- Asian academia faces language block
- Indonesia’s woes are Asean’s problems
- Healthy competition to ease impact of price rises
- Malaysians expect a shadow cabinet
- The crime of marginalisation
- Putting God on Trial
Posted: 11 Sep 2013 03:17 PM PDT
Malaysia, as a country that was once partly Anglophone, and where English was once spoken well, has to make a choice sooner or later. While it remains the case that we cannot deny or neglect the importance of Bahasa Malaysia as a tool for nation-building, Malaysia's future -- like all other countries in this globalising world -- lies beyond our shores as well.
Farish Noor, NST
GLOBAL LINGUA: Scholarly works that are not in English are not able to penetrate the international arena
THE debate over the teaching of the English language continues, not only in Malaysia but also in many other countries across the world. While the form and content of the debate has been shaped by domestic political considerations and agendas, there are some pressing realities that we cannot escape from; and one of them is the simple fact that English remains the most commonly used language in global academic circles.
Posted: 11 Sep 2013 03:02 PM PDT
As investors see ASEAN as a whole, Indonesia's market jitters could affect its neighbours. Other ASEAN economies also rode the wave of loose United States monetary policy. With this wave ending, they might also suffer.
Efforts to solve the current problems could twin with the goals of Asean community and economic integration.
Simon Tay, todayonline.com
Some fear that Indonesia is heading for a crisis. Growth in the second quarter dropped below 6 per cent. Deficits in both the current account and trade widened markedly. The rupiah fell some 10 per cent last month to its lowest level against the US dollar in four years.
Investor confidence is shaken. The estimate is that a staggering US$4 billion (S$5 billion) in capital has recently flowed out of the country.
If there is a crisis, the entire region should be concerned. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is building its Economic Community by 2015 and Indonesia is some 40 per cent of the region's economy.
Investors see the region as an interconnected whole and the past crisis shows how quickly and quite indiscriminately contagion spreads. Indonesia's ASEAN neighbours should watch their economic woes carefully, as they, too, rode the same wave of growth in recent years.
CRISIS AVERTED BUT BOOM ENDED
The good news, though, is that fears about the crisis in Indonesia are overstated. Corporate balance sheets seem healthy. Flexible exchange rates can absorb shocks.
Even as the rupiah drifts downward, there is no need to panic. Indonesia should not try to prop up the currency and, given its relatively low levels of foreign reserves, it has no real capacity to try.
If there is extreme financial and currency volatility, the macro-economic conditions are more supportive than before.
The Chiang Mai Initiative's Multilateralization (CMIM) mechanism provides for currency swops and others — especially Japan and China — would extend assistance to deal with the fluctuations.
A crisis can be avoided. There are, however, no easy and quick solutions to bring back the boom.
Normally, a weaker currency would help push up exports — but not in this case. Indonesia's main exports, like coal and palm oil, face weak demand and generally low prices as China's growth has slowed and the resource boom has ended. For manufactured goods, its still-developing industrial sector cannot generate big foreign-exchange receipts.
Even as steps are being taken to staunch the financial problems, expect higher inflation, interest rate hikes and slower growth. Looking ahead, it will be tricky to find the right balance in raising interest rates to control inflation while avoiding further slowdowns in growth.
POLITICAL WILL AND REFORM NEEDED
However, recent appointments of top policymakers offer hope. Finance Minister Chatib Basri and Bank of Indonesia Governor Agus Martowardjojo are both highly-rated and credible choices.
Since their appointments in May, policy-making has noticeably improved. Jakarta has cut fuel subsidies and raised interest rates to tackle inflation. The government's 2014 budget also aimed to reduce the budget deficit. They offer hope that there is political will and sufficient expertise to do what is necessary, however painful and difficult.
This has not always been the case. During the boom, policymakers and the legislature refused to take reform seriously. Instead, they made nationalistic and protectionist rules. Political in-fighting and corruption scandals, too, distracted from economic issues.
Even today, some in Jakarta seem to be in denial, pointing to external factors as the sole cause of current problems.
Others are distracted by preparations for next month's APEC Summit and, even more, next year's presidential elections.
Yet reform is critical to boosting competitiveness and regaining investor confidence. Many issues are long recognised, such as infrastructure gaps and energy subsidies. Others are problems emerging from the boom, like the rapidly rising wages and expectations among workers.
... AND ASEAN INTEGRATION
Posted: 11 Sep 2013 02:50 PM PDT
The problem is, the government must ensure that the price hikes are justified while making the greatest effort to stop unreasonable price rises.
Soong Phui Jee, mysinchew.com
Pan Malaysian Lorry Owners Association's (PMLOA) announced a 15% increase in transportation charges to alleviate the burden and cost pressure of lorry operators. Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD), however, reminded lorry operators that the collective decision to increase transport charges by 15% might have violated the Competition Act 2010.
The Competition Act 2010 is meant to prohibit anti-competitive trading and activities, to ensure a healthy competition on price, improve the quality of goods and services, as well as provide more choices for consumers.
The country's business community is still unfamiliar with the Competition Act 2010 and there are even many questions about it. Like the PMLOA, the common practice of many organisations is to announce a flat increasing rate after having internal negotiations. But such a move has now raised a question: Is a collective price rise a violation of the Competition Act?
The answer is yes, unless if the operators have obtained immunity under the Act.
Even so, the operators may still announce price rises respectively based on the needs of the free market. In such a way, they can then bypass the constraints of the Competition Act.
Any price hike measures could bring butterfly effect and affect people's lives in varying degrees. Therefore, how great the impact of the recent fuel price and transport charge rises would be? Particularly when the value of ringgit is low, would it lead to another wave of inflation? The people are worried.
The people are equally concerned about how the government would use the money saved from fuel subsidy cut to expand the social safety net and reduce the impacts of fuel price hikes on low-income earners.
Meanwhile, members of the public should recognise the fact that there are great drawbacks in the existing fuel subsidy mechanism as everyone, regardless of rich or poor, can enjoy the same subsidy benefit. Consumers, particularly high-income earners, have then lost the reason to save. As a result, fuel consumption grows, as well as the government's financial burden.
Today, the phasing out of fuel subsidy has been a decided policy and the people must face fuel price rises someday, if not today. In fact, if the fuel price rises were not halted because of the general election held in May this year, the government would have long adjusted the prices.
Posted: 11 Sep 2013 02:39 PM PDT
Accountability and transparency
Posted: 11 Sep 2013 11:55 AM PDT
Crime of violence with a penchant for brute force like racketeering, kidnapping, murder, extortion, drug/human trafficking, tend to be the workings of those whom have the least to lose, those on the lower rungs of society.
Nicholas Chan, fz.com
Posted: 11 Sep 2013 11:18 AM PDT
BN hijacking national unity
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