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Sunday, 6 September 2009

Learning from LDP

But why did the Japanese after having accepted Koizumi's reforms and felt good about him, later rejected the LDP? It was a sign of desperation that the LDP PM, Taro Aso shamelessly tried to disown the reforms started by Koizumi. He has said that he wasn't in favor of privatizing the postal services or something. His spineless about face amounted to an act of political hara-kiri. You shoot your own foot and expect to walk normally. Aso may have his strategic reasons for doing so, but his words and deeds provided the impetus for Japanese to reject en bloc anything the LDP does. The universal Japanese sentiment was captured by the phrase ABL- Anything but LDP.

Why such intense revulsion? LDP has had 54 years of almost uninterrupted role as the bridesmaid to Japan's economic prosperity and world eminence. There answer seems that there was a general feeling that the LDP was losing touch and that it wasn't delivering for everybody - that it was working for small cliques and business groups rather than what was good for Japan as a whole.

Briefly ousted in 1993, the LDP got back in via a coalition deal with its rival, the Japan Socialist Party. But over the next decade it did not deal with the fundamental issue of why it had lost power - and calls for change were getting louder.

Koizumi-style

Then Junichiro Koizumi came along and bought the LDP more time. He promised economic reforms and reached out to urban voters by bringing more women and experts into his government. He vowed to curb the giant public works projects that brought the LDP rural votes and to privatise the post office - a policy that put him on a collision course with his own party.

When his reforms were voted down in parliament, he expelled LDP lawmakers who opposed him and called a snap election. He portrayed the poll as a fight against traditionalists within his own party who were resisting change - and voters backed him in huge numbers. In 2005 it was not the LDP that was popular, it was Koizumi - and what Koizumi said was that he would change Japan by changing the LDP. That's what people voted for.

But he couldn't do it alone. He needed a support system. That's where he got screwed. Japan's system of hereditary politicians had led "to a significant diminishing in the pool of talent" within the LDP, according to Professor Koichi Nakano of Tokyo's Sophia University. Mr Koizumi's three successors - all sons or grandsons of former prime ministers - lacked his style. All came under fire for poor cabinet choices and their handling of ministerial scandals. Mr Koizumi's reform agenda was also watered down, leaving some voters feeling betrayed.

'Fed up'

Shinzo Abe, who replaced Mr Koizumi, focused on issues such as patriotism and constitutional reform. But voters did not care. Instead, they were outraged by the loss of pension payment records and increasingly worried about whether the welfare system could cope with the population shift. It was the Economy that people was interested in. It was a bread and butter issue all along.

They vented their anger in upper house elections in 2007, awarding control to the DPJ. Mr Abe stood down and Yasuo Fukuda took over, but legislative deadlock led to his grey-faced resignation months later.

Then Taro Aso took office - and the economic crisis hit. Giants such as Toyota posted their first annual losses in decades. Businesses empowered by Koizumi-era labour reforms cut contract staff loose. Graduates failed to find jobs and unemployment soared.

Mr Aso did not help matters by making a series of embarrassing gaffes. His cabinet served him poorly too; his finance minister seemed to be drunk at a G8 summit, though he blamed cold remedies for his slurred speech.

A groundswell of public unhappiness coincided with the emergence of the DPJ as a credible alternative - and one with a manifesto promising welfare spending. People's mood has reached a point where people want to try something new. They want change and they're fed up with the LDP. There's not a huge amount to choose between the two parties. But some of the things the DPJ are talking about are touching a nerve with the electorate.

PM Najib must be resolute in doing the required changes that he has planned. Just like Koizumi, he must be aware that this moment, he is more popular than UMNO the brand. UMNO has become a discredited brand and the general feeling is it was losing touch and that it wasn't delivering for everybody - which it was working for small cliques and business groups rather than what was good for Malaysia as a whole.

PM Najib cant do his agenda alone. Like Koizumi he needs a support system which presently he is hard-pressed in finding. He must be assisted not by a diminishing talent pool. Otherwise whatever reforms his agenda strive for will be watered down. It will be not because his reforms are inherently bad, but they will crumble when entrusted into the hands of sub standard leadership material. Why hasn't the panic button been pushed? What are the 3 UMNO VPs doing? The wardlords?

The paralysing virus that has set in, blocks UMNO from becoming aware of grassroots sentiments. UMNO leaders are behaving like they are in the business as usual mode. They are there to exploit whatever milkable nest feathering opportunities are still available. Anwar Ibrahim is going around, unchallenged in saying that UMNO ministers and leaders are now ransacking the country's coffers in order to prepare for the party's demise.

PM Najib mustn't lose sight of the overriding concern- the economy. We have announced the stimulus packages and yet, the effects of such packages have all but trickled down to the people. Investments in Nusa Jaya in Johore haven't been that great. Singapore isn't as enthusiastic as it's made out to be. The various economic corridors are falling in the same scandalous quicksand- they are emerging as the new propped up old wine in a new bottle business entities sucking up, competing and dishing out business opportunities for cliques and small groups. They are not doing anything new but are re-hatching the same old plots.

Do pre-emptive strikes. Carry out plans to bring benefits direct to the people. Cut off the middlemen and intermediary contraptions. Do a DPJ thing for the people. Concentrate on policies that regenerate the ties that bring people together, that rebuild welfare and medical systems, that provide better education and child-rearing support, and that address wealth disparities. Move away from a corporate-centric economic model to one that focuses on helping people.

What are the populist tools available? Perhaps they consist of forms of cash handouts to families and low income groups, toll-free highways, a higher minimum wage and tax cuts. These will be expensive and PM Najib has to find ways to finance them. Anything that brings in revenue to the government must be exploited to lighten the bill. The government must cut waste and rely on untapped financial reserves to fund their programs. Be mindful of what the LDP and DPJ are doing differently- the Liberal Democrats' are spending on public projects and infrastructure, but the Democrats promises to spend on family and education.

8 comments:

Eyes Wide Open 6 September 2009 at 09:13  

When the move to oust Abdullah began, I had written that the only way he could survive the UMNO-led onslaught was to appeal to Malaysia at large. Only by successfully building a larger support base than what he has in UMNO could he beat back the army arayed against him.

Alas, nobody in Abdullah's team seemed cognizant of that simple logic. Abdullah continued flip-flopping between what pleased Malaysians and what pleased the UMNO warlords.

The same thing is happening with Najib now. UMNO is shouting a widely divergent agenda from Najib's inclusive 1Malaysia concept. But Najib does not seem willing to rebuke these warlords. In fact, he appointed an UMNO guy to "assist" our KPI Minister! This is widely seen as a move to continue expanding UMNO control to achieve absolute hegemony!

Add to that the "take back Selangor at all cost" campaign, the on-going constitutional crisis in Perak, the stoking of racial sentiments by UMNO agents which Najib is doing nothing about.

People can only think of 2 reasons why:

He's either behind all this or he's powerless to stop all this.

Either way, it would mean that UMNO will continue in business-as-usual mode and sledgehammer those who would oppose them, even genuinely neutral critics.

UMNO will never be able to survive GE13 like this.

Anonymous,  6 September 2009 at 12:59  

Najib is NOT known to be a REFORMER with good IDEAS despite his LONG Years in Politics.
He owe his rise in UMNO hierarchy due to the warlords assistance who were indebted to Tun Razak.

A good example is that he dare not move to topple AAB but let others like Muyhiddin do the dirty job. He just walks into the PM chair.

Sir Tong Kol,  6 September 2009 at 14:04  

Imagine you are NTR; ok, you get to be PM and president of Umno for the whole of Syawal, nursing the delusion that the job will be yours, forever. No, that sounds feeble. Yet we really need to think through this muddle:

I wish however that NTR could instruct Umno leaders at all levels to stop making those crass jokes about Anwar's alleged transgressions. Umno has been punished for condoning the unintended persecution of Anwar. "Unintended" because many do believe that there was no conspiracy against Anwar in 1998. Tun Mahathir thought Anwar would sidle away when presented with "evidence" of his alleged misconduct. Anwar raged against the System instead; the System (judiciary, executive, police, the old BPR etc) had not been in brilliant health. There was the expose regarding Eusoffe Chin's trip to where was that again? Did Anwar feast on the flawed system when he was a part of it? His supporters seem not to be troubled at all.

Corruption was said to be rampant back in the early 1990s. It was insidious but Malaysians never really benefited from a full, wholesome definition of "corruption". To many Malaysians, images of Umno bigwigs and their supporters living fabulously are symptoms of corruption. How do you even begin to combat corruption? I find it entirely ludicrous to be finger-pointing at alleged wrongdoers of corruption; Yes, for Anwar to be convicted of corruption was conceited even.

Is patronage a form of corruption? How about contacts and networking? A new PKR-led Government shall not ease any of these goings on.. Is the hiring of White expatriates given seemingly excessive salaries a form of discrimination against locals? Huge numbers of Msians fight a constant battle to stay afloat financially; the economy is flawed for not being able to pay the vast majority more money. The nation must uppermost deal with the Anwar Question and fix the economy. We don't need a Truth Commission to discern facts but we really need to get to the bottom of this. Soulsearch discreetly. Leaders, past and present, may have to meet away from the public glare to sort out the Anwar Question; to draw a line and move on, perhaps. Make the case against Anwar go away because it is pointless for man to try and establish the truth given such a muddied situation. Will Anwar even contemplate quitting politics? Should he? You must be crazy! He would bellow such expressions given that there is sizeable support for him. Remember, Pak Lah's overwhelming support turned out to be fleeting. The Anwar Bubble could similarly burst. Seize the Ramadhan Spirit to effect reconciliation, douse the political heat and nonsense.


Umno must fight Anwar, if he remains in the political scene, on policy and policy alone. Unfortunately for Umno, the onus is not on Anwar to substantiate his charge that he has been a victim of a vast conspiracy. Umno will have to debunk this, somehow.

Umno knows precisely what is wrong with the party - it has become a stranger to its own people, community. Change? A new party? Why not? Umno shall take the form of a new party by throwing open its election rules; empower the members! A panel must first go through the membership list as some could have left to join or support PKR and Pas...Umno may emerge leaner.


The wisdom of the crowd is the least reliable indicator. Many are not ideological. Many are terribly simplistic - vote out Umno and we shall all flourish. That's hardly comforting

Anonymous,  6 September 2009 at 15:04  

The problem with BN now is even when they try to be good boys ,they keep tripping up.

1>>ManekUrai bridge..good cos it was done despite losing elections i.e shows honesty,concern and rakyat di dahului.BUT...they didn't do the road connecting to the bridge..only using earth tracks done for construction>>baaadd planning and someone boo boo
2>>Cheras JKR qtrs..Najib walks about and decide to build 120 qtrs for Rm 28 m i.e Rm 230K per unit.This is ridiculous cos developers selling 110 m2 units for 150K..JKR constructing ONLY for Rm 230K.Somebody running away with Rm 10 million profit?
Myb JKR boo boo on design?No developer do 8 storeys..not economical lo..go higher lah..go 12 per floor..go for less circulation..optimise3..then procure on competitive basis,

Its a sorry PM..even when trying to do good he gets tripped up by incompetent Ministers

Anonymous,  6 September 2009 at 16:15  

Read the STAR..pay packages of GLCs CEOs are astronomical from 170 k to 770 k PER MONTH or 8,000 to 38,000 per hour.

Average workers have to work 2 hours to buy a Big Mac...these guys in 2 hours can buy 2000 to 10000 pieces of BigMacs..average lah to 6000

Thats our earnings parity lo..1 burger to 6000 burgers.
THis is KHAZANAH's madness...but Najib no balls to change.
Most of these guys are running monopolies..doing basic housekeeping stuff and PAID millions...crazy,crazy,crazy..
As an entrepreneur in a competitve market I need Rm 50 million sales to hit 1 mil profit..and thats 20 hours by 7 days on the road...
Najib..let me take over from the GLCs CEOs..I can do better job then any of them with my eyes closed and both hands tied to my a**e.

PM don't correct this...he will lose out PRU 13...mark my words.

Anonymous,  6 September 2009 at 16:46  

These days BN have a sorry knack of not picking the right guys..it shows shoddiness in evaluating,checking and getting feedback.

Rohaizat is surely the classic case.
Then..this Maslan guy .

But latest and I believe will be most catastrophic is Jala.He potrays that he has saved MAS..but evidence is clear that he lost Rm 3.8 billion on oil hedges.
And he keeps harping about the turnarounds he did in Shell.

I check out with my Shell colleagues..and nobody have extremely high regard for this guy.He was never really an outstanding guy in Shell.
Dato..ur ex Shell too >>can you ask around too.If his pronouncements is not true he will hurt Najib's credibility..

Eg of wat he says
1>>He sacrificed pay packet when moving from Shell to MAS.He is paid 1,4m in MAS?..Shell pay is that high for mid level manager?
2>>He singlehandedly saved Shell from buying Enron
3>>He turned around MDS?Was MDS in trouble?Didn't Saw Choo Boon do some turning around earlier?
4>>He turn around SriLanka Shell..including talking to rebels,fighters etc etc..

This guy is just an HR person for umpteen years...

Anonymous,  6 September 2009 at 17:41  

I cant agree more with you Mr Anon. These GLC are depending on rakyat taxes to make businesses. It is just exhorbitant. You can see the fat salary for these paper shufflers.

patricia 11 September 2009 at 15:00  

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Patricia

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