Thursday, January 22, 2009

Stimulus stymied as politics takes centrestage

ai yo yo.......why we always lag people behind? why why tell me why?

Commentary by Lee Wei Lian

JAN 22 — It is now three months into the global financial crisis and two months since the announcement of the government's RM7 billion stimulus package that was supposed to combat the economic slowdown. Yet till today Malaysians have not seen any concrete details of this stimulus package even as yet another stimulus package was announced two days ago.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak was reported to be gathering views on what to include in the second package to cover what was not included in the first package and said that many things are still being looked into.

But exactly what is in the first package? How will we know what to do in the second package if the first package has not been fleshed out?

Najib also admitted that none of the initiatives, whatever they are, in the first stimulus package had gotten off the ground yet.

No wonder former Finance Minister Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah said recently that the thinking behind the stimulus package "is not clear".

He was also clearly exasperated with the nation's leaders' placid response to the financial crisis, publicly exclaiming at a recent economic conference: "For heaven's sake have some urgency!"

But if Tengku Razaleigh is hoping that things will move any quicker, he will be disappointed.

The Kuala Terengganu by-election campaigning, the subsequent defeat and post-mortem and politicking for positions at the upcoming Umno party elections will likely pre-occupy the minds of the nation's Cabinet ministers, the majority of whom are drawn from Umno. To distract further from the economy, there is the upcoming transfer of power from the prime minister to his deputy and with it a likely Cabinet reshuffle, which means most ministers are now focused on trying to keep their jobs let alone helping Malaysians keep theirs.

As Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam, a former senior civil servant and now president of Transparency International, noted: "There needs to be strong leadership. That to me will come only after March. I sense among fomer colleagues in the civil service that they are waiting for the new leadership and waiting for the new Cabinet. Businessmen might have a hard time getting the attention of Cabinet ministers who are now fighting for survival."

Meanwhile, our island neighbour to the south has already taken decisive measures and announced details of a huge stimulus package which includes tax breaks, handouts and stepped up infrastructure projects.

In addition it will offer financing to small and medium-size companies and take steps to reduce business costs such as rents and salaries in an effort to help keep people employed.

Singapore's stimulus package has been estimated as up to S$20 billion (RM50 billion) in size.

But it can well afford it given its vast reserves of S$230 billion built up over years of fiscal discipline.

Further northeast, South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak sacked his Finance Minister Kang Man-Soo after his administration was criticised for its handling of the economy. Interestingly, but unfortunately for us here in Malaysia, such things are unlikely to happen given how easily our government brushes off criticisms.

Nevertheless, as the dominant party of the ruling coalition, Umno must not let the business of politicking get in the way of the business of saving the economy and perhaps even reforming it so that the economy can emerge stronger and more advanced when the crisis is over.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Grace Mugabe the "First Shopper"

津國第一夫人 涉拳傷記者 戴巨鑽 攜巨款來港購物

(明報)1月19日 星期一 05:05

【明報專訊】被形容為津巴布韋「第一購物狂」(First Shopper)的總統夫人格雷絲,在國家陷入瘋狂通脹、霍亂 肆虐及飢民處處之際,仍攜巨款來港享受購物樂。上周四當她手挽價值逾2萬元的名牌手袋進入尖沙嘴 5星級的香格里拉酒店時,疑不滿英國 《星期日泰晤士報》的攝影記者追訪,狂怒下向對方臉部最少揮打10拳,手上巨鑽更在攝影師面頰劃開9道傷痕。警方承認已接獲傷者舉報,現調查案件內情,暫無人被捕。



《星期日泰晤士報》強烈譴責該暴力事件,已向北京 津巴布韋大使館反映,卻未獲回應。該報稱極為重視在香港法例下能持續地享有採訪自由,期望港府能維持有關權益,又指警方應循閉路電視的方向追查案件。

根據外電報道,遇襲攝影記者為理察德.琼斯(Richard Jones),已於報社任職了15年,因早前獲悉津巴布韋總統穆加貝 的夫人格雷絲(43歲)來港度假及探望女兒,上周四遂與拍檔在尖沙嘴香格里拉酒店外守候。


保鑣先制服 巨鑽劃9條傷痕


目擊事件的澳洲 籍遊客Werner Zapletal稱,當時見到琼斯遭制服後,格雷絲衝出不斷狂叫,並不斷揮拳打向琼斯面部,「不斷不斷用拳頭猛打,她完全是瘋了!」琼斯對於遭受粗暴對待亦感訝異,說﹕「怎想得到第一夫人會這樣(打人)?當她出拳時我感到極為震驚。」


女兒在港留學 涉傷人後已離港

嗜買名牌的格雷絲則被外國傳媒謔稱為津巴布韋「第一購物狂」,指她在國家陷於水深火熱之中仍無損購物熱情,本月初在國內銀行提取9.2萬美元 (約71.3萬港元)後展開遠東之旅,先後在馬來西亞 新加坡 停留,其間夫婦曾在新加坡一同度假數天,其後格雷絲於1月9日轉來香港,除購物外,亦順道探望在港留學的女兒,據悉她在涉嫌傷人後已離港。

津巴布韋去年的通脹率達百分之2.31億,因貨幣不斷貶值,國民收入低至難以計算,故每晚6800多港元的酒店房租,已等同多名國民的一年收入。總統穆加貝被批評為經濟管理不善及人權紀錄惡劣,津國因而受到歐盟 制裁,大部分國民活在貧窮線下。該國近日霍亂肆虐,死亡人數已達2100,由於缺乏醫療物資,估計仍會有大量國民死亡。

Getting set to rock Penang hotel scene

Even though Penang has not been spared from economic downturn, we are really glad
to see that more foreign investors are willing to pour more money into Penang Island.

The latest are Hard Rock and Green World......

Well done Lim Guan Eng.....

P/s Some said that Penang is cleaner now adays compare to few years ago........Betul ke...

PENANG, Jan 18 – Penang’s Batu Ferringhi Beach will soon be rocking to a new beat. Malaysia’s first Hard Rock Hotel is due to open later this year right on the beachfront.

What was once the landmark Casuarina Hotel is in the midst of a multi-million dollar transformation into the Hard Rock Hotel Penang, which will offer luxury with friendly, quality services and a unique rock ‘n’ roll edge.

Former Wellingtonian John Primmer is the Hard Rock Penang Hotel general manager and says the property will be quite different from existing hotels.

“We will offer lots of entertainment, non-stop music, facilities for all age groups and unique, authentic Hard Rock memorabilia throughout the hotel, unpredictable fun but snappy service.

“Live bands will play every evening in the Hard Rock Cafe.”

Primmer adds that he expects most guests to be younger couples who are IT-savvy, enjoy all genres of music and are looking for a different kind of holiday.

He says the hotel will also appeal to families, as well as the MICE market – he means meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions.

Why Penang for a new Hard Rock Hotel?

Penang offers the total package holiday with great beaches, fantastic food, sightseeing, plenty of cultural activities and shopping.

“It represents very good value for money, especially the accommodation,”

Primmer says.

The hotel will have 250 rooms – including 17 suites – and most have sea views and private balconies. The ground- floor lagoon-view rooms have their own private balconies and sun loungers, with direct access to the swimming pool.

Other hotel facilities include a spa, a beach watersports base, gym, Lil’Rock Kids Club, teens’ club and two Hard Rock merchandise shops.

There will also be three restaurants and a lobby lounge bar overlooking the sea.

“The lobby bar will entice guests from the moment they arrive. It will be the first thing they see when they walk in and is actually an extension of the hotel reception desk, so after check-in it’s time for a welcome drink,” Primmer says.

The hotel’s swimming pool will be Penang’s largest free-form pool at 2,415 sq m, stretching the entire length of the hotel on the beach side. It will feature sand islands, water slides, a swim-up bar and private pool- side cabanas.

Meeting facilities include the Hall of Fame ballroom seating up to 300 banquet-style, and three meeting rooms. Themed events, team-building, beach parties and rockin’ meetings will be the Hard Rock’s speciality.

When the hotel opens mid-2009 it will be the 10th Hard Rock hotel worldwide, the first in Malaysia and the third in Asia.

Green World labur RM100 juta di Pulau Pinang

19/01/2009 1:21pm

PULAU PINANG 19 Jan. - Syarikat pengeluar produk mudah lupus secara biologi, Green World Biotech Sdn. Bhd. komited melabur RM100 juta di Pulau Pinang bagi tempoh empat tahun.

Ketua Menteri Pulau Pinang, Lim Guan Eng berkata, syarikat itu akan membuka kilangnya di kawasan seluas kira-kira empat hektar di Taman Perindustrian Sains, Bukit Minyak, Seberang Perai di sini. - Bernama

Now everyone can fly ... with Selangor Exco

Have you seen any BN 's leaders fly budget airlines?

By Neville Spykerman
KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 19 – Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim and his exco members took frugality to new heights by flying to and from Alor Setar with Air Asia.

The Selangor delegation had flown to Kedah to attend the conference of Pakatan Rakyat (PR) chief ministers and leaders on Sunday and were spotted by The Malaysian Insider at the Sultan Abdul Halim Airport waiting to board the return flight this morning.

With the Selangor Menteri Besar were exco members Datuk Dr Hassan Ali, Teresa Kok, Elizabeth Wong, Yaakob Sapari, Khalid's political secretary Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad and Subang Member of Parliament Sivarasa Rasiah.

The group was seated at the boarding lounge, with other passengers waiting to board Air Asia flight Ak6347 to Kuala Lumpur, with no fanfare or fuss.

So unassuming was Khalid, dressed casually in a black-and-red chequered shirt and blue slacks, that most passengers did not realised he was the Selangor MB.

Nik Nazmi said although they were flying with the low-cost carrier, the state government had at least paid for express boarding for them.

However this came to nought as they were left at the end of the queue while other passengers rushed to board first.

The frugal attitude of the state government at these time of economic uncertainties will surely endear these leaders to the people, while bringing a smile to the face of Air Asia boss, Datuk Tony Fernandes.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Is Malaysia not safe place to live any more?

Read below...... It is damn scary.......News that you will not get in Utusan Malaysia.....




































Thursday, January 15, 2009

Ku Li slams stimulus plan, says confidence required

You are right KULI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Until today our dear leaders still tell us that Malaysia will not enter into recession and the economy is still solid......It again and again prove that our leader only stay in their air-condition. They never go to the ground and feel the business environment in Malaysia.

Factories are closing down, retrenchment has seen no sign of slowing down.........

Malaysia need a "Change" ................and It should start from Kuala Terengganu...........

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 15 - He never minced his words about the decaying political system in Umno and so it was only natural to expect Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah to offer an unvarnished view of the government's handling of the economy and the long-term prospects of the Malaysian dream.

Malaysia's former finance minister did not disappoint. He ticked off the government for failing to face up to the harsh truth that the global economic crisis will have a severe impact on Malaysia; described vividly how one of the most successful economies was now caught in the middle income trap, not innovative enough to join the premier league and yet not cheap enough to hold off the likes of Vietnam and India.

Ku Li, as the Kelantanese prince is popularly known, said that the key to restoring belief in the Malaysia economy was confidence.

"We need to restore confidence in our basic institutions, our leadership, the integrity of the Federation, the rule of law and our national Constitution... We need to restore confidence in Malaysia. Real confidence is hope based on an apprehension of the truth.

It is social capital and trust in society and its future. It is inspired by leaders willing to take us through an unflinching evaluation of where we are today to a vision of what we are capable of tomorrow.

"The country can no longer afford a political class out of touch with reality that trades on yesterday's political insecurities and a government that has forgotten its purpose. We need a renewal of leadership as a first step to restoring true confidence, '' he said at a luncheon talk at the strategic outlook seminar organised by Asian Strategic Leadership Institute.

He took to task government leaders for not telling Malaysians that while the country was relatively shielded from the first wave of financial failures there is no escape from the sharp demand slump in the global economy.

The country's growth this year could be well under the official estimates of 3.5 per cent, he feared, pointing to the sharp drop in industrial activity and the plunge in exports.

"There has been a dramatic swing in the balance of payments to a RM31 billion deficit in the third quarter, from a surplus of RM26 billion in the second. Anyone looking at the size of the downturn and at its swiftness can only wonder if we will be sailing through.

"Our leaders only undermine the government's credibility when they paint an alternative reality for us. I understand we don't want to frighten markets and voters unnecessarily, but we do not live in an information bubble. Leaders who deny the seriousness of the crisis only raise the suspicion that they have no ideas for coping with it. They undermine the government's credibility when that very credibility, that confidence, is a key issue, '' said the Umno politician whose offer to contest the top position in the party was met with a limp response from the ground.

The view in the party is that his time in politics has come and gone but even his most trenchant critics acknowledge that he still possesses one of the sharpest minds around.

Even if Malaysia achieved 3.5 per cent growth, it would not create enough jobs to employ the large number of young Malaysians who enter the workforce every year, he pointed out.

"Given our demographic profile and the fact that we are an oil exporter, our baseline do-nothing growth figure is not 0 per cent but closer to 4 per cent. We do have a problem. Now we need to acknowledge that we are not in good shape to deal with it. After early decades of rapid progress, it looks like that economic growth has flattened, our public delivery system calcified and our economic leadership run out of ideas,'' he said.

Malaysia, he noted, is squeezed between being "the low cost manufacturer we once excelled as, and the knowledge-intensive economy we are failing to become.''

"We are in the infamous "middle Income trap". No longer cheap enough to compete with low cost producers and not advanced enough to compete with more innovative ones, we find ourselves squeezed in between with no economic story, '' he said, noting that Malaysia's share of GDP contributed by services was 46.4 per cent in 2007, compared with 46.2 per cent in 1987 while real wages here during the same period grew 2.6 per cent.

What does it take to make the leap from middle to high income?

Ku Li noted that looking at the examples of Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore they had one feature in common: they were able to learn from previous crises.

"The criterion of success for making the developmental leap, the key differentiator between the leaders and the also-rans, is not immunity from economic crises (after all, if you have a Stone Age economy, you are completely immune) but the organizational capability of governments to learn and re-organize around new national economic strategies through these crises.

Each major crisis is either an important opportunity to transform the economy or a major setback to our ambitions.

"The question is whether our policymaking and policy implementing apparatus is set up, motivated and led to learn from this crisis. It is a question of the capability of government and governance, '' he said.

The world recession is a critical opportunity for Malaysia to re-gear and re-tool the Malaysian economy.

"We don't need another stimulus "package" of spending here and there. What we need, and what the crisis gives us a chance to implement, is a set of bold projects with an economic story behind them to help Malaysia make the developmental leap we have been missing.

We have a once in a lifetime economic challenge. We must meet this challenge with a historic sense of purpose, '' he said.

Khalid vs Khir ------Part II

Ooooi bila nak habis?

Lexus is my own, says Khalid


SHAH ALAM: It's Mercedes vs Lexus. Datuk Seri Dr Khir Toyo versus Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim.

Yesterday, Dr Khir denied approving the purchase of a Mercedes S350L worth almost RM1 million for his personal use, using Kumpulan Darul Ehsan Berhad's (KDEB) funds when he was Selangor menteri besar.

He then questioned why Khalid had not stopped KDEB from buying another luxury car, a Lexus 460, also worth almost RM1 million for Khalid's use as the new chairman of the company after Khalid became the menteri besar.

"I have never approved the purchase (of the Mercedes). The KDEB board of directors bought the car for the use of its chairman to entertain the company's overseas clients.

"I never asked KDEB to purchase the car for my personal use and have never used it. That's why no one has seen me using the car."
Dr Khir was responding to a press statement by Khalid's political secretary Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad on Tuesday that he had approved the purchase of the Mercedes for his exclusive use and the state government had to bear the extravagant cost.

"He questioned the Mercedes which was purchased four years ago. Why didn't he, as the new chairman object to the purchase of the Lexus?" questioned Dr Khir.

He said the Lexus should not have been bought as the Mercedes was still in very good condition as it was rarely used, especially in light of the economic situation.

"Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim promised there would be no new cars or office renovation during a gathering in conjunction with 100 days' of Pakatan Rakyat being in office.

"Why go against his orders, or was Anwar lying?"

In an immediate response, Khalid denied the purchase of the Lexus by KDEB.

He said the state-owned company had not bought a new car for its chairman.

"The Lexus I'm using now is my own which I bought with my own money before the election and I don't even need to use the state car. I think it is stupid to make such a statement; it is a cheap statement."

Khalid is currently using a Lexus RX350 which he bought in July 2007.

"People knew that I'd been using the car when I was campaigning in Ijok and Bandar Tun Razak. How can KDEB be nice enough to give me the car even before I was the menteri besar?

"He (Dr Khir) should check his facts first. I have no intention to abuse my power as KDEB chairman."

Significant drop in real wages in Malaysia

What a shocking findings.....

Please continue to vote for BN if you wish to see this situation continues....


PUTRAJAYA: Real wages in Malaysia have dropped dramatically over the last 10 years since the Asian financial crisis.

According to the Reshaping Economic Geography Report in East Asia, an East Asian and Pacific region companion volume to the World Development Report 2009, the growth in real wages, which refers to wages that have been adjusted for inflation, had reduced significantly to 1.9% post-crisis from 5.6% per annum for export-oriented industries.

Meanwhile, for domestic-orientated industries such as food, beverages as well as tobacco, growth in real wages had fallen to 1.4% post-crisis from 6.8% per annum.

According to report author Dr Yukon Huang, the fall in real wages was in tandem with the drop in gross domestic product (GDP) over the last 10 years.

Huang added that in terms of labour migration to Malaysia, although the number of migrant workers had increased over the same period, there was a fall in the number of highly-skilled expatriates.

Incidentally, over the last 20 years, Malaysia’s services sector contribution to the GDP had remained steady at 46.4% in 2007 from 46.2% in 1987.

“These indicators may reveal that Malaysia has not moved up the economic value chain successfully over the last 10 years and steps should be taken to address these issues,” Huang said at the launch of the World Development Report 2009 yesterday.

According to the Economic Planning Unit director general Tan Sri Sulaiman Mahbob, the latest report from the World Bank looks at the global economic development from fresh perspectives.

“Instead of emphasising on the role of government in initiating and dictating the shape and momentum of economic development, the report highlights the critical importance of natural, human and geographical forces at work such as density as well as distance that encourage the emergence of economic growth centres or hubs across the globe.”

He added that governments should not resist the emergence of these economic hubs but instead should encourage their development. “We share the World Bank’s view that we should approach economic development on a holistic level rather than on a central level.

“We believe that policies or approaches that work for one country or even a region, may not work for all regions within a particular country,” he said.

He said the Government had recognised the geographical differences when launching Malaysia’s five economic corridors, namely, Iskandar Malaysia, the Northern Corridor Economic Region, East Coast Economic Region, Sabah Development Corridor and Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy.

“The Government also recognise that each region possesses different economic resources and have adopted different sets of economic strategies designed to exploit the resources and maximise on the economic potential of each region,” he said.

For instance, Iskandar Malaysia would focus on the services, property and tourism industries, he pointed out.

He added that to date, Iskandar Malaysia had attracted investments totalling RM40.25bil.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Khir bought a Mercedes, says political secretary

If you still want to vote for BN in the KT by-election, please think twice.....Just Imagine BN leaders like Khir Toyo come back and lead the you know where the tax payers money gone...........

Thanks to Pakatan Rakyat and now we get to see the true face of the BN when they helmed the state.

SHAH ALAM: Datuk Seri Dr Khir Toyo had approved the purchase of a Mercedes S350L worth almost RM1 million for his personal use with funds from Kumpulan Darul Ehsan Berhad when he was Selangor menteri besar.

This resulted in the state having to bear the extravagant purchase, said Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad, the political secretary to Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim.He was responding to Dr Khir's statement who said that the RM2 million purchase of 15 Toyota Camry cars showed that the Pakatan Rakyat leaders were more concerned about their needs than the welfare of Selangor people. The opposition leader also questioned why the purchase was not made through an open tender and the state government should focus on fulfilling their election manifesto.In a statement yesterday, Nik Nazmi said the open tender was not used because the cars were bought at market price for RM130,000 each.

The state government received its fleet of Camry cars on Friday.As for the state's Proton Perdana V6 cars, those below two years old would be retained and used as pool cars. ----NST

Crabby Malaysians and AirAsia – The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 13 – Tall poppy syndrome. Crab mentality. Schadenfreude.

Go read it up in the Wikipedia. All relate to AirAsia’s phenomenal success and their current ambitions to build their own airport in Labu.

In any other country, some of us might cheer them. Their motto “Now Everyone can fly” proved to be true enough for the current low-cost carrier terminal (LCCT) at the KL International Airport to burst at the seams notwithstanding the terminal expansion ready in March.

For too long, we have complained about Malaysia Airlines shoddy service that they even dropped their MAS moniker which we cynically christened as “Mana Ada Sistem”. Now, Malaysia Airlines is using their airline code MH to mean Malaysian Hospitality, together with mealboxes that say a lot about our hospitality.

In any other country, the fact that other private companies want to run airports or terminals say a thing or two about the current operator. We too have long carped about monopolies and the need for competition. AirAsia succeeded with Tony Fernandes and team, competing with Malaysia Airlines although those who begot it couldn’t make it a success.

Yes, they had help from the government. They had fees cut, they had privileges but it all came back to us. No-fares. One ringgit fares. With all our taxes and charges listed out. Imagine, all these years to Singapore and back on shuttle flights for RM600 and all you get is a measly orange juice.

Now, even Malaysia Airlines has dusted off its 1990s proposals and finally seen the light to use turbo-prop aircraft out of Subang to cater to the leisure and business crowd who don’t mind going slower than jet-speed but will want full-service quality. That is competition for AirAsia.

But some of us in this great nation want AirAsia and Tony Fernandes to fail. He is the tall poppy that must be cut to size. He is the crab that must not be allowed to get out of the basket. He must endure misery for us to be happy.

Comeuppance? Perhaps, but we in Malaysia will be all the poorer when Airasia crashes and burns.

Then, everyone can cry.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Singapore’s top student is Malaysian

This is what we call Malaysia bolehlah......

SINGAPORE, Jan – Singapore’s top O-level student was not here to collect her results and may not even continue her studies in Singapore.

Haw Sue Hern, from CHIJ St Nicholas Girls’ School, had just returned to her home in Subang Jaya, Malaysia, after a holiday in Beijing when she learnt of her results. Her family had planned their holiday before the announcement last week that the O-level results would be released yesterday.

Sue Hern’s score of 10 A1s made her the top O-level performer out of 36,640 students this year.

“I am so surprised with the results ... I wish I could collect my results personally but my parents had planned the holiday already,’ she said in a phone interview.

Her father is an engineer and her mother, a teacher in Malaysia. Sue Hern and her younger sister, a Secondary 3 student at the same school, lived in a hostel here during the school term.

The 16-year-old attended CHIJ St Nicholas on a scholarship which did not have a bond. “I was scared to come to Singapore all by myself but I was impressed by how friendly the teachers were. My parents encouraged me, too,’ she said.

Her secret to success was consistent hard work, she added. “I did my revision regularly and reviewed past test papers.”

She is currently enrolled in an 11-month pre-university course at Taylor’s University College, a private education institution in Subang Jaya, Selangor.

The triple-science student has not decided whether to continue with the course or enrol in a junior college in Singapore. She hopes to become a doctor eventually.

Her form teacher, Quek Soo Hiang, said she was surprised when Sue Hern told her after her O-level exams in November that she would be returning to Malaysia to study, and was not going on to a junior college here.

“I wish that she would stay on in Singapore but it is her choice,” she said.

Finishing close behind Sue Hern was her classmate and fellow Malaysian Cheong Jia Ee, and Anderson Secondary student Low Wan Ting. Both of them scored nine A1s and one A2.

Jia Ee, 16, is planning to study at ACS (Independent), Hwa Chong Institution (HCI) or Raffles Institution.

“I’ve known Sue Hern since Primary 1 when we were in the same school in Malaysia. I am happy that both of us did so well in the O levels,’ she said.

Nearly all – 99.9 per cent – of those who sat for last year’s O levels received certificates. Of these, 80.8 per cent or 29,592 had five or more O-level passes, while 94.6 per cent or 34,675 had three or more O-level passes. – The Straits Times

12-01-2009: Tax matters to look out for in 2009

Good Tax Info for Malaysian...Must Read

WHILE we ushered in 2009 afresh, taxpayers should not leave behind their receipts from their insurance, medical health, reading materials, sports equipment and a host of other items that will be eligible for relief and deductions in their tax returns.

The Inland Revenue Board (IRB) will expect individual taxpayers to file their returns for year of assessment (YA) 2008 by April 30, 2009 under the self-assessment system (SAS) while those with business income are required to do so by June 30, 2009.

With the onset of the global financial crisis and the possibility of Malaysia facing a recession or a technical one this year, taxpayers should realise the IRB would have the gumption to make every sen of taxable income counted with little compromise.

In 2009, individual taxpayers would nonetheless enjoy a one percentage point reduction to 27% for the top bracket from 28% so that individual income tax rates remain competitive and the rakyat’s disposable income is increased. Similarly, the tax rebate for the chargeable income group of up to RM35,000 would be increased from RM350 to RM400. The middle income group with an annual chargeable income between RM35,000 and RM50,000 will also benefit as the tax rate for this income bracket has been reduced from 13% to 12%.

Those who depend on income from bank savings will now have a bit more to nibble on as the tax on interest income received from monies deposited in all approved financial institutions are exempted from tax.

Although this exemption was effective Aug 30, 2008, individual taxpayers will have the full calendar year of tax exemption on such interest income.

Perhaps, one of the best entitlements for those with employment income in 2009 are the tax exemption on perquisites provided under Budget 2009 in relation to benefits-in-kind which they receive from their employers.

A host of items are now tax exempted and they include petrol card or petrol allowance for travel between home and work place for up to RM2,400 a year, petrol allowance and toll card for official duties up to RM6,000 a year, allowance or fees for parking, meal allowance and subsidies for childcare of up to RM2,400 a year.

In addition, employees can now enjoy tax exemption on telephone and mobile phone bills as well as personal digital assistant (PDA) and internet subscriptions. As such, while bonuses including contractual bonuses are taxable, benefits-in-kind are tax exempted and should be enjoyed to the fullest.

As many employers might be a little cautious in dispensing year-end bonuses in 2008, they could through prudent tax planning maximise such tax exempt benefits to help their employees with perquisites that are cash equivalent of more than RM10,000 a year.

For the low- to middle-income earners, they should make good use of the 50% stamp duty exemption on loan agreements for residential properties. To encourage home ownership, loan agreements executed for the purchase of residential properties not exceeding RM250,000 are given 50% stamp duty exemption till Dec 31, 2010.

While 2009 is expected to be a tough year, the general public should be relieved from the tax perspective as the government has no plans to implement goods and services tax (GST) for the moment.

It is learnt that the government would maintain the sales threshold for service tax collection for food outlets at RM3 million as a measure to ease the burden to the public.

The sales threshold for the collection of the 5% service tax for food outlets was raised from RM500,000 to RM3 million annually effective July 1, 2008.

It is hoped that the government would not reintroduce the real property gains tax (RPGT) this year as a means to generate revenue. The RPGT Act 1976 has not been abolished but RPGT exemption took effect from April 1, 2007 and there is little indication that such exemption would be lifted anytime soon.

While much could be enjoyed by individuals, the tax structure and proposals granted to companies in 2009 are not far off either. Beginning with a one percentage point cut for the corporate tax rate to 25% in 2009, paying less tax no matter how little means opportunities in reinvestment and expansion for any business.

Some items would now be eligible for tax exemptions or further deductions and would come in handy in particular for large companies that aim to enhance the corporate social responsibility (CSR) culture.

One such item is on contribution for charitable purposes and sport activities whereby from 2009, the limit for tax deduction for purpose of tax computation be increased to 10% of a company’s aggregate income compared with 7% previously.

Another item that would be valuable is the deduction on expenses for recruitment of workers from 2009 onwards, a move that would increase a company’s competitiveness by endeavouring to recruit the best.

In this aspect of human capital, the government would allow the recruitment cost incurred by participants in job fairs, payment to employment agencies and head-hunters to be allowed deduction for the purpose of tax computation.

In addition, a tax incentive to allow businesses to beef up security at their premises will help curb crime. As such, accelerated capital allowance on security control would be extended to equipment such as anti-theft alarms system, security camera, access control system and siren at all business premises irrespective of size or industry.

A particular area of concern is that of private limited companies controlled by public-listed companies. Such private companies are no longer eligible for preferential tax of 20% for their first RM500,000 chargeable income which is enjoyed by those under small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

Following reclassification of the SMEs by the government under Budget 2009, a private limited company with a paid-up capital not exceeding RM2.5 million but has more than 50% of its ordinary shares controlled by a public-listed company would have to pay full corporate tax of 25% from 2009 onwards.

However, the reclassification would enable a level playing field among “genuine” SMEs and propel them to have better access to incentives and loans as well as participation in awards for the SME category.

On tax and investment incentives, 2009 will also see the further development of the capital market which needs to attract foreign companies and product listings.

The government would now grant tax exemption on fees received by corporate advisers for primary listing, dual listing or cross listings of foreign listed securities and foreign financial instruments. As such, corporate advisers would not be deterred by high marketing cost but will be motivated to bring in foreign companies and product listings.

Similarly, tax exemption will be granted on fees earned by qualified institutions in undertaking activities relating to underwriting and distribution of non-ringgit sukuk issued in Malaysia but distributed outside Malaysia. In addition, tax exemption is also given on profits received by qualified institutions from the trading on non-ringgit sukuk issued in Malaysia.

Despite a host of tax incentives for 2009, the government expects direct tax collection to increase by 20% to RM88.4 billion from the RM73.8 billion revised estimate of 2008.

Of the RM88.4 billion in 2009, it is projected that RM35.8 billion and RM15.4 billion would come from the collection of corporates and individuals, respectively. The balance would come from petroleum revenue and other less significant sources such as cooperatives.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Malaysian pretensions — Philip Bowring

HONG KONG, Jan 9 — In a move that could backfire by drawing attention to discrimination against Chinese, Indian and other minorities in Malaysia, the country has claimed a role in the advancement of Malays in other lands.

The Malaysian deputy prime minister and heir apparent, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, told an international Malay/Muslim audience recently that his government would work to help support them in countries from the Philippines and Singapore to Madagascar, Sri Lanka and South Africa.

Najib's remarks may draw the attention of China, India and other countries to what has hitherto been regarded by most outsiders as a domestic issue: Malaysia's official economic and social preferences for Malays, and by extension Muslims, which disadvantage Malaysia's non-Malay minorities, mostly Chinese and Indian. His statements are also sure to irritate Indonesia, Malaysia's larger neighbour and fount of Malay culture.

The word ''Malay'' can mean a language that is native to east Sumatra, which became the lingua franca of trade in Southeast Asia and is now the official language of Indonesia and Malaysia. Or it can mean the relatively small, mostly Muslim, ethnic group of some 20 million straddling Malaysia, and parts of Indonesia and southern Thailand. Or it can mean the much wider Malay racial/linguistic group of more than 300 million people, about 60 percent Muslim, encompassing most of Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia — plus many Madagascans and minorities in Vietnam and Cambodia.

In the 1960s there was talk of a loose Malay confederation encompassing Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia. However, other issues obstructed this grand idea. For Malaysia in particular, religion has come to play a central role, identifying all Malays with Islam. This notion is viewed as dangerous by many people in Indonesia, which is 80 percent Muslim but is a secular state focused on national rather than religious identity.

Najib's effort to include Madagascar in his speech was also contentious. Madagascar was first settled by people from the Indonesian archipelago long before Islam appeared. The Muslim minority in Madagascar has mostly Arab and Indian roots. As for the Malays of South Africa and Sri Lanka, though Muslim, their roots were mostly in Java and other parts of what was once Dutch-ruled Indonesia.

Malaysian pretensions could be dismissed as hot air. But official discrimination against non-Malays in the country was eventually going to attract criticism from human rights groups and other governments. It is hard to argue that the numerically dominant Malays, who control most of the political, judicial and bureaucratic levers of power and many of the country's major corporations, need help. Yet Malaysia's leadership continues to claim that the Malay race and religion would be threatened by removal of privileges.

Many Malays view these privileges as perpetuating a system of patronage that enriches the elite and makes the Malay poor dependent. Yet changing the system is difficult. While gains of the opposition coalition led by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in last year's election offer some hope, it is naturally hard for the majority to vote away privileges — which is why India and China could become catalysts.

For decades China and India have stuck with the doctrine of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries. But as their global role blossoms, attitudes are changing. China's eye on the well-being of ethnic Chinese everywhere will increase as Chinese investment and tourism become more important to countries in Southeast Asia with significant Chinese minorities. Ethnic Chinese make up 25 per cent of Malaysia's population and are subject to formal discrimination. India has less potential influence, but Indian politicians have begun to listen to Hindu groups complaining about discrimination and destruction of their temples.

In practice, Malaysia is usually more tolerant than official policies and statements by politicians and clerics might suggest. The prime minister is married to a Eurasian who was born a Christian. Various royals have married non-Malays. However, mixed marriages have become rarer as barriers are strengthened by sectarian privileges allied to religious dogmatism.

So maybe the outside world could do Malaysia a favour by taking Najib at his word and speaking up in support of the minority's reasonable request — equality for non-Malay Malaysians as well as for Malay minorities elsewhere. — International Herald Tribune

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Hottest Photos for Zhang Zi Yi.......

The hottest photos that appear in the front page of this week Hong Kong's magazines none other than Zhang Zi Yi ( 章子怡) the famous China celebrities that star in the Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon ....

廣 告

【明報專訊】章子怡日前穿著比堅尼與未婚夫Vivi Nevo於加勒比海聖巴特斯島度假,享受甜蜜無上裝日光浴時,卻遭狗仔隊攝下多達80多張火辣親熱照片,並在網上火速流傳,令中港台網民嘩然,同時亦吸引傳媒高價購下該輯照片。

章子怡近日趁空檔到美國與未婚夫Vivi Nevo相聚,他們拍拖到加勒比海名人度假勝地聖巴特斯島(St. Barts)享受甜蜜假期。章子怡穿著紅色比堅尼與Vivi Nevo躺在沙灘上曬太陽,她還輕解泳衣露點及退低泳褲,與未婚夫有不少火辣動作,卻成為狗仔隊「狙擊」目標。



Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Good luck to you if you continue to vote for UMNO....

At last the toll agreements were declassified ......................
How shock I am when I read the findings below...................
This is what we call a caring Malaysian government......Pengsanlah....
Read below.....
By Neville Spykerman

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 6- Petaling Jaya Utara Member of Parliament Tony Pua said today that PLUS, the concession holder for the North-South Expressway stands to make a staggering RM25 billion in profits, in the next 20-years.

Pua, who spoke to reporters after scrutinising declassified toll concession agreements at the Works Ministry here, said PLUS made a profit of RM1.2 billion last year and the amount will increase annually till the concession ends, in 2038.

"Under the agreement the concessionaire has all to gain and nearly nothing to lose."

Pua, who was at the Works Ministry, with Serdang MP Teo Nie Ching and Kampung Tungku Assemblyman Lau Weng San, said PLUS is also exempted from paying taxes on its profits.

As such, he said DAP was justified in objecting to the privatisation of PLUS to United Engineers Malaysia (UEM) in 1988.

"It was a hot issue, which was used as one of the justifications by the Government to detained 16 DAP national leaders, including Lim Kit Siang and Karpal Singh, under the ISA, during Operation Lalang."

Teo, who got a first look at the concession agreement this morning describe it as a 'profit guaranteed' contract, which favours the concessionaire.

Under the agreement, the company can impose higher toll charges if traffic volume is less than what is projected, while the government will have to provide compensation if it objects.

She said the original 30-year-concession, signed in 1988, had already been extended further by 20-years, as a form of compensation.

Teo said terms in a supplementary agreement, signed in 1999, made it virtually impossible for the government take over the concession.

"Besides having to pay the cost of construction, which was just RM5.94 billion, and any outstanding loans owed by the company, the Government would be forced to pay an amount equal to future profits."

Teo questioned the Government's rationale in entering into the agreement in the first place.

"Why privatize the highway, when they could have built it and run it themselves."

Meanwhile Pua also dismissed assertions by Works Minister Datuk Mohd Zin Mohamed yesterday that buying back some of the concessions, such as Lebuhraya Damansara-Puchong (LDP), would be too expensive.

He said the LDP was constructed at a cost of only RM1.327 billion but to date the company had received RM630 million in compensation for not raising toll charges and would continue to receive RM10 million annually.

"The numbers are stark and it is obvious that it would be better for the Government to buy back the concession rather than continuing to pay compensation."




--合約于1994年7月28日簽署,收費期限27年至2021年,后經兩次修改合約(簽署附加合約),延長收費期11年至2032年,政府總共賠償11億9660萬令吉給MTD PRIME私人有限公司。

Beauty and the Beast

At last 周慧敏 & 倪震 get married yesterday.

Many peoples have predicted their marriage will not long last....

Ladies, What say you?

Monday, January 5, 2009

The last three Ox years were not good for the stock markets


SINGAPORE, Jan 3 — Perhaps it is just a coincidence. Then again, it may have something to do with the ox being a domesticated bull that has lost its vigour.

Whatever the case, the bulls tended to stay away from the stock markets whenever the very year dedicated to their kind appeared once every 12 years. It happened in 1973, 1985 and 1997. And now, with economies around the world still grappling with the fallout from the annus horribilis that was 2008, the coming Year of the Ox may prove to be as depressing for the stock markets as the last three Ox years.

Here’s a quick look at the mayhem that visited stock markets the last three occasions the Ox showed up.

Back in 1973 — the year when the Stock Exchange of Singapore (SES) was established — equity markets worldwide crashed following the collapse of the Bretton Woods system over the previous two years.

Losses were exacerbated after the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries imposed an oil embargo in October 1973 in response to the American decision to supply the Israeli military during the Yom Kippur War. As oil prices surged, stock prices continued to slide and it wasn’t until a year later in late 1974, before they began to mount a recovery.

Twelve years later, the Year of the Ox in 1985 saw trading on the SES suspended for three days in an unprecedented move — in the words of exchange chairman Ong Tjin An — “to cool off the market and for the public to digest news” that Pan-Electric Industries had fallen into receivership. The S$230-million (RM830 million) Singapore-based conglomerate had collapsed because a complex web of forward contracts involving its shares could not be unwound.

The Pan-El debacle hurt Singapore’s reputation as a financial centre and also led to prominent Malaysian politician Tan Koon Swan being jailed here for abetting criminal breach of trust.

When the Pan-El crisis hit, the Straits Times Index (STI) was already deep in a downward spiral of a bear market that dated back more than two years to May 1983.

In July 1997, Thailand — saddled by a heavy burden of foreign debt — dropped the baht’s peg against the US dollar, triggering a financial crisis that carved a wide swathe of destruction in regional markets.

Thailand, Indonesia and South Korea were worst hit, with Indonesian President Suharto forced to step down in the following year amid widespread riots sparked off by the devaluation of the rupiah. In Singapore, the STI nosedived from about 2,050 in January 1997 to about 850 points in September 1998.

So the last three Ox years were dreadful for stock markets.


Back to the present, where there is no end to the stream of “gloom and doom” headlines emerging every day. The World Bank has warned that a deep global recession could not be ruled out this year.

Forecasting a significant decline in global economic growth in 2009 for both developed and emerging economies, it noted that “following the insolvency of a large number of banks and financial institutions ... capital flows to developing countries have dried up and huge amounts of market capitalisation have evaporated”.

In an interview with CNBC TV, renowned economist Mohamed El-Erian, the co-chief executive of Pacific Investment Management Co, said: “2008 was the year of the crisis of the financial system. 2009, unfortunately, will be the crisis of the economic system. So the news is going to be full of unemployment, defaults, etc.”

At home, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has warned that Singapore’s economy — already in a recession — will likely continue to weaken. “We must therefore prepare for a difficult year ahead, and especially the first half of 2009,” Lee said in his New Year’s message.

“Our economy will probably contract further. More companies will be forced to downsize. So far, we have not seen many job losses, but I expect more retrenchments in the next few months,” he warned. The Government’s focus is on jobs — “keeping people in jobs, helping workers who lose jobs find new ones, and retraining them with new skills. To do this, we have to help businesses ride over this rough period”, he added.

“The outlook is highly uncertain. At each stage of this crisis, events have turned out worse than the experts predicted ... Quite likely the global recession will be followed not by a quick rebound, but by several more years of slow growth,” he said.

The unwinding of the excesses of past years through large-scale deleveraging and fund redemptions have led to massive global asset price deflation over the last year.

The United States government has responded to the weakening economy with unprecedented levels of stimulus and bailouts. The US Federal Reserve has also effectively made money free by lowering the target interest rate to between zero and 0.25 per cent, while Fed chairman Ben Bernanke has asserted that US authorities will print as much money as is needed to keep the economy afloat.

Likewise, Asian nations are embarking on large-scale spending measures. Japan — Asia’s largest economy — has unveiled since last August stimulus plans worth ¥16.7 trillion (RM640 billion); China, the region’s second largest economy, in November announced a 4-trillion-yuan (RM2 trillion) economic stimulus package, while neighbouring Malaysia will spend RM7 billion on public projects to spur growth. Singapore’s Budget is scheduled for Jan 22.

“Governments everywhere have been implementing monetary and fiscal measures, rescuing troubled financial institutions and key corporations and pumping money into the economy,” Lee said.

“But no one is sure how the financial systems and economies will respond, or which policies will work. There is a loss of business and consumer confidence and, hence, one thing is certain: Things cannot turn around overnight,” he added.

Indeed, one would have to be experiencing Panglossian disorder — a tendency to have an extremely optimistic view regardless of circumstances — to think that we can just snap out of the world’s worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, without any pain. The STI lost 49 per cent last year, while the Dow shed 34 per cent.

As we kick off 2009, the question — given that stock markets are forward-looking — is whether all the negative news has been factored into current price levels. Are 1,473 in the STI and 7,449 in the Dow the troughs of the current bear market or will there be new lows?

We don’t know. What we do know is that we won’t be betting against history. — TODAY

Tough times ahead - both economic and political

The Malaysian government has always acted in a slow motion while other countries' leaders has acted swiftly and quickly. Where is the future of Malaysia? Only God knows......

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 5 – 2009 will see the financial crisis impacting the real economy, with the only good news being that Malaysia is unlikely to slip into recession.

Growth last year in real gross domestic product (GDP) terms was probably at the high end of 5 per cent, and the consensus estimate among private economists is for Malaysia to grow 2-3 per cent in 2009. However, there are a few who think growth could be flat.

Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak has said that the government is prepared to step in with another financial boost if the situation deteriorates. This is apart from the RM7 billion (S$2.93 billion) spending package announced last year.

Since no government in the world seems worried about budget deficits right now, Najib’s pledge could well be necessary given that the country’s macro- economic indicators are all heading south.

Exports, industrial production and tourist arrivals are all in decline against a backdrop of increased capital flight as foreigners flee Malaysian assets.

Given the portents, it’s likely that the central bank will cut rates further, perhaps by as much as 100 basis points over the year. The gloomy economic outlook will be compounded by higher political temperatures.

In March, Najib, 55, is expected to become the new president of Umno and prime minister when incumbent Abdullah Ahmad Badawi steps down.

The new premier will take over in very trying times with a resurgent opposition and a political climate that seems beset with problems of race and religion.

He will have to balance championing Malay interests against governing multiracial Malaysia, and it isn’t at all clear if he can pull it off given the increasingly strident noises emanating from Umno vis-a-vis Malay rights.

More to the point, it isn’t clear if Umno really wants to reform itself from a narrow, sectarian party to a more inclusive one that caters – or seems to cater – to all Malaysians.

In his press interviews so far, Najib has made all the right noises about Umno having to “reinvent itself to stay relevant” or that the party “has to recognise that Malaysia is getting increasingly race blind”. But you wouldn’t know that from watching the party.

Perhaps the acid test will come in the party polls in March. Central to the party’s direction going forward is the battle for deputy president who, by convention, becomes deputy prime minister.

The most qualified candidate is obviously International Trade Minister Muhyiddin Yassin but his grassroots appeal isn’t as great as Ali Rustam, the chief minister of Malacca and even Mohamad Muhammad Taib, the Minister for Land and Regional Development.

In a bid to plug Muhyiddin, former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad described the latter two candidates as “jokers” – but the joke could be on him. An outsider could just become Malaysia’s deputy premier if Umno doesn’t get its act together.

The elections will also decide the political future of Khairy Jamaluddin, Abdullah’s son- in-law, who is running for Umno Youth chief against two strong candidates – Dr Mahathir’s son Mukhriz and former Selangor chief minister Khir Toyo. And the talk is that Khir could be surging ahead.

Khairy is much maligned as the architect of his father-in- law’s political downfall but one suspects that he is more sinned against than sinner. It would be a pity if Umno throws out the baby with the bathwater. – Business Times Singapore

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Sex Party ? Can you believe that?

KUALA LUMPUR: Farahrizan Abdul Razak is still an employee of the news network, said Astro Awani general manager Rozina Aziz.
"We will wait for the outcome of the police investigations. In the meantime, we will give our full cooperation to the police." Rozina said police had not contacted the network."Everything we know of the incident is from newspaper reports." Meanwhile, producer Datuk Yusof Haslam denied newspaper reports that the part-time actress who was picked up in the raid was involved with the television series, Gerak Khas.
"I have checked with my production people and I can say that none of the Gerak Khas cast was involved," said Yusof.He, however, did not discount the possibility that the actress could have been used as an extra in one of the episodes."That does not qualify her as a Gerak Khas cast member." Yusof said it was not the first time an extra had used the name of the series to get out of trouble with police."Maybe they thought by using that name, police would not detain them."Gerak Khas is a police series endorsed by Bukit Aman. The producers of the series work with police on each episode.It was learnt that the script for the series is vetted by the police.Karyawan president Freddie Fernandez expressed sadness that artistes and celebrities were involved in the incident.He, however, urged the public not to have a negative view of artistes and celebrities over this incident as it only involved "one of two problematic ones".Fernandez said Karyawan was looking at initiating a programme to educate artistes to become role models for the public.

A question of privilege?

By Koon Yew Yin

JAN 2 — I refer to the presentation of a memorandum to protect Malay rights to the secretariat of the Penang Yang di-Pertua Negeri on Dec 29 by members of the Yayasan Aminul Ummah Malaysia. During the presentation, YAUM president Md Radzi Daud was reported to have said that no one should question Malay preferential rights and privileges which had been entrenched in the Constitution.

Obviously certain groups have not yet taken to heart the results of the recent elections in Penang and in many other parts of the country in which at least half of the country’s electorate — including many Malays — rejected Umno’s approach to the issue of NEP and other aspects of so-called Malay entitlement and preferential treatment.

Why we cannot become a developed nation?

Only a few weeks ago, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad openly said that Malaysia will not be able to become a developed nation by 2020. All Malaysians must not be afraid to question why we cannot achieve this. Is the Malay preferential treatment the biggest obstacle?

The basic characteristics of a developed nation are economic well being, social cohesion, cultural freedom and political democracy.

An ethnic approach to wealth accumulation and distribution in Malaysia has underpinned national policymaking and implementation for over 38 years since the introduction of the NEP in 1970. In no other country in the world is there to be found a similar preoccupation with ethnic preference as seen in the longevity and wide array of NEP policies.

Many experts and laymen are of the opinion that continuation of the NEP — which currently affects virtually all aspects of the economy and human resource development — represents Malaysia’s biggest obstacle to competitiveness, social cohesion and meeting the goal of becoming a developed country.

But what are the true facts of NEP achievement or under-achievement?

Bumiputera achievement

Based on conventional accounting principles, the Malays have already achieved the 30 per cent target of Bumiputera equity ownership. Bumiputera presence in all the major modern sectors of the economy including banking, plantations, aerospace, defence, oil and gas, energy and utilities has not only grown tremendously but is also well entrenched. A strong Malay professional and business class had been built up during the past 30 years at an unprecedented speed — probably the fastest ever experienced by any marginalised community anywhere in the world — and this group no longer needs special crutches. Policy emphasis should now be placed on nurturing competitiveness and excellence for all groups in the country, especially the SMEs, to enable the country to meet global challenges.

Broad base of Malay professionals

In fact, after over 30 years of NEP implementation, many Malays have already graduated and are more than capable of standing on their own merit without the safety net. Where are the large numbers of successful Malays to be found, some sceptics of YAUM may ask? The easiest way to answer this is for the government to make available the statistics on Bumiputera employment in the higher occupational categories and in the professions. Such a table showing Bumiputera achievement was included in the Third Outline Perspective Plan document, 2001-2010. That table showed that Bumiputeras had already comprised 63.5 per cent of the population for the Professional and Technical Category of employment by the year 2000.

Malays should be satisfied with their achievement and be willing to dismantle the NEP

The truth of the matter is that the NEP has been successful and the Malays uplifted. If this vital information were made publicly available, there will be less talk about Malay under-achievement and less insecurity within the Malay community that they are losing out to the other races. In fact they should be justly proud that they are most probably the majority ethnic community in many highly paid and prestigious occupations.

That this information is not disseminated is due to the lack of transparency of the official statistics provided to the public. Malaysia is badly lagging behind many countries in ensuring that its statistical system is accessible and transparent .

Let us remember too that Umno, the main beneficiary of the NEP, does not lead but dominates. The party holds 22 of 31 Cabinet positions.

If the NEP is such an impediment to progress, why has it not been dismantled? The most obvious reason is that it is in the interests of the dominant elites that this policy be continued perpetually in its present form. The ruling party has enormous resources and tremendous capacity to co-opt or coerce dissenting elements that question the NEP into staying passive or compliant within the fold of the system.

Despite the official coercion backed by the notorious Sedition Act and ISA, many Malaysians have become increasingly restive, disenchanted and demoralised. Ethnic tensions are rising, deliberately stoked by those who want to keep their grip on power. To heal the division in the nation, the NEP, one of the main causes of widespread disaffection among Malaysians who voted in unprecedented numbers against the Barisan Nasional, has to be dismantled.

Current economic scenario

Various international and national socio-economic indicators show that Malaysia's economic future is getting more difficult and stormy. These indicators include recent global competitiveness, inward FDI performance, stock market capitalisation, government inefficiency, business inefficiency, government intervention in the economy and corruption level. Other subjective indicators such as the sense of material well-being and security, socio-political stability, civic freedoms, religious tolerance, etc also reveal a worrying situation.

The most important indicator is our GDP per capita. In 1970 when the NEP was first introduced, our GDP per capita was about the same as Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea. After 38 years, Singapore is 3 times, Taiwan is 2.5 times and South Korea is 2 times our GDP per capita. All Malaysians must have the right to question this poor performance of our nation and the policies such as the NEP that have been responsible for it.

All our political leaders must find out why and how these neighbouring countries can outperform us despite their lack of oil, gas and other natural resources.

The best way forward

All our political leaders, in both the ruling parties and the opposition, should play less politics and concentrate on improving our national economy. They must not be afraid to discuss sensitive issues, like the Malay preferential rights, to make radical changes. Only a new road map based on more equitable, enlightened and inclusive principles can bring out the best amongst all communities. Only a new social economic order based on national unity, equity, justice and growth — one in which marginalised and vulnerable Malays and non-Malays are provided equitable assistance, combined with a system of meritocracy that rewards the best, irrespective of race — can guarantee the future for Malaysia.