Isnin, 21 Oktober 2013

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Malaysia Today - Your Source of Independent News

No 'peanuts' for this Indian leader

Posted: 21 Oct 2013 10:48 AM PDT 

( -  A letter written by Samy Vellu to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to secure a national service camp in Sungkai, Perak, used the race card to help Silver Line gain an advantage. 

A seven-year-old support letter written by then works minister Datuk Seri S Samy Vellu to help secure a national service camp in Perak, is returning to haunt the person benefitting from the "surat sokong" (support letter) – MIC Youth Chief T Mohan.
Following Mohan's statement on Oct 17, that the government does not give "peanuts" to the Indian community in Budget 2014, he has received a barrage of criticisms. 
Among them is that he has been receiving much more than a can of peanuts through the offices of Samy Vellu – the then MIC president.
The criticisms centre on Silver Line Services Sdn Bhd, of which Mohan is a major shareholder. A letter written by Samy Vellu to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to secure a national service camp in Sungkai, Perak, used the race card to help Silver Line gain an advantage.
"The involvement of the Indian community in the National Service programme is very limited. Hence I appeal to your good self to consider the application by Silver Line Sdn Bhd. 
"The approval of the application is in line with the government's aspiration to improve the economic standing of the Indian community," read the letter which was dated July 28, 2006. 
POWER chairman S Gobikrishnan said the camp (Kem Sinaran Suria) is one example where the Indian community is left in a lurch while only a handful of connected Indians are benefitting.

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Herald editor: Double-speak on ‘Allah’ a source of confusion

Posted: 21 Oct 2013 10:22 AM PDT 

(MM) - The editor of Catholic weekly the Herald said those in government have not been able to come to an agreement even among themselves as to how to view the court's ruling against the use of the word in the publication's Bahasa Malaysia section.

The lack of clarity in Putrajaya's interpretation of the Court of Appeal's judgment on the "Allah" issue is only adding to the growing confusion surrounding the use of the word by non-Muslims nationwide, Father Lawrence Andrew said yesterday.

The editor of Catholic weekly the Herald said those in government have not been able to come to an agreement even among themselves as to how to view the court's ruling against the use of the word in the publication's Bahasa Malaysia section.

"I think there are two sides always to a situation, for instance Abu Talib said the ruling concerns for all (sic), both for the people of Sabah-Sarawak and Semenanjung," he said, referring to retired Attorney-General Tan Sri Abu Talib Othman's recent claim that Sabah and Sarawak cannot be exempted from the ruling.

"Whereas Gani Patail says the ruling is directed to Herald only," Lawrence added, this time drawing attention to current Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail who maintained that the judgment is limited only to the weekly publication.

"There seems to be a yes and no approach at many levels... it is not the word 'Allah' that is creating confusion among the people, but it is some people who are interpreting a judgment differently. They are creating more confusion," the priest told The Malay Mail Online when contacted.

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Malaysia’s Obstacles in Achieving Vision 2020

Posted: 21 Oct 2013 10:18 AM PDT 

The original NEP was there for a purpose and essentially so. But the NEP has now become a Never Ending Policy – a policy of the 1970s that should have seen a sunset clause in 1990s has become entrenched and has permeated the fabric of our society, economically and socially. Take note that we are moving towards 2020. Perhaps a policy half a decade old should acquaint a holistic paradigm shift as well.

Wan Hong, Loyarburok 

"Malaysia's obstacles in achieving developed nation status by 2020" may seem like a mundane essay topic for secondary students – a karangan topic done to death. But it is a topic of discussion that has far reaching implications on the country's future and wellbeing – the everyday rakyat's wellbeing. Much has been touted about our nation's economic progress and the aspiration of joining the ranks of high income nation club, but to those uninitiated, to the ordinary rakyat on the street, what indeed are our nation's obstacles in realising the status of a developed nation?

I hereby pitch an argument, in reference to our nation's economic progress, focusing less on data and diagrams but more on context.

Malaysia's economy has grown leaps and bounds since independence well through the 70s, eradicating hard core poverty, creating a middle income class of abundant economic opportunities. Shifting from the agricultural sector towards resource commodities and manufacturing, our economy basically transformed from exporting rubber and tin to exporting manufactured products and electronics.

Back in those days Malaysia, as one of the fastest growing East Asian economies, retched up enviable economic growth that spurred the interests and strategic concern of Western economies then. We were poised to be among the 'Asian Tigers', on par with Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong. We were, but then we weren't.

Somewhere along the lines, in the 80s and 90s, Malaysia lost out on the race. While other countries innovated and outleaped us with technological prowess and cutting edge financial sectors, Malaysia relied heavily upon labour input. The source of economic growth can be broken into three components – productivity (akin to technological improvement), labour and capital growth; Malaysia specialised in labour intensive activities. Some argue that this dependence on low wage labour input delayed the process of industrial upgrading. And hence, we have since been caught in this so-called 'middle income trap'.

Much of what is written on Malaysia's economic progress touches on the issue of Malaysia's 'middle income trap'. This notion of the middle income bubble is often tossed around without much understanding of its underlying fundamentals. Truth is, this middle income trap is a vague notion even among the ranks of economists. Economists ponder if this middle income trap is just a myth or indeed a genuine trap. One such discussion is outlined here.

To make things easy, the way I would see this middle income trap is that our country is currently in a position that is not price competitive enough to match low labour cost countries, nor do we have an edge against the technologically advanced countries. We cannot possibly ascend down, yet we are not climbing up. We are trapped!

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The roots of poverty in Sabah, Sarawak in Malaysia exposed!

Posted: 21 Oct 2013 09:57 AM PDT 

Non-compliance raises the question of whether a compliance mechanism must be set up or whether both Sabah and Sarawak should appeal to the international community and the United Nations to facilitate the departure of the two states from the Malaysian Federation. Singapore has been a precedent.

Daniel John Jambun, Chairman of the UK-based Borneo's Plight in Malaysia Foundation (BOPIM)


I will delve immediately into the subject proper of my Paper in conjunction with the forthcoming National Budget 2014 which will be unveiled by the Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak who is also the Finance Minister. Please bear with me. I will keep my address as brief as possible so that we may all ponder on the essential points that I am trying to make and which must be taken into consideration by the Federal Government.


I have nine major aspects to put before you as Food for Thought in view of the forthcoming National Budget 2014 and you may want to deliberate on them and post your comments below.

As many people know, the World Bank confirmed in Dec 2010 in Kota Kinabalu that Sabah and Sarawak had achieved the dubious distinction of bring the poorest and second poorest states in Malaysia. This is a figure derived at by using the figures of the Economic Planning Units of the Sabah and Sarawak Governments and the Economic Planning Unit in Putrajaya.


Forty per cent of Malaysia's poor, according to the World Bank, are in Sabah. This means that almost half of the poor people in Malaysia are in Sabah.


The poverty figures should come as no surprise since both Sabah and Sarawak are actually colonies of Malaya. More on that shortly.


Just contrast the economic development of Sabah and Sarawak with the status of neighbouring Brunei which stayed out from the Malaysian Federation at the last minute in 1963 and Singapore which left after two years in 1965.


By the end of 2010, the Singapore economy at US$ 210 billion GDP was bigger than the entire Malaysian economy by US$ 5 billion. This is indeed a shameful state of affairs and one that calls for the leadership in Putrajaya to admit that they are an incompetent and corrupt lot and beyond any redemption.


It would no longer do for Putrajaya to continue in a state of denial. Most of the much smaller Malaysian economy vis-à-vis Singapore is concentrated in Malaya.


Did Sabah and Sarawak federate, willingly or unwillingly, with Malaya and Singapore in 1963 to end up at the bottom of the dung heap along with the marginalized and disenfranchised elements of the Third Force in Malaya?


Patently, it's clear that something went seriously wrong for Sabah and Sarawak in the Malaysian Federation somewhere between 1963 and 2013, the 50th year in Malaysia. Most of the damage to the interests of the two Malaysian Borneo states in fact took place in the early years of independence.


The population of Sabah and Sarawak may be much smaller than that of Malaysia but the fact remains that this is compensated by the larger territorial area of Malaysian Borneo comparatively, its huge economic resources including vast acres of fertile land and consequently much bigger economic potential.


This is not however reflected in the Malaysian Parliament where the number of seats allotted to Malaysian Borneo at presents stands at 57 including the one held by the Federal Territory of Labuan. Malaya meanwhile has 165 seats in Parliament i.e. more than two-thirds – 148 seats is two-thirds -- and thereby depriving Sabah and Sarawak of veto power in legislation. It is clear that 19 of the seats held by Malaya in fact belong to Sabah and Sarawak. That would have left Malaya with 146 seats i.e. short of the two-thirds majority and thereby give Sabah, Sarawak veto power in Parliament, as envisaged by the 1963 Malaysia Agreement (MA63), on any amendment to the Federal Constitution. Veto power is part of the Basic Features Doctrine implied by MA63 in the Federal Constitution.


The rot set in when Singapore's exit from Malaysia saw Peninsular Malaysia taking half the 15 seats held by the island in Parliament. This altered the previous balance in Parliament between Malaya on the one hand and, on the other hand, Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak in the collective.


Malayan politicians like to make much of the issue that their much larger population must be reflected in the number of seats held in Parliament. If that's the case, why is it that Sabah with a much larger population of 3.2 million to Sarawak's 2.5 million has to make do with 25 seats in Parliament compared with the latter's 31 seats. If Sarawak's much larger territory vis-à-vis Sabah's and the latter's much larger population vis-à-vis the former's are both taken into consideration, both states should have the same number of seats in Parliament.


In any case, there's no dispute between Sabah and Sarawak on the allocation of seats in Parliament. It's immaterial whether Sabah or Sarawak, in comparison with each other, has a much larger number of parliamentary seats. The pertinent point is that Sabah and Sarawak, collectively, must have at least one seat more than one-third in Parliament.


The veto power of Sabah and Sarawak in the Malaysian Parliament must be restored.

Malayan politicians routinely also claim that rural seats must be given a certain weightage to compensate for their relative under-development vis-à-vis urban seats. This is supposed to account for rural seats having a smaller number of voters compared to those in the urban areas.


If that's the case, why is this formula not being applied in Sabah and Sarawak, which are largely rural, along the same lines as in Malaya?


The gross under-representation of Sabah and Sarawak in the Malaysian Parliament, and the deprival of their veto power in the process, has a direct co-relation to the grinding poverty levels in Malaysian Parliament.


It is recommended that no new Parliamentary seats be allocated to Malaya in future increases. If a moratorium is placed on their current 165 seats – to be taken as two-thirds minus one in a new equation or 34 per cent – some semblance of balance can be restored in the Malaysian Parliament.


Sabah and Sarawak's collective 57 seats, including Labuan, must be increased to 85 seats or 34 per cent for a Parliament of 250 seats. If the present 57 seats are deducted from the new proposed total, this gives us additional and new seats totaling 28 which can be shared equally between Sabah and Sarawak.


This will be reflected in the Malaysian Parliament as follows: Sabah 26 + 14 for 40 seats; Sarawak 31 + 14 for 45 seats; and Malaya still 165 seats. Grand Total: 250 seats in Parliament.


The composition of seats in the Malaysian Parliament must be considered together with the question of revenue sharing between the federal and state governments in general and in particular with the autonomous status of Sabah and Sarawak.


At present, the federal government takes all revenue from Sabah and Sarawak, leaving little for the states and leaving them with very little, if at all, revenue-raising powers. In return, very little of the federal revenue from Sabah and Sarawak comes back to the two states. This is the second major reason for the grinding poverty in Malaysia Borneo apart from unfair representation in the Parliament i.e. the first major reason.


The third major reason for our poverty is the fact that the federal government through Petronas gives only 5 per cent of the oil and gas revenue from the inner waters to Sabah and Sarawak and none from the water outers. Contrast this with the 70 per cent that the provinces are allowed to keep in neighbouring Indonesia. The central government in Jakarta takes only 30 per cent.


The fourth major reason for poverty is the fact that there's very little oil and gas infrastructure in Sabah and Sarawak. No attempts have been made to diversify the oil and gas sector through downstream activities and as well facilitate backward-and-forward integration.


The fifth major reason is that Borneonisation of the federal service in Sabah and Sarawak have been a non-starter and where implemented, non-Muslim natives and the Chinese and others have been deliberately left out in line with the vile racist master race policy of ketuanan Melayu (Malay supremacy and dominance).


The sixth major reason for the grinding poverty levels in Sabah and Sarawak has been the refusal of the federal government and their stooge governments in Sabah and Sarawak to respect the Adat.


Among others, this has seen the wholesale confiscation – with the active connivance of the police and Land Office -- of native customary rights (NCR) land and their alienation to the respective state government (by way of extension of forest reserves and the like), to state agencies, Government linked corporations (GLCs), federal agencies and private companies run by cronies of the ruling party. The phenomenon has been well-documented in numerous cases in court and in thousands of complaints lodged with the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) and at the respective Land Offices in Sabah and Sarawak.


This is a deliberate and systematic attempt to reduce the native communities of Sabah and Sarawak to the same pathetic situation of the Orang Asli in Malaya and the Indian underclass in Malaya displaced and dispossessed by the fragmentation of the estates and or their conversion for the purposes of urban development.


Stranded in urban shanty-towns with no personal documents, little marketable skills, often only a rudimentary education in Tamil, poor command of English and Bahasa Malaysia and without any social safety network, suicide is the only option for the Indian underclass given the reality of no upward social mobility. These are the people represented by Hindraf Makkal Sakthi, the NGO. These are the people taking to the streets ever so often these days and engaged in running battles with the police and authorities as they walk the path of urban guerrilla warfare and terrorism.


Likewise, the future of the natives companies in Sabah and Sarawak will indeed be very bleak without the social safety network afforded by NCR land. Therein lies the seeds of a bloody revolution in Borneo especially when our people start committing suicide, like the Indian underclass in Peninsular Malaysia, to opt out of a hopeless situation.


The native communities in Sabah and Sarawak are being pushed in the same direction as the Indian underclass in Malaya which is a whole lot worse than that of the Orang Asli who still has a little land with them. But for the Orang Asli, how much more time do they still have before they too start committing suicide on the scale of the Indian underclass. Poverty, as Mahatma Gandhi once observed, is the worst form of violence against a people.  


The seventh major reason for the grinding poverty in Borneo is the fact that Sabah and Sarawak are being treated as two of the states in Malaysia. This certainly should not be the case if one reads the Malaysia Agreement carefully, the 20/18 Points and other relevant documents including declassified ones available in the United Kingdom.


Sabah and Sarawak were brought together by the British with Singapore and Malaya in 1963 to form the Federation of Malaysia as equal partners. This means that Malaysia is a two-tier federation i.e. a federation of states in Malaya which are part of a greater federation of Malaya, Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore.


Hence, the federal government of Malaysia should be shared equally between Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak i.e. leaving out Singapore which has since quit the federation.


The departure of Singapore from Malaysia begs the question of whether the original federation in 1963 still exists or whether Sabah and Sarawak have been quietly incorporated as two of the states in the 1957 Federation of Malaya (now masquerading as Malaysia). This appears to be the case and must be considered seriously by our legal fraternity, the governments of Sabah, Sarawak, the federal government, the government of the United Kingdom and the United Nations.


Moving forward, it must be clear by now that after nearly 50 years of Malaysia, it cannot continue to be business as usual in Sabah and Sarawak.


Already, the federal government has been in non-compliance with the Malaysia Agreement.


Non-compliance raises the question of whether a compliance mechanism must be set up or whether both Sabah and Sarawak should appeal to the international community and the United Nations to facilitate the departure of the two states from the Malaysian Federation. Singapore has been a precedent.


It's unlikely that the Umno federal Government, obsessed with ketuanan Melayu, will ever consider any compliance mechanism for the Malaysia Agreement or give justice, belated as it may be, to Sabah and Sarawak. This must be borne in mind by those who are currently flogging the Borneo Agenda with the hope that the federal government will come to its senses. It may be a case of too little, too late.


The departure of the British colonialists in 1963 in fact saw the handover of our two nations to new colonialists in Malaya i.e. those who believe in the vile and racist master race policy of ketuanan Melayu (Malay supremacy and dominance).


The ketuanan Melayu policy in Sabah and Sarawak is kept going by local proxies of the ruling elite in Putrajaya and their stooges and rogue elements. These lackeys of Putrajaya are traitors who have participated in the colonial divide-and-rule policy of keeping the Chinese and majority non-Muslim natives out of the political mainstream and from the leverages of power.


To add insult to injury, they have willingly participated in the marginalization and disenfranchisement of their fellow countrymen through the placement of illegal immigrants on the local electoral rolls and the grant of MyKads through the backdoor by Putrajaya. What happened to the security promised us by Federation in 1963? This is the eighth major reason for the grinding poverty levels in Sabah and Sarawak.


Even more than the Chinese and non-Muslim natives communities, it's now the local Muslim native communities that are feeling the brunt of marginalization and disenfranchisement. They see their already small stake under Article 153 of the Federal Constitution being shared with the instant natives created from among the illegal immigrants.


In Sabah, local proxies of Putrajaya have now been dispensed with and Umno itself has struck roots to take half the seats in the state assembly and half the Sabah parliamentary seats. To mask their true intention, they invited MCA, MIC, Gerakan and the PPP from Malaya along for company and recently came up with the so-called 1Malaysia policy. This further ensures the continued enslavement of Sabah.


In Sarawak, Umno is poised to enter the state in the manner that they have done in Sabah. This is to ensure that the majority Dayak community will never be able to rule their own state.


On the final score, there is no Bumiputera in the Constitution or law, only the Orang Asal in Malaya (Orang Asli), Sabah (Dusunic and Murutic Groupings) and Sarawak (Dayak including the Sarawak Malay who are Dayak converts to Islam).


Malay -- Bugis, Javanese, Minang, Aceh, other Muslims -- in Malaya are not Orang Asal.


The ninth major reason, but certainly not the last, for the grinding poverty levels in Sabah and Sarawak is that first Malaysian prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman created the political term Bumiputera to include the Malay in the same category as the Orang Asal by the backdoor and thereby facilitate the ruling elite running up the National Debt Burden to plunder the National Treasury to feather their own nests (to live it up and/or accumulate capital) under the guise of Bumiputeraism and bringing so-called development to the people.


It's time for the international community and the United Nations to enter the picture and rescue Sabah and Sarawak from the gross violations of human rights taking place and restore our sovereignty and territorial integrity and guarantee our security. There's no longer any hope for us in Sabah and Sarawak. Something must be done, and done quickly, before the situation further degenerates into an even greater vicious cycle of poverty, ignorance, disease and violence.


Daniel John Jambun is a Political activist and formerly the Political Secretary to the Minister of Tourism and Environmental Development during the Party Bersatu Sabah (PBS) Government.

Malaysia: High Income Nation, but Low Income Rakyat

Posted: 21 Oct 2013 09:43 AM PDT 

Anas Alam Faizli

Malaysia's current socio economic structure can be summed up in four words, "Rich Malaysia, Poor Malaysians." Malaysia is blessed with abundant natural resources with petroleum being the most precious. Add the land, other commodity resources, large youthful population and the country has all the essential ingredients to flourish. How then did this small nation of 30 million manage to end up with the unsolicited title of among the region's most unequal nation between the rich and poor. What happened?

NEP: The Noble Intention, Initially

The NEP that was introduced in 1970 was the grand plan that were two things; our proactive action to begin developing the newly independent nation, and our reaction to the British Divide-and-Conquer system.

Textbooks tell us that the NEP strategy was two-pronged; eradication of poverty, and the restructuring of society. But what popular culture and the masses cannot help but to associate the NEP with is the deeply entrenched Bumiputera agenda at its core which target Bumiputeras to own 30 percent equity share in the Malaysian economy.

But "share of the economy" here apparently has broader connotations and implications. It expands from assets and equity ownership, right down to contract procurement, education quotas, and employment policies. Bumiputeras were the poorest of all ethnic groups. Thus the idea was to positively discriminate Bumiputeras, get them on their tracks, and realize a more equitable ownership of the economy. And thus we began traversing down this path of affirmative action.

As time went by and various development plans under the Malaysia Plan or Rancangan Malaysia were undertaken, tremendous improvements were made. Bumiputeras and Malaysians, in general, now own more assets than their parents. A middle class population burgeoned. Poverty rate, measured on an absolute basis, has gone from as high as 49.1 percent to 1.7 percent as reported in the latest Household Income Survey for 2012 published recently.

The Trickle-Down Disaster

Unfortunately, in the 1990s the equity target was still far off the target. Time was running out and Malaysia took a short cut with the ill-planned "trickledown" effect. Malaysia throttled down the road of enriching and empowering a few Bumiputeras who would go on to be successful entrepreneurs and asset owners and the subsequent multiplier effect will trickle down onto and propel the rest of the Bumiputera community. The philosophy was for this "trickledown" effect that surely, it was believed, would be inevitable.

The trickledown effect did not and does not work. Even the Prime Minister Dato' Seri Najib Tun Abd Razak himself acknowledged this in a recent interview with Martin Soong of CNBC. In fact, it perpetuated high inequality amongst Malaysians. It became something we so desperately clung on as an economic doctrine and still believed as true.

So even before we got there, we are now taking on a new "Malaysian Dream". Surely, it is only natural that the next course of action is aiming for a bigger middle class. Or are we really achieving it?

Yet Another Missing Target?

We say High Income Nation is the way to go and have set a new target to achieve a per capita income of US$15,000 by year 2020. It means the Gross National Income (GNI) - a measure of the country's production adjusted with net incomes from overseas - divided by the country's population must equal US$15,000. That target, we are told, is achievable by 2017-2018. Currently, our per capital income is $US9,970.

Never mind that many of the relatively lower income-earners find themselves in pretty much the same position on a relative basis. Never mind that Bumiputera households are still the poorest on average in the bottom 40 percent rung of Malaysian households. Never mind that even if most of this nation's income in year 2020 accrued to say, only 100 of the richest people in the country, we can achieve that $15,000 per capita target because it is grossly divided by the whole population.

Measuring income in US dollar term is already problematic. Many in the research community and the public have expressed concern about this as the US dollar is not the currency that most Malaysians earn and transact in. So when the Ringgit was stronger than US Dollars last year, we have every reason to question whether GNI per capita measured in dollar terms, represented the true magnitude of growth per capita, and whether this target is truly achievable.

But even if we put this currency issue aside, the $US15,000 per capita income target cannot be that headline "dream" we can congratulate ourselves on when achieved.

Here are some reasons why:

Rich Malaysia, Poor Malaysians

Firstly, for majority Malaysian households, about 90 percent of their incomes are attributed to wage and salary, including self-employment. Even for those who can afford to own some assets, this is still true. What more those who do not even own assets, and thus do not have incomes from owning assets.

Note that Malaysian GDP (measured using the income method) will indicate the following breakdown: 28 percent wages and salaries, 67 percent business profits (including mixed income), and 5 percent taxes and subsidies. What does this mean? It means that out of total GDP, only 28 percent is attributable to the working Malaysian population.

For the past 15 years, the contribution of wages and salaries to Malaysian GDP has fluctuated between 26 to 32 percent and the only reason it hiked up to 32 was because of the recession in 2008 when corporate profits declined. In Singapore, this number is already as high as 42 percent in 1997.

In other developed countries such as Korea, Canada, the UK and Japan, the corresponding number is 46 percent, 51 percent, 55 percent and 52 percent, respectively. Malaysians are not getting the bulk of the country's production into their pockets! This is set to worsen; the ETP's document (A Roadmap for Malaysia: Chapter 2) itself indicated that forecasted wages over GDP for the NKEAs will drop to as low as 21 percent in 2020! What are we smoking and what are our priorities, really?

In fact, for the past 15 years as well, the salaries of Malaysian workers have been lagging behind our productivity. Productivity growth rates were in line with rates of growth of salary circa 1998, but it has been slowly lagging thereon. As of last year, the productivity in the manufacturing sector is 45 percent above salaries. This roughly translates into the fact that our workers are under-paid by at least 45 percent. All this illustrates how GNI per capita will not represent well the incomes that majority Malaysians will enjoy as wages and salaries.

Secondly, more than 90% of the wage-earning workforce does not even earn much. Only 11.05 percent of government income is generated from personal income tax and only 1.7 million of the 12.4 million workforce is eligible to pay tax. EPF reported that 78.6% of its contributors database earn RM3,000 monthly or less. This is another illustration of how low the majority of the Malaysian people's incomes are at the individual level. So what is this High Income Nation we are about to achieve in a few years? A High Income Nation with a low earning population?

Thirdly, there is the grave issue of purchasing power. High income alone does not necessarily translate into better economic well-being and quality of life if that high income cannot purchase much. A simple analysis would show how a fresh graduate in 1980 could purchase more compared to today's graduate. With an estimated pay of RM1,000 a graduate could afford an Opel Gemini costing RM12,400 or about 12 months of his salary and purchase a decent house, perhaps even in Taman Tun, costing at RM62,000 or 56 months of his salary.

Today, a graduate can have a basic pay of RM2,500 which is only 2.5 times higher than a graduate in 1980. But a comparable Mazda 6 now costs RM178,000 or about 71 months of his salary and a decent house far outside Kuala Lumpur, say in Nilai, would cost RM350,000 or 140 months of his salary. The cost of living has spiraled viciously upwards and the purchasing power of the average salary man has slumped.

Fourthly is the issue of inequality, and this is by far the most compelling argument against a headline US$15,000 High Income Nation target. There is a reason that many academics, civil society groups and the people at large have recently been blowing the inequality trumpet; Malaysia has among the highest income disparities in the region. On August 3, 2013 the Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni has also acknowledged this.

Income growth measured from 1970 have shown that the Top 20 percent households far overtake that of the Middle 40 percent and the Bottom 40 percent households, while the income gap between them on average is widening. The GINI coefficient, which measures the degree of disparity between the highest income and the lowest income, remained rather stubbornly high without any improvement around 0.43 to 0.44 across the span of the past 20 years for Malaysia.

Earning RM10,000 a month on a household basis will already put you as the top 4 percent of Malaysian households, and essentially in the same group as even tycoons like Ananda Krishnan. 73 percent of households earn less than RM5,000, with an average of 2 income earners or workers per household. This alone shows how much disparity there is. Furthermore, it renders our $15,000 High Income Nation target achievable in form, yet void in spirit and substance.

How did this high and persisting inequality happen? The failure of that very "trickledown effect" that we hoped for is a major contributor. The continuous enrichment of the select few continuously fosters this gap in a long and perpetual cycle. The inequality in our education system also contributed to the large 77 percent of Malaysian workers being only SPM qualified and below thereby commanding low salary levels.

For the sake of profits, businesses are unwilling to invest in productivity and training of locals. We appease the business community by giving way to large influx of foreign workers, especially in factories, in place of relatively more expensive locals. The myth that locals are choosy and unwilling to work in factories is then proliferated, despite locals being able to work in factories if compensated adequately. This is proven in the oil and gas industry; hard laboring welders and fitters are all local Malaysians, despite having to work under scorching heat, as the compensation is rewarding.

So What is Really the Malaysian Dream?

We do not have one! But if we plan to have one, we cannot leave the average salary man behind, the man that forms more than 80% of the Malaysian population. We need a dream that is inclusive and holistic and addresses quality livelihood for Malaysians at large, and not just a select few.

Income inequality is a very serious impediment to our hopes for a truly developed nation. It would be a great irony if the majority of Malaysians do not truly experience that high-income status, once we reach that $US15,000 mark. 

How are we to declare ourselves high income when the effects of inequality such as crime, unemployment, health and social problems as well depleting social goods will be so apparent? Even if we do make that high-income bar, problems that emerge out of inequality raise serious questions about the sustainability of that high-income status.

For as long as we do not come together, commit to say no to inequality in resolute, and help alleviate the bottom 60 percent potential economic producers, this problem will not solve itself and will come back to haunt us. 

Moving forward our policies should be designed and constructed based on this understanding. We would have not proposed a regressive GST to increase our source of revenue if we understood this fact. 

We would have instead tried to increase revenue from other sources that will not hurt the majority of our people like the inheritance tax, progressive taxation and capital gains tax. 

But that argument, is for another day.

"There should exist among the citizens neither extreme poverty nor, again, excessive wealth, for both are productive of great evil." (Plato)

*A version of this article first appeared in The Edge on 19th October 2013

** Anas Alam Faizli is an oil and gas professional. He is pursuing a post-graduate doctorate, co-Founder of BLINDSPOT and BANTAH TPPA and tweets at @aafaizli

Slaughtering animals in school - lawful or unlawful?

Posted: 21 Oct 2013 09:31 AM PDT 

I did not speak anything bad about any religion in the video but it was taken as religious hatred among Papagomo's fan club. 

Saravanan Forever 

On the 17th, I gave a media statement regarding unconstitutional animal slaughter in our National schools. I thank all Malaysians who have discussed the matter in a good manner. It is very important for us to have such healthy debate and discussions in a democratic country to find a solution for slaughtering animals in school during school hours.

The video conversation between the school headmaster and I went viral on Facebook. Once again I would like to thank UMNO blogger Papagomo for highlighting the issue nationwide. The issue in the video was, is there any provision to slaughter animals in the school which was approved by the education ministry or was it done unlawfully? That was my point again and again in the video.

I did mention slaughtering pigs but it was just an example. As an animal lover I will never agree with pig slaughtering even if the government approves it.

I did not speak anything bad about any religion in the video but it was taken as religious hatred among Papagomo's fan club. Some of the comments said they would like to chop me into pieces, kill me, keling pariah and balik India. As a secular country, all citizens have the right to freedom of speech when it is necessary. I request our PDRM to arrest those who gave death threats.

I believe our police will do their job concerning death threats.

The issue regarding cow slaughtering in schools is something that needs to be discussed by parliamentarians. This is a public interest issue since it was highlighted by the media. Malaysians will obey the law if both Pakatan and Barisan parliamentarians can discuss and agree to this matter. There should be a solution found. By letting the matter hang without solution will cause hatred between the races. I am sure other Malaysians feel the same as I.

All newly released movies have to go through Finas and will be labelled as U, 18, 16 and 12. This is because some movies are not suitable for certain age groups since the slaughtering done in schools may cause psychological trauma to the students who are underaged. My final opinion till parliamentarians decide to debate about it is, our rational thinking Malaysians should keep on discussing the matter. Those who helped me to highlight the issue as such as Papagomo should keep on giving a good momentum to this issue. 

Please sign the petition in the link below:

'Dr M will oust Najib following son's failure to secure VP post'

Posted: 20 Oct 2013 06:33 PM PDT

Sean Augustin,

Opposition lawmaker and blogger Datuk Mohd Ariff Sabri Abdul Aziz claims Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad will avenge his son's failure to secure an Umno vice-president post by ousting the Prime Minister.

Mohd Ariff said the former prime minister would come out with "guns blazing" and has already laid down the issues, such as Datuk Seri Najib Razak's failure at transformation, incompetence at managing the economy and out of control spending.

Mahathir, Mohd Ariff said, has even taken aim at the BR1M programmes, an initiative which sees financial aid distributed to households earning less than RM3,000 a month.

"Dr Mahathir now will spend his waking hours with insatiable rage.

"So from now on here, Dr Mahathir will train his canons towards Najib. And boy, does he have many," the Raub MP, commonly known by his blogger name of Sakmongkol AK47, wrote in his blog today.

Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir lost a six-cornered battle at the party elections on Saturday, despite putting up a spirited fight. The Kedah menteri besar won 91 divisional votes, just nine divisional votes shy of incumbent Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein.

Mohd Ariff pointed out that when Mukhriz lost his bid to become the Umno Youth chief, Mahathir got his revenge by engineering the exit of his successor Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi by persuading Umno leaders to revolt against the fifth prime minister.

The difference between Najib and Abdullah, the DAP politician said, was that the former "did not fall asleep on the job", in reference to Abdullah's habit of dozing off which was attributed to sleep apnea.

Najib, Mohd Ariff claimed, would have called up the Umno liaison chiefs and operatives at state levels and stated he wanted to retain status quo.

Citing his experience as Najib's former information chief, he went on to state that the Umno president would avoid direct frontal attacks and use subterfuge as well as works insidiously.

"If Dr Mahathir calls, what can he offer but a fading memory of who he once was? Out of power, means out of sight means Dr Mahathir is ignorable," said Mohd Ariff, who had previously served as an Umno assembly member in Pahang.

On a separate matter, Mohd Ariff alleged that more than RM250 million was spent on the 146,000 delegates to elect the Umno Supreme Council members.


Minister: OK for peninsular Christians to use ‘Allah’ in masses

Posted: 20 Oct 2013 05:13 PM PDT

(MM) - A minister in the Prime Minister's Department insisted today that Christians in Peninsular Malaysia can still use the word "Allah" in their weekly masses, even after the recent ruling by the Court of Appeal.

Tan Sri Joseph Kurup also urged Malaysians to stop practising racial and religious bigotry, which he said is the root cause behind the deteriorating solidarity between Malaysians.

"I am aware that the ruling is only applicable to the Herald case. It is specific to the Herald case. This means those who are in Sabah and Sarawak are still free to use that "Allah" word," Kurup told reporters here.

The minister in charge of national unity also answered "yes" when asked for his opinion whether the word can still be used by Christians in their weekly masses in Peninsular Malaysia.

The Court of Appeal ruled last week against a 2009 High Court decision allowing the Catholic Church to refer to the Christian god with the Arabic word "Allah" in the Bahasa Malaysia section of its weekly paper, the Herald.

The court adjudged the usage of the word "Allah" as not integral to the Christian faith and said that allowing such an application would cause confusion in the Muslim community.

Former attorney-general Tan Sri Abu Talib Othman had since weighed in on Saturday, saying that all Malaysians are bound by the ruling, not just those in the peninsula.

Meanwhile, current attorney-general Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail had said that the Home Minister has the discretion to ban any words deemed "prejudicial or likely to be prejudicial" in regards to national security and public order.

In his speech during the launch of December's Global Peace Conference 2013 today, Kurup said that racial and religious bigotries "totally contradict" Putrajaya's national reconciliation efforts and the Federal Constitution itself.

According to Kurup, the Constitution guarantees the right of every ethnic group to worship in their own religions and to preserve their own languages and culture.

"Racial and religious bigotry are the cause for our anger and frustration and the root problem of our nation's deteriorating solidarity and unity. This must stop," he said.

"Everyone especially political and religious leaders should be more careful in what they articulate in public forums so not to stir up racial sentiments and to avoid further dividing our communities."

Catholic Archbishop Tan Sri Murphy Pakiam has said today that denying Malay-speaking Christians the right to describe God as "Allah" in their worship and in the Al-Kitab is tantamount to persecution.

The archbishop of Kuala Lumpur also pointed out that more than half of the Catholic Church's parish churches and chapels in the peninsula conduct at least one worship service or catechism lessons weekly in Bahasa Malaysia, in order to cater to the thousands of Bahasa Malaysia-speaking Christians from Sabah and Sarawak who live here.

Churches in Sabah and Sarawak have said that they will continue their age-old practice of referring to God as "Allah" in their worship and in their holy scriptures.

Several ministers also said recently that the 10-point solution issued by Putrajaya in 2011 — which allows the printing, importation and distribution of the Al-Kitab, the Bahasa Malaysia version of the Christian bible, containing the word "Allah" — should stand, despite the appellate court ruling. 


PMO defends Felda’s RM500m London hotel foray, says will bring yield

Posted: 20 Oct 2013 05:03 PM PDT

(MM) - Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Razali Ibrahim insisted today that the Federal Land Development Authority's (Felda) RM500 million investment into a hotel in London will bring yield, although he could not give an estimated figure.

He was responding to Bagan MP Lim Guan Eng's question in Parliament on the amount and type of investment made by Felda in the hotel business in London, which was not related to its core business of commodity plantation.

The DAP politician had also asked the Prime Minister's Department to state Felda's financial performance and whether the revenue is adequate to finance the capital expenditures or investment cost.

"The cost to buy the hotel or serviced apartments was £98 million (RM502 million), but valuation on paper is £115 million and, according to our research, that place can bring in profit because it has an occupancy rate of 90 per cent every month.

"The investment is an opportunity for the subsidiary company, but I can't answer if the investment can bring profit or if the capex will be enough," the Muar MP said.

Residential Land sold the freehold of Grand Plaza Serviced Apartments for £98 million to FIC UK Properties, a subsidiary of Felda Investment Corporation (FIC) Sdn Bhd in early September 2013.

The serviced apartment is one of the biggest in London, has 198 apartments across 13 period stucco-fronted buildings over 105,044 square feet, near the Bayswater Subway station.

Razali said that it is important to not "put everything in one basket", in justifying the Felda's move to invest in non-agricultural sectors. Felda now owns nine hotels in total.

Last month, Lim had asked Felda chairman Tan Sri Isa Abdul Samad to own up to the "real reasons" behind FELDA's decision to invest some RM700 million in the hospitality and information technology sectors.

Chided by Isa for being a busybody, the opposition lawmaker retorted that the FELDA chairman owed an explanation to the one million-plus FELDA settlers the reason for the land authority's decision to spend nearly RM600 million to buy two hotels and a further RM110 million to acquire a 25 per cent stake in public-listed Iris Corp instead of parking their money in a field related to agriculture, its core business.

Isa had also recently denied reports that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACCA) is investigating the purchase, as reported by the news portal The Malaysian Insider.

There are seven subsidiaries under Felda, three of which are not involved in its core business.

They are Felda Global Ventures Middle East Sdn Bhd, Grand Borneo Hotel Sdn Dhd, and its investment arm, FIC, he said.

"All the investments by the subsidiaries are being monitored closely," the Umno Youth vice-chief said. 


In latest law tweak, jail time for officers who expose government secrets

Posted: 20 Oct 2013 04:58 PM PDT

(MM) - In yet another move likely to rile civil rights activists and lawmakers here, Putrajaya is expected to table an amendment Bill this week seeking jail term for officers who disclose government information to the public.

PKR lawmaker N. Surendran called today for Putrajaya to stop its plan to table the amendment, which will introduce the brand new Section 203A to the Penal Code, saying it would only create a law even more restrictive than the Officil Secrets Act (OSA) 1972.

"This provision is unprecedented in any modern democracy; and is more suited to one-party states such as North Korea.

"With this provision, the BN is dragging Malaysia further into the dark ages. Why does the BN government need such a stifling and undemocratic law? What do they want to hide from the public?" the Padang Serai MP was quoted as saying in a report on Malaysiakini.

The first-term parliamentarian pointed out that unlike the OSA, which views only certain information classified by the minister or his agents as secret, Section 203A sees everything as restricted information.

"This provision is clearly intended to prevent the public from obtaining information that can expose corruption, financial scandals and mismanagement by the BN government," he said.

The federal opposition have long campaigned against the OSA, which they argue have been abused by the Barisan Nasional (BN) leadership to hide excesses and mismanagement in the government.

Lawmakers from Pakatan Rakyat (PR) have often been accused of running afoul of the controversial OSA when exposing alleged government wrongdoing in the media but they insist that such information should be made accessible to all parties.

Two PR states — Selangor and Penang — have even passed Freedom of Information enactments to prove their transparency and support for free access to information, allowing members of the public to request any information from the state that do not fall under the jurisdiction of restrictions under federal law. 


Allah issue: One too many lies for Borneo

Posted: 20 Oct 2013 04:11 PM PDT

Christians in Sabah and Sarawak were being convinced they can practice their faith in peace, but history tells a different tale.

Pushparani Thilaganathan and Winston Way, FMT

KUCHING: Christians in Sabah and Sarawak are skeptical and uncertain about the reassurances being mouthed by their elected leaders in Putrajaya and in Borneo.

Both states have been assured that the perceived contentious ruling barring the use of the term 'Allah' in the Catholic publication, The Herald, would not affect them.

But history has a different tale.

Assurance and re-assurances aside, Borneo Christians have seen a litany of anti-Christian actions.

Among them the Home Ministry seizing bibles and 'criminalising' them with a "Christian only" and serialised numbers stamp.

They've heard calls to burn the bible and remove the term 'Allah' from its Bahasa Malaysia versions.

They've also read about acts of arson aimed at their churches and the alleged mass forced conversions for the sake of citizenry and to prop up a Muslim Umno-led government dating back to the late 1980s.

All this against a silent Umno-led Barisan Nasional federal leadership, which today sits in Putrajaya because of Borneo's support.

Borneo contributed 47 MP seats to enable Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak to retain his hold on Putrajaya. Borneo is predominantly Christians. Sarawak has a Christian majority and Sabah a sizeable closet Christian population.

The double-standard is decidedly obvious. The flexing and implementation of relevant laws bias.

The so-called social contract binding the communities interest by the founding federal fathers and the spirit and terms of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 have long since been overtaken by 'political expedience' and now buried.

The Court of Appeal's decision last Monday overruling a December 2009 High Court judgment allowing Catholic publication The Herald to use the term 'Allah' in their Bahasa Malaysia version is being perceived as the "last straw".

'Judgment influenced by bigots'

While some see the judgment as peculiar to Herald publication, in that it was based on a Dec 5, 1986 Home Ministry directive anchored in the Printing Presses and Publications Act, others opined that the court ruling was too "wide" and allowed various interpretations, which incidentally the 'ultras' in peninsula have already latched on, pushing ahead with their Ketuanan Melayu and Islam agenda.

The written judgment, an observer summarised, had focused on Herald's use of the term 'Allah' which had already been 'outlawed' by the Home Ministry in 1986 as part of its precondition to issuing publication permits.

The judgment by Justice Mohamad Apandi Ali ruled that Herald on record is 14-years-old and was privy to this knowledge.

The Herald, it deemed was not the bible and as such subject to the terms of the Printing Presses and Publications Act.

The judgment also noted that Herald had received an admonition in 1998 for use of the term. In 2002 it received a warning letter and in 2006 a second admonition.

Herald received three warning letters before a show-cause was issued in 2007 and the word Allah banned in 2008.

Irrespective of the socio-legal views expressed, the opportunistic reactions of the Malay 'ultras' and the politicians in the peninsular has driven a deep wedge between the communities in the country.

It has not only pushed away thinking rational Malaysians but also the "fixed deposit" native Christians here and its brethrens in Sabah majority of whom voted in Barisan Nasional in the state and parliamentary polls.

Senior lawyer and Ba Kelalan assemblyman Baru Bian said although the Christians had been assured that they would be free to practice their faith, he doubted if they "depended" on the government's words.

"Do not for one instant believe that this (assurances by the government) is the truth of the matter.

"We have learned that even the words, assurance and undertaking by the prime minister himself does not hold water anymore.

"We know the government's judgment may be influenced by the provocation and pressure from religious bigots like Perkasa.

"I find it absolutely mind-boggling that certain groups and individuals have responded to the court decision with apparent nonchalance, saying that the decision is confined to The Herald or to West Malaysia.

"It's a naive view… the issue involving the use of 'Allah' has been affecting Sabahans and Sarawakians even before Herald case was mentioned in court," Bian said.



Uncommon Sense with Wong Chin Huat: On the “Allah” judgement

Posted: 20 Oct 2013 01:28 PM PDT 

By this logic, curbs on using the Malay language can be extended beyond "Allah" or any of the other words that the Home Ministry and various state laws have declared are exclusive to Muslims. Now, if the use of Malay for religious purposes is meant for Muslims only, can Malay still be the national language? How can a language be a national language if its use can be limited to a particular racial or religious group?

By Jacqueline Ann Surin, The Nut Graph 

THE 14 Oct 2013 Court of Appeal ruling that upheld the ban on the Catholic Church from using "Allah" in its publication, The Herald, wasn't unexpected. And it has been criticised both nationally and internationally, including by Muslims.

Barisan Nasional (BN) component parties and leaders from Sabahand Sarawak have also cried foul over the government's actions and the court's decision. And in what can only be described as confused, the cabinet has decided that despite the Court of Appeal's ruling, "Allah" can still be used in Christian worship and in the Bahasa Malaysia bibles in Sabah and Sarawak.

The Catholic Church can still appeal the appelate court's decision at the Federal Court and several quarters believe that would be the right thing to do because much is at stake. Dr Wong Chin Huat expounds on the implications of the Court of Appeal ruling, how Malaysia has come to this, and what needs to happen for the mess to be undone.

TNG: What are the implications of the Court of Appeal decision? 

Firstly, Judge Mohamed Apandi Ali has attempted to redefine our nationhood with implications more far-reaching than Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's 2001 "Islamic state" declaration. How so? The judge makes the guarantee of fundamental liberties dependent on a peculiar and expansionist reading of Article 3(1) of the Federal Constitution. Article 3(1) states that, "Islam is the religion of the federation but other religions may be practiced in peace and harmony in any part of the federation".

What's problematic is that Mohamed Apandi ruled that the intention of "in peace and harmony" in Article 3(1) was to "protect the sanctity of Islam" and to "insulate" it against any threat. The judge also claimed that this was part of the social contract intended by the nation's founding leaders. However, it is well-known that the original purpose of Article 3(1) was to provide a ceremonial role for Islam while ensuring that Malaysia remained a secular state where other faith groups could worship in peace and harmony. It was not meant to do what the judge claims it is supposed to do.

The judgement's second implication is it affirms a culture of impunity. In effect, the judgment is saying that the state can curb your constitutional rights if by exercising these rights, you upset others who decide to act violently because they are confused. Judge Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahim cites the arson attacks on churches and mosques after the 2009 High Court judgement which overturned the ban on "Allah" to justify the ban among non-Muslims. By doing so, the judge completely relieves the state of any responsibility to ensure law and order.

The third implication concerns the status of Malay as the national language. Making an explicit reference to Article 160, Mohamed Apandi further justifies his judgement by stressing that the constitutional definition of Malay is "a person who professes the religion of Islam" and "habitually speaks the Malay language". Hence, the judge drives home the point that since Malays, who are by default Muslims, speak the Malay language and "Allah" is deemed to be from the Malay language, then the use of "Allah" by non-Muslims may disrupt peace and harmony.

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