“MALAYSIA WILL BECOME A FULLY INDEBTED NATION BEFORE THE END OF THE DECADE AT THE CURRENT RATE OF MASSIVE BORROWING AND IRRESPONSIBLE SPENDING BY THE BN GOVERNMENT” DECLARED THE MALAYSIAN INSTITUTE OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH (MIER).
The Star since 2010 because it is not worth the RM1.30. Some have described it as Malaysia’s No.1 toilet paper, as far as hard news is concerned.
The time machine has catapulted us back to a dark era, to the times of Mahathir’s rule. The ‘dark’ times are well and truly here, thanks to the relentless efforts of a few sacred beings with a holier than thou attitude. Welcome ‘darkness’, welcome to a haunting world, where eerie shadows lurk in the dark, where daggers are brandished in case we wish to express our fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression.And I remain flabbergasted with what is going on right now, with the Government acting possessed and trying to exorcise our fundamental rights out of us instead!It will be interesting to see how much further would the Government be willing to push it’s agenda. An obvious agenda that targets those who are critical of it. It is vital for a mature democracy to be fed information from all fronts in order for it to make an informed decision. There ought to be some semblance of ‘variety’, variety still being a rare commodity. However, the void is being filled by strong voices on social media and who have a reasonable audience that worries the Government. Most of these voices do not instigate the common man to brandish their swords (and naturally the ones who do have to be clamped), they instead provide a trajectory that is quite different to that of the new media’s. This makes their outlook refreshing and innovative. What the Government has failed to understand in this unwanted clampdown is that by blocking people on Twitter, Facebook etc, it has birthed ten dozen more such free thinking people elsewhere. They can clamp your freedom of speech, but not your freedom of thought.Already well-known for his ‘anything-to-win’ political ruthlessness, former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad is not a stranger to controversy.
In the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition, he is now regarded as the most dangerous fuse capable of sparking self-destruction and setting in motion the dismantlement of the 14-member grouping that has ruled the country for the past 5 decades.
Calling the MCA’s bluff
Indeed, Mahathir’s recent U-turn over a controversial Muslim penal code that calls for outrageous punishment including beheading, stoning to death and the amputation of limbs has cast the spotlight on MCA, adding to the pressure on the Chinese-based party to leave BN.
Led by the scandal-tainted Chua Soi Lek, MCA has been trying hard to regain the huge ground lost to the Opposition in the 2008 general election. Many believe it faces annihilation in the next polls as do its colleagues Gerakan and MIC.
The rest of the BN parties are mostly from East Malaysia, where some senior leaders have already resigned, preferring to contest the 13th general election under the Opposition banner.
In recent months, the MCA has been rehashing an old BN strategy – using the Muslim hudud law to scare Chinese voters back to its fold.
To prove their ‘sincerity’, MCA leaders have vowed that if ever Mahathir’s UMNO – which is the BN’s biggest party – implements an Islamic state or the harsh hudud law, it would walk.
“UMNO will ensure a fully compliant Islamic state if PAS has a big heart to join UMNO. Other Islamic countries are also putting hope on Malaysia, but there are still people wanting to split the Muslims. That’s why our goal is not achieved,” Malay daily Sinar Harian had quoted Mahathir as saying last week.
Now, how clear can Mahathir be. But instead of issuing a sharp and immediate rebuke, the MCA leaders have again chosen to close an eye. Instead of demanding an explanation from UMNO, the MCA fired out a barrage of illogical statements at arch rival DAP to deflect attention.
One MCA chieftain even went so far as to chastise DAP for not being able to control its Pakatan Rakyat partner PAS and getting it to drop its quest for hudud and an Islamic state. Selangor MCA even declared ‘choose us and we’ll prevent an Islamic state’. Other wild utterances from Soi Lek and team include ‘PAS equals hudud’.
Yet they made no effort made to allay the Chinese community’s fears about hudud and what would the MCA and other non-Malay BN components do if UMNO decided to ride roughshod over them and hammered through the Muslim law.
What a sham and a shame was the public outcry against the errant MCA leaders. Perhaps their critics are right in declaring that MCA members have no room left to hide their faces, they have to slink around in embarrassment due to the deafening silence from their own top leaders.
Welfare state now, not hudud anymore
PAS has made it clear it would not drop its goal of an Islamic state or hudud law. However, it has also made just as clear that these lofty ambitions would remain its “long-term aspirations”.
Taking into account the momentous policy change recently announced by PAS president Hadi Awang, where he pledged to make a “welfare state” that focuses on equitable wealth distribution and the weeding out of corruption the party’s topmost struggle, it is clear that PAS will respect the wishes of the minority in Malaysia. Currently, non-Muslims and non-Malays make up some 40% of the 28-million population.
It is also clearly spelled out in the Pakatan’s Common Policy Framework that partners PKR, PAS and DAP will abide by and uphold the existing Federal Constitution, which provides for a secular nation. Any move to transform Malaysia into an Islamic state with hudud law would require a vote in Parliament, with a minimum two-thirds of the 222 lawmakers supportive of such a motion.
As a willing signatory to the Common Policy Framework, PAS knows this and it has accepted this reality, as witness Hadi’s policy shift in declaring PAS a welfare state.
“It is perhaps toughest for PAS to swallow this proposition. All the more because hudud arguably has been the central thrust of PAS’s political messaging from time immemorial,” PAS research director and Kuala Selangor assemblyman Dzulkefly Ahmad said in his much-heralded oped A politicalcontest beyond Hudud
published last week.
“In a rare exercise of intellectual renewal or ijtihad, PAS committed and shifted itself – prior to the 12th General Election 2008 – to a political trajectory and a manifesto of ‘Negara Berkebajikan’ (A Nation of Compassion and Opportunity) rather than the overworked concept of Islamic State.”
The Devil in Dr M: A lack of moral compass
As Dzulkefly pointed out ‘hudud’ was the ‘be all and end all’ of virtually all Islamic political parties from the Jamaati Islami in the Indo-Pakistan subcontinent to the Muslim Brotherhood in the Middle East and Masyumi et al and PAS in the Far-East. But the situation in the Muslim world was itself already changing.
“In tandem with the current ‘changing approach’ or ‘a generational shift’, to paraphrase professor Tariq Ramadan, of their counterparts – the Muslim Brotherhood post-Arab Spring experience, the Turkish Tayyib Erdogan-AK Party’s experiment on political Islam and Indonesia’s Parti Keadilan Sejahtera (PKS) – PAS has similarly registered its coming of age,” Dzulkefly explained.
Like Dzulkefly, other Muslim leaders have since taken a swipe at Mahathir for what they deem to be his outrageous and unwanted ‘solicitation’ of PAS.
But before the dust could settle on his hudud ruckus, Mahathir made comments that were just as controversial. In a blog posting, Dr M, as he is widely called, appealed to Malaysian voters to stick with “the Devil you know than the angel you don’t”. This again showed his “lack of moral compass”, said Dzulkefly, referring to the Mahathir call to Malaysians to follow evil rather than good.
Not acceptable even as an electoral ploy: Clean politics, please
Staunchly against Hudud during his 22-year premiership, Mahathir had even threatened to impose Emergency rule in the form of a National Operation Council (Mageran) in Kelantan if the PAS-led state government had tried to implement hudud.
But last week, Mahathir suddenly changed his tune. He invited PAS to join hands with UMNO to implement Hudud as well as an Islamic state on the condition that PAS leaves Pakatan Rakyat.
“Even as an electoral ploy, this is not acceptable. It is the most unethical move and Mahathir is trying to tell PAS, ‘you want hudud? OK, we’ll give you hudud but you must gang up with UMNO. Then together, we can force Islamic state and hudud law down the throats of the non-Muslims and the non-Malays’,” PKR vice president Chua Jui Meng told Malaysia Chronicle..
“This is an evil thought and Mahathir is certainly closer to the Devil than an Angel for even considering such a dark pact.”
Indeed, with the 13th general election due to be held latest by June 2013, BN is running out of time and ideas as the Pakatan Rakyat led by Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim continued to make gains on all fronts.
Under pressure, BN is stepping up attacks from all sides but to pundits, there seems to be “pretty bad coordination” amongst its component parties. MCA, the second largest BN party, was attacking hudud relentlessly while coalition boss UMNO was courting PAS and offering hudud and Islamic law as the “wedding dowry”.
But PAS has made it very clear that there would be no UMNO-PAS “marriage”. It has called on UMNO members who are concerned about Islamic unity to quit their troubled and corruption-tainted party, and join PAS instead. PAS has not set any conditions except that fleeing UMNO members accept its constitution and not make any demands for positions or seats to contest unless offered.
PAS has also said it would be happy to join BN if DAP and PKR could tag along. Now, that’s a lesson in unity the BN should learn from the Pakatan, pundits incensed at the ruling coalition’s below-the-belt maneuvering have sniped.
Unity government OK but NO mergers
The very interesting question to ask is what would become of the MCA, MIC and Gerakan if UMNO opened the door to all three Pakatan parties. Already accused of being obsolete and irrelevant, their future is indeed bleak given the mounting popularity of PKR, PAS and DAP.
Given UMNO’s desperation to cling to power, such a possibility is not mere speculation at all. In fact, political insiders have been talking about behind-the-scenes meetings and approaches for quite a while now.
Bogged down by mile-long corruption allegations, UMNO leaders are keen to seal deals that would help them avoid imprisonment and disgrace if the Pakatan wins the federal government. Certainly, UMNO leaders’ first thoughts would be for themselves and not their BN colleagues.
It is the Pakatan that is now unwilling to ‘join up’. Its leaders have made it clear they may consider a unity government but not a merger.
A unity government would mean a Cabinet consisting of Members of Parliament from both the winning and losing sides so that Malaysians as a whole could tap the best talent available to reform the nation and rebuild the badly ravaged economy.
Corruption topmost on the Malays’ list of worries
There is little doubt that Mahathir’s mind-numbing remarks suggest that UMNO is in “serious trouble”. The once-proud party has given up on its non-Malay partners and is now focusing on winning the hearts and minds of the Muslim electorate.
Suddenly, religion has become the hottest topic and top priority in the political arena. But it looks like another ‘no-go’ or as some wits have put it – another UMNO “own goal”. Malays are getting fed up of UMNO’s non-stop drama and string of distasteful political plays.
Go into any coffee shop and ask around. Malays are more concerned about the corruption going on in UMNO. They are deeply disappointed by the recent RM250mil NFC corruption debacle, angry at Prime Minister Najib Razak for shielding UMNO Wanita chief Shahrizat Jalil and refusing to ask her to surrender her party post despite the mountain of evidence her family was involved in misusing public funds.
When Najib turned the government machinery against PKR strategy director Rafizi Ramli for blowing the whistle on Shahrizat, arresting and charging him for allegedly breaching a confidentiality law, the PM’s high-handed action was deemed to be ‘the last straw’ by many in the Malay community..
As analysts have pointed out, Malays have their own innate sense of fair play and honor. Najib’s refusal to uphold what was right and punish what was wrong was another confirmation to them that it was time to boot out UMNO and give the PAS and PKR – which are also Malay dominated parties – a chance to govern the country.
This may be why the recent ‘fatwa’ (religious edict) issued by an obscure cleric to “Haram Sokong DAP” (Forbidden to Support DAP) has not gone down well. Most Malays feel the fatwa was a mockery of Islam itself and are disturbed by such blatant use of religion for political mileage and gain.
Their fears were compounded when the issuing cleric had the temerity to also declare it wasn’t forbidden to support the MCA and MIC. Yet MCA and the predominantly Hindu MIC are openly against ‘hudud’, with the MCA having already vowed in public to leave BN if UMNO passed hudud laws.
The hudud fire that Mahathir started is now blazing and nearly out of control. Everyone is waiting for MCA’s next move but no one really believes it will do anything except to try and turn attention from itself by attacking DAP, PKR and PAS on other issues.
Due to the MCA’s almost daily exhortations to DAP to “control” PAS, the Chinese community are now asking the MCA back – what is it doing to control its own coalition partner UMNO?
MCA and UMNO – the two biggest parties in the BN coalition – may well be the biggest losers of Mahathir’s unguarded words. His hudud offer has torn away the last shreds of their political masks. Their last inch of credibility has hit zero.
As for the troublemaker himself? Well, it is time for Mahathir to accept that his days of thunder have long disappeared. Many Malaysians had hoped he could have made himself a national treasure by offering selfless guidance as the country moved into its most rocky economic phase.
National bankruptcy by the BN’s own warning timeline of 2019 is much closer than most Malaysians realize due to the huge amount of wealth siphoned out of the country, especially during Najib’s tenure when top UMNO leaders were given carte blance to go for the ‘last grab’, make the ‘final plunder’.
But Mahathir has too much to hide. He has too much baggage to protect. He cannot be what he is not. Truly, if there is anyone who symbolizes the worst effects of the UMNO-BN’s 55-year rule, 87-year-old Mahathir is him. A sad legacy to leave behind indeed.
While you have tried very hard, you have only managed to take the scam numbers up to a few billion. Why, you have not even been able to reach the 100billion number, though you did try very hard to hit that milestone with your 1Malaysia Development Bhd’s push into the property sector is raising concerns about the company’s rising debt and a possible commercial property glut in KL.When it was first set up, 1MDB’s initial capital of RM5bn was raised from 30-year bonds. About RM3.5bn of this was invested in PetroSaudi. It later sold this for RM4.2bn and invested in Murabaha notes.. If only those damned PSUs could have been included! But here’s an idea whose time has come. All that it needs is the creative accounting that you have trademarked and voila….you could create an insurmountable lead in scam-creation over any other CAG in this country for decades to come! You could become the of Auditors! You could please your political masters like never before!reported that 1MDB’s total loans and borrowings rose to RM6.8bn (31 March 2011) from RM4.4bn a year earlier. 1MDB then piled on further debt of RM11bn to finance its investment in the energy sector including buying up Ananda Krishnan’s Tanjung assets for a hefty RM8.5bn. (It is now eyeing the energy assets of Genting, Sime Darby and Bukhary’s Malakoff, reports The Edge).The company is involved in the 70-acre RM26bn Tun Razak Exchange (or TRX – previously known as the KL International Financial District) – 25 buildings and a new stock exchange – 20m square feet of floor area. It is supposed to serve as a financial services regional hub.
The Edge also reported the firm had pumped in RM194m into properties (70 acres for TRX and 484 acres of the Sungai Besi air force base in KL) but these are now revalued at RM826m! How did this happen?
Both TRX and Bandar Malaysia will require RM5.4bn funding for the first phase. Now where is 1MDB going to raise the money from? The government or state-managed funds?
What’s it that I am talking about? What’s that idea that could have escaped your incredibly clever mind? Well I’ve written about it in the passing a few times, but then why would you read the blog of a person who is so dumb as to not even understand your high standards in accounting?! So here goes….There is a huge loss to the exchequer – and in your usual style you could brand it corruption of the unethical UMNO-Barisan Is Ripping off! that is taking place year after year. They call it diesel subsidy, kerosene subsidy and LPG subsidy. Why do economists use such fancy words like subsidy? That makes the loss sound almost legal and respectable. In the accounting world as you see it, there is no difference between a subsidy and an opportunity to haul the Umno’s aSS over the coals! You have the Constitutional right – unquestionable even by Parliament – to call whatever you want in whichever creative way you want it! So exercise your powers and call this subsidy the corruption scandal of the century! No…of the millenium!Of what order is this eye-popping corruption scam of the UMNO-BARISAN? From newspaper reports, one understands that the government subsidises (“presumptive” losses in your parlance!) fuels to the extent of about RM 20 billion annum. Imagine
the finance ministry,NAJIB’s natural habitat, things could be different. Everyone knows the remedies: cut subsidies, rein in the fisc, kickstart manufacturing, temper inflation, reignite reforms, establish tax clarity, attract foreign investment, and pass land, mining and pension legislation. But with allies and quasi-allies like the TMC, SP and others, the really big reforms – and especially cutting subsidies – will be politically impossible before the February 2013 budget – umno’s last. Inevitably this will be a populist budget, inveigling the voter with more unsustainable freebies rather than reforming the economy or fixing the public finances.
Even if the next general election stretches to its April 2013 limit, the February 2012 budget will be a vote-on-account. So najib is a one last-budget minister. Given these limitations, what are Chidambaram’s options? First, to fix the mid-year fiscal math. The fiscal deficit is likely to exceed the budgeted 5.1%, even with the deficit in FY 2013).Tax revenues are unlikely to help much though budgeted revenue targets will probably (just) be met.
Second, to cut plan and non-plan expenditure. With assembly and general elections looming and a food security bill hanging over the finance ministry’s head like the Sword of Damocles, cutting food and fuel subsidies is politically ruled out PKR’s Rafizi Ramli recently slammed the prime minister for his heavy “vote-buying” spending of RM5.77 billion, saying that the money comes from taxpayers.He based his calculations by adding up the RM2.2 billion civil service bonus recently announced and various “one-off” spending by Najib’s administration which he claimed had reached RM3.57 billion.
Under the RM3.57 billion “unplanned spending”, he gave examples of the BR1M, Bantuan Kembali Ke Sekolah 1 Malaysia and Bantuan Buku 1 Malaysia.He said these schemes respectively cost the government RM2.6 billion, RM530 million and RM260 million.Federal lawmakers from the BN are to also receive an added RM1.5 million each to plough into their constituencies this year as the Najib administration looks ahead to polls after the September 28 budget announcement.The government will announce a second round of RM500 cash handouts to underprivileged households under Budget 2013, in a move that is expected to boost the ratings of Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition ahead of the general election expected to be called early next year.
“The second BR1M will be paid out as part of the Budget,” a government source told The Malaysian Insider.
The source declined to give further details, but the decision to have a fresh round of handouts suggests that elections are not likely to be called this year.
This is because the RM500 handouts will take time to be paid out.
The RM500 paid out to nearly five million families at a cost to taxpayers of RM2.6 billion earlier this year saw Najib’s approval ratings shoot up to 69 per cent, largely due to a surge among poorer households.
But the aftermath of violence that erupted between police and demonstrators at the April 28 Bersih rally for free and fair elections saw his popularity slide to 64 per cent in June.
Najib will table the Budget on September 28 and besides the fresh handout he is expected to announce other measures to boost domestic spending and the economy in a bid to head off a worsening economic outlook as he prepares to call his first elections.
The economy grew at a surprising pace of 5.4 per cent in the second quarter, blowing away economists’ expectations and potentially giving rise to a feel-good factor ahead of the general election.
But the good news is not expected to last as the global outlook is likely to affect Malaysian exports.
Malaysia’s surprisingly strong second-quarter economic growth despite weakening exports was largely due to the buffer of ongoing construction projects and increased spending attributed to civil servant salary hikes and government cash handouts, say economists, which could point to uneven growth in the months ahead.
This means many ordinary Malaysians are not feeling the positive effects of economic growth, making the second BR1M handouts necessary to continue maintaining any economic momentum.
A number of international ratings agencies also say that Malaysia has yet to present a convincing plan to tackle the twin fiscal threats of its federal budget deficit and federal debt even though strains on its credit profile are increasing.
The ratio of federal government debt to GDP reached 51.8 per cent at end-2011 despite strong GDP growth but barring a further deterioration in the global economy, the government should be able to meet its 2012 deficit target of 4.7 per cent of GDP.
The opposition Pakatan Rakyat (PR) has criticised the Najib administration for what it says is vote-buying by the BN government through public spending in the form of various handouts such as the BR1M.Sources said that it would take up to three months for the projects to be identified and carried out, and further announcements in Budget 2013, including the second round of cash handouts under the BR1M scheme, would also take time to be executed.
Malaysians generally are an unfortunate lot due to having a government which is plagued with corruption from the head right down to the tail. Every day we hear of new revelations of graft, bribery and cronyism, and it involves almost all the top guns who walk the corridors of power.
What shame! When even these revelations are proven to have grounds without doubt for investigation, yet the powers-that-be are so thick skinned that they can just shrug it off and walk with their noses still up in the air.
And they think they have all the right to covet the rakyat’s (people’s) money and siphon out amounts to the tune of Millions and Billions.
Powers that be
The corruption is so intense and the fight for who gets the Lion’s share of the goodies in terms of government contracts with ready-made loans on standby is bewildering .
Imagine if you are The Chosen One you can just pick and chose which Government Agency you want as your next venture. You can even make the government do land grabs, and force legitimate companies to give up and sell to you.
In the ‘1Malaysia Billion Dollar Club’ or the cronies nest now are members Ananda Krishna, Vincent Tan and the high and mighty Syed Mohktar Al Bukhari. These are all are chosen ones and some say they are also proxies for the powers that be.
Certainly, they are masters in control of the most lucrative businesses in Malaysia, even the bread and sugar you eat are controlled by them – not forgetting the basic utilities of water and electricity. These deals the Chosen Ones have taken from the backdoor and at the expense of genuine business persons.
Then we have the next rank or hierarchy in the Umno-BN pyramid of money-making scams – the Ministers. The Ministers too have their own chosen ones as well as appointed ones and proxies. They go for projects that are worth from RM5 million to 500 million and they seize anything on sight.
he Ministers too walk in the corridors of power but they have to look up to their Leaders as well as their Leaders’ proxies.
Next come the Little Napoleons these are people who sit at the top of government agencies. They too have proxies who rake in anything from RM1 million to 100 million in lucrative contracts within their jurisdiction.
Below them are their administrators, who also ‘sapu habis’ (wipe clean) whatever they can get their hands on including like grass-cutting contracts, road repair, drain cleaning and lots of created jobs that exist only on paper. Again, the Little Napoleons have their own gang of proxies who look out for their interests.
Finally we have the traffic and field police. Pity these guys, they don’t have proxies they wait in the sun and rain and do hide and seek to stop vehicles who trespass and collect ‘mullah’ for their families. Bribes range from RM 100 to even RM 10 in desperate cases but luckily for them, the government has come to their rescue.
Cops too can make some big money soon with the new law on traffic penalties going up to RM2000. If you are caught you will have to fork out at least RM500? If you don’t have road tax or driving licence and are fond of beating traffic lights, please carry RM500 in cash always. Only then can you convince the police that either you were in the right or to give you a ‘second chance’.
The 1Malaysia hoax
This is Prime Minister Najib Razak’s 1Malaysia for you, anything that you want to do and need the support of the Leaders for – just add in ‘1’ in front of your venture and chances are you might score like retail supplier and businessman Ameer Ali Mydin.
So successful was Mydin, the tag of being the 1Malaysia anointed proxy has stuck and he has been credited for being the man behind the chain of special mini-markets set up around the nation to promote Najib’s name and of course to make some money too.
Yes, you can manufacture anything but make sure it is 1 Malaysia ‘something’ and it will sell in Kedai Rakyat 1 Malaysia shops. Even1 Malaysia toilet paper can be a hot seller at these KRIM outlets.
.the (NFC) scam that you painstakingly crafted was spread over several years. The gate scam that you have recently designed so innovatively (even Steve Jobs would applaud you from his grave!) also spreads over several years. But this fuels scam – if we can call it so with your permission (or would you like to consult your political bosses before naming it?) – is worth almost the same amount in just one year. Wow! What a fantastic opportunity! Because if the exchequer is losing the money, then the umnobarisan must be making it! It is so obvious! Why do you need to be Sherlock Holmes to figure that one out. We only need to be as creative as you are! Damn good for you too. You could say to yourself: I am so lucky I can be in the media all over again! That anchor on “Scam TV” has been pushing me for something new for so long. Poor guy, he’s losing TRPs. I have to oblige him! And this time around, the PM will have no option but to resign! Yippee! And then I can become a minister…..ooops….for that I need to first retire in 2014. Maybe its best the UPA doesn’t fall until then. So let me hold my horses till late 2013. That will be the opportune moment
So 100BILLION is a big number. But its not yet. So what do we do? Think, think, think! Maybe you could call your friends in the MCA. Oh yes, that fellow Soi Lek Jr is quite creative too! Maybe even AG Gani he’s quite adept at crafting legal cases around nonexisting issues pretty much like you do with your audits! Maybe you can multiply this number by 8 for the past 8 years of 22yea rMahathir’s rule – that makes it….yippee! 100billion ringgit! That’s stupendous! This could be your Eureka moment! I can almost hear you getting into the bathtub a la Archimedes screaming: Eureka! I am a genius!
But Mr.najib , please be a little careful.call the election at 2012.don’t go beyond that year….that field is full of mines. Don’t even whisper about the fact that this damned fuel subsidy existed prior to the NAJIB. Already, you are being made to answer questions (unnecessarily) by those corrupt UMNO leaders…
And of course, don’t even go anywhere near calculating the loss to the exchequer when Parliament is stalled. That’s taboo. That’s the turf of your political masters. When they come to power (as you sure hope they will!), and when the umno is in the opposition and disrupts Parliament, you (or another brilliant like you) will get the chance to do the audit then! With Soi Lek Jr genius in accounting, you could make that too into a many- scam, but shhhh….not right now!The Government’s paranormal activities in the last few weeks has worsened with it coming down heavily on some popular Twitter accounts and instructing suspension orders on them. ‘Parody’ has been redefined as ‘misrepresentation’, ‘fearless’ opinions have been redefined as ‘communal’, ‘Rights’ have been replaced with ‘privilege’ for which we ought to remain in servitude of, basically many words in Webster have been redefined to suit the umno’s convenience. Many proud supporters with a halo around their heads carry the Government’s latest version of a nonsensical encyclopedia and dish out gibberish. ‘Veiled’ threats are now common on social media; they all take refuge under the latest lexicon created by the umno. In all this reigning confusion, it still remains a mystery as to why the Honorable Minister of state for communications and information technology, Milind Deora’s account has been suspended? Milind, the able leader charging from the front to gag the mouths of some intelligent, reasonable and sane thinkers in social media. Many swarming flies, acting as Deora’s mouthpiece have buzzed around the virtual world and declared that Deora’s account is being verified and hence suspended. Hilarious and rather ironic state of affairs to say the least, and we must be first class nincompoops to believe the excuses. The so called next generation umnocommanders like nazri and Milind Deora have shot themselves in the foot with their antagonism towards liberty of expression, a platform that malaysia’s current and future generation will not compromise on. By failing to sense the pulse of what malaysia’s next wants, more carcinogenic errors are continually being made by the umno.
It will be interesting to see how much further would the Government be willing to push it’s agenda. An obvious agenda that targets those who are critical of it. It is vital for a mature democracy to be fed information from all fronts in order for it to make an informed decision. There ought to be some semblance of ‘variety’, variety still being a rare commodity. However, the void is being filled by strong voices on social media and who have a reasonable audience that worries the Government. Most of these voices do not instigate the common man to brandish their swords (and naturally the ones who do have to be clamped), they instead provide a trajectory that is quite different to that of the new media’s. This makes their outlook refreshing and innovative. What the Government has failed to understand in this unwanted clampdown is that by blocking people on Twitter, Facebook etc, it has birthed ten dozen more such free thinking people elsewhere. They can clamp your freedom of speech, but not your freedom of thought.
The real truth is that Mr NAJIB, that while you have done well, you could have done better. You’ve done enough to be rated “A”, but not yet “A+”. A little more creativity….a little more (political) motivation….and you’ll get there. So I look forward to hearing more from you. And please do heed my advice! You could NOT get the PM next time!
The advantages of “actually-existing” meritocracy in the Chinese Communist Party are clear. Cadres are put through a grueling process of talent selection, and only those with an excellent record of past performance are likely to make it to the highest levels of government. The training process includes the cultivation of virtues such as compassion for the disadvantaged by such means as limited periods of work in poor rural areas.
Moreover, this kind of meritocratic selection process is only likely to work in the context of a one-party state. In a multi-party state, there is no assurance that performance at lower levels of government will be rewarded at higher levels, and there is no strong incentive to train cadres so that they have experience at higher levels, because the key personnel can change with a government led by different party. So even talented leaders, like President Obama, can make many “beginner’s mistakes” once they assume rule because they haven’t been properly trained to assume command at the highest levels of government. Leaders in China are not likely to make such mistakes because of their experience and training. The fact that decision-making at the highest-levels is by committee — the nine-member Standing Committee of the Politburo — also ensures that no one person with outlandish and uninformed views can decide upon wrong-headed policies (such as Lee Kuan Yew’s policies in Singapore favoring births by educated women that were based on eugenics theories rejected by most scientists).
Once Chinese leaders reach positions of political power, they can make decisions that consider the interests of all relevant stakeholders, including future generations and people living outside the state. In multi-party democracies with leaders chosen on the basis of competitive elections, by contrast, leaders need to worry about the next election and they are more likely to make decisions influenced by short-term political considerations that bear on their chances of getting reelected. The interests of non-voters affected by policies, such as future generations, are not likely to be taken seriously if they conflict with the interests of voters.
Moreover, the fact that the real power holders in Western-style democracies are supposed to be those chosen by the people in elections often means that “bureaucrats” are not considered to be as important; hence, less talent goes to the bureaucracy. This flaw may be particularly clear in the American political system. A recent conversation with a young recipient of a Rhodes scholarship is revealing. She is interested in international affairs, and I suggested that perhaps she can join the U.S. State Department, but she said that she had been warned that it’s hard for people of ambition and talent to succeed in that setting. In contrast, the Chinese political system does not clearly distinguish between “bureaucrats” and “power-holders” and thus ambitious people of talent are not discouraged from joining the political system at the lower levels, with the hope of moving upwards.
This is not to imply that the U.S. and other countries should strive to emulate Chinese-style meritocracy. For one thing, political meritocracy is more likely to be workable and stable in a certain type of political culture: as noted above, political surveys show that people in East Asian countries with a Confucian heritage tend to value political meritocracy, but the same may not be true in other cultures. For example, the American political culture has developed a strong “anti-elitist” ethos, so it is hard to imagine support for meritocratic one party rule. This is not to deny that there are elitist elements in the American political system (for example, recent U.S. presidents are graduates of Harvard and Yale), but political leaders tend not to be too open about such elitist characteristics. Moreover, it is difficult to imagine major constitutional reform of the US political system that would encourage more meritocracy (it is possible to foresee constitutional change for the worse, e.g., in the event of another major terrorist attack on American soil — but not change for better). In contrast, the Chinese constitutional system seems more amenable to substantial political change if circumstances require.
Nor do I mean to imply that “actually-existing meritocracy” in China cannot be improved. The success of meritocracy in China is obvious: China’s rulers have presided over the single most impressive poverty alleviation achievement in history, with several hundred million people being lifted out of poverty. Equally obvious, however, some problems in China — corruption, gap between rich and poor, environmental degradation, abuses of power by political officials, overly powerful state-run enterprises that skew the economic system in their favor, harsh measures for dealing with political dissent, repression of religious expression in Tibet and Xinjiang — seem to have worsened during the same period the political system has become meritocratic. Part of the problem is that China lacks democracy at various levels of government that could help to check abuses of power and provide more opportunities for political expression by marginalized groups. But part of the problem is also that political meritocracy has been insufficiently developed in China. The system has become meritocratic over the last three decades or so, but it can and should become more meritocratic in the future.
Political meritocracy involves the selection and promotion of political officials with both ability and virtue, and let me discuss each in turn. Perhaps the most significant improvement within the Chinese Communist Party over the last three of decades has been more emphasis on the selection and promotion of officials with above average intellectual ability, especially at the higher levels of government. However, the system is not as meritocratic as it could be, even in this respect. Consider the “anti-meritocratic” effects of constraints on freedom of political speech. The best political decisions, of course, need to be based on complete information, but fear of negative consequences may inhibit stakeholders from expressing their viewpoints. I realize that the CCP carries out internal polling to get as much information as possible, and that cadres are encouraged to constantly learn and improve, but fewer barriers to the freedom of speech may improve the quality of decision making.
Another area of concern is that the rigorous, multi-year talent selection process may discourage risk-taking. In other words, relatively creative and original minds may be weeded out early because they have offended people or challenged the “normal way of doing things.” In times of crisis, perhaps the Chinese political system allows for substantial change, but in ordinary times, there may be unnecessary attachment to the status quo long after it has extended its practical utility. Perhaps this problem can be remedied by allowing for some positions in important government posts (including the Politburo) to be reserved for talented people from other walks of life, such as business or academia.
There may also be a need for more international exposure in the selection process. The main task of the Chinese Communist Party is of course to serve the Chinese people. But China is now a great global power, and what it does also affects the interests of people living outside of China, and it needs to be as humane as possible in its dealings with other countries. It is a good sign that the children of government leaders are often educated abroad because they can serve as informal advisers, but nothing takes the place of personal exposure to foreign ways of doing things. Perhaps the selection process of high-level government leaders can also value experience abroad and even foreign language skills. Yan Xuetong argues that the Chinese government should employ more talented foreigners as officials, similar to the Tang dynasty.
Equally important, there may be a need for more representation by members of minority groups at the highest levels of government, even if they didn’t rise through the political system. Only sincere adherents of a religion can really know what’s best for their religion and meritocratic decision-making would involve more representation by members of religious communities. One possibility is to reserve spots for members of minority groups on the Politburo. Jiang Qing proposes a House of Cultural Continuity composed of leaders of diverse religions with a long historical presence in China, including Confucianism, Tibetan Buddhism, Daoism, and Christianity.
Of course, meritocratic-decision making is not just a matter of having the ability and knowledge to make political decisions. Immoral decision-makers with high-level analytical skills and local knowledge can do more damage than not-so-competent political leaders who may not be able to figure out the best means to realize immoral ends. I do not mean to imply that Chinese political leaders lack virtue. I’ve met many admirable political officials who are public-spirited and committed to the common good, even at substantial cost to their own interests. But virtuous leaders should not be corrupt, and just about everybody in China recognizes that political corruption is a serious problem. Term and age limits for Chinese leaders are helpful. But there is a need for other mechanisms to reduce corruption — a relatively independent anti-corruption agency (similar to Hong Kong and Singapore), more transparency, more freedom for media to report on cases of corruption, financial audits for leaders and their family members, higher salaries for leaders, and harsh punishments for corruption.
More rigorous emphasis on ethical education for political leaders is also necessary. The current leadership selection process does not allow for enough time for systematic reflection on ethical and political matters. A few weeks at the Party School is not sufficient for leaders to read the great works in politics, history, and philosophy that deepen one’s knowledge as to possibilities of morally-informed political judgments. If political leaders were encouraged, say, to take a six-month leave period with few obligations other than reading great works (especially the Confucian classics that focus more directly on political morality), the long-term effect on the ability to make morally-informed political judgments is likely to be positive. Equally if not more important, more emphasis on the Confucian classics in primary and secondary schools is likely to improve the moral education of future Chinese leaders.
Of course, a political decision maker should do more than refrain from corruption. He or she much also be motivated by humanity and compassion for people, animals, and the natural world. But is it difficult to reconcile this desideratum with the extreme under-representation of females in the political decision-making bodies, especially at the highest levels. The current leadership selection process is biased against females: the process is so time-consuming that it seems hard reconcile with ordinary family life. Since females are often the main care-takers of family members, they may not have sufficient time to compete fairly with males for top government posts (even if females are not the main care-takers, such expectations influence the selection process: it is more difficult for females to be hired by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs because of the expectation that such posts are difficult to reconcile with ordinary family life). If we agree that compassion is mainly a female trait, then we should encourage more females in government. Perhaps half of the government positions at the highest levels of government should be reserved for females. I have no doubt that a government composed of more female leaders is more likely to rule in a compassionate and humane way.
Obviously, the process of “meritocratization” is a long term transformation there is no clear end-point (unlike, say, “democratization,” which usually means free and fair competitive elections for a country’s top political leaders). But one clear way forward would be for the Chinese Communist Party to change its name so that it better corresponds to the institutional reality of the organization, as well as to what it aspires to be. Most obviously, the organization is no longer Communist and few Chinese, including members of the CCP, believe that the party is leading the march to higher communism. Political meritocracy was valued neither by Marx nor by Mao. Lenin’s idea of the vanguard party was also different. Moreover, the party is not a political party among others. It is a pluralistic organization composed of different groups and classes that represents the whole country, and to a lesser extent, the world. A more accurate name might be the Chinese Meritocratic Union (中国贤能联盟).
Let me end with one point that will be intensely controversial in countries with a democratic heritage. China can learn much from the political virtues typically associated with democratic regimes: political participation, freedom, transparency, and toleration. But the country can and should build upon the actual and potential advantages of political meritocracy: the decades long training of political officials entrusted with the top political decision making powers, the ability to make decisions that take account of the interests of future generations, the rest of the world, and the natural world, even when they conflict with the preferences of the majority of citizens, and decision-making by committee rather than vesting ultimate decision-making powers in one individual (such as the U.S. president). These advantages of meritocracy are compatible with more freedom, transparency, toleration, political participation at sub-national levels of government, and a certain degree of political competition at the top. But meritocracy is incompatible with multi-party competition at the top and one-person one vote for the selection of top decision makers. Hence, the task in China is to improve meritocracy and learn from parts of democracy, but not from what many democrats today would consider to be its core element.