Archive for September, 2012

30
Sep
12

Say No to bigotry on V-neck Day, Oct 1

V-neck Day

30
Sep
12

Pakatan pledges to shelve Petronas’ RM60b Pengerang project after GE13 win

PENGERANG, Sept 30 — Pakatan Rakyat (PR) today promised to stop the Petronas RM60 billion petrochemical project should it wrest federal power in the coming polls, an electoral pledge likely aimed at capitalising on an emotive issue that could mark the start of Umno’s weakening grasp over Johor.

Johor PKR chief Datuk Chua Jui Meng (picture), speaking on behalf of PR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim at the Himpunan Hijau Pengerang Lestari rally here, made the announcement to a crowd of thousands who whooped at his words.

“If we do not win this case in court, this is Anwar’s message to you — when PR wins the Malaysian government, and we are sure to win… when he becomes the prime minister, he will stop this RAPID project,” he thundered to the crowd.

“That is our pledge to you today… and we will help you restore your lives here.”

Earlier this morning, the sleepy hollow of Kampung Sungai Rengit came alive with animated chants and blares from portable air horns as green-clad protesters streamed in by the bus loads to rally against Petronas’ RM60 billion Refinery and Petrochemicals Development (RAPID) project that will see thousands of villagers lose their homes and livelihoods.

The highly-anticipated Himpunan Hijau Pengerang Lestari protest kicked off peacefully to a bright and early start despite earlier fears of possible police blockades to prevent protesters from attending the mass rally.

From 25 different locations across the country, including the east Malaysian state of Sabah, rally participants arrived from 9am onwards, all dressed in Himpunan Hijau’s signature neon green T-shirts and bearing banners that detailed the rally’s three protests — to protest the land grab, to protest the loss of livelihood, and to protest environmental destruction.

…more
Pakatan pledges to shelve Petronas’ RM60b Pengerang project after GE13 win
By Clara Chooi
September 30, 2012 – TMI

30
Sep
12

Pengerang rally a sign of trouble for Umno in Johor

PENGERANG, Sept 30 — A sea of green and noise will break the characteristic silence of Kampung Sungai Rengit here this morning as thousands converge to this sleepy corner of Johor to rally against the development of Petronas’ RM60 billion petrochemical complex — a major event that could see Umno’s Johor bastion crumble.

The Himpunan Hijau Lestari mass rally is expected to blow the lid off months of simmering frustrations felt by Pengerang’s 28,000-odd villagers who believe the mega project would come at too great a cost to their livelihoods.

According to media reports, the state government has already invoked compulsory land acquisition under Section 8 of the Land Acquisition Act 1960 to resettle the seven villages occupying the 6,424-acre space earmarked for Petronas’ Refinery and Petrochemicals Development (RAPID) project.

The total value of the Pengerang Integrated Petroleum Complex (PIPC) in Johor, which includes Petronas’ RM60 billion RAPID, is believed to involve a whopping RM170 billion worth of investments in total, once it starts operations in 2016.

The mega project is expected to turn Pengerang into a boom town for global petroleum investors, rivalling neighbouring Singapore as Asia’s most vibrant petrochemical hub, and creating over 40,000 job opportunities for locals from construction to downstream activities.

A lone cyclist enjoys a quiet ride in the sleepy Pengerang town.- Picture by Siow Feng Saw
But the government’s plans have still run afoul the local communities living in the many fishing villages girdling the southern shore of Pengerang.

Apart from fear over reports that one of the investors in RAPID-KuoKuang Petrochemical had to abandon its plan to house a petrochemical project in Taiwan following concerns that those living in close proximity to such developments would see their lifespans reduced, a number of the affected 3,129 villagers in Pengerang are also unhappy with the government’s compensation payment.

According to previous reports, licensed fishermen have been offered RM30,000 in compensation payments for their loss of livelihoods while unlicensed fishermen are offered RM15,000. Smallholders of between one and two acres of land have been offered between RM65,000 to RM105,000.

The government has also offered villagers the option of subsidised alternative housing on a 6,000 square foot piece of land with a built-up area of between 750 and 1,600 square feet, some 15 to 20km from their villages.

But local villager Kasran Dollah said the government was out to “kill the Malays” with their offers.

“It is not like we are fighting the government. We are just asking them to help,” he told The Malaysian Insider yesterday.

“At first, us Malays agreed with the compensation… but when the rates dropped to just RM2.80 per square feet… we were dissatisfied… it’s like they are out to kill the Malays,” he said.

…more
Pengerang rally a sign of trouble for Umno in Johor
By Clara Chooi
September 30, 2012 – TMI

29
Sep
12

Budget 2013: Don’t be taken for a ride

This is the first time in Malaysia’s budget history the debt has surpassed RM500 billion which also means every Malaysian is in debt of RM17,000.

COMMENT
By Chua Jui Meng

Congratulations Malaysians! You fully deserve the cash handouts from the corrupt Barisan Nasional government after 55 years of Independence.

It is because of you, the people’s power in the March 2008 political tsunami, that you have forced BN and Najib Tun Razak to give you the cash handouts – twice within a year.

It is the first time since Independence in 1957 that the BN government is giving out one-time and various forms of cash handouts in its budget.

This is clearly an election budget to buy your votes in the next general election so that they remain in power for another five years to plunder and enrich their cronies.

The cash handouts that are being dished out by the government of the day are not from the pockets of BN politicians. They are taxpayers’ money. So, give yourselves a round of applause for successfully retrieving some back from an unjust and cunning BN government.

Please don’t be fooled by the budget sweeteners. Take it and say goodbye to BN.

They give you a few hundred ringgit to RM1,000 or slightly more, and in the next five years, they will plunder the national coffer through mega projects and their cronies take back billions and billions of ringgit in sinful profits.

Malaysians, please think of your future and generations. We don’t have another five years to gamble with BN.

The national debt and gross domestic product (GDP) figures are really, really scary. The federal debt rose 10.1% to a new high of RM502.4 billion or 53.7% of the GDP this year. That is only 1.3% short of the 55% legislated debt ceiling.

This is the first time in Malaysia’s budget history the debt has surpassed RM500 billion which also means every Malaysian is in debt of RM17,000.

Going the Greece way

According to the Economic Report 2011/2012, Malaysia has accumulated RM456.1 billion of debt in 2011.

Also, there are RM118 billion in off-budget liabilities or sovereign guarantees for private corporations like the Port Klang Free Zone and government-linked company loans ending 2011.

At least two international rating agencies have warned that Malaysia’s sovereign credit rating may be cut if the government does not deliver promised reforms to cut spending to reduce its fiscal deficits.

There you have it – we are heading towards a bankrupt nation – like Greece and witnessing the devastating effects on the European economy and its people.

So, don’t be fooled by prime minister Najib’s and BN’s budget sweeteners of one-time cash handouts.

When we are “Greece”, no one will feed us and we will be left to suffer. The rich BN cronies can just go elsewhere, continue to slave us or retire elsewhere where the sun shines and the beaches are cool.

Chua Jui Meng is PKR vice-president and Johor PKR chairman. He is a former MCA vice president and ex-health minister.

…source
Budget 2013: Don’t be taken for a ride
September 29, 2012 – FMT

29
Sep
12

Budget 2013 showdown: BN vs Pakatan

SEPT 29 — Now that both Budget 2013 from the ruling coalition and the shadow budget from the opposition have been presented, let’s take a look at how the two budgets stack up against one another.

This is the last budget before the general election and the stakes are high. Barisan Nasional (BN) has had a lot of experience in crafting budgets and surprised no one when it dished out cash and other goodies, particularly to the younger generation who are a significant chunk of the newly registered electorate and are an unknown quantity in terms of their voting inclinations.

It scored some points however for not going overboard with spending as expected by some economists and still managed to pare down its expected budget deficit to four per cent from an estimated 4.5 per cent this year.

Pakatan Rakyat (PR) is a relative novice when it comes to federal budgets and presented one that appears to be much more geared toward reforming the economy than the one from the Najib administration which appeared to have more-of-the-same type policy tinkering rather than sweeping fundamental changes.

You can’t really blame Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak for not wanting to rock the boat too much and going back for more of the same approach that delivered impressively higher than expected GDP growth this year despite economic slowdowns elsewhere in the world.

But PR’s budget, on the other hand, is more exciting as it really shows teeth when it comes to tackling things like monopolies, cartels and downsizing the state’s involvement in business.

Not everything in the two budgets can be compared directly but one of the things that can be put side by side is the fiscal numbers. So we start off with:

The Balanced Budget Category

Budget deficit

BN: 4 per cent

PR: 3.5 per cent

Winner: PR

BN managed to cut the projected deficit from 4.5 per cent this year to 4 per cent in 2013 but it wasn’t enough to beat PR. BN can say of course that PR can promise anything since it is less accountable as it is not in power.

PR meanwhile has talked a lot about eliminating corruption, leakages and wastages but all that effort appeared to yield only a slightly better deficit number than BN’s. Still, the slight improvement is enough to give it an edge over BN in the eyes of ratings agencies and economists.

Education

A country’s future is won or lost in its schools. BN recently launched an education blueprint devised with input from experts but surprisingly cut its education budget drastically from RM50 billion in the last budget to RM38.7 billion in 2013. The prime minister did say that they wanted to “look at the outcome of each child per ringgit spent” during the blueprint launch so maybe they found ways to cut out wastage and increase efficiency.

…more
Budget 2013 showdown: BN vs Pakatan
Review by Lee Wei Lian
September 29, 2012 – TMI

29
Sep
12

Budget 2013 – NAJIB’S FINAL FLING: RM3bil in handouts despite clear signs govt running out of funds

It looks like the BN’s past excesses have finally caught up with their leaders, who are now left with little financial room to maneuver. Prime Minister Najib Razak was forced to announce a slightly smaller spending plan for 2013 of RM249.7 bil, down 1.1% versus the previous year, despite a looming general election.

Nonetheless, disregarding the clear signs of a shrinking trend in revenues due mainly to not having made sufficient productive investments in the past, loss of funds from corruption and leakages, Najib did not hesitate to unleash a host of short-term one-off election goodies to win the hearts and minds of voters.

The center piece of his Budget 2013 was the slew of cash handouts totaling at least RM3bil to families earning RM3,000 per month and a 1.5 month bonus to some 1.4 million civil servants.

The PM began his speech at 4pm amid expectations he would propose measures to stop spiraling home prices as well match the Opposition’s alternative budget in raising disposable income and lowering car taxes. But while Najib raised the capital gains tax slightly to douse speculation, he left car taxes untouched. He is expected to call for the 13th general election by June 2013 at the latest.

“The goodies are not unexpected given that the next general election is very near. We congratulate those who qualify for the aid as well as the civil servants for their bonus windfall. But the lower income groups should not have to rely on election gifts for relief,” PKR vice president Tian Chua told Malaysia Chronicle.

“If BN had planned the economy well, and plugged up corruption and wastage, the Malaysian standard of living would automatically rise. Now, the people must think twice about what will happen next year? It is clear, revenue is shrinking and there is very little money left due to past excesses. In the end, everyone will be forced to tighten their belts or we will go the way of Greece and face national bankruptcy. This budget is the BN’s final fling, the people must realize this and how badly they have abused the country’s resources.”

End of an era: Past mismanagement catches up with the BN

Other Opposition lawmakers echoed Tian’s views.

“Budget 2013 signals the end of an era of record budgets with a slow down in Government revenues. Over the past few years, the Government has been able to increase its budget tremendously to achieve record expenditures annually. This has allowed the Government to prop up the economy as we faced challenges in attracting private investments, as well as a drop in our trade contributions,” DAP MP for PJ Utara Tony Pua said in a statement.

“However, the Budget 2013 has projected an increase of only 0.7% (2012: 11.8%; 2011: 16.1%) in projected revenues from RM207.2 billion to RM208.6 billion in 2013. This is the slowest projected increase in the tabled budget since 1999, barring the global financial crisis in 2009.The marked decline in revenue growth will have a very significant impact on the Government’s ability to impact growth in the Malaysian economy through fiscal means. The fact that we have not been able to reduce our budget deficit below 4% over the past few years reflects the years of wasted opportunities, where we have failed to curb our expenditure through reduced wastages, abuses and corruption.

…more
NAJIB’S FINAL FLING: RM3bil in handouts despite clear signs govt running out of funds
Written by Wong Choon Mei
29 September 2012 – Malaysia Chronicle

29
Sep
12

Budget 2013 – Najib woos voters with Budget handouts

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 28 — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak courted voters with one-off perks today in his last budget before a national election, while reassuring markets by pledging to cut the country’s fiscal deficit and tackle a rising debt burden.

Najib, facing a tough election he must call by April, dished out RM500 payments to all low-income families, RM100 each to 5.4 million schoolchildren and handed a 1.5 month bonus to the country’s civil servants among other steps.

“This Budget will focus on improving the quality of life of the people, ensuring sustainable growth, spending prudently and reducing the fiscal deficit,” Najib, who is also finance minister, said in his address to parliament.

Rating agencies Standard & Poor’s and Fitch recently warned of rising fiscal pressures in Malaysia that could lead to a downgrade. The country’s public debt as a percentage of GDP is just short of its self-imposed ceiling of 55 per cent — up from 43 per cent in 2008 — while its expected budget deficit of 4.5 per cent in 2012 is among Asia’s biggest.

To address those concerns, Najib pledged the deficit would fall to 4.0 per cent of GDP in 2013.

The government, which has run a budget deficit every year since the 1997 Asian financial crisis, sees the deficit shrinking on better tax collection and slightly higher economic growth of 4.5-5.5 per cent in 2013 from 4.5-5 per cent this year.

As expected, Najib did not announce major structural reforms that analysts say are crucial to putting Malaysia’s public finances on a more sustainable footing and reducing its heavy dependence on oil revenues.

Azrul Azwar Ahmad Tajudin, Bank Islam chief economist, said the government had not made clear how it would achieve such a steep fall in the deficit next year.

“The government can afford the giveaways, but this budget lacks the fiscal reforms that many quarters have been clamouring for, especially the global rating agencies,” he said.

State oil giant Petronas contributes up to 45 per cent of the government’s revenues. Fuel subsidies to ease driving costs for Malaysians have more than doubled in the past three years as oil prices have risen sharply.

The government says it wants to introduce a goods and services tax to widen the revenue base in a country where only about 10 per cent of the workforce pays income taxes and to cut the fuel subsidies that are among Asia’s highest.

Najib said more time is needed to prepare the public for such unpopular steps.

…more
Najib woos voters with Budget handouts
September 28, 2012 – TMI

29
Sep
12

Budget 2013 – Buying love on a Budget

SEPT 29 — Is this it? This is not a Budget, what was announced yesterday by Finance Minister Najib Razak was vote-buying through the liberal use of taxpayers’ funds.

Yesterday was making Malaysians more addicted to handouts, the opiate of the masses.

Idris Jala, aka the salesman, can talk all he wants about GST and Malaysia’s readiness to wean itself of subsidies and Najib can go on about cutting the budget deficit but this government did this country a great disservice yesterday: it mortgaged the future for short-term gain.

And it also did the virtually impossible: it cut taxes, gave out more money and said that it would still cut the deficit. Najib should bottle this miraculous potion and sell it to the US.

The finance minister unashamedly said later that Malaysian should vote BN for more of WHAT WE HAVE TODAY! No talk about high-income economy; reducing dependency on foreign workers, etc.

This is WHAT WE HAVE TODAY:

1) A completely corrupt political and civil service elite. The only difference in these two groups is that it appears only the civil servants are being charged in court. Ministers wantonly flaunt their wealth, their wealth accumulation usually the result of kickbacks from privatisation awards to their cronies.

2) A country divided. The mainstream Malay media and Umno have positioned the Chinese as ungrateful. Under the veneer of unity, this is a country fractured and in dire need of rehabilitation and reconciliation.

3) The country’s debt is rising and is at an all-time high. And it is not 53 per cent of the GDP as announced in the Budget but 67 per cent. This includes government guarantees. The red flag should be raised when debt ratio to GDP is 55 per cent. It is now 67 per cent and you can bet that a government which does not know anything apart from spending will make our grandchildren pay dearly.

4) Rent-seeking has always been a feature of privatisation in Malaysia. Now the leaders of this country offer us liars and award contracts to companies which have no track record for billion ringgit deals. The inflated cost will be borne by you and me and our children.

Yesterday’s Budget was very much in keeping with a BN government which has tried to paper over cracks and gaps in this country by money.

It is like a parent who, devoid of any ideas of proper parenting, has decided to buy the affection of his children.

…source
Buying love on a Budget — Gomen Man
September 29, 2012 – TMI

29
Sep
12

Candied Budget unlikely to sweeten GE13 for BN, say analysts

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 29 — Voters have grown more discerning and are unlikely to be swayed by cash incentives and other one-off perks into casting their ballot for the Barisan Nasional (BN) government at national polls due soon, pundits said in weighing in on the impact of Budget 2013.

Political observers interviewed by The Malaysian Insider wholly agreed that the RM251.6 billion announced yesterday, which promised a slew of cash handouts and tax cuts spread across the board, was trained to appeal to key demographic groups in the run-up to the 13th general election, but said voters had become increasingly shrewd and capable of weighing the short-term personal gains against the long-term fiscal impact on the national economy.

“There are only two words to describe it — election budget,” said Monash University’s political science lecturer James Chin.

He noted that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has “pulled out all the stops and given the voters their sentiments, to let them think twice about voting for the opposition” in elections that must be held by next April when BN’s five-year mandate won in March 2008 runs out.

“People will compare the budget to Pakatan Rakyat’s and will also see how the second round of Bantuan Rakyat 1Malaysia (BR1M) will fuel inflation,” Chin added.

The fledging Pakatan Rakyat (PR) opposition pact, formed just four years ago in the wake of landmark wins in Election 2008, has promised to raise the disposable income of Malaysians in an alternative set of Budget proposals just two days before the Najib administration unveiled its official proposals for spending and taxes.

Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim had said disposable income would rise through fiscal reform measures such as cutting the triple import taxes on foreign-made cars, abolishment of tolls and waiver of student loans, as PR sought to pre-empt Najib’s Budget announcement.

Anwar said a PR government would be able to pay for the proposed measures not through raising taxes but by plugging leakages that arise as a result of inefficiencies and corruption.

Arnold Puyok, a political scientist from Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) in Sabah, said the goodies announced for the young and singles “is an indication that the ruling party is set to win the hearts and minds of first-time voters in the upcoming election”.

He said it was still too early to tell if such sweeteners will tilt the hotly-contested elections in BN’s favour.

“Young people are not easily attracted to monetary incentives especially when they are related to electoral politics. They may consider the goodies as a form of government assistance. But whether this is translated into votes remain to be seen,” Arnold said.

But another analyst, Faisal Hazis, believes voters have smartened up since Election 2008.

“Voters today are smarter, not so easy for them to fall for sweet deals as before,” said the head of political science and international relations at Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas).

“Cash handouts like BR1M do not promise permanent support as shown in the Merdeka Center’s earlier survey some months back where support for Najib rose several percentage points after the first round of BR1M, but dropped not long after it was handed out,” Faisal said.

…more
Candied Budget unlikely to sweeten GE13 for BN, say analysts
By Amin Iskandar, Hafidz Baharom, Md Izwan and Nomy Nozwir
September 29, 2012 – TMI

29
Sep
12

Budget 2013 Highlights in Pictures

Budget 2

Budget 3

Budget 1

…source
Budget 2013: Facts and figures in graphics
28 Sept 2012 – Malaysiakini





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Mahathir in Putrajaya ceramah

 

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Nuclear lessons for Malaysia (Part 1) (Part 2)
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How the 1MDB Scandal Spread Across the World (WSJ)
We cannot afford ridiculously expensive RM55 Billion ECRL!
All that is necessary
for the triumph of evil
is for good men
to do nothing.

- Edmund Burke
When the people
fears their government,
there is TYRANNY;
when the government
fears the people,
there is LIBERTY.

- Thomas Jefferson
Do you hear the people sing?

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