Archive for the ‘Malaysia’ Category


May 25, 2017― Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad lamented today over the sale of a 49.9 per cent stake in Malaysia’s national carmaker Proton, once the country’s source of pride, to Chinese automaker Zhejiang Geely Holding Group.

The former prime minister, who had founded Proton Holdings in 1983 in a bid to turn Malaysia into an industrialised powerhouse, said he could not be proud of Proton’s future success because it would no longer belong to him or to Malaysia.

“I am a sissy. I cry even if Malaysians are dry-eyed. My child is lost. And soon my country. Please excuse me,” Dr Mahathir wrote on his blog.

“Proton the child of my brain has been sold. It is probably the beginning of the great sell-out. The process is inexorable. No other way can we earn the billions to pay our debts. The only way is to sell our assets. And eventually we will lose our country, a great country no doubt, but owned by others,” added the country’s longest serving prime minister.

The deal between Proton parent DRB-Hicom and Geely was announced yesterday, with Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani saying that Proton would remain a national car because Proton would still have a majority hold of 50.1 per cent.

International newswire Reuters reported that Geely was expected to offer Proton some vehicle technologies in order to grow its sales overseas and to recover some of the global presence Proton had lost in recent years.

Proton reportedly dominated the domestic market by 74 per cent in 1993 at its peak, but saw its market share dwindle to around 15 per cent currently due to low-quality cars, poor after-sales service and tough competition from foreign automakers.

Dr Mahathir said he was certain that Proton would now be sold all over the world.

“It will be like Singapore. Malaysians are proud of this great city-state. If it had not been sold it would be, perhaps, as well developed as Kuala Kedah or Kuala Perlis. Then we cannot be proud of Singapore,” he said.

“Now we can be proud of Proton. With money and superior technology it will compete with Rolls Royce and Bentley. But I cannot be proud of its success. I cannot be proud of the success of something that does not belong to me or my country. Maybe other Malaysians will, but not me,” added the 91-year-old.

Anyway heard it through the grapevine that this is:

Proton Geely’s first model

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Read hear Dr Mahathir’s Chedet

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The Sabah government upholds religious freedom and views seriously any issue that could jeopardise peace and harmony among the people of different faiths in the state.

To this end, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman hoped the National Registration Department (NRD) would immediately rectify existing weaknesses in the issuance of MyKad, such as inadvertent insertion of ‘Islam’ in the identification documents of non-Muslims.

He also wants a full report from the NRD on the extent of the problem in Sabah and the measures to be put in place to prevent a repeat of such errors.

“This looks like an administrative problem. Nonetheless, I want the problem to be rectified in a speedy manner by the relevant authorities,” he said in a statement here today, in reference to a recent claim on the issue by Sabah Borneo Evangelical Church (SIB) president Datuk Jerry Dusing.

Musa said while there were weaknesses in the NRD, the issue at hand should not be blown out of proportion.

“Certain quarters should not be so quick to state that the government has allowed religious radicalism to go unchecked far too long, supports religious intolerance and corruption as well as criminal activities like abduction,” he said.

He said it was highly irresponsible to make such public accusations especially when it came from religious quarters, adding that it could fan religious sentiments among the diverse communities that practise different religions in the county and state.

“Let me make this clear that there is no room for religious or racial intolerance in Sabah. We are a multi-racial and multi-religious state whereby the people live in peace and harmony,” he said.

He also said the state government gave millions to churches and mission schools as well as Chinese vernacular schools and temples.

“Please be more sensitive in making statements especially in such an ethnically and religiously diverse state like Sabah,” he said. — Bernama


By Datuk Seri Musa Aman

AS leader of this state, I am duty-bound to serve the people and ensure their needs are taken care of.

I accept the fact that there are limits to what I can achieve as the Chief Minister, but I try my best and accept criticisms where due.

But, when false allegations are hurled at the administration that I lead, I will not accept it without defending those who make sure my instructions are followed.

There are leaders who act, and those who pay lip service.

Recently, the opposition accused the Barisan Nasional-led government of clearing more than 100,000ha of forest reserves to be converted into oil palm plantations.

I have dealt with this by setting the record straight at the recently-concluded State Legislative Assembly sitting and reminded the opposition that their responsibility entails more than just criticising the government.

The government is open to suggestions that will bring progress to the state and benefits to the people, even if they come from the opposition.

But, I will not tolerate those who voice out baseless allegations to confuse the people or deliberately exploit issues for political mileage.

For those leaders who are sincere, I told them to come and see me if there are things they do not understand.

Preserving the forest is an important agenda for me.

One of the milestones in Sabah’s conservation effort was when the state resolved to protect the area that harbours the largest orangutanpopulation, as well as other wildlife in Sabah, in the Ulu Segama and Malua forest reserves.

After almost 60 years of continuous logging, this activity was phased out by the end of 2007.

While there were some sceptics, it sent a strong message on our seriousness about conservation.

To reiterate that we mean business, during an official visit by then prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to Deramakot Forest Reserve in June 2006, I announced that logging would be phased out in Ulu Segama, Malua and Kalumpang the following year.

The eventual halt to logging in the areas would translate to a forfeiture of at least RM1 billion in timber royalties to the state.

The move has led to 240,000ha being placed under Sustainable Forest Management for the conservation of orangutan and reforestation of an area that is also part of the broader Heart of Borneo due to its rich biodiversity.

Efforts have been put in place to recreate healthy and productive forests in these and other forest reserves, each with their own management plans.

In areas not fully protected, extraction of timber is done on a sustainable basis and high conservation value areas, such as watersheds, are protected for their many benefits.

Through Sustainable Forest Management, 53 per cent of Sabah, or 3.9 million hectares, of state land have been permanently set aside as Forest Reserves, Protection Areas and Wildlife Conservation Areas.

The state government has also decided to set aside 30 per cent of its total landmass, or 2.2 million hectares, as Totally Protected Areas, which we hope to achieve in the next few years.

The current 26 per cent has already exceeded the International Union for Conservation of Nature target of 10 per cent.

It must be noted that Sabah has restored and planted forests well over 600,000ha, presumably the largest such undertaking in the tropics.

On top of that, we also have the three natural gems in the form of the Maliau Basin, Danum Valley and Imbak Canyon conservation areas under the full protection of Yayasan Sabah.

The latest development to show our commitment is the scrapping of the proposed Sukau bridge across Kinabatangan river, after considering views about the environmental impact from various quarters, including non-governmental organisations and environmentalists.

The Sabah government has and will continue to promote the state as a hub for tropical rainforest research involving renowned international research organisations, such as the Royal Society of the United Kingdom, the Nature Conservancy of the United States of America, Sime Darby Foundation, Abraham Foundation, WWF-Malaysia IKEA, Petronas, as well as key local higher learning institutions.

We must grow and enrich our forests with a variety of timber species.

It will be most regrettable if we leave tracts of barren land to the future generation.

Musa Aman is the Chief Minister of Sabah, Malaysia.


2016 was the best year for Sabah tourism with an arrival of 3,427,908 foreign tourists amounting in a whooping RM7.25 billion in tourism receipts.

First it was the RM7 billion proposed Tanjung Aru Eco Development (TAED) a green township comprising hotels, Eco golf course, the Marina, and the enlarged Prince Philip Park approximately 348 hectares or 3,481,400 square meters to the west of Kota Kinabalu International Airport. Later that year Sabah was allocated another RM11.42 billion to implement several infrastructure projects under the 11th Malaysia Plan (11MP) 2016-2020 by the Federal Works Ministry, this is just the first phase. The second phase of the 11MP will involve RM8.55 billion for 32 projects, including the ongoing construction of the Pan Borneo Highway and more improvements to infrastructure. The Pan Borneo Highway in Sabah, involving a 706km stretch from Sindumin to Tawau, will be fully-completed by Dec 31, 2021. And then another RM3 billion in MoUs signed by Sabah State Government with private sectors to invest in agriculture and forestry and tourism and manufacturing.

It is a commentary on the bizarre priorities of our information order that investment commitments totaling $114 billion under Sabah Development Corridor, equaling nearly one fifth of Malaysia’s GDP, are either ignored or put on par with anodyne political statements. This, however, is not the occasion to lament the lack of even-handedness in the treatment of anything remotely connected to Sabah chief minister Musa Aman. It is the time to celebrate something that is fast becoming undeniable: the emergence of Sabah as the investment powerhouse of Malaysia.

In the start of the Cockerel Year, there was a stark contrast between a Sabah bubbling with optimism and the rest of the country despairing over economic mismanagement and missed opportunities. It is not that all the MoUs signed with private sector will be translated into reality. Many will remain paper commitments . But when the who’s who of Malaysia’s industry line up to proclaim their faith in Sabah as a wholesome place for investment, having already put their money where their mouth is, neither Malaysia nor the rest of the world can afford to be in denial.

The proclamations of faith in Sabah are all the more meaningful because they have been made despite some in Kuala Lumpur’s unremitting displeasure with anything that could bolster Musa Aman’s credentials. However, Musa Aman doesn’t usually win awards for being the “Reformer of the Year” or for innovative governance. In fact, he doesn’t even make it to the shortlist. Nevertheless he has invariably secured an unequivocal thumbs-up from those who have a real stake in the emergence of Sabah as a Malaysia economic power house.

Skeptics and naysayers who insist that the rise of Sabah has little to do with the state government, are partially right. Entrepreneurship and business are part of the Musa Aman’s DNA and not because he is Sabahan, and its reason why Sabah has always proudly cloaked itself in the business ethos since Musa took over as CEO of the state. Sabah has registered the highest GDP growth in the past 14 years and owes much of this success to the targeted, business-friendly approach of its government.

In relation to this, four features of ascendancy stands out. The first is quick decision-making—what Musa Aman has dubbed the “red carpet, not red tape” approach, ask corporate philanthropist Datuk Victor Paul, for example, recount how the land allotment and development for the Perdana Park in Tanjung Aru was made possible. Datuk Victor Paul built the multi-million ringgit park all with his own money, there was no such thing as land swap and he build the park entirely as part of his Corporate Social Responsibility and as a gift to the state and the people without any form of payment or reward. Victor Paul completed the whole project in less than two years, a quick-fire decision that has fetched Sabah this park.

The second feature is the curious phenomenon of the near-absence of political corruption at the top. Even Musa Aman’s worst enemies will not deny that the chief minister’s fanatical personal integrity has had a salutary trickle-down effect. Irritated by politically inspired extortion, industry has identified Sabah as a place where it is possible to do ethical business. That’s why when the Sabah Water Department scandal broke out, involving alleged abuse of power in the siphoning of RM3.3 billion of federal funds for water development in Sabah, Musa Aman sent out a tough message against corruption ordered dismissal of corrupt officers from service. The chief minister directed speedier action against the corrupt officials and ordered dismissal of all of them after completing departmental proceedings and other formalities including allowing MACC to deal with it.

Since 2003, Musa Aman’s Sabah has been marked by social and political peace. Particularly important for industry is the absence of political unrest, which unseated Tan Sri Pairin Kitingan in 1994. This is because Sabah has bucked a national trend and is witnessing high growth in many sectors especially eco-tourism and agriculture—last year the sector grew by 9.9%. This means that farmers mainly natives, now have a stake in the larger prosperity of the state and aren’t swayed by populists.

Sabahans and those interested in the state must remember that in the past one such populist, Shafie Apdal had nearly succeeded in selling off stakes in Yayasan Sabah when he was Chairman of North Borneo Timber Berhad (NBT) a subsidiary of YS, when his uncle Sakaran Dandai (now Tun) was Chief Minister in the mid 90s. This share swap ICBS-NBT could have resulted in the Yayasan becoming public listed and native Sabahans losing their birth right of a valuable asset, including Sabah Softwoods Sdn Bhd. However, it was Musa who was serving as CHAIRMAN/CHIEF EXECUTIVE of INNOPRISE CORPORATION (ICSB) then was able to intercept the transaction, ensuring that power remains in the hands of it’s people. Now imagine if such a populist becomes the Sabah Chief Minister.

Finally, the growth of Sabah has been spurred by a philosophy of “minimum government and maximum governance”. In plain language, this means that the state government has concentrated on creating the infrastructure for growth and left it to the private sector to get on with the job of actual wealth creation.The extent to which this vibrant Sabah capitalism will benefit Musa’s ambitions is difficult to predict. But one thing is certain. As Sabah shines and acquires an economic momentum of its own, more and more businesses will find it worthwhile to channel a major chunk of their new investments into Sabah. Kuala Lumpur may not like the resulting uneven growth but the alternative is not to thwart Sabah by political subterfuge-such as preventing public sector from engaging with the state government and the whimsical use of environmental regulations. Sabah has shown that accelerated and sustained growth is possible when the state plays the role of an honest facilitator, rather than a controller.

Musa Aman didn’t create the Sabahan character; he but he certainly did mould it. He gave it the much needed contemporary thrust as well as an ethical dimension. If more of our politicians focused on these important nuances, Malaysia as a nation will be a much better place.


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By DATUK SERI MUSA AMAN 

SABAH recorded its highest number of tourist arrivals last year. There were 3.427 million visitors, who spent an estimated RM7.25 billion based on receipts generated.

The amount was money paid for flights, rooms, transport, food, services and souvenirs they brought home to remind them of their trip to the “Land Below the Wind”. This contributed an extra 10 per cent to the state’s economy.

For this, I applaud the state Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry, as well as industry stakeholders. Kudos to the minister in charge, Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun.

The remarkable achievement was made possible with hard work and perseverance, as well as the belief that we have what it takes to be a world-class destination.

Hard work — through the aggressive promotional activities carried out by the ministry via its “engine room”, the Sabah Tourism Board under the stewardship of Datuk Joniston Bangkuai.

Hard work — by working hand in hand with the related government agencies, private sector, service providers, retailers and communities that depend on tourist arrivals.

Perseverance — by believing that despite the challenges we face, Sabah is gifted with a natural setting that attracts many to its shores, mountains, rivers and jungles.

Perseverance — that despite all the brickbats, we have strived harder to present our charms, host our guests and do our best to serve them while they are here.

Another key factor is how the ministry, along with the board and other agencies, has strategically embraced digital marketing to promote the state. We have come a long way and put in a lot of effort to become a destination of choice.

The state has also received a lot of help from the federal leadership under Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who has always been in awe of Sabah’s natural beauty.

Infrastructure development and the injection of funds have helped put in place the roads, airport runways, hotels, and electricity and water supply needed to play host to visitors.

To be on a par with world-class destinations, the state has embarked on endeavours, such as the Tanjung Aru Eco Development plan, to rejuvenate the iconic beach in Kota Kinabalu.

Federal approvals for flight arrivals have helped tremendously in boosting tourist arrivals, too.

Last year, four airlines commenced direct flights to Kota Kinabalu International Airport, where today, 13 foreign airlines have direct connections from 16 international locations.

There was a threefold increase in chartered flight arrivals, from 76 in 2015 to 210 last year, bringing in 25,627 passengers.

On our shores, there were 37 cruise and naval ships that called to port in Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan and Tawau, bringing in more than 33,000 visitors.

Our international relations with foreign countries have helped encourage tourist arrivals.

Friendly ties with China resulted in a double-digit growth in arrivals from the country, with 374,939 visitors. There was also an increase in arrivals from South Korea, Taiwan, Australia, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Brunei.

Domestic tourist arrivals are another important factor, with nearly 2.3 million people from other states having made Sabah their holiday destination.

All these will require better roads, communication lines and security. With greater development in the pipeline under the Barisan Nasional government, we can expect better connectivity that will allow more of Sabah to be explored.

We have anchor attractions, such as the majestic Mount Kinabalu; the islands in the Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Sakaran and Tun Mustapha marine parks in Kota Kinabalu, Semporna and Kudat, respectively; and, wildlife, such as orangutans at the Sepilok sanctuary in Sandakan and proboscis monkeys in Sukau and Bilit, Kinabatangan.

Other prime destinations include the Maliau Basin, Danum Valley and Imbak Canyon conservation areas.

We have seen new interest developing in adventure hiking trails in Kiulu, Tambunan and Penampang; the food industry, with visitors trying out fresh seafood and local delicacies; tamu grounds; and, cultural events.

Visit Tambunan Year 2017, for example, was envisioned by Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan to promote the interior district as a tourist destination. The initiative is commendable.

It is our duty and responsibility, as the host, to provide the best we can so that every visitor leaves with pleasant memories and experiences from their trip to Sabah — and return.

**The writer is Sabah chief minister



It appears that a critical mass of the Sabah electorate wants to reward Musa Aman for the good work he has done over the past several years, since he first assumed Chief Ministership in March 2003. Each person this writer spoke to heading for the early polls in Sabah had only good word to say about the chief minister. This is indeed what makes it difficult for a divided Sabah opposition – The United Sabah Alliance (USA) and its four State-based opposition parties namely Star, Parti Cinta Sabah (PCS), Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP), Lajim Ukin’s Parti Harapan Rakyat, Shafie Apdal’s Parti Warisan Sabah together with Malaya based DAP, PKR & Amanah, to attack Musa on any of his development agenda. Shafie Apdal himself has characterised Musa’s regime as marked by fourteen years of malfeasance, but could never publicly attack him on the plank of development.

In a big public meeting outside of Sandakan late 2016, Shafie asked those who attended if Musa’s reign as Chief Minister was ever marked by a lack of accountability but the response was cold. In reply Shafie fumed before the crowd: “I have no other motive than to defend the rights of Sabah”, but having held five terms Member of Parliament of Semporna since 1995 and appointed as parliamentary secretary, Deputy Minister of Housing and Local Government in 1999, Deputy Minister of Defence from 1999 to 2004, Minister of Domestic, Trade and Consumer Affairs, and later Ministry of Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage, he has yet to prove that. On 10 April 2009, he became the Minister of Rural and Regional Development which coincided with his election to one of UMNO’s three vice-presidential posts. Shafie Apdal is hence the first Sabahan to hold a vice-presidency of UMNO but has done little to “defend the rights” of the varied population of this state.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that there is an authentic Musa wave in Sabah as is. It is no wonder that divided Sabah opposition groupies are very worried about the general sentiment generated before polling. The local opposition parties anxiety is reflected in the manner in which it is bringing issues like illegal immigrants, the re-issuance of identity cards, and the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).

Elsewhere, near Penampang, Shafie Apdal is doing what he does best – playing the polarisation game. When he said Sabahans will celebrate if the BN is defeated in Sabah, he again betrayed the fact that the party’s desperation has reached newer highs. By invoking BN, Parti Warisan Sabah believes it can consolidate Sabahan votes across all races but the party’s attempts has failed to bear fruit as voters are seen shying away from Shafie Apdal’s new party. In fact, large sections of Sabahans seem to be inclined to give Musa Aman another term.

Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) president Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan, the founding father of the second largest political party in Sabah, a long serving assemblyman, MP and Huguan Siou (paramount leader of the Kadazandusun community), has indicated an intention to retire from politic but is also complementing the broader sentiment in favour of Musa by holding on to his KDM vote base – to which opposition groupies have mainly tried but failed to break by raising numerous issues including the delayed Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) technical working committee report on illegal immigrants.

The KDMs, emotionally impacted by the down fall of the PBS Government in March 1994, seemed to have put their fullest weight behind the grand BN alliance. Pairin’s meetings are attracting unusually large crowds with hundreds of youths enthusiastically clicking away on their smart phones. I had seen a similar spectacle only during Pairin’s public meetings in Tambunan and Keningau during GE13 polls in 2013.

In many ways Sabah looks so much like a forerunner of events in national politics. Both Musa and Pairin speak the same language and the political grammar converges around a larger strategy of demanding Sabah rights under the Constitution, the Inter-Governmental Committee (IGC) report and Malaysia Act. The devolution of powers from the Federal Government to the state was an ongoing process, with the principal objective of addressing and resolving public concern over the erosion of the special safeguards granted to Sabah under the Malaysia Agreement and the Constitution.

Musa Aman articulates this strategy cogently as he says, “We are all Sabahans, who advocated a constant campaign to resolve issues between state and the federal and the Sabah Government has its own “gentler” approach – more effective, better than shouting and demanding” – “The Sabah Way”. When Musa said this a decade ago, the BN was the establishment. Today, the BN, and the forces its represents, have become the establishment, forging a front against the opposition and its divisive politics, the state government believes in consultation not confrontation.

Musa has repeated over the years that the Sabah State Government under his watch believes in diplomacy rather than confrontation and has achieved some excellent results through this approach, particularly in its negotiations with Petronas on oil and gas matters. These include the appointment of a Sabahan to the Petronas board of directors and Petronas undertaking to increase the number of Sabahans at executive and management level. Now there is a clear understanding between Petronas, the Federal Government and the state government as to Sabah State Government objectives.

UMNO is benefiting in Sabah due to the image of Musa Aman as an urbane, decent and efficient chief minister. The visit to Sabah by Wu Bangguo, member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and Catherine, and many other world leaders, confirms that Musa has placed Sabah ahead of many other states, making it the most successful state in Malaysia in attracting private investments. China’s decision to open a consul-general office in Kota Kinabalu confirms the state’s growing importance as a world-class city favoured by tourists and businesses. For the first quarter of 2016, Sabah under Musa Aman managed to attract private investments in the amount of RM10 billion, way ahead of other states. Apart from that, as of September 30, the amount of cumulative investments in the private sector, under the Sabah Development Corridor projects, had reached RM114 billion since its launch in 2008. Among the many reasons include having a stable, business friendly and a prudent government as well as stringent forestry laws and strong conservation programme. Totally Protected Area (TPA) – now covers over 1.5 million hectares of the land area or some 22% of Sabah. The government policy has been launched to achieve 30% TPA by 2025 or 2030 at the latest or over 2.2 million hectares of Sabah under forest.

So tell me, which other state in Malaysia has set aside 22% of TPA including rich agricultural lands and virgin forests at high opportunity costs? Only Sabah under the Aman administration, that’s for sure.



KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Security Working Committee (JKKN) has decided to reopen the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (ESSZone) for commercial activities effective Feb 1.

Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman said the JKKN meeting, which he chaired today, also agreed to allow the Customs, Immigration, Quarantine and Security (CIQS) Complex in Kudat to resume operations for the route to Palawan, Southern Philippines on the same date.

“However, all commercial activities, namely transshipment and normal trade must adhere to the Transshipment Activity Improvement Fixed Operating Regulations issued by the Sabah JKKN.

“On the other hand, Kudat CIQS will operate by observing its standard operating procedures as guidelines for all agencies and relevant parties,” he said in a statement here today.

Musa also said all trade activities involving Indonesian sea products by the fishermen or the coalition of Tawau Fishermen’s Association was now status quo but the landings of the products must be done at jetties or legal locations as coordinated by the Fisheries Department.

“On the ban of pump boats, JKKN decided that the ruling would continue to take effect on status quo which means the use and its ownership are only allowed for Malaysian citizens. Stern action will be taken against non-citizens,” he added. — Bernama

 

(The Eastern Sabah Security Zone (ESSZONE) is a security zone in the Malaysian state of Sabah that was launched by the Malaysian Prime Minister, Najib Razak on 25 March 2013 following the persistent attacks by Abu Sayaff pirates and militants from the southern Philippines that occurred in the eastern part of Sabah especially after the 2013 Lahad Datu standoff.

[1] It includes the districts of Kudat, Kota Marudu, Pitas, Beluran, Sandakan, Kinabatangan, Lahad Datu, Kunak, Semporna and Tawau.

[2] The Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM) is the main enforcement authority for ESSZONE, chaired by Datuk Seri Musa Aman.)



To claim that things are getting better in their tenure and because of them is an old Prime Ministerial habit. A PM is undoubtedly a very important person in our dispensation. The office is vested with great authority and there is an aura about the incumbent that often fools even the cameras whose lights seem to caress rather than expose the object of their focus. Our system of government, with so much power of patronage concentrated in one person, ensures that mostly fawning and obsequious people who constantly whip up a lather of simulated adulation surround the Prime Minister. PM’s consequently confuse the power of patronage with the power that ensures compliance. It is small wonder when our supreme leaders start thinking of themselves as King Canute’s who can order the waves about.

The reality is that like the ocean’s waves, economic waves too are cosmically controlled and PM’s are like King Canute’s who futilely wave their hands about. Happily most PM’s realize this and make sure they are seen waving their hands appropriately with the tides of growth and the ebbs of inflation. But once in a while we get a leader who actually believes that the waves are obeying him. That is when we enter dangerous waters.

I recently attended an event that Prime Minister Najib Razak addressed. Unlike most other PM’s with the exception of Tun Dr Mahathir, he came promptly at almost the appointed minute and walked briskly to his place on the dais. He listened as the host, with a wry sense of humor, exclaimed how fortunate Malaysia is to be united as never before under one charismatic man. The Prime Minister looked on expectantly and the audience was suitably primed to roar its approval.

The Prime Minister then spoke and without much ado took the fight straight to the critics, a few of who like me were seated in the back row. He said: “For Malaysia to be at the top of the growth tables is an unusual situation. Obviously, there are some who find that difficult to digest and come up with imaginative and fanciful ideas to belittle that achievement.” This is unfair. But it is churlish to say that his critics do so because his government is perceived unable to resolve the debt-ridden government strategic investment arm, 1MDB’s RM46 billion debt or address the falling value of the Ringgit. To be truthful based on facts as perceived does not mean a person takes pride in belittling one’s own country? Is the next litmus test of patriotism going to be supporting the PM’s extravagant flights of fancy?

The Prime Minister’s case is that “Malaysia’s economic success is the hard-won result of prudence, sound policy and effective management.” He repeated: “Malaysia’s growth rate is acknowledged as the highest among major economies.” With evident sarcasm he added that his critics are confused when they say, “the growth rate does not feel right” and generously offered to alleviate the confusion with “facts in place of feelings.” The point here is no critic of any consequence ever argued that the growth rate “does not feel right.” They have just said that his government’s interpretation of the facts is not right.

Take GDP growth for instance. Few argue that the “real’ GDP growth is 4.97% as his government is claiming though there have been serious misgivings on how the GDP calculations were tweaked to jump growth a further 1%. The problem here is the use of the term “real.” In the real world the number that matters is the “nominal” GDP growth rate, which is a measure of current market prices.

For much of the past decade Malaysia’s nominal GDP growth was in the 4% range and corporate profitability growth was also in that range. Since inflation used to be in the 0.5% to 1.5% range, real GDP was in the 5% range. The present nominal GDP growth is 4.2%.

But the popular mood is determined by actual accruals and not by economic sleight of hand. In the real world it is the nominal GDP that matters. Corporate sales and profitability are calculated in nominal terms. Everyday commerce and business takes place in nominal terms. Government revenues are collected in nominal terms and levied on nominal incomes or sales. It is not a matter of feeling but the reality of life.

The fact is that 2015-16 has been a bad year for the Malaysian economy. In the budget for 2015-16 the government set a nominal GDP growth target of 5% . The nominal GDP growth turned out to be just 4.2%, which is below target. The real GDP growth of 4.97% is because of the collapse of world commodity prices and has little to do with the so-called “prudent policies.” Comparing apples with oranges can only fool some people for some of the time, and not all the people for all the time.

While on apples and oranges, food inflation is the inflation that matters to most people in this country where the average family expends over 60% of its income on food. This inflation has been well over 5% even though the government projected in the 2016 federal budget at 2% – 3%. Since the introduction of GST, the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which is used to measure inflation, has been on the increase. By the end of April 2015, the first month when GST was implemented, CPI increased 1.8 percent when seasonally compared to April 2014. In July 2015, four months after GST, CPI index was 3.3 percent higher than the same month a year earlier.

In his speech the PM also specifically referred to The Bantuan Rakyat 1 Malaysia (BR1M) monetary aid which will be increased to RM1,200 next year from RM 1,000 under the 2017 federal budget. The BR1M allocation will cost the government RM6.8 billion, to be delivered to 7 million households. The PM then goes into Tun Dr Mahathir bashing and says that BR1M is not “dedak”, but rather, it is a sincere assistance from the government to prioritise the rakyat’s needs.

Look at theses figures, Goods and Services Tax (GST) to rake in RM39 billion in 2016 (3.1 percent of GDP) (2015: estimated RM27 billion from April). Malaysia’s fiscal deficit is projected to decline to RM38.8 billion or 3.1 percent of GDP in 2016 (2015: 3.2 percent). Oil-related revenue to drop 14.1 percent in 2016 due to lower global crude oil prices (2015: 19.7 percent). The federal government expenditure to increase 1.7 percent to RM265.2 billion in 2016 (2015: RM260.7 billion). Nominal GNI (gross national income) per capita to increase 5.6 percent to RM38,438 next year from 4.2 percent anticipated growth to RM36,397 this year.

One is tempted to dismiss this as just fanciful claims, but in these times when ones patriotism and professional integrity is apt to challenged for lesser lese majeste, it will be prudent to just say: It’s time to get real!

Meanwhile honest heart-centered Malaysians continue to struggle to make ends meet, their ideas, talents finding little or no nourishing context in which to flourish.


The Pan Borneo Highway has become a reality only under the leadership of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman said in the past, no Prime Minister “had the guts” to implement the mega project.

“We had asked for the Pan Borneo (highway) in the past, but no PM was brave enough to give it to us. I am not trying to talk bad (about others), but only PM Najib dared to give this to us.

“Barisan Nasional has a good track record and the Pan Borneo Highway is not the only example of their commitment.

“Based on (his track) record, our current PM is the most concerned over our welfare. He has given (Sabah) the most allocation, with thousands of millions, this is not a lie. Thank you sir,” Musa said during the launch of the Sabah Pan Borneo Highway Lahad Datu Bypass package here by Najib.

Musa said the support shown includes providing security assets, especially at the Eastern Sabah Safety Zone (Esszone).

“So, like the (Bahasa Melayu) term, we should not be ‘kacang lupakan kulit’. We should return the favour with our loyalty and support to the government,” stressed Musa.

Meanwhile this morning, launching the Sabah Pan Borneo Highway in Lahad Datu, Najib said he wants the Pan Borneo Highway project to become his legacy and something the Sabah folks will remember him by.

“Because I want to be remembered during my tenure as PM, that I gave this to Sabah. That this project is an effort under my administration for the people of this state,” he said at SMK Sepagaya here.

“Cutting off the nose to spite the face” is an expression used to describe a needlessly self-destructive over-reaction to a problem: “Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face” is a warning against acting out of pique, or against pursuing revenge in a way that would damage oneself more than the object of one’s anger.

The phrase is known to have been used in the 12th century. It may be associated with the numerous legends of pious women disfiguring themselves in order to protect their virginity.

It was not uncommon in the Middle Ages for a person to cut off the nose of another for various reasons, including punishment from the state, or as an act of revenge. Cognitive scientist Steven Pinker notes that the phrase may have originated from this practice, as at this time “cutting off someone’s nose was the prototypical act of spite.”

The expression has since become a blanket term for (often unwise) self-destructive actions motivated purely by anger or desire for revenge. For example, if a man was angered by his wife, he might burn down their house to punish her; however, burning down her house would also mean burning down his, along with all of their

The Embargo Act of 1807, passed by the United States Congress in protest against British and French interference in U.S. shipping. The Act had the side-effect of prohibiting nearly all U.S. exports and most imports, greatly disrupting the U.S. economy.”

Now course we have this 1MDB fiasco at a time when a dipping growth rate and drop in value of the Ringgit was holding out hopes of revival.