? Give more rebates? All this require money. Will this dent the 6.5% yearly target of our GDP growth?
What if there is an acute food shortage in 2016? Is there a simulation model of our economy in food crisis mode yet? What are the action plans to be taken if there is an occurrence of food shortage? Give RM50 instead of RM20?
Malaysia needs a steady growth of 6.5% annually in order to be a high income, fully developed nation by 2020. Any crisis along the way will be a hindrance to this aim.
Malaysia needs action plans in order to compensate any setback in the GDP growth.
If not, when 2020 comes, and we still have not achieved USD15,000 per capita, we will curse the government of 2010 for making our lives difficult from 2010 onwards.
Okay now, we go to the other annoying news.
The story about “liberal Malays” criticising MPM and Perkasa. Firstly, what is a liberal Malay?
Since I cannot really fathom the real meaning of it, I shall look at its complete opposite. And what is the opposite of liberal?
Conservative? Traditional? Conservative might be the better word.
Let’s see who are the conservative Malays.
I reckon the conservative Malays are the rural folks; they have deep affiliation towards Islam and very traditional in their outlook towards the Malay culture.
Some of them do not know what spaghetti is. Most of them never tasted foie gras before. They may have some idea on what a fiscal deficit budget is. But most of them do not give two cents worth on what it is all about. Their immediate concern in between eating sambal belacan is how to look after their family with the monthly income they have and how well they prepare themselves for the hereafter.
Their lives are inextricably woven with how and what the government gives them in terms of social welfare and subsidies. This is mooted.
Now come along a group of Malays announcing themselves as liberal in their views of the world surrounding them. Nothing wrong with this ‘worldly’ views. In fact, some of their viewpoints might be the same as mine.
But which group do you think is bigger? The liberal Malays or the conservative Malays? I am guessing the latter group.
Hence, when these liberal Malays give their views without being cognisant about the plight of the other group of Malays, I think they are doing a disservice to their entire race.
The liberal Malays want the government to stop corruption in order to plug the wastage in our national budget.
They forget that the biggest culprit in corruption are they themselves – the liberal Malays.
Do you think the ones that caused all the multi-billion losses and scandals are the Pak Haji living in Kampung Bota Kanan in Perak? The Makcik Zainab selling nasi lemak in Gambang, Pahang? The underpaid postmen? The soldiers manning our borders?
The conservative Malays plowing their lives over a meagre income of RM1,000 – RM3,000 a month?
The ones that are guilty of multi million corruption are those who graduated from ivy league universities. Those who talk in condescending English while addressing the lesser mortals. Those who sit in BOD meetings of huge GLCs. Those who run the upper stratum of a particular political party. Those who chided the conservative Malays for being dependent on subsidies while at the same time immerse themselves in multi million direct negos with the government. These are the people who have no qualms in telling the government to stop giving subsidies to ALL MALAYSIANS because there is so much wastage in the country. These liberal Malays, together with their liberal non-Malay friends, had been looting this country dry and now cried foul over the apparent abuse in the system.
This is the case of wanting the government to stop something they or their brethren are guilty of. And now they condemning those who are fighting for the conservative Malays. The liberal Malays are guilty of so many scandals and corruption it is therefore hypocritical and not to mention rude, for them to stop the government from continue giving help to those who are in need of assistance.
Liberal Malays urged the government to abolish subsidies because they are ashamed to have subsidy mentality.
They can afford to have this sentiment because the absence of subsidies for fuel, sugar etc will have no effect on them. But, the abolishment of subsidies will severely impact the non-liberals; the average malay getting less than RM3,000 a month. As I mentioned above regarding the rebates and the social safety net, no viable and concrete action plans were devised to really look into this matter.
It is a fortunate thing that a body such as MPM has the gumption to stand against the PM and tell him to relook at the NEM.
I myself do not mind government lessen the amount of subsidies given (as opposed to immediate abolishment). But the solutions proposed for the ones that will be affected the most must be more logical and realistic than the ones suggested above.
Yes, we all want to progress to become a world player. But we do not want anyone to lag behind and be forgotten. Especially the kingmakers in this country. The Malays.
Not the liberal Malays.