Hornbill Unleashed

June 4, 2010

The end of subsidies would mean the death of UMNO

Filed under: Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:00 AM
Tags: , , ,

By Pak Bui


It is good news that Idris Jala, the minister in the prime minister’s department, has come out in public to urge that the government must rein in the budget deficit or face bankruptcy by 2019 – but not because he recommended subsidy cuts.

It is heartening news, because this statement means that our political space is opening up, and UMNO cannot possibly remain in power indefinitely, using the same old tools of patronage.

Ten years ago, when the wily and vicious Mahathir Mohamad was in charge, it would have been nearly unthinkable for any minister, academic, or opposition parliamentarian, to have made such a forthright statement. And it would have been even less likely that any such warning could have been broadcast on the television news, and splashed across the front pages of the mainstream newspapers.

This is because subsidies are the lifeline of UMNO. The entire network of creeping weeds of UMNO’s patronage is fed and watered by the subsidy system.

Fuel subsidies, as well as agriculture and fisheries subsidies, provide the greatest benefit to rural voters, UMNO’s prized constituency. Some of these voters sell off the fertilisers, outboard engines, nets, grass-cutting machines, and free or cheap diesel to middlemen. In effect, the subsidy system is an inefficient system of bribery for many rural voters and their local UMNO chieftains.

The subsidy mountain

Idris Jala has pointed out that subsidies cost the government a total of RM74 billion last year, of which only RM3.4 billion was for food subsidies for cooking oil, flour and sugar. Most of the remaining cost was “social” subsidies, which encompasses direct contributions to the pockets of rural farmers and fishermen, mostly in peninsular Malaysia.

He has looked to abolishing fuel subsidies as the greatest source of saving on government expenditure, by RM44.9 billion over five years. Meanwhile, according to Idris, gas and electricity subsidy cuts can reduce government spending by a further RM35.9 billion over the same stretch.

He projects that toll hikes can save RM3.7 billion over five years. He recommends raising the prices of essential foodstuff items, to save RM8.5 billion over that period.

The mere existence of this debate indicates that there has been a seismic shift in the thinking of our population. This issue is now debated without the usual warnings of riots on the streets. UMNO and the Barisan Nasional (BN) have admitted there is a real problem with overspending.

Idris Jala’s corporate mind

Many of us have praised Idris Jala for being frank and daring. But Idris Jala has been steeped for decades in the rarefied air of the corporate world, in Shell and then Malaysia Airlines. This tends to breed certain mental deficiencies, including an unshakeable belief in being right all the time, and an aversion to look at any socio-political issue through any lens except the purely economic and financial.

If you were, for example, to ask Idris Jala about the social cost of unplanned teenage pregnancies, he might perhaps, by some stretch of the imagination, answer you in terms of ringgit and sen, calculating the cost of feeding, clothing and educating adopted babies, or the price of the volume of water needed to flush unwanted babies down the toilet.

Long years of sitting in a tall chair at the head of the table, being waited on hand and foot by brigades of underlings and yes-men, and tinkering in air-conditioned meeting rooms that he calls “labs”, may have led to some delusions of grandeur, just as top BN politicians tend to lose touch with reality.

Those who commend Idris Jala for his tremendous balls may have to consider: if you are accustomed to having your private parts supported lovingly by your subordinates, you might well lose touch with your balls, and they might be expected to shrink rather than grow.

Many other commentators think Idris has been made use of by the UMNO top brass to broach the unpleasant subject of subsidies. PM Najib can then make reassuring noises in public that nothing is set in stone, and can appear to be the good guy.

Later, Najib will be able to raise the price of fuel, and then smile and say, “See? It wasn’t as painful as that Idris Jala fellow made it out to be.”

Najib tried the same trick with his New Economic Model, lavishing platitudes on the non-Malays and then consoling the screaming infants in Perkasa. He also played the same charade when his aide Nasir Safar insulted Chinese and Indians, appealing to the Utusan Malaysia readers’ base instincts. He then pretended to be an “inclusive” PM by chiding Nasir and accepting his heart-wringing resignation.


No safety net

Indeed, even if Jala means “net” in Malay, Idris Jala failed to provide an adequate safety net for poor Malaysians hardest hit by the expected rise in prices. Ballooning inflation would be a curse for the vast majority of rural Sarawakians. The price of petrol remains 50-100% higher per gallon in rural areas, despite the government’s celebrated efforts to provide some equilibrium.

Those who have land to farm can feed themselves, but those who are squeezed by plantation or logging companies, or who are making RM400 a month serving drinks in a coffee shop, would endure great hardship. They need more employment opportunities and a fairer share of the economic pie – and this can only come when the iron grip of corrupted politicians on the Sarawakian and Malaysian economy is released.

Idris even brought up the idea of saving money by charging RM3 for clinic treatment and RM6 per day spent in hospital. This is a sick joke, when we consider the enormous leakages caused by drug procurement middlemen companies linked to rich politicians, like Pharmaniaga, or the billions handed out to hospital cleaning and support companies like Pantai, previously owned by Mahathir’s inept son Mokhzani.

Idris Jala is like a mechanic, recommending a change of engine oil, when the entire car is falling apart, eaten up by corruption and mismanagement, and the wheels are being removed by thieves.

Malaysian government spending must be reduced by cutting corruption. UMNO is unable to do this, so it has put Idris Jala up to deliver a shock-jock speech about ending subsidies. When the excitement dies down, it will quietly raise petrol pump prices.

UMNO has seen the writing on the wall. But it cannot understand it, because the only language it is familiar with is Greedish.



  1. Malaysia In the Global Competitive Report 2009-2010.

    1. The Global Competitiveness Report covers 133 countries through its 12 pillars of competitiveness involving 110 indicators. 80 percent of these indicators (86) are based on Executive Opinion Survey and 20% (24) are quantitative in nature such as Gross Domestic Product (GDP),Government Spending, Inflation Rate,Expenditure on Education and Tax rate.

    2. Global Competitiveness results for the top 10 countries of Switzerland, United States, Singapore, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Germany,Japan, Canada and Netherland show a measureable decline in average score since last year, from 5.51 out of a maximum score of 7 to 5.45 this year. In the context of current recession, the competitiveness performance of top-performing countries on average had declined.

    3.Malaysia was ranked at 24th position out of 133 countries with an index score of 4.87, slipping downwards by three positions in the previous year in the recently released Global Competitiveness Report 2009-2010 by the World Economic Forum. This decline is essentially the result of unfavourable assessment of institutional framework which had been exhibiting a downward trend since 2007, causing Malaysia to fall from 17th to 43rd position in this dimension in just 2 years.

    * The institutional environment is determined by the legal and administrative framwork within which individuals, firms and government interact to generate income and wealth in the economy.

    NOw, did Najib and his deputy been misleading the nation by bragging that Malaysia is the 10th most competitive country?

    Comment by Mata Kuching — June 12, 2010 @ 8:38 PM | Reply

  2. Ho 😆 Ho 😆 Ho 😆
    😆 I don’t want those bumNO with subsidy cut to hurt the poor peoples 😆
    😆 I want nobody but you wonder GIRL 😆
    Ho 😆 Ho 😆 Ho 😆

    Comment by Ho Ho Ho — June 5, 2010 @ 12:02 AM | Reply

  3. Up to the ultimate point in the corporate hierarchy, you will be a politician when you elect to become one.

    Does it surprise you that Idris joined the gomen? I was but then I thought it’s his decision.

    Considering the mess the country is in now, Idris doesn’t need this job. Especially when he’s not elected by citizens. Or could he have known it earlier? Of course he did but he chose and he elected.

    If on a laudable good governance plan, we could have been as wealthy as the South Koreans and the Taiwanese, could we really be that bad as to go bankrupt? We could. But as all know, those UMNO cronies will be the ones who will take the first hit . Perhaps, Idris was really telling the UMNO boys to help him, “Hey let’s keep the subsidies!!!”

    We should only be true blue fools if we don’t really read into the idea that this is our country. When the sky falls it will hit us. Politicians, more so Malaysian ones, may take off the moment trouble begins. The Greeks are angry at their government and didn’t want to take the cruch. They burnt a few buildings but finally they are suffering.

    Will we be Greeks, too? I mean, is that really Greek? 😉

    So, if we’re the ones on whom the sky will fall, act like one. Vote these BN creeps, the likes of Idris Jala, out! Then if the sky jatuh, jatuh lah! We’ll be Greek and gone all the same.

    BTW, has anyone some good info on our FOOD SECURITY situation. What if the sky will really jatuh? 😦

    Comment by Watcha — June 4, 2010 @ 11:47 PM | Reply

  4. 😆 Malaysia is a rich country full of resources n why bumNO still cannot manage our country properly BUT instead they are corrupted to the core n mismanage or country n falling backward to neighbour country 😆
    Ho 😆 Ho 😆 Ho 😆

    Comment by Ho Ho Ho — June 4, 2010 @ 10:16 PM | Reply

  5. I do agree that Idris Jala isn’t a politician. It’s only in Malaysia UMNO/BN that have a minister/deputy minister r non-elected members. This is what we call UMNO/BN democracy. What a shit democracy it’s. That’s why all government agencies r all undemocratic n also unprofessional n un ethical like the judiciary, pdrm, election commision, macc etc…etc. U see what ceuapec said 25% of the civil servants are corrupted. That what they say. But what I observe 100% of them are corrupted of one kind or may kind. U beelieve or not by 9.30am the civel servants are still on teh road when actually working hours starts 8.00am. The same senerio will be observed by 4.30pm u’ll see the road is full of cars of the civil servants driving back home when the office hours only ends 5.00pm. Are these not time coorupted. Makan gaji haram. This is every day happenings. Even eveyday u’ll see most of the civils servants are in the kopitiam or cafes around 10.00-1200noon. My foot! Mana tidak bankrap Malaysia. This is a leader through examples. Mana tidak boss pun macam itu. This happening is in every government department without exceptionallah in Malaysia UMNO/BN led government.Good luck for Malaysia UMNO/BN bankrap.

    Comment by Minda Mandol — June 4, 2010 @ 3:51 PM | Reply

    • Brother, just a little correction. Cuepacs President actually said 41%. I suppose Idris Jala thought this is an acceptable “miscellaneous costs”.

      “TEMERLOH: Cuepacs is alleging that 418,200 or 41% of the 1.2 million civil servants were suspected to be involved in corruption last year.

      Its president Omar Osman said this was worrying and needed to be tackled urgently …”

      Comment by BumbleBee — June 4, 2010 @ 4:59 PM | Reply

      • Cuepacs president Omar Osman said the congress would strive to achieve zero corruption by the year 2012. …

        Well … that’s so glib, isn’t it? He says it so easily like picking some food bits from between his teeth. “Zero”! Wonder whether he meant zero co-relation?

        Some people are really dumb and we keep paying them!!!

        Comment by Watcha — June 5, 2010 @ 2:57 PM | Reply

  6. The BN government is mismanaging public funds and that is the reason why we have this economic hardship. Malaysia is a rich nation but ordinary citizens remain poor because there is no equitable distribution of wealth, made possible by the welfare state of civil servants and government-linked companies, too long-serving politicians and their cronies, subservient citizens who refuse to change and be responsible to the community, and a failure to realize that any of the above exists.

    Comment by Fabian Ngui — June 4, 2010 @ 2:21 PM | Reply

  7. We are all caught in a catch 22 situation as a result of years of corruption, wastage and abuse of power.

    Over the years, despite having abundance of natural resources, our country’s financial situation continues to deteriorate instead of improving.

    Now is the time for making tough decisions that will decide the future of our children.

    The question is, do we want to sacrifice our children’s future with our ‘tidak apa’ attitude.

    “We can’t change the colour of our past, but we can choose the colours of our future.”…Idris Jala

    Comment by PH Chin — June 4, 2010 @ 12:27 PM | Reply

  8. As always it’s. If ur too green in politic then u’ll be a scapegoat. Idris Jala isn’t an exceptional. U’ll be a tool to do all bad things to make things right n once everything is in place then u’ll be out. That’s what’s Idris Jala. Mahathir did that to Idris Jala n now Najib is doing it to him. Just to refresh our mind. Mas was very badly hit, loss in every sector n billions got into the drains then Mahathir brought in one Sarawakian in Idris Jala being experience in the corporate world bluntly did all the reform in MAS nothing other than just sell all the assets of MAS by nillions including MAS building where all high-powered staff r being housed. Selling some of the aircrafts n many other assets not known much to the public. It’s nothing that extra-ordinary but as just an ordinary observor cleaning all the taie that the previous bosses have done wrongs n left. So, now Idris Jala is repeating the same mode of operandi in UMNO/BN government. What else can me think as an ordinary guy being oppressed for the last 47 yrs being part of Malaysia.. the most unfortunate experiences being in the richest state but a very many many poor citizens in this poor Sarawak state. May God save us all from all these dajal UMNO/BN. Or else might just revive the God Save The Queen which so much better Negaraku when actually we’re not that. So WHAT!

    Comment by Minda Mandol — June 4, 2010 @ 8:31 AM | Reply

  9. […] this make sense..?? Has he given the death kneel to the BN government and read the last rites..?? He is obviously not a politician and he should not be in the PMs […]

    Pingback by Malaysia B.S.”Reality Sucks..!!” « Audie61′s Weblog — June 4, 2010 @ 12:09 AM | Reply

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