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Sakmongkol ak 47

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Friday, 20 February 2009

The interview with NJ Ahmad, Kota Bharu


I have not read the Malay Mail article by NJ Ahmad in its entirety. It wasn't an interview as such. It was more a conversation that took place in a casual atmosphere when we were enjoying our kopi tiam, half boiled eggs boiled to perfection and charcoal burned roti bakar. I mentioned that the blogger de minimis is better equipped to talk about economic issues since I have lately been busy with the ketua pemuda politics.

But a friend in KL e-mailed me and sent an abridged version. I was asked about some economic issues facing the country. Among the things asked were the stimulus package which I personally think now should be around close to RM60b. I also have reservations about the stimulus package apart from its size. When is its implementation? The original RM7b has not even started because the money is not there. I shall not go into the entire spectrum of spendables aimed by that original stimulus package which I see essentially as helping out class F contractors. And these are mostly UMNO contractors.

Our small and medium scale industrialists are suffering and a lot of them will suffer even more as money is squeezed. Almost always, stimulus expenditure goes to them late. I am also interested to see the type of spending they want to do- infrastructure which is said to have the largest multiplier and spillover effects. But expenditure on infrastructure is also plagued with longer lag times- the time to realize its potentials are longer. The longer you start, the father way will the desired effects. As of now, because politics overwhelms us, no ministries are eager to call for its big projects at least after the UMNO elections. Hence, as I have said, it's all politics until end of 2009.

There is also another point, which I will make a small correction. I have maintained that TRH is the PM we did not have. I will not say he is the BEST we did not have. I still regard TDM as our best PM.

TDM as we all know is the unchallenged master of politics. He is extra charitable when it comes to unsolicited cynicism and whoever lies at the receiving end will not relish its effects, felt long even after other people have forgotten about it.

But I will maintain that TRH is the only true gentleman politician and had he been our PM, Malaysian politics I believed will be on a more dignified foundation. Allow me to cite two events that reveal the gentleman side of TRH.

We have been fed continually about a very upbeat economy even though all around is, other economies are faltering. Our neighbor to the south has admitted to a technical recession when it suffers two running terms of declining growth. We are still fed with boundless optimism. The government was predicting a growth rate of 4.5%. TRH was the only sane voice to boldly say, this growth rate is unachievable. It has turned out so. But when TRH was saying it as a matter of fact, he was not doing do out of sarcasm but motivated by a desire for the government to be open about the problems. Being upfront will allow us to plan our strategies and steps to take.

When the Perak coup d'état occurred, I saw two differing responses from TDM and TRH. TDM was true to form- being the combative and assertive leader that he is, he said what took place in Perak carried out by BN was a sort of comeuppance to Anwar Ibrahim and his PKR people. To TDM it's a political game where two adversaries are out there to just win. It just the Bismarkian trait in TDM- win or lose. Either you are a Friend or a foe.

TRH's response to me was more dignified. Always guided by a sense of probity and propriety, he was of the opinion that the coup d'état in Perak was done out of bad taste. We win governments by way of elections and not by duplicitous ways. If we countenance such methods, even though it's legal, the way we win tells many things about us.

That is why I believe that TRH is the PM we never had.

This brings me to a personal view on the role of Tengku Razaleigh. If I were an advisor to DS Najib I will tell him to bring back TRH and put him in charge of the Finance Ministry. That will restore a lot of confidence both inside the country and abroad. We can tap his vast experience and rely on his sobriety and sense of probity. Politically it will show the magnanimous side of DS Najib.

With TRH back in the cabinet, DS Najib has better chances to get back Kelantan and neutralize the Kelantan UMNO warlords.

More important to me, TRH can serve as a counterweight to TDM and DS Najib will need this. At the moment, TRH is the only equal to TDM.

11 comments:

Anonymous,  20 February 2009 at 15:38  

sorry >>posted it on wrong topic earlier.

We the man in the street lives in vain but dies with hope.

From my sources , your UMNO kakis have done their queuing and have got their letters of support for contracts that will be announced on March 10 as part of the Stimulus 2.Thus the Stimulus package is just to rangsang Umno ppl.

In a nutshell Mastubasi 1 is for Class F and Masturbasi 2 is for the bigger Umno boys.

What are the lessons of March 2008?

Where is the transparency?Don't u guys in UMNO realise that this crisis will be so acute,so devastating that many will lose jobs/self respect.. and for once pls understand that the people needs your help to tide through this period?

Don't you ppl in Umno appreciate that in crisis there's opportunity to restructure..resurrect the good values..seek the right opportunities for the sake of our children?And not see it as politics and way to make quick bucks?

Pls..sit back..think.

Don't grab the jobs with the over inflated prices just so u and a small group can maintain an already lavish lifestyle...Hv proper competitive bids and whatever savings can be channeled for more productive use.

Now is the time to hv open bids for APs,tenders...and to even review contracts such as Penang Second Crossing,Double tracking,Eastern Dispersal Link...these guys are leeching the ppl dry.

And do we need to soft pedal with concessionaires of the privatised projects cos we are too worried that the global financiers may downgrade us?Hey..this is force majeure..you can't be worrying about the tap that is leaking when ur house is burning.

The people is not ur enemy but neither are they your slaves.

TRH will be a good candidate for Finance post if he is given the autonomy to do the right thing...

Anonymous,  20 February 2009 at 17:09  

maybe TRH can shed some light to us on the intricacies of the budget..for instance on the govt's operating budget;

1999 2009
fixed paym 86 14.4
emoluments 38 14.6
services 26 7.6
purch of assets 2.4 0.6
others 1 2.2

total 154 b 53.5b

Going from 53.5 b to 154 b is huge jump..its like 11% compounded.If a company overheads grow like that ,sure kaput one.Emoluments also grow by 10 %..but civil servants gaji where got increase 10% every year..so Pak Lah must hv been creating lots of new posts.But,biggest growth is the services...13%..happier subcons?more stuff outsourced?more consultants..

I hv never look into govt budget in detail.can't understand anyway...but now,with the crisis we all need to tighten belts too.Many ppl going to be retrenched...paycuts will be normal..so govt itself must look to cut cost..I am sure can cut 5 to 10%..lots of money can use to help rakyat right?

Anonymous,  20 February 2009 at 17:16  

Walauwei! Fuh! and kapow! Bring TRH into cabinet as finance minister and maybe his(najib's) own brother as deputy Finance MInister. If that happens , it will be a sure way of restoring public confidence and also attract FDI. We need this sort of out of-the-box thinking Dato. But do you think anybody is interested in repairing the economy, no sir, they are all out saber-rattling and"killing" each other on the political battlefield. Here living in a foreign land and having greater access to uncensored news, we see leaders , PMs and presidents of other countries leading the way, rolling up their sleeves in tackling the ills threatening their economies. What do we have in Malaysia, a directionless and rudderless boat sailing into nowhere. A sleeping outgoing leader who even in the last few months of his tenure could not care less about the welfare of the rakyat. All the empty promises of reforms. Shudder. I have contributed my comments many times in your blog, we truly lack good leaders like TRH. Bring him on. He is acceptable to all races, oppostion parties and internationally.

de minimis 20 February 2009 at 19:55  

bro Sak

Thanks for having drawn attention to lesser known bloggers. I am heartened that the mainstream media has taken note of economics blogs.

Mat Cendana 20 February 2009 at 20:27  

I see things as Anonymous 17:16 does. It's this obsession with politics - Err, when are we going to start dealing with the economy?? And I mean to really deal with it, not the band aid stuff of a bit of antiseptic and plaster to deal with the cancer growing inside.

This obsession with politics - Are we going to blame the government alone; "Umno people" only? Sure, they are busy with their own positions with the general assembly next month. But please don't forget that guy from Permatang Pauh and his hangers-on too.

It's such a bleak situation we have here - As you have said, the whole of 2009 will be on politics. Which brings it back to the question of WHEN are we going to deal with the economy...

Anonymous,  20 February 2009 at 23:20  

TRH as Finance Minister???? Sak you must be joking la!
He should be PM and not that Najib.
Funny! only the real rotten and useless are voted by you clowns in umno?The honest and talented are thrown aside like garbage.A mater of time this umno perks will bled the country dry.
Its a fact this country just has'nt the funds to tide through the present scenerio.All the super packages mentioned are for publicity STUNTS.Just imagine the paychecks for the government servants, government glc, Proton, PetronaS.Another oil hike will definitely sent the country reeling.Dont be surprise the people will settle for belacan and saltfish in the months to come.
All countries have taken the world crisis seriously,but you jokers in umno are saliving at the stimulus packages.Is'nt wastage a crime in islam?Why is it that only umno is part of this wastages?
Perhaps you should write this short comings as it brings shame to the malay race.We are not umno and should n't bear the blame.Period!

Peter,  21 February 2009 at 01:39  

How UMNO can ever win anymore seats in anywhere is most interesting to observe.

They already buried themselves when the likes of Khir says such things stupid and dispiseful things like non Muslims are not equal to Muslims and Malays are not equal to non Malays. When such sick people leads the party, how the cows can you guys win anything?

This effectively drive away practically 100% of non Malays and as we all know not all Malays subscribe to such rediculous stand.

So with 60% split say in the middle how the cows can UMNO survive when 40% solid non Malays are with the opposition?

UMNO for sure would be wiped out with or without Tengku Razaleigh.

azienmat 21 February 2009 at 02:16  

TDM
DOJ
TRH
TAR
TIR
THO
TGB
DAI
TMH
TAB
PRAMLEE.. DO RE MI.. PA SO LA TI DO..

Anonymous,  21 February 2009 at 07:50  

Dato' Sak,
By a sleight of the hands TRH was cheated of his premiership in 1987and everybody who knows kept quiet about it.
By right, things should be corrected by inviting him to be the PM to help steer the nation through this difficult times. Give him a term to show what he can do not just as Finance Minister but also PM. That is the only way for Malaysia to survive under the circumstances. Or is God the only one who can save Malaysia now?.
Abg Zed

Anonymous,  21 February 2009 at 17:39  

Hello Anonymous 23:20 ...

but don't you see? in order to take up the mantle of leadership, one has to strive for it. TRH did it once and lost not because he wasn't good enough a leader, it was just because he was politically naive( that gentleman characteristic again) and was outsmarted by the old man. The fittest survive in politices as it is a dirty game. Fastforward to the present (2008) where the call for him to take up the presidency of UMNO, again he has not shown the inclination to take on the baddies. It is not that he has not got the money nor money support, he is frustratingly too principled to play and game the system as a means to an end. Presently TRH seems like a voice in the wilderness. He is the conscience of UMNO but UMNO has lost its conscience( no offense Dato Sak, cos' there are just too few standing up to the baddies in UMNO) . But those outside UMNO can objectively identify with his arguments and reasoning for a better Malaysia. If we all feel that Najib ascencion is inevitable, then for the better good of the nation, at least support any move to get TRH as finance minister to tackle the economy. Idealistic or crazy as it may sound to some, it could just be the fix we need not to mention the immediate appeasement of those who oppose UMNO. TRH is not power crazy, he loves the country and its people, he can contribute in an area where he knows best. Najib I believe will change once he comes into power although I don't know how he is going to shake off the Altantunya taint etc. To me Najib is like a prisoner out on bail and the country is watching his every move so that he can vindicate his image in the eyes of people. I honestly do not see how he can perform well internationally as he can only flex his muscles locally surrounded by his sycopants and hanger ons. The world is watching what is happening in Malaysia and politicians here keep on generating controversy after controversy. I think the likes of Syed Hamid Albar, Rais Yatim and also BN baggage like Samy Vellu should make way for new faces. They are adding to the sullied reputation of Malaysia whenever they have to do duty overseas. We are indeed slipping in ranking in everything that the democartic world holds dear, but that is another story.

Mat Cendana - it is frightening isn't it? We as a nation has so much going for us, but the politicians are not able to pull it together. Who is running the country?

Anonymous,  21 February 2009 at 23:37  

hmm, how about leaving and be the Head of PR. Better chance to be the PM this way than staying back in UMNO.
Razaleigh, anytime I vote him for PM post. Even over Anwar, though I am for PR to rule this country. Razaleigh is a true blue statesman.

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