(c) 2008 The Star
I woke up this morning with my husband updating me that Raja Petra Kamaruddin, Tan Hoon Cheng (Sin Chew Daily reporter) and Teresa Kok (Seputeh MP) were arrested under ISA.
Tan was released this afternoon, but Teresa's whereabouts is still unknown.
Our future is indeed bleak.
p/s I realised the "bleak" link above does not give the full text, and so I am reproducing it here:
Is Our Future Bleak?
Khoo Kay Peng Sep 8, 08 11:11am Malaysiakini.com
If you ask Malaysians - who feels pessimistic about the country’s future to raise up their hand, I am sure you will find a sea of hands! The fact is people do not feel encouraged by the current economic and political gloom.
It is wrong to blame the state of our economy entirely on the perverse domestic politics. But it is not incorrect to say that the current political dilemma does not help to encourage a more positive economic outlook. Perception is an important barometer for consumer spending and business investment. A negative economic perception will slow down demand and lower business investment.
It is foolish to think that by lowering retail oil price, our economy will roar back fuelled by a tandem increase in domestic demand. Again, Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi has asked Malaysians to seek divine intervention to lower the price of crude oil. We should instead pray for sense and sensibility for our politicians and policy makers.
What is driving the bearish sentiment of our local economy is the current uncertainty of the future of Malaysia. Malaysians simply are losing hope that this country will recover from its continuous slide. Then again, we cannot blame them from losing hope when many of us are actually losing sleep over our own job security amid soaring cost of living. Inflation last quarter has shot up to 8.6% which is the highest in 26 years.
The newly tabled 2009 budget is unexpectedly huge at RM207.6 billion and yet showed very little indication that it will be able to create more jobs and business opportunities for the people. Some managed a cynical grin over the offer of RM20 free electricity bill knowing that this sounds rather ridiculous.
Malaysia is one of the few countries where individuals are paying more taxes than corporations. Individual highest tax rate is 27 percent compared to 25 percent for corporations. The government is trying to be morally correct by increasing sin tax for cigarette by an additional 3 cents per stick. Will this alter the behaviour of smokers? More are expected to migrate to cheaper contraband or locally produced cigarettes putting their health and that of other non-smokers at even greater risk.
Spending our way out of misery
The lack of policy wisdom is obviously not helping to restore and enhance public confidence in the economy. We cannot spend our way out of our misery nor can we simply depend on frugality to improve our financial position.
What Malaysia need is a clear, competent and competitive economic solution. This solution can only be found if the ruling government is able to provide a solid policy leadership.
In his numerous policy speeches, the Prime Minister has repeatedly said that the private sector should take the lead in the economy. This is easier said than done. For the last two decades, Malaysian companies have been pampered with easy government contracts. Businesses went on relentless expansion overdrive due to easy access to funds.
Projects were awarded not on the basis of performance but social status and political patronage. But did the government stop for a moment to ponder what has been achieved with the hundreds of billions spent so far?
As a result, we have lost a generation of competent companies and individuals. Companies which are competent but lacked political connections had left to strike out on their own overseas. Some of them found it simply too cumbersome to do business locally when know-who takes precedent over know-how.
Many of our skilled professionals were attracted to work overseas due to higher salary and equal opportunities. Did the government pause for a moment to examine what was the main cause of our brain drain? Why the civil service is not able to attract the best talents when many of them would not mind working for other foreign governments?
When will it sink into our politicians’ subconscious that it time for them to exercise their mandate to govern instead of continuing to bicker?
When two coalitions collide
Again, this is easier said than done when the two coalitions simply won’t allow the other to function and play their rightful role. A fellow analyst remarked that both will probably continue with their act until Malaysia effectively becomes a failed nation.
From the political lingo and behaviour, it is difficult for us to call a number of these politicians anything but arrogant, ignorant, selfish, out of touch, incompetent and rowdy. Before you accuse me of being rude, I suggest you read up on Malaysia’s political development over the last few years and you would find examples and instances which will fit nicely into each of the categories I have mentioned above.
With the likes of Ahmad Ismail, Zulkifli Nordin and others, it is not surprising that Malaysian politics may have reached a point of no return. This is probably the best time to sell any semblance of ‘hope’ to most Malaysians. This explains why a large number of Malaysians are supporting the possibility of an Anwar Ibrahim-led coalition grabbing power regardless of the moral issue. Between life and death, it is all about survival and not the civic.
Hence, if the Barisan Nasional leadership is worth their salt they should have prevented this possibility by offering to work with the Pakatan Rakyat states. The fact is Malaysia is overly centralised. A heavily centralised government will not allow for PR states to function effectively if the former is not willing to extend a helping hand or offer to collaborate. If BN does lose power through crossovers, the leaders have themselves to blame for practising negative politics.
By helping the two coalitions to work for the people and to compete fairly to win over support is still BN’s best chance to stay a step ahead of their surging rival.
Khoo Kay Peng is a corporate consultant and an independent political analyst.