Najib Razak / Pak Lah / Umno & Barisan Nasional

EPU should be free from political masters

I think the main reason why the development of socio-economic aspects of Malaysia is perceived to have been weakened is due to the incompetency of the Economic Planning Unit (Unit Perancang Ekonomi).

Once, this unit was headed by a Director General (“DG”). Now, since 2006, this powerful unit is headed by politicians.

This is where everything went awry.

EPU was headed by a civil servant who is an expert in the areas of the economy. Among others, names like Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Ali Abul Hassan Sulaiman and Tan Sri Sallehuddin Mohamed were not unfamiliar.

These are real economists who are paid to get their jobs done. Professionalism and expertise were never in doubt as the EPU is a government unit filled with experienced economists.

Let’s cut to the chase.

In 2006, Dato Seri Effendi Nawawi was appointed as the first minister to be in charge of the EPU.

Some say, a minister was made to oversee this unit because the prime minister at that time was too lazy to supervise the many meetings and works in progress the DG has presented to him. Not willing to be swamped with work, Effendi was appointed.

This started a misconceived tradition when Tan Sri Amirham was appointed to the post right after the 2008 general election as a successor to Effendi.

Our economic direction nosedived. It was bad prior to 2008, it was even worse post 2008.

The EPU Ministers since 2006

And recently, in 2009, the current prime minister, who certainly had promised the rakyat that his cabinet ministers are working for the rakyat, had appointed the much maligned Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop to head the EPU.

Something is definitely amiss.

In other words, why such personality, whom for the past few years is mired with the perception of corruption and very unpopular among the net savvy public, be given such a huge task in determining the nation’s economic projects?

First and foremost, EPU must not be political. The EPU was considered one of the most vital unit within the governmental strategic planning.

The moment it fall into the hands of power players or political warlords, it will doom itself to become a piece within the political chess game.

It could be the source of the money train. It could be a bargaining chip. Our economic direction is the price we pay when we took the risk of having personalities like these to steer our country in uncharted waters.

Now, EPU is currently filled with ineffective economists. It’s DG is reduced to being a postman. The real power lies within a minister who is not an economist by training.

That is why, to our dismay, our new economic model is being planned by con-sultans; foreign and domestic. Since when do we need to rely heavily on outsiders?

Not only that, there are several parties vying to be the chief driver of our economic transformation.

Tan Sri Amirsham of the NEAC, Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop as the EPU minister, Tan Sri Idris Jala, the pemandu of PEMANDU, Dato’ Seri Husni Hanadzlah as the 2nd Finance Minister and the consultant trinity of Boston Consulting Group, McKinsey & Co and Ethos Consulting.

Along the way, Tan Sri Dr. Koh Tsu Koon got booted out from the equation (although he was originally seen as the boss of Tan Sri Idris Jala).

It was alleged that the reason why consultants were relied heavily is because there are no more economists in the EPU. Many have gone to venture into private sector due to disagreement with the way EPU is being handled and, without suitable replacement climbing up the ladder, the EPU began to lose talents in record time.

I hope the EPU can regain its pride and clarity of vision by not being held to ransom with political expediency and ulterior  motives of a minister. I hope the current PM will abolish the post in the near future.

Thank you.

13 thoughts on “EPU should be free from political masters

  1. JMD,

    I have reviewed the following indicators
    – Nominal GDP
    – Real GDP
    – Money Supply growth
    – Bank credit & credit growth
    – Government debt
    – Government guaranteed debt
    – FDI
    – DDI

    My conclusion:

    (1) The symptoms
    (a) Nominal GDP growth has been fuelled to a large extent by the commodity boom
    (b) Real growth is fuelled by consumption. The subsidies ensured that prices were kept artificially low resulting in lower GDP deflator, hence higher real growth
    (c) On the commodity side, real growth is low. For mining, its either 0 or negative
    (d) Bank credit is heavily exposed to the housing sector. Only a small amount of loans go to actual capacity expansion in the manufacturing sector. The industrial sector mainly uses bank loans to finance working capital. Hence, with little investment in production, Malaysia’s manufacturing edge will be lost.
    (e) Money supply growth of late has been highly erratic. In the boom boom days, we could have sustained month on month increases. Right now its highly cyclical. Of late, M3 has turned negative.
    (f) Government debt is out of control. Cutting subsidies alone will not be enough. In fact if subsidies were cut, the households will feel the pinch resulting in inflation and souring of household facing loans. NPL’s and delinquencies will increase
    (g) Government guaranteed debt is essentially government debt which are off the balance sheet. Right now its standing at RM 85 billion. Add this to the Government debt, we get a number looking like RM 460 billion.
    (f) Malaysia’s FDI ranking has progessively slipped down ever since Dr Mahathir introduced capital controls. Under Mukhriz its getting worse. Last yr, it was down 66% (y-o-y) or 33% (2 yr average). This year its down again, even from the low base of last yr. Thats how bad things are
    (g) DDI is in a state of coma.

    The diagnosis:
    (1) Malaysia is now surviving on all the investments made in 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s
    (2) Moving forward, this base will depreciate and there is no new investment
    (3) Economy is heavily reliant on private consumption for growth. Changing the subsidy may result in the country experiencing stagflation
    (4) Government debt will result in the CB to print money to buy Government debt. When exactly is a matter of debate. When that happens, the Ringgit will crushed on the forex markets

    Your solution:

    My solution:
    (A) Do nothing – 4-6 yrs before IMF
    (B) Follow Ibrahim Ali to the ‘t’ – 3 yrs before IMF
    (C) Follow KJ – fighting chance to prevent disaster.

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  2. Is this the same EPU that was headed by economist who was said to hijack and plagiarise proposed projects during the time of the two Toons, Daim and Mahathir?

    The govenrment, whose sole job is to take care of its citizens, are now behaving like hedge funds and will dump money into singapore listed parkway group for RM1 billion, whilst claiming to the high scoring poor students that they have insufficient funds for scholarships, and resisting calls from “non-special privelage ” Malaysians to form their own privately funded Universities.

    And the Bakke guy, who managed Felda from a cash position of $4 billion in 2004 to about RM200 million presently. will be promoted to manage Sime Darby.

    This country, indeed is a looney managed by Looney Toons.

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  3. I support fully the proposal not to have a Minister or a politician be handling EPU. Let it be like before where EPU reports directly to the Prime Minister. Headed by a career officer and civil servant, the EPU Officers are bound to be following procedures in the appointment of consultants and the award of projects. But then it may have been designed such that it’ll be more convenient to the PM. A Minister or politician can be a conduit to implementation of any non-regular wishes of the PM or those close to the PM.

    One remembers the name Ethos Consulting. Isn’t that the one involved with ECM Libra and the havoc created at the Securities Commission at that time? They are now one of the three firms raking in huge fees for the consultancy on the NEM preparation. There appears to be a common denominator. Wasn’t Ethos managed by Omar Ong, the guy belonging to the “Fourth Floor crowd during “flip-flopping, auto-piloting and sleepy Tun Dol’s administration, during which time the PM was the Deputy Prime Minister. The Petronas loan delinquent was pushed into Petronas BOD, rejected the first time, later hammered in by the PM, leading to Hassan Merican being retired and an almost same-age lackluster guy taking over.

    There is no such thing as not enough economists within the EPU or the civil service. For a long time there has been square pegs in round holes in many places in Government service. Economists doing administrators jobs and vice versa. Both at the Federal and at the State level. Look at the composition of the State Economic Development Corporations and related agencies.

    There has been a lot of allegations against Mohamed Nor Akcop. His staff member was brought to court for corruption though strangely managed to escape conviction. There was speculation of his own involvement in corrupt practices. But he has been retained as a Minister to this day. He has been the Minister in charge of EPU for some time. We need to speak louder and more frequently to get DS Najib to change things at the EPU which is responsible for the award of huge projects and major consultancy work assignments.

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  4. wasn’t it the same economist in the EPU, who signed away one sided agreements with highway concessionaires and IPP’s that JMD promote?
    And when Ani arope refused to sign on behalf of tenaga, the PM’s department sign a gurantee to YTL that tenaga will abide by the contracts they proposed.(All under OSA of course).

    And JMD wants to get these bum economist back into office? Are you joking? They are already millionaires living in switzerland, smoking cigars and having blonde girlfriends. Probably spend their evenings in the swiss casinos. These people live in luxury overseas, treat Malaysia like their own piggy bank and the Rakyat like slaves.

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  5. Bro,

    not only EPU. Even the GLCs are all losing it by putting not only politician as Chairman….Politicians who cannot even retain their own seats either as ADUN or MP is being put as chairman…and that is why we are screwed. Cannot even get leadership voted by your own constituents and what makes these losers think they can be better leaders by being chairman or directors of BOD which they obtain by arm twisting…Urgh!

    No wonder so much corporate philandering….dah lah tak amanah kat voters and followers….much less at corporate too. Semuanya end up jadi corporate keparat!

    Muak bro!

    Keturunan Jebat

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  6. JMD,

    Oh yeah before I forget I had never like Tan Sri Amirsham when I was working in Maybank whilst he was at the helm. He is a cold fish who brown nosed his way up. I screamed what the hell was he doing as EPU head because all of us at Maybank Know that he has no brains. The only reason Maybank grew under his stewardship was because of the prior CEO blueprint which he just executed. He never did or introduced anything new. Infact morale nose dived whilst he was at the helm because he did not really care about the staff either up to the point that he cancelled annual dinners because we Maybankers was “not worthy” of his presence and precious time which he needed to go kipas the political masters… After all TDM use to say even in a gale turkeys can fly..

    Urgh…boring old stories…and what makes anybody that bankers make good economist? They are custodians of fractional banking which means creating money out of air. How do you expect them to create anything tangible in the eonomy when they are part of the system that sucks life out of people through “riba”?

    Urgh! sometimes it drives me crazy to look at what is going on in Malaysia. I still think that Malaysian are losing their marbles by allowing the stupid donkeys of politicians to continue being leaders.

    Keturunan Jebat.

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  7. Tuan Jebat

    Nama pun Unit Perancang Ekonomi jadi tugasnya patutnya merancanglah, bukan ? Ni boleh bagi orang puteh pulak rancang. Apa benak benau menteri kewangan ni ? Yang dibentangkan sampah yang dikutip entah mana-mana.
    Kalau dah tak ada bakat nak merancang, bubarkan aje lah EPU ni. Kalau kurang faham ekonomi tak apa, google aje. Apa keturunan Economic Theory pun boleh jumpa.

    Malaysia ni kena gostan sampai tahun 1988. Tengok balik apa dia yang kita dah buat sampai semua rakyat suka hati. Contoh dah ada, apa mentedaghah nya itu pun tak boleh buat ? Bayau gaji buat apa macam ni ?

    Nijam masa depan kita ni macam ditentukan atas meja judi.
    Takut. Kalau tanya Lin See Yan ke, Ramon ke, Ungku Aziz ke, dia orang pun cakap macam mana elok. Kalau tak tanya Tengku Razaleigh. Benteng-benteng kita dia orang ni.

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  8. Is there any Govt department, Ministry, GLC, Statutory Body or even some Plcs that are not manipulated and politicised by the PM, Cabinet, Minsiters and UMNO/BN?

    Even Petronas has not been spared in recent times where an internationally and highly respected CEO who took into Fortune 500 ranking was sidelined and has now been appointed independent director of a Singapore Plc!!

    Many may think I am cynical, but thta’s the god awful truth in M’sia today!!

    And Nor Mohd Yapcop may be much maligned, but not without much justification. This is the guy who was directly responsible for gambling on the US$ and creating a$30 billion hole in Bank Negara’s balance sheet and our national reserves!!

    dpp
    we are all of 1 race, the Human Race

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  9. To me, LLN, a public utility, predominantly an engineering entity, was smooth sailing continuing it days from the once known CEB. Of course they didn’t put dollar and cent as the ultimate objective as their main concern was to light up every corner-inch of this country and they strive to do it efficiently and reliably. Even though LLN was not a dollar and cent monster, it is safe to say that LLN then was something like Petronas a little while ago. The two big brothers was LLN and Telekom while Petronas was still a cuddling little brother then.

    Thing was a bit shaky when outsider Ani Arope was roped in become an executive chairman to TNB. Was he an engineer? Things were restored when Datuk (now Tan Sri) Tajuddin Ali headed TNB.

    All hell broke loose and it was the ‘kiamat’ day for CEB/LLN/TNB when a politician were made as the chairman of TNB. He was an engineer alright but more like a politician engineering his chairmanship to become ‘illegal’ top executive man. He was a minister and now a duta. Of course after him, another YES MAN politician, who only does something when told.

    CEB/LLN/TNB was ruined and was then required to be ‘saved’ by money-account-man, which suspicion having links to 4th floor boys, cannot be discounted and lingers on. Anyway, a money-account-man (appointed by politicians !) is not concern in lighting up the far deep kampungs because such projects do not bring return. So TNB is no longer a utility, but supposedly to ‘report’ breaking record profits every financial year end.

    Remember ENRON?

    Heard that, a TNB inside man is going to be picked to head the company once more – back to the old days. But how is the financial status at the current moment. Healthy? Or the financial wizard is already out of tricks to do the wizardry any longer? If this is the case, than the new inside TNB man will get his hair white in no time and bound to be blamed for not competently steering the once ‘always untung’ company.

    So who need politicians?

    Politicians were heroes back then when they sacrificed themselves for the rakyat. Politicians now sacrifice rakyat for the money.

    So who need politicians? Mind you, they, the ones who sacrifice the rakyat for their pocket, are mostly all in the cabinet line up and parliament. Only a handful still carry the semangat of the old politicians who are no longer with us with the demise of Tan Sri Omar Yoke Lin Ong.

    These politicians are steering our country! The same one who are responsible for the ruining of TNB, Telekom, Petronas, Felda, Sime Darby etc.

    So which politicians will you elect for the next PRU?

    Listen to me! Definitely not communist DAP, back door PKR and drunk crazy Taliban PAS and the gang.

    Not the money guzzler politicians in UMNO too! and the little communist in the making MCA and unretired gangster MIC and their cohorts.

    I hope the indie and NGO can give me an option or guiding light to vote, otherwise, it looks better for me to go to sleep on the voting day.

    Ex-employee

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    • You have spoken fom the heart ex-employee.

      This country have become a dog-eat-dog, where every govenrment agency is coming up money making schemes. the latest SIRIM approval for all kinds of things, holding up the supply chain, which cost money, just to get their certification, which also cost money.

      The halal logo cost money too! and the holographic schmeme on all drugs, all reaping off the consumers, who have to pay more.

      This is not the country to nurture the next generation. We can see the rot seeping in. People treat the country like a huge waste land fill. Rubbish thrown everywhere, from cars and bikes, and if we have a rubbish bin for easy collection, the rubbish bin gets stolen.

      Fifty years after independence, the govenrment still cannot accomodate students into universities, but have the cheek to spend money on wasteful, non-income generating projects.

      Maybe the like minded and the patriots ought to take over the country, get rid of the filth and the scumbags, and restore the honour and pride back into this nation.

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  10. Just wanted to add that I had an experience workin with those consultants n one thing for sure is they are not very good anyway.. Cakap je berabuk.. Trust me all tthe idea that they produced have been thought before but since they are the so called consultant..semua percaya..

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