MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku


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Tuesday, August 14, 2018

You don’t say?!

Freedom of speech means anything within reason can be said.
(I will leave it to politicians, lawyers, etc, to hair-split over the parameters of what is reasonable till the end of time.)
In the past week or so, a few Malaysians said things that prompted a few “You-don’t-say”s from me.
Like Jho Low, via his lawyers, charging Dr Mahathir Mohamad with hijacking his yacht, Equanimity. The seizure of the yacht is illegal. The judicial process in Indonesia was by-passed.
You don’t say?!
This from a man who has dropped out of sight because several jurisdictions have warrants on him and many questions about the sleight-of-hand movement of 1MDB funds.  
Then there was former prime minister firing a salvo at Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng, saying the abolition of GST favoured the rich.
"Lim needs to prove that he truly wants to help the B40 group and not only help the rich, businesspersons and the black economy to evade taxes or encourage illicit outflow," said a statement from the Pekan MP.
You don’t say?!
This from the man who enriched supporters with five/six-figure monthly salaries and lucrative contracts.
He should change his speech-writer (if he didn’t pen it himself) because it was not a smart move to use the last phrase – “encourage illicit outflow.”
Then there were things that shouldn’t be said, but were said.
Like the MP from Kinabatangan with his expletive in parliament.
A subsequent sorry from him got him a warning instead of a suspension.
He, a defender of Malay this and that, should also be sorry that, in expressing his anger, he chose an over five-century-old Germanic/English word, instead of something from the national language.
Bung Moktar Radin has been sorry for years.
In 2007 he referred to the monthly leaks of women. Last year, in rising to the defence of the tudung, he mocked ugly naked women.
In 2008, he told wheelchair-bound Karpal Singh to stand up. He also made an obscene gesture in parliament, and explained it was “not what it meant.”
Who can read the meaning of a reptilian brain that could celebrate Germany winning the World Cup of 2014 with a tweet: Long live Hitler?
Every time Bung’s name comes up, my mind reflexively thinks what his mouth needs is a bung.
Below the belt
Bung was preceded by MPs Abdul Rahman Mohamad and RSN Rayer who hurled body-parts at each other.
Rayer made reference to the father’s head, a symbol of intelligence or lack of.
The MP from Lipis took aim below the belt of the mother. A symbol of where his mind is rooted?
The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) has issued guidelines to discourage words insulting people or political parties.
No more miscegenation of species – a man/woman cannot be a pig, cow or dog, nor can he/she be a ghost or the Devil.
Poor “dedak” – a word that used to appear with no fuss in programmes and writing on agriculture and
the price of poultry – now a dirty word, besmirched by close association with a political party. 
But why frown on “pok gai” (broke)? For many Malaysians, it’s a statement, or a lie to fob off those asking for a loan, but not a political insult.  
To balance things, a bill to abolish the Anti-Fake News Act (AFNA) has been tabled in Parliament.
And the High Court has lifted the gag order preventing the media and public from discussing the criminal charges against Najib Razak.
Just legally acknowledging what has been reality for years in media and social media, dinners and forums.
The end of Najib and Umno’s reign is a consequence of all that slanderous discussion.

THOR KAH HOONG is a veteran journalist. -Mkini

Can Anwar Ibrahim become the PM this time around?

ADUN SPEAKS | Anwar Ibrahim nearly succeeded in taking up the post of prime minister when he was the deputy Umno chief and deputy prime minister when Dr Mahathir Mohamad was in his first role as prime minister of the country.
However, Anwar’s quick rise within the ranks of the party and government led to his dismissal and subsequent imprisonment on a charge of sodomy.
It was the incarceration of Anwar that led to the reform movement with far-reaching political implications.
The reform movement that galvanised people across racial and religious lines sowed the seeds of the political decay of Umno and BN. The victory of the Pakatan Harapan coalition, and with PKR winning the most number parliamentary seats, is testimony to the powerful forces having their roots in the reform movement.
Anwar must be credited for being the force and personality who gave hope and trust to those Malaysians who wanted a better Malaysia.
Anwar was perceived as a threat and was charged, with sodomy again, and jailed the second time by the BN regime under Najib Abdul Razak. And, with the election victory by Harapan this year, on terms agreed by its component parties, Anwar was pardoned and released from his captivity.
It was also agreed that Mahathir would serve as the prime minister for two years following which Anwar would take over as prime minister.
Anwar has been released and he recently he won the presidency of PKR, uncontested. The question now is when is he going to stand for election to Parliament - provided someone in his party is willing to vacate a seat.
As per the agreement before the election, Mahathir will be the prime minister for two years after which he will relinquish the post to Anwar.
Mahathir, being a man of his words, there is no question of him not stepping down.
Spoilers bent on derailing the process...
As we understand, he entered the political arena merely to oust the kleptocratic Najib government from power and to pave the way for better governance of the country.
While everything seems to point in the direction of a smooth transition of power from Mahathir to Anwar, there, however, are spoilers who are bent on derailing the process of this smooth democratic transfer.
It has not been proven, despite the challenge thrown by Mahathir, that there those within PKR who have joined forces with one or two powerful figures to ensure that Anwar does not assume the post of prime minister after the two-year period.
There are some who are claiming that Mahathir might not easily give up his post and that he had hinted a few times in the past that he might stay longer if the situation warranted it.
I am not sure whether we can create mountains of these insinuations and indirect statements, but nowhere is there solid proof that Mahathir might overstay in the post.
Mahathir might be credited for providing the critical leadership to Harapan in unseating the BN regime. However, let us not forget the formidable role of Anwar in creating and sustaining the forces, together with the DAP leadership, in creating a new Malaysia.
Twice Anwar has been “cheated” of the opportunity to become prime minister. I hope this time around he succeeds!

P RAMASAMY is Penang deputy chief minister (II) and Perai assemblyperson. -Mkini


KUALA LUMPUR – Think tank IDEAS agrees with the prediction by Bank Islam Malaysia chief economist Dr Mohd Afzanizam Abdul Rashid that Malaysia could face its first recession since 2009 by the end of this year or the next, but does not agree with his solutions.
IDEAS senior fellow Carmelo Ferlito said Afzanizam’s prediction of a recession was consistent with the possibility of a property market-driven crisis.
Afzanizam was reported as advising the government to loosen up on monetary policy and expand fiscal policies to fuel economic growth. Among his suggestions were reducing the Employees Provident Fund members’ contribution to promote consumer spending and tax cuts to ensure gross domestic product growth.
Ferlito, however, did not agree with Afzanizam’s suggestions of easing the monetary policy and introducing fiscal stimuli to support consumption.
“The business cycle is the natural dynamic of capitalistic development. Most of the booms are generated or enhanced by credit support. If the government further injects liquidity in the economy, it will only delay the necessary readjustment process of the business cycle.
“The best way to support sustainable growth and to face the recession is to recognise the crucial role of long-term investment projects and the need for them to be financed with sound money rather than easy credit,” Ferlito said.
The logical conclusion, he said, was to support savings, rather than artificial credit and consumption, to generate “real funds” for long-term investment projects.
“Besides the support for long-term investments, another counter cyclical move may be to gradually reconsider indirect taxation, such as GST or sales and services tax. Therefore, rather than a simple tax cut, I suggest more comprehensive tax reform which favours indirect tax collection to prepare the economy for the upcoming recession.”


KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysia’s gross domestic product (GDP) could contract by 1.3% in two years should the trade war between the United States and China intensify.
CIMB Group chief economist Dr Donald Hanna said Malaysia’s economic growth could shrink in the event of continuous escalation in tariff imposition and a confidence shock in the financial market, which could result from, say, China offloading its substantial holdings of US debt.
That will not only result in a reduction of global trade but will also affect Malaysia, which is an open economy – and trigger interest rate increases in the US.
However, at current levels, Hanna noted that the impact of the trade duel between the two economic giants on Malaysia is small.
He projected GDP growth to decelerate to around 5.1% in the second quarter (Q2) of 2018 from the 5.8% recorded in Q2 2017 – taking the cue from the slower growth in the Industrial Production Index for June, which rose only 1.1%.
Full-year GDP growth is expected to be around 5.1-5.2%. This will be due to the natural moderation in GDP growth which started slowing down after a robust expansion in the second half of last year and not due to the US-China tensions.
Hanna said the trade war appears to be one of US President Donald Trump’s policies that could see some longevity, compared to others on issues such as immigration and abortion.
He noted that if Trump’s objective of waging a trade dispute is to shrink the US trade deficit, it is not likely to be achieved because of other macroeconomic policies that the US administration has in place.
Hanna, who was speaking at the 13th CIMB Asean Research Institute’s Asean Roundtable Series: Trade War and Its Impact on Asean, also said Malaysia could be a preferred location for US and Chinese companies to relocate their investments – in the face of tariff slapping.
Echoing that sentiment, European Union-Malaysia Chamber of Commerce and Industry CEO Roberto Benetello said China is likely to rethink its trade alliances in the region and get closer to partners in Asean.
This could be a call to accelerate the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which could see a slowdown in the ratification process, thanks to the ongoing spat.
American Malaysian Chamber of Commerce executive director Siobhan M Das said that without the US market, Asean could become a dumping ground for China’s excesses.
Malaysia Productivity Corp board member and former ambassador of Malaysia to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Datuk Muhamad Noor Yacob said the focus should be on the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body.
Although observers have voiced their concerns over the possibility of Trump pulling the US out of the WTO, the country has been one of its active users, accounting for more than 100 of the 500 disputes attended to by the body since 1995. It has also been an active respondent to many disputes.
The roundtable also saw speakers stressing on the importance of the RCEP and free trade agreements between the regional trading bloc and potential trading partners.
– Sundaily


KUALA LUMPUR – Abu Dhabi sovereign fund Mubadala Investment Company has offered to sell around US$150 million worth of shares in Malaysia’s RHB Bank Bhd in a block trade on Tuesday, sources familiar with the deal said.
Mubadala, which is the second largest shareholder in RHB through the 17.8% stake held by its unit Aabar Investments, has put the shares up for sale in the 5.07 to 5.18 ringgit range, two sources said.
The offer represents a 3% to 5% discount to RHB’s closing share price of 5.34 ringgit on Tuesday, and a steeper discount to the 10.80 ringgit Aabar paid per share when it bought a 25% stake from government-owned Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank in 2011.
Aabar has been seeking opportunities to sell off the shares since 2015. “They want to sell the whole block, but it takes time,” a source said.
A term sheet seen by Reuters showed that the block trade of 120 million shares was expected to raise between US$148.9 million and US$152.2 million.
The shares represents approximately 3% of RHB’s enlarged share capital, “with upsize option subject to demand”.
Bankers CIMB and JP Morgan are joint bookrunnners on the deal, according to the term sheet.
RHB and JP Morgan were not immediately available to comment. Mubadala and CIMB declined to comment.
Aabar completed its merger into Mudabala in 2017.
A year ago, RHB’s discussions to acquire AMMB Holdings Bhd (Ambank) in an all-stock deal fell through.
The deal would have cemented its position as the nation’s number 4 lender behind Maybank, CIMB Group Holdings and Public Bank.
RHB’s largest shareholder, pension fund Employees Provident Fund, has a 40.7% stake in the bank.


PETALING JAYA – The country’s largest grouping of Malay contractors has expressed confidence in Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Putrajaya’s chief adviser Daim Zainuddin, saying the duo’s presence in the government would ensure the continuity of the decades-old agenda of helping Bumiputera companies.
“As a government headed by Tun Mahathir and assisted by Tun Daim Zainuddin as chairman of its advisory council, both of whom have long been known as advocates of Bumiputera development, PKMM believes the continuity of the government’s policy in this matter,” said Mokhtar Samad who heads PKMM which has over 15,000 members.
He said the organisation was committed to work together with the new government.
“We are businessmen and entrepreneurs who are committed to assist the government to implement development projects entrusted to us, and are not bound by political partisanship,” said Mokhtar.
He urged the Mahathir administration to address the problem of payment delays, saying it had hampered the smooth implementation projects undertaken by Malay contractors.
PKMM also hoped the government would not sideline Malay contractors in major infrastructure projects, including in the construction of the MRT, LRT and highways.
Last year, then-prime minister Najib Razak said 45% of LRT3-related contracts would go to Bumiputera companies, but said they had to compete among themselves based on merit.
“The contracts are not being randomly awarded and they (Bumiputera companies) must prove their ability and consideration will be given based on merit,” Najib had said.


In an exclusive interview with The Star, Energy, Green Technology, Science, Climate Change and Environment Minister Yeo Bee Yin said the scope and capacity of the ministry’s Climate Change Unit will be expanded to give it more weight.