Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Oil Curse Strikes

I wrote a fairly extensive piece more than 2 years ago in June 2007, which was published in Aliran (after being rejected by The New Straits Times), and blogged here (Part I and Part II), on "Oil & Gas Windfall: Boon or Bane?" At that point in time, the Government wasn't at all concerned because the oil prices were hitting the roof, peaking at US$150 per barrel in July 2008. Nobody then thought that the party will soon turn into a crisis.

Now that the oil prices have declined by some 50% today, or as low as 20% of its peak just a few months ago, the chickens have come home to roost. Previously ignorant and complacent, the Barisan Nasional government is now hard up for cash, as its revenues from the oil and gas sector gets severely hit. The solution as the Prime Minister and Finance Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak says, we need to make up for the shortfall by taxing the rakyat more. Hence our 2010 Budget is all about taxes, the new credit card tax, the real estate property gains tax and the upcoming goods and services tax.

UMNO veteran, former finance minister and chairman of Petronas, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah spoke his mind today, that "the country has squandered its oil wealth".
KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 12 — Petronas founder and former Finance Minister Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah said today that Malaysia had squandered its oil wealth and had become an “oil cursed” country dependent on it like a narcotic for quick fixes.

In his most scathing remarks yet about the management of the country's oil reserves and the economy, Tengku Razaleigh said oil money had been used as "a giant slush fund that has propped up authoritarian rule, eroded constitutional democracy and corrupted our entire political and business elite."

"Our oil receipts, instead of being applied in the manner we planned upon the formation of Petronas, that is, according to its original developmental purpose, became a fund for the whims and fancy of whoever ran the country, without any accountability.

"The oil that was meant to spur our transition to a more humane, educated society has instead become a narcotic that provides economic quick fixes and hollow symbols such as the Petronas Towers. Our oil wealth was meant to help us foster Malaysians capable of building the Twin Towers than hire foreigners to build them, a practice in which we preceded Dubai. I would rather have good government than grand government buildings filled with a demoralised civil service," he said in his speech at the Young Corporate Malaysians Summit here today.

He said that when he started the national oil company in 1974, he did not foresee that he would one day wish that the country had not discovered oil.

The Umno veteran said that Malaysians were no longer productive and no longer used their ingenuity to improve themselves to take the leap forward...
For the full article, visit The Malaysian Insider or


Anonymous said...

Salute to Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah for a gutsy admission of the russ of umno and bn. People of 1Malaysia, please vote these 'leeches' out of the govt, and maybe we may be able to safe some of the loose change from the oil $

For a Better Malaysia

Anonymous said...

Marilah Rakyat Malaysia yang beradab-sopan mestilah Sabar..Korban..untuk..Bangsa dan Negara...dekat MASA KRISIS SUSAH..!

Ayohai..masa minyak petrol NAIK-tinggi..tinggi..tak simpan baik-baik..!Buat Belanja besar..besar..sini..sana..sampai tiada simpan betul-betul...Naik ini Naik..itu..! Syarikat kroni-kroni..mamapu buat Rugi Besar-Besar..Tak apa..Masih dapat bertahan..bermegah sini sana TANPA perlu Bayar CUKAI KOPRPORAT..sebab rugi besar..!

Jangan bimbang...kami akan tolong..tolong kau jangan lupa "BUDI-JASAku"..barulah dapat Saya yang berKUASA menolong.."Buat Duit -Tolong"(BAIL-OUT)daripada Rakyat secara besar-besar..!Kroni-kroni boleh terus-menerus tunggu..sabarlah tunggulah" DUIT-TOLONG"akan sampai..tak payahlah susah-susah nak buat DUIT NIAGA..!

Tak apalah..kami berusaha cari DUIT RAKYAT sini-sana..asalkan UNDIlah saya masa setiap 5 tahun..macam inilah Barulah saya dapat buat "DUIT-TOLONG"..sebab saya jadi..BOSS...!

Rakyat Malaysia kena BAYAR ...kerana saya ada KUASA..ada MINDA..saya boleh buat CUKAI-BOSS-BARU..kalau tak cukup....cukai mati saya hidupkan semula..seperti..RPGT ..Kalau tak cukup..saya ada Cukai Baru..nanti kita kenakan .Credit Card TAX..graduan-graduan yang gaji MAHAL..mampu bayar..tak apa walau duit pinjaman belajar masih belum mampu habis bayar... Kalau tak boleh..kita buat..GST..lagi!
sebab adil semua golongan kena..Golongan Sederhana Tertindas(GST)..baru tau apa KUASA BOSS..kalau tak kena saya akan buangkan Subsidi sekian diberi sini-sana...Orang luar minyak tak boleh pam sini..!Jangan salah-guna..ikutlah orang tua cakap..tau tak!

Macam inilah NEGARA SAYA baru boleh bangun jadi Negara Maju.Makmur.Kaya...di mata dunia..sebab tak ada orang miskin...semua mampu BAYAR..!Itulah sebab..ku kata..dulu-dulu.. Malaysia Boleh..takkanlah kini tiba-tiba tak-boleh..kita dah lama tunggu ..Wawasan 2020..doa-doakanlah saja.Malaysia ku...!

Adrian Tan said...

PETRONAS won a couple of bids in Iraq. Surely that would bring in huge profits to our country. No more GST, then? Yay?

Anonymous said...

If you think about it, When did Petronas, Mahathir and our country was at its best? During the 1980s and early 1990s when oil prices were low. Entitlement even in god-gifted stuff is a bad thing...

Anonymous said...

Wat abt the BMF scandal? Was it solved? Who are the culprits?

Silence Sufferer said...

Hang that 'mamak' flers for simply throwing the country's wealth into the drain during his 22 years of reign.He is so naive to think that the petroleum money comes easy and simply spent and gambled(tin and forex speculation)and thought that if he wins,he can have more money for himself and cronies.But if loses,then the govt to bear!What a smart idea!

Anonymous said...

In Norway profits in the oil revenue are channel to a special investment fund and belongs to the people and not the government. This investment fund could be modelled after Singapore Tumasek or at least similar to EPF but must be accountable to Parliament WITH YEARLY ACCOUNT AVAILABLE TO PUBLIC.
Dap should propose that in its election manisfasto.