THE SUNDAY Star front page headline today – “ Childcare: An uphill task” – is a graphic indication of how bad the economy has become and is made worse by the government’s inept policies.
The reason? The rise in minimum wage and the inability of the low- and middle-income parents to pay higher fees consummating with the higher salaries the centres have to pay teachers and caregivers. (More here)
In his fixation with high income economy, Prime Minister-cum-Minister of Finance, (Datuk Seri Mappadulung Daeng Mattimung Karaeng Sanrobone) Mohd Najib Abdul Razak had enforced the minimum wage nationwide on July 1 this year despite objections by many parties.
The monthly minimum wage for the Peninsula is RM1,000 and RM920 for Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan.
This is despite knowing that many employers do not have financial capacity to pay the prescribed rates.
His cockeyed high-income policy and pseudo transformation have caused so much damage to the economy and brought untold miseries to the people. Only the rating agencies seem to like his transformation mantra. The worse is yet to come.For this reason alone, he is no longer fit to continue as the Prime Minister. Consider this my feedback to his request for public input for the 2017 budget. Let us have somebody else planning the budget.
As I had stated in my Sunday’s Sinar Harian column “Asam Pedas”, the government has technically ran out of money and could be fiddling with technicalities to hide the truth.
My assertion that government’s revenue might have fallen below its operating expenditure (Opex) has neither been challenged nor clarified. As we all know allocations for education and health have been reduced and development projects delayed.(More here)
In today’s article in the Sinar, I urged the new Second Finance Minister Datuk Johari Abdul Ghani to tell the truth.
Ousting the BN is the Answer
Looking at things from this angle, the success of the Deklarasi Rakyat’s twin-objective of removing Mohd Najib and reforming the institutions becomes even more vital.
Neither Mohd Najib’s removal nor the reformation of the institutions would be possible without the Barisan Nasional being removed from the a seat of power.
In the nutshell, the Opposition’s objective in the coming general elections (GE) should be the defeat of the BN. Anything less is unacceptable and ineffective.
They should position themselves as the future government and behave likewise – enough of partisanship and jingoism. They have to band together to convince the people that they are better than the BN.
Opposition leaders can choose to call their alliance whatever name they like but their objective must be to end the BN hegemony and to carry out democratic and institutional reforms.
The concluding paragraph of the Deklarasi Rakyat states:
“We call upon all Malaysians, irrespective of race, religion, political affiliation, creed or parties, young and old to join us in saving Malaysia from the Government headed by Dato’ Sri Najib Tun Razak, to pave the way for much needed democratic and institutional reforms, and to restore the important principle of the separation of powers among the executive, legislature and judiciary which will ensure the independence, credibility, professionalism and integrity of our national institutions.”
Since the declaration was launched on March 4, it has garnered more than 1.4 million signatures but has been largely ignored by the government. Even attempts to present the petition of the King have not succeeded so far.
With so many key institutions, including the monarchy, being undermined by the BN-controlled executive and legislative branches, only its defeat at the polls would make it possible for the check and balance mechanism to be restored and enhanced.
The NGO leaders have repeatedly stated that they would support the opposition alliance only if there is genuine unity and the commitment to make reforms a key element in its manifesto.
In the meantime the 1MDB scandal continues to worsen, the economy is sputtering and the Prime Minister is becoming less able to rule.
The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has commenced civil proceedings against people accused of stealing and laundering the 1MDB money. The operating expenditure of the central government could have gone into the deficit. The corporate sector is reporting lower income and is closing down marginal businesses, retrenching staff and leaving the country .
The country’s biggest investment fund, the EPF a few days ago revealed that its second quarter 2016 investment income had declined by 26% to RM8.44 billion.
Forging a United Alliance
That new objective of defeating the BN had been made clear at the various plenary sessions of the Deklarasi Rakyat as well as the meetings of the newly registered Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia.
The party’s Chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and President Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin had openly declared their intention to forge a united opposition front to take on the BN one-to-one in the coming GE.
They both had held meetings with counterparts from the PKR, DAP, Amanah and even PAS. Independent observers are unanimous that the surprised court meeting between Dr Mahathir and Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim on Sept. 5 had boosted the opposition’s chances of trouncing the BN in the coming GE.
In that “muhibbah” meeting, Dr Mahathir had agreed to support Anwar’s legal challenge against the enforcement of the National Security Council Act (NSCA). His lawyer, Haniff Khatri Abdulla, had confirmed that he had been instructed to speak to Anwar’s legal team.
Dr Mahathir said after the meeting that if he could work with Lim Kit Siang (the DAP’s strongman) there is no reason why he couldn’t work with Anwar. The latter, on his part, believes that Dr Mahathir has embraced the reform agenda.
Mahyuddin had also either met or spoken to leaders of the opposition parties, including those from PAS, to get the sense of the processes that they have to go through to come to the decision to take on the BN one-to-one in the coming generals polls.
Only a one-to-one contest could guarantee that the opposition candidates could match up to the BN’s logistical might and its “cash is king” strategy. The BN could already be engaging in fund-raising in anticipation of an earlier GE. Watch out for project launches, corporate deals and share transactions on Bursa Malaysia.
The opposition leaders should learn to speak and behave like leaders, cease partisan politics and put an end to petty squabbles or risk being condemned by the people for missing this golden opportunity.