Mediarakyat http://mediarakyat.net Information for the people Sat, 22 Jul 2017 13:23:42 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.15 Malaysia’s Turning Point http://mediarakyat.net/2017/07/22/19417/ http://mediarakyat.net/2017/07/22/19417/#comments Sat, 22 Jul 2017 13:13:38 +0000 http://mediarakyat.net/?p=19417 By Liew Chin Tong

When the dust settles after the next general election, especially if a Pakatan Harapan government were to be installed, history is likely to mark 14th July 2017 as the turning point that made the difference.

A press conference was held at 1230a.m. on 14th July 2017 at the Parti KeADILan Rakyat headquarters. Pakatan Harapan unveiled its symbol, leadership line-up and initial policy platforms.

PHThe historical moment could be experienced in many ways. It was the end of a four-hour long meeting; the joyous conclusion of months of agony on how to effectively consolidate Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia with the existing Pakatan Harapan parties, namely PKR, DAP and Amanah; and the grand reconciliation of an acrimonious two-decade political battle between Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, and the forces aligned with them.

Now BN can be defeated

Regardless, a new air prevails everywhere. There is a sudden surge of hope that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, UMNO and Barisan Nasional can now be defeated.

And visibly, the Najib government did panic. Ministers were still sticking to the old script that the DAP calls the shots in Pakatan Harapan in order to put fear into Malay voters while Najib stood in front attacking Dr. Mahathir as if their roles changed – Mahathir the establishment and Najib the opposition.

What was not articulated but was nevertheless most significant was the complete collapse of Najib’s three-pronged strategy to dismantle the Opposition which he had been using since the 2013 general election.

Najib lost the popular vote then and knew very clearly that, despite all the built-in advantages of incumbency, he and Barisan Nasional would not survive another direct head-on electoral clash with an Anwar-led Pakatan Rakyat.

The Pakatan formula back then presented Anwar Ibrahim as the central protagonist with a prime ministerial aura, who could bring together all Opposition forces onto a common platform. There were two ways for Najib to counter the challenge. The democratic—and ethical—route was to reform the government and genuinely win the hearts and minds of voters. But, as the 1MDB scandal showed, he had instead no qualms about using underhanded methods and highly dubious means.

Liew Chin TongHow to destroy Pakatan Harapan

Najib’s strategies have been:

First, to take Anwar Ibrahim out of the equation and thus leave the Opposition without a leader with prime ministerial appeal;

Second, to lure PAS into Barisan Nasional’s orbit and thus split the Opposition along ethnic and religious lines (making PAS the main spokesperson against DAP), and coordinating with PAS to run three-cornered fights to split Opposition support; and,

Third, since the central figure of Malay leader (Anwar) was removed and with PAS in BN’s pocket, the most convenient campaign was to call the Opposition “Chinese” and DAP-dominated to worsen fears among Malay voters in the hope that they would then vote for BN in droves.

In short, Najib planned to win by default by systematically dismantling the Opposition. And, in the first half of 2017, Najib was under the illusion that he would win a landslide and retain the seat of power and perhaps stay for as long as another decade. And so, with great confidence, he was seen attempting to remove prominent UMNO leaders and warlords before the next general election and putting in a new generation of loyalists in their stead.

Had Najib called for snap elections in the second half of 2016, or even early 2017, the chances of a handsome victory for Barisan Nasional was in fact highly possible.

Between the May 2013 election and the huge turnout of 300,000 at BERSIH 4 on 30th and 31st August 2015, the Opposition’s non-Malay support base generally held on despite numerous setbacks. After the opposition’s defeat in the Sarawak State Election in May 2016 and in the twin by-elections in Kuala Kangsar and Sungai Besar in June 2016, hope that a change of government was still possible finally waned.

Fatigue, disappointment and hopelessness dominated public conversations.

Luring PAS

Before this, the year of 2014 had seen Anwar’s attempt to resurrect his leadership through the Kajang Move being immediately stopped by the courts, by PAS, by the royal house and other rivals. He was sent to Sungai Buloh prison on 10th February 2015.

Two days later, PAS’ pro-Pakatan Mursyidul Am Tok Guru Nik Aziz Nik Mat passed away on 12th February 2015, paving the way for the Hadi-Najib/PAS-UMNO collaboration.

Datuk Seri Hadi Awang’s rejection of Anwar’s Kajang Move and the subsequent snubbing of Datuk Seri Wan Azizah Wan Ismail’s candidature as Menteri Besar of Selangor throughout 2014, as well as the open collaboration of PAS with UMNO on the hudud issue from March 2014 onwards, meant that Pakatan Rakyat was no longer tenable and PAS was no longer be a reliable coalition partner.

Since the 8th March 2008 election, UMNO has in fact been attempting to lure PAS into forming a de facto coalition in order to break up the multi-ethnic Pakatan Rakyat and thus end the possibility of a change of government.

PAS remained in Pakatan Rakyat very much because of Nik Aziz’s commitment towards defeating UMNO, as well as the presence of progressive leaders within the party, most of whom had emerged during the reformasi period with a clear idea that PAS must work as a coalition partner in a multi-ethnic setup.

Fundamentally, the only way to defeat UMNO and Barisan Nasional at the ballot box is to form a formidable coalition that can win across ethnic lines, as well as gain significant ground across the South China Sea in Sabah and Sarawak.

The progressives in PAS left the party after the muktamar in June 2015, which also marked the demise of Pakatan Rakyat. They formed Parti Amanah Negara instead on 16th September 2015, and already on 22nd September 2015, it had joined PKR and DAP to form Pakatan Harapan.

Vacuum of leadership

From early 2015 onwards, detailed information about scandals involving Najib, Jho Low and 1MDB became available through Sarawak Report. New York Times reported some of the details in March 2015, which shocked the nation and caused Najib to rally the divisional chiefs of UMNO.

The July 2015 report by Wall Street Journal about the USD 681 million deposit in Najib’s personal account triggered an attempt to dislodge Najib from within, but was thwarted through his removal of Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, Rural and Regional Development Minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal and the Attorney-General Tan Sri Gani Patail on 28th July 2015. Some other critics were co-opted, such as former Public Accounts Committee chairman Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed.

Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir was ousted in February 2016, confirming Najib’s grip over UMNO but widening the gulf between the UMNO elite and non-partisan ordinary Malays.

UMNO leaders who couldn’t accept Najib’s grand corruption yet refused to be co-opted found themselves voiceless. Najib’s support among Malays specifically and among Malaysians in general plummeted hugely by the end of 2015.

There was a vacuum of leadership for the anti-Najib Malays.

Mahathir’s move

There were attempts by Dr. Mahathir to realign with civil society such as his two visits to BERSIH 4.0 rally on 30th and 31st August 2015 but did not get very far due to huge resistance from civil society leaders.

Finally, Dr. Mahathir moved boldly by quitting UMNO on 29th February 2016 and initiating the Citizen’s Declaration on 4th March 2016.

The Citizen’s Declaration as a social movement didn’t get much beyond collecting some signatures, but the visual impact of Dr. Mahathir sitting alongside Lim Kit Siang sent shockwaves throughout the country. I was with a senior minister from Mahathir’s era the day before the event. He was trying to persuade Mahathir to avoid having Kit Siang at the first press conference. “Leave it to the second phase.” Also within DAP, many were unhappy with Kit Siang’s gesture.

Both Kit Siang and Dr. Mahathir knew that for a grand coalition to be effective in countering Najib’s systematic dismantling of the Opposition, they had to find a way to cooperate. Both were attacked by their respective constituencies savagely but they held their ground. And they eventually prevailed.

Muhyiddin and Mahathir then formed Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia in September 2016 to serve as a platform for anti-Najib Malays.

Dr. Mahathir was quick to recognize that a single coalition was crucial for winning the next election. He told the Pakatan Harapan convention on 12th November 2016 that Bersatu was prepared to be a member of Pakatan Harapan. Other Bersatu leaders were still thinking of a loose coalition with Pakatan Harapan parties so as to enable Bersatu to have a separate arrangement with PAS.

On 4th December 2016, two events were held in the capital. Najib attended together with Hadi Awang an event for showing support for the Rohingyas while Dr. Mahathir, together with other Pakatan Harapan leaders attended DAP National Conference. The contrasting visuals were very telling about the new political landscape.

New solid Pakatan Harapan

Bersatu and the original Pakatan Harapan parties signed an agreement on 13th December 2016, commencing the “PH + Bersatu” period of cooperation. On 27th March 2017, Bersatu joined Pakatan Harapan as an official component in line with Dr Mahathir’s wish for a tighter format in order to maximize public confidence in the Opposition.

The big announcements that elated the nation on 14th July and gave everyone hope did not come out of nowhere. It was the result of many difficult negotiations.

Four Presidential Council meetings were held on 30th April at the PPBM office, 31st May at Perdana Leadership Foundation, 9th June at the PPBM office and 13th July at the PKR office, not to mention the numerous smaller meetings in between held in multiple formats and groupings.

That the parties come together as a coalition naturally means that they are different and have different constituencies, otherwise they could have just formed a single party. At the heart of it was the question of how the 1997 split between Anwar and Mahathir could ever reconcile in 2017. After all, there is the subtle question of competing pre-eminence between PKR and PPBM.

The process was deadlocked at the 9th June meeting but “unlocked” after Dr. Mahathir and Nurul Izzah Anwar met in London during Hari Raya Aidilfitri. The London meeting paved the way for the eventual deal.

During the months of deadlock, whenever I was asked about the situation, my standard answer was that I didn’t mind giving the 20-year rivalry a few more days or weeks to reach a genuine, candid and full reconciliation. And if it was genuine, the nation would feel it and it would be inspiring and uplifting, which is exactly what is felt now.

Together again

Now the nation feels that a change of government – led by Mahathir and Anwar together – is the return to the golden era of the pre-1997 roaring ‘90s. There is a new ambience.

Significantly, the 14th July meeting was Mahathir’s first visit to PKR headquarters – the home base of the party formed to oppose his rule two decades ago.

Anwar and Mahathir have been the most important voices shaping national politics since the late 1960s. Dr. Mahathir became an MP in 1964, Anwar was a well-known student leader in the second half of the 1960s. The duo had collaborated since those early days. Dr. Mahathir’s supposedly secret letter to Tunku Abdul Rahman calling for the latter’s resignation after the May 13th riots was widely distributed in Kuala Lumpur by student groups linked to Anwar.

Anwar was seen as Mahathir’s political son between his entry into UMNO a week before the 1982 general election until his dismissal on 2nd September 1998.

In the last half a century, both Anwar and Mahathir had their devout followers and were also able to reach out to the middle ground in a way no other politician could. There have always been some who sacrificed for their idol even when he was in the political wilderness or, in the case of Anwar, prison.

Najib has never enjoyed such devotion, and Khairy Jamaluddin functions more like a celebrity. People may like them but they never love them.

No other Malay leaders beyond Mahathir and Anwar have enjoyed deep devotion from their supporters. The combined effect of Anwar and Mahathir is easily filling the Malay leadership vacuum at a time when Malay voters generally hate Prime Minister Najib and his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor.

Both Anwar and Mahathir had periods in their political careers when they were seen as “ultras”, detrimental to the interests of non-Malays. But both made amends and have being embraced with respect and devotion by non-Malays and those in the political middle ground. Dr. Mahathir’s Vision 2020 period made him the Prime Minister of choice for non-Malays. Anwar was also well liked by non-Malays in the 1990s and during the Pakatan Rakyat era as Prime Ministerial candidate.

Promising moment

After the opposition leadership structure was unveiled on 14th July, it was most comical to see how one after another UMNO Minister trying to stick to their old script of claiming that the DAP calls the shots in the Opposition. Such claims won’t stick now that it is the joint Mahathir-Anwar leadership team that they are facing.

The 14th July New Deal is the turning point where the Opposition returns from the doldrums inflicted by Najib through the jailing of Anwar and the cooption of PAS into BN’s fold.

Malaysian political history enters its most unpredictable yet most promising moment.

Liew Chin Tong is Member of Parliament for Kluang, and DAP National Political Education Director.

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Elizabeth Wong: There is only one party who fears new voters more than anything. Don’t let them take away your fundamental rights! http://mediarakyat.net/2017/04/18/19412/ http://mediarakyat.net/2017/04/18/19412/#comments Tue, 18 Apr 2017 12:50:28 +0000 http://mediarakyat.net/?p=19412
Eli_ECI was at the Selangor Election Commission’s office this morning to check out the voter objection hearing process. I was shocked to find out a total of 354 voters from the Subang Parliamentary constituency (of which Kota Damansara, Paya Jaras and Bukit Lanjan are part of) were objected.
 
About half made it to today’s hearing and had their voting right reinstated. Of those present, some took emergency leave, some took unpaid leave, some postponed work and meeting arrangements and some came at the eleventh hour after receiving the EC’s PosLaju letter only yesterday.
 
The atmosphere in the room was tense and some felt confused as to why they were objected randomly. Nevertheless, every single one present were determined to make sure their right to vote will be reinstated in time for GE14.
 
After checking with some of them, I realised they were not randomly selected.
 
1. Majority of the objected voters had registered for change of voting address at the Post Office.
2. Almost all were Chinese.
3. They had applied to move to two seats in Subang Parliament ie. DUN Kota Damansara and DUN Paya Jaras – seats which UMNO has high stakes in retaining or wresting.
4. Majority of the Objectors (Pembantah) came from one address: No 10, Jalan Pekaka 8/3, Seksyen 8, Kota Damansara 47810 Petaling Jaya, Malaysia. (This is the address of UMNO Bahagian Subang)
 
The process was thankfully fast. Upon being called into a separate room, they were asked a few questions: How far is the community hall from your house, how far is a certain petrol station from your house etc.
 
The more time consuming process was the queue due to the numbers that turned up. Some waited for up to four hours for their turn.
 
On the Objector’s side (pembantah) side, only a handful, maybe 4 or 5 at most turned up. According to the EC’s rules and regulations on objecting voters, each pembantah is allowed to object up to 20 names. A total of 354 objected voters would mean at least 18 pembantahs should have been present to face the persons they objected. Where were they?
 
Also seen was a man and a lady with a child in charge of distributing RM100 bills ‘compensation’ to the objected voters present. Someone must have upfront RM35,400 cash to this person to pay on the spot!
 
Kudos to those present and who were determined not to leave until their rights to be a voter were reinstated.
 
Please inform those who may have received a letter from the EC either by registered post or PosLaju. There is nothing to be worried if they are called to the hearing. If you are unsure of your voting status, log onto http://daftarj.spr.gov.my/DAFTARJ and key in your IC number.
 
We know there is only one party who fears new voters more than anything. Don’t let them take away your fundamental rights!
 
Elizabeth Wong
18 April 2017
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Tony Pua: I standby the video comments I have made which have purportedly defamed the honourable Prime Minister http://mediarakyat.net/2017/04/12/19400/ http://mediarakyat.net/2017/04/12/19400/#comments Wed, 12 Apr 2017 04:40:54 +0000 http://mediarakyat.net/?p=19400 tony_lawyer01 tony_lawyer03 tony_lawyer02
I have received a letter of demand from the Prime Minister, troche Dato’ Seri Najib Razak, physician served by his lawyers from Hafarizam Wan & Aisha Mubarak who brought along TV3 to my office in Petaling Jaya yesterday evening.
The letter demanded that I retract the statement, remove the video, publicly apologise to the Prime Minister and pay an amount of compensation to be agreed upon within 7 days.
 
I have reviewed the 5-minute video published on 6 April 2017 and I hereby state that I will standby the comments I have made.  Hence I will neither retract the statement, remove the video, publicly apologise to the Prime Minister nor offer to pay any amount of compensation to Dato’ Seri Najib Razak.
 
This is simply because the statements which I have made are grounded on established facts which have not been disputed.
 
The Sarawak Report and the Wall Street Journal first made the allegation that US$681 million originating from 1MDB, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Ministry of Finance found its way into Dato’ Seri Najib Razak’s personal bank account with Ambank Malaysia.  This was subsequently confirmed in evidential documents produced by the United States Department of Justice (US DOJ).  In fact, the US DOJ pointed out in their legal filings that the total amount originating from 1MDB and surfaced in the Prime Minister’s bank account was US$731 million. 
 
It should be noted that Dato’ Seri Najib Razak has never publicly disputed or denied the facts presented by the US DOJ since July 2016.
 
In addition, the US DOJ has labelled Malaysia as a kleptocracy.  The Dictionary.com definition of “kleptocracy” is “a government or state in which those in power exploit national resources and steal; rule by a thief or thieves”.
 
Despite the reputational damage inflicted on Malaysia as a result of US DOJ’s suit to seize assets worth approximately US$1 billion acquired with laundered funds originating from 1MDB, the Prime Minister and his Government has refused respond to the highly detrimental allegations.
 
In fact, the Prime Minister has steadfastly refused to clarify and respond to the matter in Parliament, despite repeated request by Members of Parliament to do so.
 
What’s more, I have also outlined all the facts and evidence of the above misconduct and more, in my civil suit against the Prime Minister for public misfeasance filed in January this year.  Dato’ Seri Najib Razak doesn’t even have to sue me a second time, he just needs to answer to the charges I have made in my suit to debunk any “fake news” which have purportedly damaged his reputation.  Instead, he has chosen to try to strike out my suit with a mind-boggling defense that he “is not a public officer” and hence cannot be subjected to a public misfeasance suit.
 
Hence, I can only interpret the Prime Minister’s latest letter of demand, the second I have received from him, is an attempt not to right a wrong, but to silence the truth.
 
Just as I never stopped exposing, highlighting and questioning the RM50 billion ringgit 1MDB scandal despite being sued for defamation the first time round in March 2015, I will not be intimidated or frightened from continuing to do the same. 
 
It is my fervent believe that not only my voters who voted me into office, but an overwhelming majority of Malaysians cannot accept a kleptocratic administration or a Prime Minister who stole billions from the rakyat.  Therefore, I will doggedly persist and persevere in fighting the democratic cause to free Malaysia from such evils and disease.
 
Tony Pua
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Tony Pua: 2017 – Relief and recovery for the Ringgit, or more pain and punishment? http://mediarakyat.net/2017/01/05/19396/ http://mediarakyat.net/2017/01/05/19396/#comments Wed, 04 Jan 2017 18:18:39 +0000 http://mediarakyat.net/?p=19396 While 1MDB and the Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Najib Razak’s kleptocratic scandals were unquestionably the most talked about topic for 2016, it is the Ringgit’s relentless depreciation which would have caused the most pain for ordinary Malaysians.
 
Over Christmas, I managed to take my family for a week’s holiday in Chiang Mai – our first since I was banned from overseas travel for allegedly taking part in “activities detrimental to parliamentary democracy” in July 2015.
 
One would have assumed that travelling to the “backwaters” like rural Thailand would have been easy on the pocket.  Well, in the past, trips to Thailand did make me feel “richer”.  When you walked the colourful and rambunctious street markets, you needed to exercise maximum self-restraint to prevent oneself from having to purchase additional luggage space from AirAsia because everything was “cheaper”. 
 
Not anymore. Now, the Baht-Ringgit exchange rate will automatically keep you disciplined.
 
As late as August 2014, the currencies were trading at 10 Baht to the Ringgit. Today, it’s 8 to 1. And to rub salt on the wound, the Ringgit ain’t particularly welcomed by our neighbours. 
 
Needless to say, if a trip to Thailand could make you feel kinda poor, a journey south to Singapore would make you feel like a destitute.  Think about it, a budget Hotel 81 room in the fringe of the city would cost you just about S$100, or RM310 per night.
 
Ringgit déjà vu?
 
So, will we get to see some desperately yearned for relief and recovery of the Ringgit this year?
 
Most pundits are telling us that the Ringgit is undervalued and will recover by the second half of this year.  PublicInvest Research said the Ringgit will recover to average between 4.10 and 4.15 for 2015 against the US Dollar, which is currently trading at 4.48.
 
Dato’ Seri Najib Razak would similarly like you to believe that the ringgit will recover.
 
“With the recent changes and developments, we are confident the ringgit will recover.  It is due to speculation by outsiders and the uncertainties in the United States that the ringgit dropped, and not because the ringgit is weak,” he said in December when the Ringgit traded at 4.42 to the Dollar.
 
But didn’t they all say the same thing last year?  Or for the that matter, the year before?
 
The Prime Minister told us way back in January 2015 that the Ringgit will bounce back from the then five-year low versus the US dollar as “Malaysia’s financial market is sufficiently robust”.  Believe it or not, the Ringgit was then trading at 3.60 to the Dollar, which now seemed like a parallel universe away.
 
If we had all trusted our Ministers and invested based on his financial advice, some of us would be bordering suicidal tendencies today.  2016 was the Ringgit’s 4th consecutive year of decline against the US Dollar.
 
The thing is, if everyone else had declined at the same rate against the Dollar, it wouldn’t have felt so bad.  What is particularly galling is that the Ringgit performance is the worst among all the major regional currencies.
 
In 2015, the excuse given was straightforward – the Ringgit suffered more because we were an oil-exporting nation.  As the price of global crude collapsed from US$102.10 in January 2014 to US$60.70 (Dec 2014) to US$36.57 (Dec 2015), it is almost understandable that the Ringgit would be disproportionately pummelled. 
 
The pundits had predicted that the Ringgit would recover with the recovery of oil prices last year.  They were indeed spot on in their prediction of higher oil prices with the Brent crude trading at US$55 a barrel by December 2016.  Unfortunately, despite the oil price reversal, the Ringgit value worsened significantly.
 
How was that even possible?
 
No more an export powerhouse
 
Back in November 2015, the then Bank Negara Governor, Tan Sri Zeti Aziz told an international audience that the Ringgit was “significantly undervalued” as our “export growth remains fairly strong”.
 
Except it wasn’t.
 
Conventional economic theory tells us that as our currency gets depreciated, our goods become cheaper and consequently the demand for them increases.  A robust increase of the export of our goods and services would in turn increase the demand for our currency and hence provide a strong platform for the recovery of our ringgit and economy.
 
Well, the Ringgit was massacred in 2015 when it depreciated by nearly 20%.  On paper, that makes our exports dirt cheap in 2016.  And given that we have always prided ourselves as an export-oriented economy, our goods should definitely be flying off the shelves as they became extremely competitive.
 
But the Government’s own statistics tell us that our exports barely eked out a gain.  The 2016/2017 Economic Report published in October 2016 tells us that our Gross Exports for January to August 2016 grew by only 1.1%, compared to 1.6% in 2015.
 
More specifically, the electrical and electronics exports, the pride of our manufacturing industry, grew by only 2.2%, a substantial decline from 7.4% in 2015.  While 2.2% might have been just about acceptable under normal economic circumstances, the number is pathetic given the depreciation the Ringgit suffered.
 
Worse news followed since the above report, when the Department of Statistics disclosed last month that our exports declined 3.0% and 8.6% for the months of September and October respectively.
 
Separately, the latest Nikkei Malaysia Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index, or PMI which measures manufacturing activities shows that the sector “in contraction territory for 21 consecutive months”.
 
The headline PMI posted for December was 47.1 signalling continued deterioration.  A score above 50.0 signals improvement in manufacturing conditions, and Malaysia has not reached a score of 50.0 since early 2015.
 
Living and La-La Land
 
There is no question that our economy is suffering from something chronic which needs immediate treatment.  Alarm bells should have been blaring deafeningly in Putrajaya but all we get is Ministers with their heads in the sand. 
 
Prime Minister Najib Razak welcomed 2017 by boasting that Malaysia has achieved a growth rate the Western world can only “dream of”.
 
“Our estimated growth rate of 4.3 to 4.5 percent for this year is one that developed countries in Europe and North America can only dream of.  Malaysians should be proud of the growth we are achieving.”
 
A statement from the Barisan Nasional strategic communications team earlier in December also boasted that “Malaysia’s economic growth is less volatile and more robust than Singapore’s as a result of the Najib administration’s shift towards the domestic economy.”
 
Of course the fact that developed countries have a different growth trajectory compared to developing ones was irrelevant.  What was more important to the ruling leadership was the continued thumping of the chest to praise and glorify the Emperor in the eyes of seemingly gullible Malaysians, even if the Emperor is really naked.
 
So what’s really happening?
 
A loss of confidence
 
The anticipated explosive growth in exports and manufacturing activity as a result of persistent depreciation of the Ringgit never materialised. Either no one wants to buy more Malaysian products even though they are significantly cheaper or more plausibly, businesses and investors are not investing in additional production capacity in Malaysia.
 
They are at best adopting the “wait and see” strategy or at worst, have decided in investing their money in other countries.  There could be many reasons for this, including perhaps a increasingly limited supply of skilled and quality labour, a weakening education system or the bureaucratic and corruption cost of doing business. 
 
However, anecdotal evidence would tell you that one of the key factors is the fact that they have lost confidence in the country.  A country led by a Prime Minister who has been indicted as one of the worlds biggest kleptocrat would and could never inspire confidence in genuine investors.
 
The complete failure of the institutional authorities to take enforcement actions against blatant and brazen corruption has destroyed whatever that’s left of Malaysia’s long-standing reputation as a country they could do business in.
 
Bank Negara saves the day?
 
Bank Negara Malaysia is now forced to implement increasingly desperate measures to stem to tide against the Ringgit.  They now include the restricting the off-shore trade of the Ringgit via non-deliverable forward contracts, and more controversially, the move to compel exporters to convert 75% of their proceeds into Ringgit.
 
The Central Bank is claiming success for its policies, stating that the measures are starting to bear fruit, following lower volatility in the ringgit.  Sure, such short term measures will provide immediate support for the Ringgit as it mops up whatever excess liquidity existing today. 
 
However, as explained earlier, Malaysia being an “export-oriented country” is heavily dependent on continued investments in our export sectors, manufacturing or otherwise.  If the use of your future export proceeds are restricted and the hidden cost of doing business in Malaysia increases, then who would want to invest in new or additional production capacity in the country?
 
Current exporters would not have a choice in the repatriation of export proceeds as demanded the authorities.  But they and future investors – both local or foreign – have a choice in where they choose to invest in the future.  With alternative competing investment destinations aplenty today, such short-term Bank Negara measures will only further dampen the medium and longer term demand for the Ringgit, jeopardising any eventual recovery.
 
A new normal
 
We used to pride ourselves as an export and manufacturing powerhouse.  We are used to being described as an “economically resilient” country, even if it was somewhat a function of striking oil lottery, especially during the decade of high oil prices.
 
Unfortunately, the hard statistics are becoming hard to refute.
 
I would be foolish to give a specific prediction of how the Ringgit will perform over the next 3, 6 or 12 months even as it hit 4.50 to the Dollar yesterday, a new record low since the Asian Financial Crisis.  However, it would be more than fair to say that the downside risks significantly outweigh the upside prospects given the reasons explained above.
 
For Malaysians, perhaps its time to accept the new normal.  We have lost more than 40% of our wealth in US Dollar terms over the past 3 years. The lost of wealth will be reflected in higher prices of goods and services – including the higher price of petrol as oil is traded internationally in Dollars.
 
Although it is not impossible, this new normal will be extremely difficult to reverse.  In fact, it more than likely to get worse given the utter inability by the Najib administration to rectify the failures of the economy.
 
I would be foolish to give a specific prediction of how the Ringgit will perform over the next 3, 6 or 12 months.  However, it would be more than fair to say that the downside risks significantly outweigh the upside prospects given the reasons explained above.
 
The only way Malaysians can hope for “the good old days” to return is to see a change of regime.  The new regime needs to cleanse the country of its kleptocratic reputation and wipe out the scourge of grand corruption from the Government.  It needs a new, intelligent economic team which isn’t encumbered by sacred cows decreed by those who are desperate to stay in power at all costs.  It really isn’t rocket science.
 
Then perhaps, we will see a meaningful, significant and sustained recovery of the Ringgit, and our wealth over the longer term.

 
 
 
Tony Pua

]]> http://mediarakyat.net/2017/01/05/19396/feed/ 0 RAFIZI RAMLI: ADAKAH DATO’ SERI NAJIB MENGARAHKAN FELDA YANG KERUGIAN BERBILION RINGGIT MEMBELI SAHAM EAGLE PLANTATIONS? http://mediarakyat.net/2016/12/28/19391/ http://mediarakyat.net/2016/12/28/19391/#comments Wed, 28 Dec 2016 06:48:38 +0000 http://mediarakyat.net/?p=19391 Pada 23 Disember 2016, troche Felda melalui satu kenyataan ringkas yang disiarkan oleh New Straits Times mengesahkan pembelian pegangan 37% di dalam PT Eagle High Plantations Tbk (sering dirujuk dengan kependekan EHP) pada harga USD505.4 juta atau RM2.263 bilion (pada kadar tukaran semasa 1 USD = RM4.4767).

Kenyataan media Felda itu juga mengesahkan perkara-perkara berikut:

  1. Pembelian ini akan menggunakan sebuah syarikat khas (“special purpose vehicle”) milik penuh Felda iaitu FIC Properties Sdn Bhd (FICP). Saya sertakan carian Suruhanjaya Syarikat Malaysia (SSM) yang menunjukkan bahawa FICP mempunyai modal berbayar RM1 juta sahaja dan dimiliki sepenuhnya oleh Felda. Syarikat ini juga tidak pernah mempunyai sebarang urusniaga sejak ditubuhkan dan bergantung sepenuhnya kepada Felda.
  1. Felda melalui FICP telah pun menandatangani Perjanjian Jual Beli Saham (atau Sales Purchase Agreement “SPA”) dan kini menunggu kelulusan dari pihak berkuasa di kedua-dua buah negara.

Pembelian pegangan 37% di dalam Eagle High Plantations bukanlah satu perkara baru dan hampur-hampir dimuktamadkan dalam tahun 2015 melalui Felda Global Ventures (FGV). Atas sebab-sebab yang tidak diketahui bercampur pula dengan kedudukan kewangan FGV yang kian merosot dan tekanan politik, pentadbiran Dato’ Seri Najib Tun Razak tidak meneruskan hasrat membeli 37% pegangan di dalam Eagle High Plantantions ini dalam tahun 2015.

Rakyat kemudian dikejutkan dengan pengesahan bahawa pembelian itu diteruskan melalui sebuah anak syarikat milik penuh Felda seperti kenyataan media Felda yang dilaporkan oleh NST di atas.

Pembelian 37% pegangan di dalam EHP pada harga USD505.4 juta atau RM2.263 bilion ini adalah tiga kali ganda lebih mahal dari harga saham purata EHP sejak setahun lepas (atau dua kali ganda lebih mahal berdasarkan harga terkini EHP). Ini bermakna bukan sahaja Dato’ Seri Najib membelanjakan wang Felda pada ketika kedudukan kewangan Felda semakin kronik (saya akan tunjukkan di bawah), wang itu digunakan untuk membayar saham-saham pada harga yang tiga kali ganda lebih mahal.

Saya sertakan prestasi saham EHP (di dalam Rupiah) bagi tempoh 5 tahun seperti di bawah (sumber dari Bloomberg):

Purata harga saham EHP sejak tahun lepas (iaitu ketika urusniaga ini dirundingkan oleh FGV) ialah sekitar IDR132 hingga IDR314 sesaham sahaja. Pada perkiraan purata ringkas, purata harga satu saham EHP berdasarkan harga sepanjang 52 minggu lepas adalah IDR200 sahaja (atau 6.7 sen sesaham dalam Ringgit Malaysia).

Jumlah saham keseluruhan yang diterbitkan adalah 31.525 bilion saham (seperti yang ditunjukkan dari maklumat Bloomberg di bawah):

Oleh yang demikian, pada harga RM2.263 bilion untuk membeli 37% pegangan saham, ini bermakna Felda akan membayar premium (lebih mahal dari harga sepatutnya mengikut harga saham) sebanyak 290% (3 kali ganda) jika dibandingkan dengan harga purata 52 minggu, atau 195% (2 kali ganda) jika dibandingkan dengan harga saham EHP pada hari ini.

Jika pun Felda mempunyai wang yang melimpah ruah, tidak ada orang yang waras yang akan bersetuju untuk membeli pegangan 37% di dalam EHP pada harga yang sebegitu tinggi.

Namun, yang saya paling tidak boleh terima, pembelian ini berlaku pada ketika Felda mengalami kedudukan kewangan yang sudah sampai ke tahap nazak.

Saya sertakan beberapa angka penting dari Penyata Kewangan Felda yang telah diaudit bagi tahun-tahun berakhir 31 Disember 2013 dan 31 Disember 2014 (terkini). Penyata Kewangan Felda bagi tahun 31 Disember 2015 masih belum diserahkan kepada ahli-ahli parlimen.

Kedudukan kewangan Felda adalah sangat parah apabila kerugian bersih (selepas ditolak perbelanjaan dan cukai) adalah RM2.312 bilion bagi tahun 2013. Pada tahun 2014, Felda rugi lagi sebanyak RM1.023 bilion.

 

Jumlah wang tunai di tangan, di bank dan deposit tetap yang disimpan oleh Felda berkurangan secara mendadak dari RM684 juta (tahun 2013) kepada hanya RM291 juta (tahun 2014).

Maka saya ajukan soalan-soalan ini:

  1. Bagaimana Felda mahu membayar pembelian bernilai RM2.263 bilion ini sedangkan wang tunainya hanya ada RM291 juta pada akhir tahun 2014 (dan mungkin akan susut lebih banyak lagi apabila laporan kewangan berakhir 31 Disember 2015 dikeluarkan)?
  1. Siapa yang memberi arahan untuk membeli 37% saham EHP pada harga 3 kali ganda lebih mahal dari harga pasaran?

Soalan-soalan ini hanya boleh dijawab oleh Dato’ Seri Najib Tun Razak memandangkan hubungan akrab beliau dengan hartawan Indonesia, Tan Sri Peter Sondakh yang dikenali di seluruh dunia.

Saya mahu Dato’ Seri Najib Tun Razak menjawab secara terbuka sama ada beliau pernah mengarahkan mana-mana pegawai dari yang di bawah hingga ke paling atas untuk meneruskan pembelian saham 37% di dalam EHP yang dimiliki kenalan perniagaan beliau Tan Sri Peter Sondakh.

Saya akan membuat satu laporan polis terhadap Dato’ Seri Najib Tun Razak, Tan Sri Isa Samad dan semua ahli Lembaga Pengarah Felda dan FIPC pada hari Khamis ini agar satu siasatan dibuka segera memandangkan pembelian pada harga 3 kali ganda lebih mahal, pada kala kedudukan kewangan Felda adalah nazak, boleh disifatkan sebagai satu jenayah (sekurang-kurangnya kecuaian profesional yang menyebabkan kerugian kepada rakyat).

Saya akan terus mendedahkan pelbagai kepincangan di dalam Felda dan urusniaga ini setiap hari.

RAFIZI RAMLI

AHLI PARLIMEN PANDAN

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李凯伦: 华小拨款5000万跳票,副教长难辞其咎 http://mediarakyat.net/2016/12/22/%e6%9d%8e%e5%87%af%e4%bc%a6-%e5%8d%8e%e5%b0%8f%e6%8b%a8%e6%ac%be5000%e4%b8%87%e8%b7%b3%e7%a5%a8%ef%bc%8c%e5%89%af%e6%95%99%e9%95%bf%e9%9a%be%e8%be%9e%e5%85%b6%e5%92%8e/ http://mediarakyat.net/2016/12/22/%e6%9d%8e%e5%87%af%e4%bc%a6-%e5%8d%8e%e5%b0%8f%e6%8b%a8%e6%ac%be5000%e4%b8%87%e8%b7%b3%e7%a5%a8%ef%bc%8c%e5%89%af%e6%95%99%e9%95%bf%e9%9a%be%e8%be%9e%e5%85%b6%e5%92%8e/#comments Thu, 22 Dec 2016 05:09:44 +0000 http://mediarakyat.net/?p=19388 ????21?????????????????????????2016????5000???????????????1???????5?????????????????????“???????”????????????????????????

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Tony Pua: Stop crying wolf and start addressing the ultimate cause of the loss of confidence in the Malaysian economy http://mediarakyat.net/2016/12/22/19383/ http://mediarakyat.net/2016/12/22/19383/#comments Thu, 22 Dec 2016 05:02:33 +0000 http://mediarakyat.net/?p=19383 Two days ago, the Second Finance Minister, Datuk Johari Abdul Ghani told Malaysians there is no need to panic about the weakening ringgit, stating that the nation has in place an ecosystem that encourages investment and an open economy.
 
“Don’t panic, we shouldn’t panic,” Johari said.  The ringgit, which has weakened along with other emerging market currencies against the US dollar, has all the strength to bounce back, he added.
 
“We have the ecosystem to make it right, ensure political stability is intact and (continuously) apply the right policies to facilitate investors,” he said when asked on the ringgit’s decline to 4.4805 per US dollar.
 
The Second Finance Minister’s attempt to assure the Malaysian public has zero credibility and if that’s his only answer to the depreciated ringgit, then 2017 will only see further pains for our currency and economy.
 
Perhaps, Datuk Johari has forgotten that this is the first year we have hit bottom. In fact, even I myself was a little surprised to discover that his is not the second, but the third consecutive year where the ringgit has become the worst performing currency in Asia.
 
Tony Pua: Najib, Where Is The Arab Donor?In 2014, the ringgit slumped 6.3% from 3.281 on 1 January to 3.502 a dollar on 31 December.
 
Last year in 2015, the ringgit collapsed 18.5% in 2015 from 3.505 on 1 January to 4.303 a dollar on 31 December.
 
Despite repeated assurances from the Government and Bank Negara that our currency was undervalued and unjustifiably depreciated for the past 2 years, the ringgit tanked a further 9.6% this year.
 
As the saying goes, once is an accident, twice a coincidence and three times a pattern.  Hence the Second Finance Minister sounds exactly like the boy who has cried wolf too many times.  No Malaysian with any sense left believes or is assured by what he is saying.  In fact, his open call “not to panic” is likely to have had the opposite effect as it showed that the Government is completely clueless and incapable of stemming the disastrous decline of the ringgit.
 
Worse, even the oft-repeated excuse that the ringgit’s ignominy as Asia’s worst performing major currency was a result of the drastic decline in global crude oil prices is no longer tenable.  Malaysia is a major oil producer in Asia (excluding the Middle East).
 
The Brent Crude price per barrel has indeed declined from US$102.10 in January 2014 to US$60.70 (Dec 2014) to US$36.57 (Dec 2015).  However, for the month of December 2016, the Brent Crude has been trading 50% higher at around US$55 per barrel compared to a year earlier.
 
If the global oil price drop had been the reason why we were the worst performing currency in 2014 and 2015, there is certainly no reason why we should remain the worst performing currency in 2016 with the substantially higher oil prices.
 
It appears that everyone knows the real cause of the ringgit’s terrible performance except our clueless or pretend-to-be-clueless Ministers. The fundamental cause is because of the complete collapse in confidence in our currency and economy ever since we have been outed as a major global kleptocracy and the failure of the Malaysian authorities and Government to take any action against those responsible.
 
In a country where the Prime Minister, Dato’ Seri Najib Razak who has been referred to as the Malaysian Official One by the US Department of Justice as having misappropriated US$731 million into his personal bank account in Malaysia can get away scot free while all attempts to bring him to justice, including cartoonists, are met with oppression and intimidation by the police, there can be little surprise that Malaysia has lost the confidence of both local and foreign businesses and investors.
 
Unless and until there exist Ministers and a Government in Malaysia who is willing to call a spade a spade, and is willing to take concrete actions to redeem ourselves from the kleptocratic bottom, Malaysia’s economy will only continue to struggle to stay afloat and its currency continuing to significantly under-perform relative to its peers.
 
 
Tony Pua
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China: The world’s new champion of free trade? http://mediarakyat.net/2016/12/02/19377/ http://mediarakyat.net/2016/12/02/19377/#comments Fri, 02 Dec 2016 11:00:10 +0000 http://mediarakyat.net/?p=19377

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was the largest ever US-proposed trade deal and took years to put together, but US President-elect Donald Trump has promised to withdraw from the deal on his very first day in office.

The TPP, signed by 12 countries in February 2016, covers 40 percent of the world’s economy. But all 12 nations need to ratify it, and Trump’s comments suggest that this will not happen.

As the United States, the world’s biggest economy and the champion of free trade for the past century, is about to back away from closer global economic integration, analysts question whether China has what it takes to be the world’s new champion of free trade.

While China has not signed on to the TPP agreement, it could take advantage of new opportunities as the US takes a more protectionist stance on trade.

China is promoting its own pan-Pacific trade pact. The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is still being negotiated, but if enacted, it could become the world’s largest free trade bloc.

It differs from the TPP in that it doesn’t require its members to liberalise their economies, or take steps to protect labour rights, environment or intellectual property.

So, is it really the end of the TPP? What does it mean for China and RCEP? And what are the implications on the US, Asia and the global economy?

Deborah Elms, the executive director at the Singapore-based Asian Trade Centre, takes a look at how China could now be positioning itself as the world’s new champion of free trade.

Source: Al Jazeera

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(C4) Cynthia Gabriel: Di mana Jho Low Sekarang? Kenapa belum tangkap lagi? http://mediarakyat.net/2016/12/02/19373/ http://mediarakyat.net/2016/12/02/19373/#comments Fri, 02 Dec 2016 08:32:20 +0000 http://mediarakyat.net/?p=19373 Bank Bank ternama Menjadi Padang Permainan Jho Low

Sekurang-kurangnya 5 badan penyiasatan dari pelbagai negara termasuk Jabatan Kehakiman Amerika Syarikat (DOJ) dan Switzerland sedang menyiasat skandal 1MDB berhubung tuduhan berlakunya penggelapan wang berbillion US$ menerusi beberapa buah bank termasuk BSI Bank Singapura (BSI SA). BSI SA menjadi tumpuan apabila Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) mengeluarkan notis pemberhentian operasi Mei lalu. Seramai 6 orang pegawai BSI Bank Singapura telah dihadapkan ke pihak pendakwa raya termasuk Yak Yew Chee, viagra 100mg (Yak) dan Yeo Jiawei, (Yeo) atas pelbagai kesalahan yang sebahagian besar daripadanya melibatkan akaun Low Taek Jho (Jho Low) di BSI SA.

Bulan lepas telah menyaksikan tindakan MAS menutup Falcon Private Bank Ltd (Falcon Bank) atas hubungannya dengan pengaliran dana 1MDB dan MAS juga telah mendenda DBS Bank Ltd (DBS) dan UBS AG, Singapore branch (UBS) kerana melanggar peraturan anti penggubahan wang haram (AML) yang telah ditetapkan pihak MAS. Terkini, MAS telah mendenda Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) dan Coutts & Co Ltd serta cawangan mereka di Singapura masing-masing sebanyak S$5.2 juta dan S$2.4 juta kerana melanggar AML. Kesalahan itu adalah berkait dana 1MDB yang mengalir melaui bank-bank ini.

Pihak MAS juga telah menyatakan hasrat untuk menggantung Tim Leissner, bekas pengarah dan wakil Goldman Sachs (Singapore) Pte daripada terlibat dalam pengurusan pasaran modal di Singapura selama 10 tahun. Menurut MAS, Leissner bertanggungjawab penuh mengurus hubungan antara 1MDB dan Goldman Sachs dalam pengeluaran 3 bon dari tahun 2012 hingga 2013. Leissner juga telah didakwa mengeluarkan kenyataan palsu berkenaan Jho Low dan keluarganya bagi mengelirukan institusi kewangan yang berpusat di Luxemberg.

Kenyataan-kenyataan tersebut menimbulkan pesoalan kerana nama Jho Low sering kali kedengaran tatkala skandal 1MDB dibicarakan. Menurut jawapan menteri dalam sesi Parlimen yang lalu, Jho Low masih merupakan rakyat Malaysia, jadi mengapakah seolah-olah tiada sebarang usaha untuk menjejaki beliau oleh pihak berkuasa negara Malaysia? Sehingga kini, tiada kenyataan pihak PDRM untuk bekerjasama dengan INTERPOL untuk menjejaki Jho Low walaupun pihak Polis Singapura sendiri telah menamakan Jho Low sebagai “key person of interest”. Persoalan ini tambah mencurigakan apabila bantuan perundangan bersama (MLA) yang dipohon pihak pendakwa raya Switzerland telah ditolak oleh Pejabat Peguam Negara, lalu menimbulkan persoalan bahawa adakah kerajaan kita sedang melindungi seorang penjenayah antarabangsa? Adakah individu individu ini di lindungi oleh pihak berkuasa di Malaysia?

Pihak C4 ingin menegaskan pendirian bahawa prinsip akauntabiliti dan ketelusan haruslah ditegakkan dengan menghadapkan tertuduh ke muka pengadilan bagi membela diri. Pihak C4 menganjurkan supaya PDRM melakukan kerjasama dengan INTERPOL bagi menjejaki Jho Low dan nama-nama lain yang terlibat dengan skandal 1MDB ini. Pejabat Peguam Negara pula haruslah memberi kerjasama sepenuhnya atas sebarang usaha MLA selaras dengan Artikel 46 United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) yang telah ditandatangani oleh kerajaan. Usaha-usaha ini adalah penting bagi memadamkan persoalan tentang kesungguhan pihak berkuasa Malaysia dalam memburu mereka yang tertuduh, yang mana kini kelihatan sangat meragukan.

Cynthia Gabriel

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Malaysia: Babies For Sale http://mediarakyat.net/2016/11/25/malaysia-babies-for-sale/ http://mediarakyat.net/2016/11/25/malaysia-babies-for-sale/#comments Fri, 25 Nov 2016 11:04:34 +0000 http://mediarakyat.net/?p=19369 “Boy, information pills 3kg, order $2000.”

The online message, here complete with photos of a tiny newborn, advertises an underground trade where babies are commodities worth thousands of dollars.

Malaysia is a hub for baby selling, with buyers able to choose their own baby based on gender, race and skin colour. Some babies are bought by couples desperate to start a family. Others are sold to traffickers and forced to become sex slaves or beggars.

101 East goes undercover in Malaysia, where babies are up for sale.

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