Monday, May 31, 2010

DAP Condemns Israel

The Democratic Action Party condemns the violent attack by the Israeli army on the “Freedom Flotilla” which was carrying humanitarian aid for Palestinians in Gaza who are suffering from Israeli occupation which has resulted in a reported 16 deaths and scores injured. The Israeli navy has blockaded the Gaza Strip for the past 3 years.

The total and utter disregard for human lives especially those with only peaceful intent and bearing aid for the needy is not only abhorrent, but also evil to the very core. The attack on the flotilla is equal to any attack on Red Cross missions to aid injured civilians during the times of war. What is worst is that the attack by the Israeli navy was conducted in international waters.

The attack comes at a time when “proximity talks” which only started this month, are on-going between the United States, the Israeli government and the Palestinian authorities to resolve the decades old conflict in the Middleast. It appears that this pre-meditated attack is obviously meant to scuttle the attempts by the Palestinians to achieve independent self-rule, free from Israeli occupation.

The DAP calls on the Israeli government to ensure an immediate, sustained and unconditional opening of the crossing for the flow of humanitarian aid, commercial goods and persons to and from Gaza. We would also call upon those to ordered the unprovoked military attack on the peace mission to be charged in the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The head of United Nation's Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) mission in Gaza, John Ging has specifically expressed the need for the Flotilla to enter Gaza as due to the “medieval siege”, mass unemployment, extreme poverty, food insecurity and food price rises caused by shortages left four out of five Gazans dependent on humanitarian aid.

We call upon the government of United States, led by Barrack Obama to demonstrate its even-handedness by taking concrete actions against the Israeli government for the outright act of aggression and support a motion in the United Nations Security Council to condemn Israeli aggression. We also call upon the United States Government to end its US$3 billion military aid per annum to Israel.

Finally, the DAP would like to commend the courage of all the 750 people of conscience from 40 different countries including 35 Malaysian and international politicians intent on breaking the Israeli blockade. We offer our sincerest condolences to family and friends who have lost loved ones in the attack.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

DAP Sibu Campaign Video

This video was produced for the Sibu by-election campaign. But with the raging debate over the proposed cuts in subsidies versus the institutionalised leakages under the BN administration, I thought it is most appropriate to show it again ;-)

And I thought our production team did a great job with this video! ;-)

Cut Subsidies to Crony Companies for More Impact

Cutback on IPP and SYABAS subisidies, not agri products
By Ken Vin Lek

KUALA LUMPUR: Cutting mounting national debt and how the Performance Management & Delivery Unit (PEMANDU) is planning to do this a key concern of PJ Utara MP, Tony Pua.

Speaking to FMT Pua said while PEMANDU, a government arm, had done decent job on presenting ways to cut subsidies, the authorities had however not drawn attention to the other subsidies allocated to the private sector.

“Subsidies being given to Independent Power Producers (IPP) are worth RM13 billion a year, there is a 20 year interest free loan of RM 320 million given to SYABAS (which is also a privatized company), sports betting concessions being allotted to monopolies without open tender,” he said after attending the Subsidy Rationalisation Lab Open day yesterday.

Expressing his dismay at recent announcements that the government was thinking of cutting subsidies on agriculture products worth RM3.4 billion a year, he said the move would have a heavy impact on the low and middle income society.

He added that the government has a mounting debt problem and should instead focus on cutting wastage of money in procurement, privatization projects and corruption.

“If you try to solve the subsidy issue without resolving other major problems, you are not going to solve our mounting debt in the long run,” he said alluding to the commonly known wastage of money in procurement, privatization and corruption.

He adds: “A very good example is the RM8 billion spent on purchasing armoured vehicles. It simply makes no sense to spend that kind of money and cut subsidies as planned.”

Touching on Pemandu chairman Idris Jala’s statement that Malaysians are overusing petroleum, Pua concurred.

While admitting that the nation indeed ‘over-consumed’, he blamed the attitude on the policies implemented by our government over the past 20 years.

“Firstly, we have not been upgrading our public transport system. How do you expect people to travel around without an efficient and wide covering public transport.”

“Secondly, our government chose to spend money supporting our national automotive carmakers and as a result, we have the highest car ownership ratio in the entire region” he said.

When asked whether it is wrong for people to expect subsidies, Pua said ‘no.’

He said subsidies were set based on the affordability of products to the rakyat.

On the issue of our nations woeful current debt standing at 54% of our GDP or RM362 billion, Pua replied “It is definitely at a precarious level, but we are fast approaching the danger zone.

“The problem however is that debt can accelerate very fast because of interest and this will severely affect our ability to repay this loan.”

“From what I know, a large proportion of such loans are maturing over the next few years and the government might have a problem refinancing them” he added.

Pua’s pitch and view on the matter was simple.

“We need to review subsidies being given to privatised company. We should look at the matter of debt holistically and not just on subsidies, bearing in mind that wages have been stagnant for for over 10 years and cutting subsidies would hugely affect the rakyat.”

Friday, May 28, 2010

Cuts Cannot be Limited to Subsidies

DAP says cuts cannot be limited to subsidies
By Shazwan Mustafa Kamal May 27, 2010

KUALA LUMPUR, May 27 — DAP’s Tony Pua grudgingly admitted today that cutting subsidies could lower Malaysia’s debts, but he said the cuts will only be successful if leakages from graft and help for big corporations are plugged first.

“I feel that in general, the points raised were agreeable. But at the same time, these plans can only be put into motion if other conditions are first met.

“He (Datuk Seri Idris Jala) was quite naughty when he said that Pakatan Rakyat (PR) agreed with lowering subsidies. We agree to it but with conditions,” DAP National Publicity Secretary Tony Pua said shortly after he attended a government open day on rationalizing cutting subsidies.

The Petaling Jaya Utara MP told The Malaysian Insider that while the government has outlined ways in which to gradually lessen subsidies, other “main causes of debts” had not been carefully addressed.

According to Pua, the issue of subsidies was a small problem compared to the actual cause of Malaysia’s huge deficit problem.

“The focus right now is too restricted to subsidies to the man on the street. The focus is too much on dealing with subsidies to the man on the street. We need to look at two key aspects,” said Pua.

The DAP man claimed that the main cause of debts was due to huge government expenditure where major problems of wastage of funds and corruption remained unsolved.

“The main cause of debts is government expenditure... this has been admitted by the Auditor-General amounted to RM28 billion. This is the often quoted figure of waste by the government.

“(Besides that) we see things like the giving out of interest free loans to private companies like Syabas, those are examples which must be addressed. Subsidy is only one of the smaller factors,” said Pua.

He reiterated points that DAP and PR had brought up during the last Parliamentary session where there have been “gross leakages” in government procurement contracts. Malaysians were also not granted proper access to some government tenders.

The government said earlier today that it will save RM103 billion over the next five years if it starts to cut subsidies now.

Idris, who is in charge of the Government Transformation Plan (GTP), said Malaysia had a whopping RM362 billion debt and must start reducing subsidies amounting to RM74 billion last year to avoid becoming a bankrupt nation by 2019.

According to the minister, the government had spent a total of RM74 billion on subsidies last year.

Idris outlined areas in which the government could slash its spending on in order to increase the country’s per capita income.

Areas which have been identified include fuel, food and infrastructure as well as tolls.

“The government subsidy bill, it is not just about the amount of money to the man on the street, it is also amount of money given to big corporations, crony companies, if you like.”

“I think IPPs (Independent Power Producers) was highlighted quite well up there, they take about RM13 billion in gas subsidies per year. Compare that against food subsidy bill, RM3.4 billion. Where should the government be focusing their attention on?” said Pua.

Pua stressed that more money could be saved if the government stopped doling out cash to giant corporations.

“A lot of plans proposed today can only take place after certain benchmarks are achieved. You cannot increase electricity rates without first dealing with fat profits IPPs are making.

“If you increase the burden on the people but you maintain the billions of profits for IPPs that would be a very unfair policy, (then)you are creating an additional burden,” he said

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Parliamentary Questions 2010 (II)

The next parliamentary session will commence on 7th June and I've prepared the following questions for the Ministers for response.  I have not been getting quality responses most of the time from the ministers, but lets see if we can sometimes obtain the occasional gems ;-)

The following are the list of questions which I have submitted for this coming session, covering sports betting, "Allah", government procurement, privatisation, GST, new economic model, crime and more.

Soalan Jawapan Lisan

1.Tony Pua meminta Kementerian Kerjaraya menyatakan

(a)kedudukan projek Hospital Shah Alam yang tidak dapat siap dalam masa yang ditentukan atas sebab sub-kontraktor yang tidak dibayar selama 3 bulan

(b)sebab kontraktor utama Sunshine Fleet tidak dibatalkan kontrak mereka atas masalah kewangan dan amalan pengkontrakan “Ali-Baba”

2.Tony Pua meminta Kementerian Kewangan menyatakan

(a)sebab Ascott Sports ditawarkan lesen perjudian bola-sepak secara rundingan terus, tanpa sebarang tender atau lelong

(b)secara terperinci syarat-syarat yang dikenakan, termasuk kadar dan system cukai, had keuntungan, peruntukan dan pengawalan isu sosial, yuran lesen dan lain-lain

3.Tony Pua meminta Menteri Kewangan menyatakan sebab “MyProcurement Portal”

(a)hanya mempamerkan kontrak daripada beberapa Kementerian dan agensi kerajaan sahaja dan bukannya wajib untuk semua kementerian dan agensi?

(b)Tidak menunjukkan butiran kontrak terperinci seperti kuantiti, jumlah petender, tarikh tender ditawar dan lain-lain

4.Tony Pua meminta Menteri Dalam Negeri menyatakan sebab 15,000 Al-Kitab yang dirampas oleh kerajaan pada tahun 2009 akan dimusnahkan dan tidak disebaliknya dipulangkan kepada penganut Kristian Sidang Injil Borneo (SIB) demi hak kebebasan agama seperti yang diperuntukkan dalam Perlembagaan?

5.Tony Pua meminta Kementerian Kewangan menyatakan

(a)sama ada kadar Cukai Perkhidmatan dan Barang-Barang (GST) 4% yang dicadangkan, akan dinaikkan dalam 10 tahun yang akan datang

(b)mengapa GST patut dilaksanakan jika ianya akan mengurangkan hasil kutip kerajaan seperti yang dijelaskan oleh Kementerian Kewangan sebelum ini

6.Tony Pua meminta Kementerian Pertahanan menyatakan

(a)butiran dalam surat niat kepada Defence Technologies Sdn Bhd untuk membeli 257 buah kereta perisai

(b)sebab anggaran kos setiap kereta perisai bernilai RM31 juta walaupun harga pasaran kereta perisai terbaik di dunia hanya bernilai RM3 sehingga RM10 juta

7.Tony Pua meminta Kementerian Pertahanan menyatakan

(a)sebab pembelian kasut kulit wanita kepada kakitangan awam kementerian yang bernilai RM2.7 juta

(b)butiran terperinci pembelian kasut seperti jumlah petender, kuantiti, spesifikasi

8.Tony Pua meminta Menteri Dalam Negeri menyatakan sebab KDN enggan memberikan “jadual terperinci” mengenai indeks kadar jenayah mengikut tahun, jenis jenayah dan kawasan/negeri walaupun diminta dalam soalan jawapan bertulis kedua-dua sesi yang lalu? Sebaliknya, Menteri hanya memberi jawapan ringkas dan descriptive sahaja.

9.Tony Pua meminta Kementerian Kewangan menyatakan sama ada polisi Pekeliling Perbendaharaan Kontrak yang menghadkan perolehan barang-barang tertentu kepada beberapa syarikat tertentu akan dihentikan supaya kerajaan melaksanakan perolehan secara tender terbuka seperti yang ditetapkan dalam pelan Model Ekonomi Baru dan Program Transformasi Kerajaan

10.Tony Pua meminta Kementerian Perdagangan Antarabangsa dan Industri menyatakan sama ada kerajaan akan mengubah Pelan Automotif Negara sekali lagi untuk menarik balik dasar RM10,000 untuk setiap “AP” impot kereta dan memanjangkan masa tamat skim AP ini.

Soalan Bertulis

11.Tony Pua meminta Kementerian Kewangan menyatakan

(a)rasional kerajaan menubuhkan joint venture dengan KWSP untuk membangun 3,000 ekar tanah kerajaan di Sungai Buloh walaupun KWSP tidak mempunyai sebarang kepakaran dalam bidang pembangunan

(b)sebab tanah tersebut tidak dibangun secara tender terbuka kepada pemaju yang terkemuka

12.Tony Pua meminta Kementerian Perumahan dan Kerajaan Tempatan menyatakan sama ada kerajaan akan meminda Akta 133 Seksyen 5 supaya Pihak Berkuasa Tempatan berkuasa untuk meluluskan penubuhan sistem “gated and guarded” di kawasan perumahan dengan syarat-syarat yang tertentu demi kepentingan keselamatan penduduk-penduduk.

13.Tony Pua meminta Kementerian Kewangan menyatakan sama ada Kumpulan Wang Simpanan Pekerja (KWSP) telah melanggar “Capital Markets & Services Act” dengan pembelian saham anak syarikat MRCB dengan penuh pengetahuan bahawa kontrak yang besar pembangunan tanah 3,000 ekar di Sungai Buloh akan ditawar kepada MRCB.

14.Tony Pua meminta Perdana Menteri menyatakan prestasi dan kedudukan syarikat 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) sejak ianya ditubuh, termasuklah pelaburan yang telah dibuat, dan nilai 'current assets', 'return on equity' dan 'total assets'.

15.Tony Pua meminta Kementerian Kewangan menyatakan dengan jadual terperinci setiap bon dan pinjaman kerjaan atau yang dijamin oleh kerajaan, mengikut tarikh matang atau penebusan, dengan maklumat nilai, kadar faedah, tarikh permulaan

"Rock The Vote" @1Utama

“Rock the Vote” Voter Registration Campaign at 1Utama Shopping Centre, Bandar Utama

The offices of Tony Pua, Member of Parliament for Petaling Jaya Utara and Lau Weng San, state assemblyman for Kampung Tunku are jointly organising a large scale voter registration campaign to encourage more eligible Malaysians to register as a new voter. The details are as follows:
Event: “Rock The Vote” Campaign
Date: 29 – 30 May 2010
Time: 10.30 am to 10.00 pm
Venue: 1Utama Shopping Centre (Old Wing), Promenade Ground Floor (opp Sakae Sushi)

Assistant registrars approved by the Election Commission will be present to conduct the voter registration exercise.

All unregistered voters above the age of 21, regardless address will be able to register on the day. The voting address will however be based on the address on the Identification Card.

There are more than 780,000 eligible voters who have not registered in Selangor, and more than 4 million nationwide. Through this weekend's “Rock The Vote Campaign”, we hope to register at least 1,200 new voters.

For any inquiries or if you'd like to volunteer for this or other future events, please email

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

"I help you, you help me"

In case, you actually haven't heard it with your own ears, here's the clip on Najib's attempt to bribe the voters of Rajang Park, Sibu where the government's role of mitigating the area's flood is tied to them voting for Barisan Nasional.

The above video on YouTube has been viewed 75,000 times, and add the 22,000 views on Malaysiakini.TV, Datuk Seri Najib's disgraceful attempt would have been seen nearly 100,000 times.

Make your own judgement.

Listen also to the later part of the speech, Najib said "I don't have to come here, but I come to Rajang Park. Why?  This is not a place for the Prime Minister to come".

By the way, DAP/Pakatan Rakyat secured an increase of 9.4% of votes in Rajang Park polling district from 58.3% to 67.7%, and turnout increaesed 11%.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

BN Government Abused Low-Cost Flats Scheme

Expose on allocation of low-cost flats to MBPJ council senior officers must be investigated thoroughly by the state government and MACC

Under the previous Barisan Nasional Selangor government, the then Menteri Besar, Datuk Seri Mohd Khir Toyo had initiated a “zero squatter” policy where state land were cleared of squatters, handed to private developers in exchange for the construction of low-cost flats for the displaced squatters. These low cost flats are usually sold for highly subsidized rates between RM40,000 to RM80,000 each unit to ensure maximum affordability for the low-income group, especially in urban areas like Petaling Jaya.

DAP MBPJ councillor, Mak Khuin Weng has recently exposed the fact that hundreds of these low-cost flats may have been allocated to MBPJ officials and had sought a full audit and investigation by Datuk Bandar without much success since early this year.

According to one of the beneficiaries of the low-cost flat, the Planning Director of MBPJ, Sharipah Marhaini Syed Ali, the BN state government had introduced a policy in 2001 where council staff were eligible for low cost units.

According to The Sun report today, the Petaling Jaya Deputy Mayor Puasa Mohd Taib, have also confirmed that “the council does not have a policy barring directors, deputy directors or senior assistant directors from buying low-cost units,” adding that in 2001, the state government encouraged government servants, other than those in the lower income bracket, to buy low-cost homes as an incentive. He also admitted that there are up to 500 MBPJ officials who benefited from this scheme.

The relevations are shocking as it means that more than 500 of the displaced urban poor had been unable to secure a low-cost unit for themselves. It also explains the reason why both my office and the offices of the Petaling Jaya state assemblymen had been receiving many complaints from former squatters who were unable to obtain low-cost units meant for them.

We do not blame the MBPJ officers who took up units if those in power have given the instruction that they could. However, the State Government must determine the veracity of the claims by the council officers and determine if the clear abuse of power as with the previous state government led by Datuk Seri Mohd Khir Toyo, or the by previous MBPJ top management. In addition, the state government must compile a list of the real eligible buyers of the low-cost flats and ensure that the rights to these flats are returned to them.

The MACC must prove its relevance and investigate this abuse and prosecute those involved in diverting the benefits of state low-cost flats policies to the hands of those who where clearly ineligible. If MACC fails to conduct a serious probe on those from the previous state government involved in such policies which robs the poor, and enrich the wealthy, then it will clearly demonstrate its complete lack of effectiveness in clamping down on corruption and abuse of power.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Sports Betting and The End of NEM

The award of a sports betting license to Berjaya Group marks a complete mockery and the end of “New Economic Model”.

Malaysians are completely shocked that after all the hullaboo over Malaysia's “New Economic Model”, the Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak has directly awarded of a sports betting license to Berjaya Group helmed by Vincent Tan.

Malaysians are shocked because the Prime Minister has been harping on a new model of doing business in Malaysia whereby government business will be more transparent and competitive, and Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak has even promised Malaysians that he will no longer “tolerate rent-seeking and patronage” in his speech when launching the “New Economic Model”.

Within 2 months of his “earth-shaking” launch, Datuk Seri Najib has sounded the death knell to his own “New Economic Model”, by thrashing it into the rubbish dump by awarding the most lucrative multi-billion concession of the year to a well-known associate of BN top leadership, Tan Sri Vincent Tan.

Worse, it was done in the most opaque manner possible where there are no calls for proposals, no open tenders or auctions for the sports betting license! On what merit was Tan Sri Vincent Tan awarded this multi-billion gaming concession which will not only enrich him, but impoverish the rakyat by encouraging more gambling?

The non-Muslims community are already extremely unhappy with the excessive number of “special draws” by the existing gaming companies, including Berjaya Sports Toto. Now with legalised sports betting, it will only lead to greater social problems, mounting debt among those who are addicted to gambling.

But more importantly, the award of the new sports betting license together with the cronyistic award of mega projects to Naza TTDI to build Malaysia's RM628 million largest exhibition and convention centre in exchange for a piece of land worth up to RM1.5 billion, the likely award of a 3,000 acres piece of land to MRCB, a RM320 million 20-year interest free unsecured loan to SYABAS has proven beyond doubt that the New Economic Model is utter bunkum.

The rakyat are angry because they are being taken for a ride by the Prime Minister who has promised many changes but he has instead shown that the Barisan Nasional government is completely incapable of change. The practice of cronyism, rent-seeking and patronage to vested interest parties is continuing is broad daylight with complete endorsement by Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak. The Prime Minister's promise of 'open tender', 'merit' and fair competition

We call upon the Barisan Nasional government to immediately withdraw the award of the betting concession and set up a special Parliamentary Select Committee to review the impact of sports betting on Malaysians, and if and only if approved, then a open, transparent and competitive tender or auction must be called to ensure transparency and best “value for money” for the Government and Malaysians.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

GST on Sarawak

The Deputy Finance Minister informed the Senate yesterday that the Government will proceed with the implementation of the unpopular Goods and Services Tax (GST) after the expected passing of the Price Control and Anti-Profiteering Act in Parliament.

Datuk Seri Awang Adek Hussin argued that “there is a lot to be gained by the government and the country with the implementation of GST, among them, a new source of revenue.”

We agree that there is indeed a lot to be gained by the government as they will increase the amount of tax collected from the people, but what will be gained by the people who has to bear the burden of paying more taxes?

Sarawakians will be among the worst hit with the implementation of GST as the state is the fourth poorest in the whole Malaysia, only ahead of Sabah, Kelantan and Terengganu. Currently there are less than 8% of the working population in Sarawak who are paying income taxes. The remainder of the population just do not earn enough money to pay any taxes.

Once GST is implemented, everyone, regardless of whether you are unemployed, low income, a single mother, an elderly or disabled, you will have to pay GST for practically all purchases. As many Sarawakians are still living in poverty or at near poverty levels, the GST will badly affect their livelihood.

The Barisan Nasional government have insisted that basic necessities such as rice, flour, salt, sugar, meats and certain seafood items will be exempted from taxation, and the poorest in Malaysia will even save RM14.52 per annum with its implementation.

The Government's model is competely flawed because it assumes that the poor will only spend all their monies on GST-exempted basic goods. The poor will still have to pay GST when buying shampoo, clothes, shoes, cutlery, furniture, soap and other household items.

Even for tax exempted goods, the price is likely to increase despite the tax exempt, because the cost of production of items such as rice, flour etc. will increase due to GST.

While the Government may pass Price Control and Anti-Profiteering Acts, and promise enforcement, we all know that such enforcement will have very limited practical impact. The government cannot even enforce controls over taxi drivers who refuses to use meters in the cities, can we expect more from a nationwide enforcement of all shops? Furthermore, how is the Government going to penalise say a petty hawker, for charging RM0.10 more for his cup of teh tarik or RM0.20 more for his plate of noodles?

In the interest of many states which are still engulfed in poverty or near poverty, including hundreds of thousands of Sarawakians, we call upon the government to withdraw the proposal to implement GST.

To resolve the budget deficit and debt issues faced by the Government, the BN Government must first take concrete steps to reduce massive corruption, inefficiencies and wastages for all procurement and privatisation programmes and completely eliminate the entrenched system of rent-seeking and patronage, instead of taking the easy way out by shifting the burden to the rakyat at large.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Sibu To Kick Off Good Governance in Sarawak

Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Ahmad Maslan said yesterday that Pakatan Rakyat is “merely an occupant of the BN development, whether it is in Kedah, Kelantan, Penang or Selangor... the opposition cannot do anything for them and only the BN has the power, voice, capability, allocation and planning to develop the state.”

Barisan Nasional (BN) has over the past 50 years used the “politics of development” to trick voters into voting for BN. However, the trust of the rakyat has been abused to enrich the select few who are entrenched in power. As a result, Malaysia has the largest income disparity ratio in Southeast Asia, with the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer.

Sarawak has become the 4th poorest state in Malaysia despite being the richest in terms of natural resources. In 2009, the Sarawak state revenue was RM3.7 billion, the highest in entire Malaysia. Even with only 5% royalty for oil revenue, Sarawak has received RM4.8 billion in oil royalties between 2004 and 2007.

Yet, more than 70 percent of longhouses in Sarawak do not have access to electricity and many do not even have treated pipe water. Until today there are no roads to many Sarawak villages. Many Ibans who work in plantations at an unacceptable day wage rate of RM12 still have to compete with illegal Indonesian workers who work for RM8 per day. This proves that the wealth of Sarawak, Malaysia's richest state is highly concentrated in the hands of Barisan Nasional leaders, pilfered by cronies through patronage and corruption.

Pakatan Rakyat, despite having only governed in several states for 2 years have shown remarkable changes in administration.

Both the Penang and Selangor state governments led by Chief Minister, Lim Guan Eng and Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim respectively have performed outstandingly, being the only states which earned praise by the Auditor-General's Report 2008.

In Penang, its cost-cutting measures and prudent ways have resulted in the state's consolidated funds increasing 21.1% (RM178.45 million) from RM847.45 million in 2007 to RM1.02 billion in 2008. The report says the state's expenditure was reduced by RM35.41 million or by 11.1% due to its cost-cutting measures and priority being given to spending on the people or for people-centric programmes.

In fact, the Penang state government has been able to turn a projected deficit of RM 35 million in 2008 budget by BN to a record surplus of RM 88 million. Similarly in 2009, we achieved a surplus of RM 77 million. This was achieved through a competent, accountable and transparent (CAT) government, where open tenders are practised for all government contracts to ensure the lowest prices for the best quality goods and services.

What's more, the Pakatan Rakyat government in Penang was able to completely eradicate hardcore poverty in the state, something which the Barisan Nasional government has never been able to do for the past 50 years.

From all the savings that the state gained as a result of competent and good governance, as well as the eradication of corruption and cronyism, we have returned the monies to the rakyat. The Penang state government has given RM100 to every citizen in the state above the age of 60, while the Selangor state government is able to allocate RM120 million annual to provide free water to the rakyat.

We have even institutionalised tens of millions of annual government allocations to missionary, independent, chinese, tamil and religious schools to ensure justice in education for all Malaysians.

In Perak under Pakatan Rakyat, before the state government was forcefully taken over by the BN, we have awarded land titles to all qualified Malaysians regardless of race, a right which they have been denied under BN rule.

The above successes in such a short period of time proves beyond doubt that not only is Pakatan Rakyat able to govern, we are able to manage the state much better than the Barisan Nasional governments. BN accuses us of being “inexperienced” in government, but the only inexperience we have proven is that we have absolutely no experience with corruption and cronyism.

Pakatan Rakyat wants to bring our system of good governance to Sarawak to ensure all Sarawakians will prosper, especially those who are poor and marginalised, and the movement must start with Sibu.

Monday, May 03, 2010

GST Cure For Widening Deficit?

It came as no surprise when Professor Danny Quah, based at the London School of Economics claimed that Malaysia's sovereign debt is teethering towards the Greek abyss where our debt to GDP ratio will hit 70% by 2015 and may accelerate further to levels beyond 100% by 2020.

As it is, our debt has ballooned from RM242 billion in 2004 to RM363 billion in 2009, a sharp increase of 49.7%. This is despite the fact that over the same period, due to high oil prices, Petronas contributed RM217 billion to the state coffers.

It is hence important that this blatant abuse and mismanagement of government finances be rectified to ensure a sustainable future for the Malaysian economy and prevent a collapse like that suffered in Portugal, Iceland, Greece and Spain (PIGS).

What is however, completely shocking and unbelievably naïve is for the member of the National Economic Action Council (NEAC) is his prescription that the implementation of a new Goods and Services Tax (GST) “is something we desperately need because the traditional steady sources of revenue are literally drying up”.

Professor Danny Quah also said that “with a narrow tax revenue base, Malaysia has no choice but to implement the GST as a long-term solution, with a view to gradually raising the rate.”

The deterioration of Malaysian public finances is painful, but to prescribe GST as the ultimate cure is like prescribing Panadol to the patient who suffers from cancer.

Professor Danny Quah failed to emphasize the major cause for the current state of public finances today. Corruption has become increasingly rampant with Malaysia slipping down the Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index from 33rd globally in 2003 to a shameful 56th in 2009.

Corruption coupled with blatant wastage and inefficiencies created by rent-seeking and patronage, such as privatising profitable government owned entities at rock-bottom prices to cronies, the granting of licences and concessionaires to parties with vested interest without any form or tender or competition have led to billions siphoned from the Government. Such contracts have continued extensively under Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak's regime as

a RM628 million contract was awarded to Naza TTDI to build Malaysia's largest exhibition and convention centre in exchange for a piece of land valued as much as RM1.5 billion,
a 20-year interest free loan of RM320 million extended to a private concession company SYABAS Sdn Bhd,
an opaque 3,000 acres Sg Buloh prime land development project which is expected to be awarded to Malaysian Resources Corporation Bhd (MRCB), via a Government joint venture with the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) and
a RM8 billion intent by the government to purchase 257 armoured personnel carriers from DRB Hicom Bhd for the astronomical amount of RM31 million each

Failure by the government to put in place good governance policies such as open and transparent tenders, curbing corruption, rent-seeking and patronage will cripple our public finances regardless of wheter GST is implemented or not.

To put it simply, if there's a hole in the pocket, and you are short of cash, no matter how much money you beg from the streets to squeeze into the pockets, you'd still lose all the money with the hole only getting bigger.

It isn't rocket science to solve our public finance problems, and it certainly doesn't take an economist from LSE to prescribe panadol to solve our cancer. To solve our public finance crisis, the Government just needs to plug the massive leaks by mending the big hole in the pocket.

The problem with our economy is hence the complete lack of political will by the Najib administration to be completely transparent, be ruthless in fighting corruption and eliminating political patronage and to uphold the principles of open tenders via merit and competition despite Najib's pledges to the contrary under the New Economic Model (NEM).

GST will on the other hand just give additional funds to refill the coffers of the Government and the BN leaders to enrich themselves, at the expense of the rakyat at large.