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Saturday, March 28, 2020

The Bane Of Pakatan Harapan And Malaysia

It is best for Pakatan Harapan to move forward with its original three parties: Amanah, DAP, and Keadilan, if they are truly committed to the Reformasi agenda. Tun Dr Mahathir’s many u-turns and his stubbornness will just be a liability for the coalition, not to mention that the very party he chairs is no longer in the coalition.

Arif Bakhtiar
As the nation grapples with the COVID-19 health crisis, feelings of anger and discontent toward the new government has seeped into public consciousness – mainly on the way things are being handled at the moment.
Ever the one to speak on things that do not concern him, former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir pointed out that the pandemic carries an economic blow that is worse than the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, and that the Perikatan Nasional government decided to walk through the backdoor at the wrong moment.
While the rakyat’s anger towards Perikatan Nasional’s management is justifiable, we should also remember the bane that exacerbated the situation we are in now: Tun Dr Mahathir himself.
As the political tussle subsides following the formation of the new Perikatan Nasional government, more stories come into light as to what caused the downfall of the Pakatan Harapan government.
In Tun Dr Mahathir’s various interviews since the Sheraton move, the former Prime Minister implied that Anwar Ibrahim’s over-eagerness to be the Prime Minister is the trigger to the coalition’s fall, that the latter was too impatient and caused things to overheat.
Of course, Tun Dr Mahathir chose to blind himself to the fact that he did not want to set a firm date to the power transition, which can only be explained that he is ready to fight tooth and nail to prevent Anwar Ibrahim’s ascension to Prime Ministership. His own party, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, was also all too eager to indulge his power hunger, up until a certain point of course.
Realising that he was outmanoeuvred by those that he trusted, it was of course all to easy to just blame someone else for his own shortcoming.
If we were to imagine a different reality where there is a clear date in the power transition, there is without a doubt that the administrative and policy processes of our healthcare would have been much smoother, and the loss of confidence in our economy wouldn’t have been so severe.
Instead, we were all played like chess pieces by our former Prime Minister.
In a minute scale of things, it is best for Pakatan Harapan to move forward with its original three parties: Amanah, DAP, and Keadilan, if they are truly committed to the Reformasi agenda. Tun Dr Mahathir’s many u-turns and his stubbornness will just be a liability for the coalition, not to mention that the very party he chairs is no longer in the coalition.
Many of the voters who brought in Pakatan Harapan close to two years ago were left disappointed when Tun Dr Mahathir did not turn out to be as effective in pushing reforms into the system – which is why we must not waste our time with his many musings anymore. He had his chance, and he squandered it – it is time we move on.
In the larger scale, the intrigue and political infighting caused by Tun Dr Mahathir diverted the attention of many from the COVID-19 issue back then, which caused a lag in administrative efficiency leading to the mess we are witnessing today, and to blame Perikatan Nasional for the problem they inherit is just intellectually dishonest.
The former government had many chances to stem the problem at its root, but were caught in the political game instead. Our best chance now is for the new government to implement measures to clean up the mess left behind.
Beyond the virus, it is important that confidence on the stability of the country, despite plummeting oil prices, is communicated clearly by the government of the day – something Tun Dr Mahathir deliberately chose to ignore when he did not want to set a firm date for the transition of power.
Time for us to move on and move forward, Malaysia.

Sebab Apa Pakatan Harapan Nak Sangat Parlimen Bersidang



Anwar Ibrahim, Lim Kit Siang dan ramai lagi pemimpin Pakatan Harapan mahukan parlimen bersidang untuk meluluskan stimulus package atau pun pakej rangsangan ekonomi sebanyak RM250 bilion. Sebab apa? Malaysia sekarang ini di dalam keadaan emergency, sama juga seperti negara-negara lain di seluruh dunia. Ketika emergency, perdana menteri mempunyai emergency powers. Tujuan Pakatan Harapan nak adakan persidangan parlimen ialah supaya undi tidak percaya boleh dibuat terhadap Muhyiddin Yassin. Dan sekiranya mereka berjaya menyekat kelulusan pakej rangsangan ekonomi itu, maka kerajaan pun akan jatuh.


So much to give with almost nothing left to spare

Malaysiakini

Newly-minted Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced on Friday night a new RM250 billion stimulus package for the Malaysian economy, with the focus on stabilising small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and having a fresh injection of funds to our healthcare system to combat the Covid-19 outbreak.
As the global economy grinds to a halt, staring down the throat of a global recession, the Malaysian cabinet introduced the financial stimulus to curb the impending economic fallout. Handouts by the government for the people have been applauded by many, but it is to my belief that all Malaysians should be increasingly aware of its consequence on our currency and our economy.
Even after the movement control order is lifted and we have steered clear of the Coronavirus pandemic, the Malaysian economy would still be on course for an economic disaster. A RM250 billion injection breathes a sigh of relief for the short term, but we really have to ask questions about where the money is coming from, and how will it assist us in the long run. No specifications have been revealed about how the government intends to garner sufficient funds to carry out the financial assistance as promised.
Speaking specifically on the amount of the stimulus package, there are a few ways in which this could be achieved. Unconventional monetary policy such as quantitative easing through the purchase of government bonds has been proven effective in times of crisis. As these securities are sold, this will lead to an increase in money supply and banks possessing more liquidity. This results in banks being able to offer loans with lower interest rates to businesses, allowing greater ease in borrowing and thus injecting cash into our economy, stimulating growth.
However, Bank Negara reserves are valued at a little over US$103 billion. As our nation’s fiscal policies are dictated by Bank Negara, they’re committing more than half of their reserves, which is extremely risky. It may be sufficient for a short-term injection by the stimulus package, but as downturn from the recession is expected to be greater than that of the Great Depression according to experts, our reserves would be dangerously ill-equipped.
The government could also short its position through the use of bonds by penetrating into foreign capital markets. An example of this method being used was just last year when former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad alongside Japanese Prime Minister Abe upon the issuing of 200 billion yen worth of Samurai bonds to boost foreign direct investment.
By issuing the Samurai Bonds, we allowed investors easier access into the Malaysian economy as a) reducing the risk of exchange rate volatility for investors, and b) they will be abiding by their national financial regulations, with their government acting as the “legal regulator” for their investment in our nation.
As a proven method during times of economic stability for the issuer, a similar attempt of sorts currently would certainly be laughed at, with countries more focused on pulling themselves out of economic trouble than lending a hand. This method will work provided there is a lender-lendee scenario, one which I find almost impossible in the case of a global recession.
Another method would be the additional printing of money in an attempt to increase the circulation of money, one which I find most unlikely and frankly idiotic. This can result in too much money chasing too few goods. To excessively print money with little or no disregard to the current state of economic activity would be counter-intuitive and might lead to hyperinflation or worse stagflation similar to the plights of Weimar Germany. I need not emphasise on the gravity of this scenario any further.
Understandably, such a stimulus package is needed as people are left in dire circumstances. As Malaysians ponder on how and why nations such as the US and the UK announce outrageously huge lump sums of money to be injected into their economies, we need to be reminded that we are presented with a different set of circumstances.
It is futile to compare. The Malaysian economy does not invoke the same level of confidence in investors as the US and British economies, and our currency is only worth a fraction compared to theirs. Malaysia would be ill-equipped to face the global recession at this rate, and our climb back up to economic stability would be a daunting task.
It is no secret that our nation is mountain high in debt, as it was constantly paraded in the media by the previous administration for the past 20-odd months. But even more so, our economy before this pandemic was in the gutter. Plagued by a political crisis that destabilised our economy for the most of February, coupled with a looming global recession, the additional injection is merely the calm before the storm. Taxes will soon rise after this crisis is averted in an attempt to curb the incurred debt, and the taxpayers will bear the brunt of it for the years to come.
The government has to think long and hard about such an allocation. The PM tugged some heartstrings during his speech on Friday night, calling for all Malaysians to be united as one during these trying times. We do not know if this is a conscientious effort to win over the hearts and minds of the populace for their "illegitimate" government or the economic interest of Malaysia. That interpretation will be up to your imagination.
Whether we steer clear of this pandemic and the subsequent global recession is up to the policies and leadership of this new administration. This is Muhyiddin’s biggest test, and the fate of our nation’s economy rests in his hands. - Mkini

Where can our cargo go after it leaves ports, asks freight forwarding industry

Malaysiakini

Ten of thousands of non-essential cargo goods will be allowed to be transported out of the Klang Port, the Penang Port and the Johor Port in Pasir Gudang between March 27 and 29.
This comes after the containers were stranded due to the movement control order (MCO). The MCO was seen to have blocked the operation of the ports in handling essential goods.
However, can industry players breathe a sigh of relief now given that they can transport their cargo to their end-destinations? Not yet.
For both logistics transporters and importers, they want to know where they can unload their cargo in the future when there is a lockdown and a bar on non-essential services.
"There was a rush at Port Klang which saw trucks queueing up to clear the cargo for up to four kilometres," said Alvin Chua, the president of Federation of Malaysian Freight Forwarders (FMFF).
"But it is a bit unclear here, the Transport Ministry said the logistics companies can move for now but our customers, importers or manufacturers are asking if they can open their factories to receive the goods?
"I told them I have no answer for that," he said.
He then pointed to the government for the lack of coordination.
According to him, the cabinet should have come out with a decision to allow manufacturers to receive their goods.
He urged the International Trade and Industry Ministry to follow up on the matter and allow manufacturers to operate and receive the cargo until March 29.
"Approximately 70 percent of cargo at the port are non-essential goods, comprising building material, chemicals and steel bars," he added.
He said action would be taken by police if manufacturers of non-essential services defy the MCO.
On March 26, the government allowed the logistics industry to transport their goods out of Klang Port, Penang Port and Johor Port in Pasir Gudang.
According to Transport Minister Wee Ka Siong, the three ports have neared 100 percent capacity following the cessation of the transferring goods to storage warehouses prior to being sent to their final destinations.
Chua also pointed out that non-essential goods stuck at the container ports and air freight at airports should also be allowed to clear as they were stacking up.
Malaysiakini had reported that containers in Port Klang were stacking up due to the MCO limiting the transport of non-essential goods.
The situation led to a warning by the FMFF that this was a potential "time bomb" affecting port efficiency and capacity.
The FMFF also called on the government to clarify if logistics services were considered essential services after freight forwarders complained about contradictory instructions by different government ministries following the announcement of the MCO. - Mkini

Private college pledges help for students in hostel

Malaysiakini

Private college Master Weld Academy has pledged to continue its assistance for students who remain in the institution's hostels throughout the movement control order period.
Faculty chief Mohd Lokman Hamzah told Malaysiakini many of its 240 students did not receive any allowance and they required help to purchase basic necessities.
"Until now we have assisted close to 100 students. Some 95 percent of our students are from Sabah and Sarawak.
"So we need more help (to assist them) and we are trying to seek help from other agencies," Lokman told Malaysiakini.
He added that priority was now for students with no allowance.
"The allowance from the Skills Development Fund Corporation amounts to RM400 a month.
"These students did not receive the allowance because either their applications have yet to be approved or they will only complete their course at the end of this month," he said.
 Tenis David, a student from Sarawak, said meals were scarce for him and his friends before they received the aid.
"Before the college distributed aid on March 25, we only relied on money from Sarawakian friends already working here.
"Sometimes if there are visitors, they will give us things like vegetables," Tenis told Malaysiakini when contacted.
He added that he wasn't laying blame on the college administration although his allowance application has yet to be approved.
Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has announced that the movement control order will be extended until April 14 to flatten the curve or infection rate of the Covid-19 pandemic. - Mkini

MCO exposes flaws in fisheries supply chain, damaging livelihood - fishermen association

Malaysiakini

CORONAVIRUS | The ongoing movement control order (MCO) has exposed problems in the fishing industry’s supply chain which has damaged the livelihood of offshore fishermen, said Jaringan Nelayan Pantai Malaysia (Jaring).
“The government’s decision to implement the MCO to combat Covid-19 has been well-received by Jaring.
“However, the MCO effective March 18 has negatively affected parts of the country’s fishing industry, especially the offshore fishermen community.
“At the same time, the MCO has also exposed existing problems in the supply chain of the country’s fishing industry which has caused the livelihood, especially of offshore fishermen, to be adversely affected,” said Jaring secretary Azrilnizam Omar in a statement today.
Even though fishermen are allowed to go to sea to operate to ensure the food supply in the country does not run out, Azrilnizam said middlemen are not buying their catch as many markets are closed or have limited operating hours.
Many fishermen are forced to rely on middlemen, he said, because not every fishermen association will help buy and market their catch.
When the fishermen cannot market their catch, many of them give up going to the sea to prevent more wastage and loss, but this means they are losing their livelihood and damaging the country’s food supply chain, he explained.
“As such, Jaring is urging the Agriculture and Food Industries Ministry, through the Fisheries Development Authority of Malaysia as the government agency in charge, to take immediate action to fix these existing flaws in the country’s fishing industry’s supply chain to ensure that the fishermen’s livelihood is not badly affected and to guarantee the country’s food security as well,” Azrilnizam said.
The MCO was initially expected to end on March 31 but has since been extended to April 14.
Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin had yesterday announced more expansions to the economic stimulus package meant to mitigate the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. - Mkini

Gov’t to aid in road tax renewal to facilitate transport of essential goods into Singapore

Malaysiakini

CORONAVIRUS | The Transport Ministry will facilitate road tax renewal for commercial vehicles with prior approval to facilitate the transportation of essential goods Singapore.
This is to ensure the smooth operation of commercial vehicles who have yet to renew their motor vehicle licenses (LKM) due to the movement control order (MCO), which will be in place till April 14.
Singapore’s Land Transport Authority (LTA) currently does not permit vehicles without a valid road tax from Malaysian to enter its border, despite a ministerial exemption given by the Malaysian government for road tax renewal due to the temporary closure of the Road Transport Department (RTD) counter services.
“We note that logistic operators still require a valid road tax to obtain their monthly permit issued by the LTA to enter Singapore.
“Therefore, in order to ensure the smooth operation of the logistics industry during the MCO, the ministry, through the RTD, has taken the initiative to allow companies which have obtained the approval for the delivery of essential items to Singapore to register and send their written application to the RTD vehicle licensing department to be streamlined with Puspakom inspection and the vehicle permit issuance by the Land Public Transport Agency (APAD), if necessary,” said the ministry in a statement.
Companies applying are asked to include the following documents:
  1. The number and license plate of vehicles with expired road tax that will be used;
  2. The confirmation of goods to be delivered and its related information (for example, purchase order or invoice);
  3. Written approval letter by the International Trade and Industry Ministry for movement during the MCO, under the essential services category.
Appointments will be arranged for eligible applicants. However, those who do not fulfil the conditions will not be entertained, the statement added.
The ministry can be contacted via its hotline at 1800-88-7723 from 8am to 8pm or email pkend@jpj.gov.my. - Mkini