How will PR save Malaysia a bankrupt nation when EU couldn’t save Greece?

At the 44th Gerakan national delegates conference in Kuala Lumpur today, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak made two remarkable statements, viz: Shocker: America Spends $2.16 Trillion on Violence Annually

Najib’s statements and arguments illustrate the sort of brilliance found only in the rare few like King Solomon, Plato, and Sir Winston. That’s the reason he wouldn’t go into a debate with Anwar. It’d be a sheer waste of his time to go into an oral fencing with the latter, who is known to be monosyllabic on the odd occasions he does open his mouth. Doubtless Najib will be PRIME MINISTER NAJIB

Is this the man?
The custodian of the dying ember?
The man who generations to come will remember as the last man standing, before the new dawn set in?
Is this the man who is going to set in an even more harsh regime?
To ensure he and his team will have a long run on the nation?
Driven by chauvinism, and detested by the international as well as the domestic society?
Is this the start of a dynasty in the Malaysian Public Life?
Does this mean that we Malaysians are so incapable that we need a select few families to tell us how to live our lives?
Are we so dependent that all aspects of our lives need to be controlled?
Are we so handicapped that we need these political dynasties to teach how to interact with each other?

From the Wisconsin shooting to the war in Afghanistan, we all know that violence costs our society, whether it’s domestic violence, a homicide, a war, or something as simple as a security system. We also know that there are direct and indirect costs associated with violence, whether it’s the immediate medical, court and police costs that stem from violent crime, or the long-term loss of economic productivity that stems from the loss of an American worker’s life.

What we don’t know, however, is how much that violence costs our society — in total. A new report out this week, by the Institute for Economics and Peace, shows just how much, and it is an overwhelming amount. So what do we spend on violence, on violence-related medical expenses, incarceration, police, the military, insurance, and even the private security industry?

The total U.S. public and private expenditure containing violence on our lands and overseas is $2.16 trillion. That equates to roughly $15,000 that each American taxpayer spends annually on violence or more than 15 percent of America’s gross domestic product. Break that figure down by sector and you have public sector spending on violence accounting for 10.8 percent of GDP and private sector spending on violence accounting for 4.2 percent of U.S. GDP (and these are conservative figures).

That means 1 out of every 7 dollars spent in the U.S. is spent containing violence. Is this really how we want to measure America’s success, how we want to develop as a society, and how we want to leave the world for our children and our children’s children? We’re increasingly spending more on violence, not less.

For some context on how much money that is in comparison to other U.S. expenditures: if violence containment were classified as an industry, it would be the largest industry in the U.S. That’s more than any other industry, be it real estate, professional and business services, manufacturing, healthcare, financial, retail and wholesale trade or construction.

Put another way, what America spends on containing violence annually is equal to the entire GDP of the United Kingdom. In fact, in 2010, America’s violence containment spending would’ve represented the sixth largest GDP in the world (removing U.S. GDP from the list), after China, Japan, Germany, France and the UK.

So what’s the problem with these numbers? Some people in Washington would argue that this is a good thing, that it’s creating jobs, and that it’s boosting the economy. This is certainly the argument being proffered by anyone in Washington keen to protect the defense industry from sequestration cuts.

It’s the argument coming from the loudest of defense industry allies in the Senate — notably Lindsay Graham and John McCain — with erroneous claims of massive job cuts resulting from the sequester, never minding the fact that these defense contractors were laying off thousands earlier this year before hint of sequestration reality set in.

But the real problem — and complete fallacy — with the thinking that defense-related, or violence-containing, jobs are good jobs that we should keep for the mere fact of retaining job numbers (as some in Congress have argued), is that compared to other areas of federal investment, military spending is a poor source of job creation.

According to the Political Economy Research Institute, investing $1 billion in education resulted in 138 percent more jobs than the same amount of spending on the military. Investing in health care created 54 percent more jobs. Investing $1 billion in clean energy technology generated 50 percent more jobs. Thus, if federal investment in the military creates fewer jobs than other federal spending, then cutting the military will cost fewer jobs than cuts to other programs.

The real question, then, at the end of the day, is what kind of world do we want to live in, and are we spending on the right security priorities?

I want to live in a world where we’re prioritizing economic security by ensuring that our kids are globally competitive in reading, science and math (instead of scoring consistently near the bottom of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Programme on International Student Assessment rankings).

I want to live in a world where we’re prioritizing energy and climate security by ensuring that America has sustainable and renewable sources of power and is living on a carbon neutral diet (instead of continuing to rely on dirty fossil fuels and carbon-rich diets that make for the hottest year on record and extreme weather patterns).

I want to live in a world where we’re prioritizing food security (in an age of crop devastation), religious security (in an age of intolerance, hate crimes, and violent protest), and health security (in age of pandemics and viruses).

That’s exactly where we should be spending our time, energy and money. This is how you build real security. It’s not done through drones, joint strike fighters or nuclear weapons. This latest report shows that there are 2.1 trillion reasons why our economy needs us to realize that, and soon, before our violence containment industry grows out of our control.

If Najib really believes that PR’s Buku Jingga is “not worth the paper it’s printed on”, he should stop shying away from a debate with Anwar and agree to have one within a fortnight

• That the Pakatan Rakyat’s Buku Jingga is not worth the paper it is written on; and

• That Pakatan Rakyat is not a credible alternative to Barisan Nasional.

Both assertions are easily disposed of, viz:

Firstly, if PR’s Buku Jingga is not worth the paper it is written on, then why is Najib shying away from a public debate with Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim which would give him the opportunity to tear both Anwar and PR’s Buku Jingga “to pieces”?

Secondly, if Pakatan Rakyat is not a credible alternative to BN, why he keeps postponing calling for the 13th General Election, keeping the country on an election-mode for the longest period under any Malaysian Prime Minister – even to the extent of gaining the dubious record of being the Prime Minister without an elected mandate of his own for the longest period when compared to all the previous four Prime Ministers after Tunku Abdul Rahman, including his father Tun Razak, Tun Hussein Onn, Tun Mahathir and Tun Abdullah?

I am sure Najib is fully conscious of such a dubious record and given a choice, would not want to have it cited in his c.v. that he is the PM without an elected mandate of his own for the longest period.

But what he feared most is not be known as the Prime Minister without an elected mandate of his own for the longest period, but to end up as the last UMNO Prime Minister in Malaysia!

As a result, his survival instincts have got the better of him and he is still agonizing over the decision as to when is the best time to hold the 13 General Election, despite two election budgets, two BR1M payments and all the bragging about going onto the offensive and flaying the PR as not a credible alternative to BN and the PR’s Buku Jingga as not worth the paper it is written on.

Najib should tell it to the marines unless he is prepared to stop shying away from a public debate with Anwar and agree to have one within a fortnight, and to forthwith dissolve Parliament and call for the 13th general election to secure his own mandate as Prime Minister.

Is this Najib’s plan before the polls? Spend it all, before BN falls? There’s a sick feeling in my stomach. On whose wallet will it ultimately fall to pay for all this largesse?Are our national debts any better than the PIIGS? ( Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain). The Umno led government cannot sustain indefinitely their spendthrift ways and habits without printing more money, borrowing more or find ways to increase the national revenue. The third option is not their forte, spending is. Oil and commodities prices our two biggest earners are coming down in the face of a wobbly world economy. If the rating agencies downgrade our rating then we will see spiraling inflation, huge layoffs and a deep recession. Plenty of people including civil servants would be marching in the streets demanding accountability, responsibility, transparency, an end to corruption as well the inflow of illegal migrants on the part of the Umno led government. The corrupt rich would be enjoying and holidaying somewhere outside the country. Then our country would truly experience a transformation of a political kind; an end to Umno/BN rule.

Governing, no matter who does it, is part philosophy, part exigency, part panic, part payoff. And it is never easy to ascribe precise percentages to each factor.

Only the rakyat will suffer in the end. Those pesky umno fools and they stupid overindulged children and fat wives drive around Bangsar in their luxury cars and send their children to prestigious expensive uk boarding schools. What do they care about the national debt when most of that debt is sitting in their Swiss bank account.

However, the 2013 Budget of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, unveiled last Friday, is so patently an electioneering one there is no difficulty making an inference as to its prime motivation: it is to buy votes through payoffs even if that means a steadily worsening national debt situation.

The coupling of ill-affordable munificence with entrenched misallocation of resources is accompanied by nervous anxiety that this time the ruse may not work…

The Federal government spending in 2012 is estimated to be RM252.4 billion, again exceeding the initial budget of RM232.8 billion tabled last year by RM19.6 billion.

However, the government managed to control the deficit of 2012 which is estimated to be 4.5 percent of the GDP, slightly below the initial forecast of 4.7 percent.

Prime Minister cum Finance Minister Najib Abdul Razak has been able to meet the deficit since he took over the office in 2009. This is due to higher estimated revenue this year at RM207.2 billion, an increase of 11.8 percent compared to 2011.

According to the Economic Report 2012/2013, the overspending in 2012 only occurred in the operating expenditure, but not the development expenditure. The operating expenditure is estimated to exceed the initial budget allocation of RM181.6 billion by 11.6 percent to RM2.026 billion, but the development expenditure is estimated to be RM400 million less than the amount in the initial budget of RM51.2 billion, to bring the amount to RM49.8 billion.

According to the report, the largest chunk of operating expenditure is emoluments, which is the salaries for civil servants. It is estimated to increase by 18 percent from RM50.1 billion in 2011 to RM59.2 billion, taking up 29.2 percent of the total operating expenditure.

Less collected from Petronas

The increase is attributed to provisions for improvements in the salary scheme of civil servants of between 7 to 13 percent effective from January 1 this year (RM3.3 billion), adjustments to cost of living allowances ranging between RM150 to RM300 (RM379 million), and a revision in annual increment between RM80 to RM320 according to grade.

In addition, a half month bonus with a minimum payment of RM500 was given to 1.27 million civil servants amounting to RM1.9 billion, and a new promotion scheme implemented for the teachers effective from May 2012 exercise is expected to cost RM1.1 billion in 2012.

Other operating expenditures are subsidies (RM42.4 billion, 20.9 percent of total operating expenditure), supplies and service (RM32 billion, 15.8 percent) and debt service charge (RM20.5 billion, 10.1 percent).

In term of revenue, boosted by an increase in production volume and firm crude oil price, receipts from petroleum income tax (Pita) will be markedly higher at RM32 billion.

To gradually reduce dependence on oil-related revenues, said the report, a lower dividend of RM28 billion was imputed for 2012 from Petronas, compared to RM30 billion in 2011.

“However, due to the fuel cost-sharing mechanism between the government, Petronas and Tenaga Nasional Berhad, dividend for 2012 will decline to RM26.3 billion.”


It sometimes happens that when you’re hard at work making fiction, you get invaded by the feeling that what’s important is happening elsewhere — something much more powerful than the story that you have been creating, with care and obsession. Human beings today need their daily dose of fiction, it’s true; without it, we would not know how to live. But it is also true that, on many occasions, the rumblings of reality that come across our TVs and computer screens are so powerful that they knock the air out of you and leave you with the feeling that a film is something insignificant in comparison.

That’s what happened to me on Tuesday, while I was working, an impressive tsunami of citizens at Neptuno Square howled for their right to dissent with the politicians who claim to represent them, as they were in session in Congress. The cries of this human tide, encircled and at times beaten and dragged by the 1,300 strong riot police at Neptuno Square, covered the front pages of newspapers around the world. Yet they have not managed to catch the attention of [Prime Minister] Mariano Rajoy in New York. During his address to the Americas Society/Council of the Americas, Rajoy turned to his habit of editing reality according to his whim, thanking the “silent majority of Spaniards who didn’t protest.”

Mr. Rajoy, I am part of that silent majority who didn’t protest on September 25th, and I’m imploring you not to distort or appropriate my silence.

The fact that I was not physically present at Neptuno Square does not mean that I’m not outraged by the police attacks, the government delegate overreaction, the state-run TV network’s manipulation of images, or about the cocky attitude of state agents in the Atocha Station (far removed from Congress) who, without identifying themselves, intimidated travelers and prohibited photographers from doing their work. I’m outraged, too, about the determination that we Madrilenians, upon finding our city besieged since morning, would turn against the protesters. (Mission failed: we Madrilenians suffer in silence or screaming, do not believe in the people who govern us from City Hall or in our Autonomous Community, people elected by fate because they were included in a closed electoral list).

Images, and everything that surrounds them, can be manipulated: colors, words, gestures, intentions — it all depends on the narrator. Any given reality may mean one thing, or its opposite, according to the interests of the one who narrates it. The government’s spokespeople, the president himself, can narrate what happened at Neptuno Square as they please — they do it every day. But, fortunately, in modern times, it is impossible to be the sole narrator, no matter how many punches cops dole out to anyone toting a camera.

We live in a world dominated by new technologies (and, on this occasion, God bless them). In addition to multiple professional cameramen (impressive to see them work in the midst of this earthquake, just like war reporters. The testimony they provided us, product of moral and artistic bravery, is admirable), most protestors brought along not just all-too-true shouts and slogans (“They’re robbers, they beat us — they do not represent us!”) but also cameras or cell phones. Those images will never see the light of day on state television, but they will appear on other digital news sites, or on YouTube.

On these images we can see with utter clarity the truncheon of a masked policeman (all the police were masked, except for infiltrators — whom it was proven were indeed present), and the uncovered face of his victim: pale, with a gash in his head, a wound so real that abundant blood is flowing from it, rolling down the victim’s cheeks, and dripping onto his shirt. Red blood, documented, narrated by one of the people who attended this “show.”


A man injured by the police. Photo: Getty 

I provided only one picture as example, but in non-state media outlets there are many, many more acting as narrators contradicting official versions of the story, and for once, receiving heavy coverage in international media. Barbarities like the ones that went down this week may keep happening. But our raw reality (“raw” in the photographic sense — that is, the first image of reality, the one that hasn’t been photoshopped) — so complicated but at the same time so simple — will have multiple narrators and many points of view. For those in charge of public order, it’s going to be extremely difficult to silence them.

Rubber bullets and dragging protestors on the road won’t do the trick.