Monday, 7 January 2013

Awang, we are no country bumpkin!

Awang, we are no country bumpkin!
By Chua Jui Meng

DEPUTY Finance Minister Awang Adek Hussin must think Malaysians are country bumpkins when he claimed that the country’s international rankings would improve if the Umno-led Barisan Nasional (BN) secures a bigger mandate in the 13th General Election.
I absolutely agree with him that such rankings and indices would depend on political and economic stability.
But what stability is Awang talking about when BN is taking Malaysia down the road to bankruptcy.
Can Awang begin by explaining why the BN federal government’s debt is at RM620 billion (including off Budget liabilities or sovereign guarantees for private corporations like the Port Klang Free Zone and government-linked company loans ending 2011) or 74% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) after 55 years of rule? That it is also above the legislated 55% federal debt ceiling.
Why is Malaysia given the world champion of corruption with a capital flight of about RM200 billion in 2010?
If there is a sudden downgrade of the Malaysian Government Sovereign Credit Rating by international rating agencies such as Standard & Poors, Fitch Ratings and Moody’s Investors Service, the value of the Ringgit may fall.
The international fall in the value of our currency can happen any time, depending on our government’s immediate fiscal controls, especially in spending and borrowings.
This is due to our BN government’s precarious financial standing – both in the domestic and international arena.
The world economies are already displaying volatile financial fluctuations, and Malaysia may be one of the firsts to go down the drain with a devaluation of the Ringgit.
The international Fitch Ratings warned in August 2012 that fiscal trends may eventually lead to some form of negative rating action.
Other areas of the credit profile including the external finances and level of foreign reserves (US$138 billion) remain strengths.
However, foreign holdings of government debt have continued to increase and now represent nearly 50% of Malaysia's foreign exchange reserves, up from 36% at end-2011.
Fitch is now monitoring how economic and fiscal policies develop after the 13th General Election.
We are slowly but surely heading towards a bankrupt nation – like Greece where we are witnessing the devastating effects on the European Economy and its people.
So, Awang and BN-Umno, don’t take us for fools. Malaysians in the 21st century are more educated and informed, so don’t insult their intelligence.
There can be no stability in Malaysia with BN-Umno’s continuous super corrupt ways and to divide multi-racial multi-religious Malaysians politically so as to remain in power to rape the nation’s wealth.
50% of foreign investors say they lost business in Malaysia due to corruption.

If Pakatan Rakyat (PR) wins by a bigger mandate to govern, its non-race people-centric and long-term progressive socio-economic policies will pull Malaysia out of the clutches of bankruptcy towards prosperity.
Our ability to govern wisely is for all to see in the PR-controlled states, especially Penang and Selangor. Under BN, the books were always in the red.
However, the books are now all in the black after nearly a term of governance – not 55 years. This demonstrates the severe effects of the corrupt BN governance on socio-economic degradation.
Even our billionaires are living in debts by the billions.

I also wish to bring Awang’s attention to a survey by International Living that Malaysia is the third best country to retire in.
Just in case Awang wishes to blow BN’s trumpet in this survey next, it is the people who make a country liveable.
When Malaysians have to live in poverty as a bankrupt and chaotic nation, it won’t be so liveable or a haven to retire in anymore.
Here are the details on the issue:

07 January 2013 | last updated at 11:33PM
'Rankings depend on our stability'
BACHOK: Whether Malaysia will improve or retain its good rankings on several international indices this year will depend mainly on political and economic stability in the country, said Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Dr Awang Adek Hussin.
"If Barisan Nasional (BN) secures a bigger mandate (in the next general election), I am confident we will improve on our rankings," he said in Kampung Perupuk here yesterday.
He was commenting on Australia-based World Peace Index's report, which stated that Malaysia had made remarkable improvements in various fields from 2007 to 2012.
The improvements were: investor confidence in the country rising from the 16th spot in 2007 to 10th last year, ease of doing business (25th to 18th); competitiveness (19th to 14th) and world peace (37th to 12th).
Awang Adek, who is also Kelantan Umno deputy chief, said these successes were, among others, because of the economic and political transformation initiatives introduced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak. - Bernama/NST

06 January 2013 | last updated at 01:00AM

Malaysia third best country to retire in
IT'S ALL HERE: Friendly people, good food, low cost of living and lots of activities make expatriates call it home
KUALA LUMPUR: A SURVEY by International Living, a monthly newsletter covering topics including retiring overseas and living abroad, has ranked Malaysia in its top three retirement  countries for this year.
Ranked closely behind Panama and Ecuador, the newsletter compiled 22 nations and interviewed expats on several areas, such as real estate, cost of living, integration, health, climate and special benefits, before making an assessment.
The list which was posted on its website last month saw respondents who lived abroad posting their feedback on living and integrating in a foreign country.
According to expat Keith Hockton, Malaysia is his new home.
"It has everything. Its weather is a tropical 82o Fahrenheit all year round and its beaches, islands and jungles are pristine.
"It has some of the region's best street food, great restaurants, bars, shopping malls and movie theatres, which are all affordable," said the 35-year-old, who lives with his wife Lisa in Penang.
Hockton said he enjoyed his rented sea-view apartment that was equipped with a swimming pool and gymnasium, kept a sailboat, ate out almost every night and yet his total monthly budget did not surpass US$1,719 (RM5,200).
On integration, Hockton said Malaysia was an easy place to make friends as English was widely spoken. Lots of expats lived here and there were numerous organisations that could get you settled, he said.
"For example, the International Women's Association has more than 500 members who organise activities, such as jungle walks and sewing lessons on a daily, weekly and monthly basis."
He said his friends, John and Lorna Taylor, also swore by Malaysia as Asia's most desirable destination.
"They have decided to never return to their hometown in New York, and are currently enjoying their retirement by taking tennis lessons."
Go Communications Sdn Bhd commercial director Bill Cooper said Malaysia should have topped the list.
"This country has everything I need. The people are lovely and food just wonderful," he said when contacted by the New Sunday Times yesterday.
Cooper, the former sales director at The Expat Group (TEG Malaysia), said he never looked back to his home country after stepping foot in Malaysia almost five years ago.
"I would absolutely consider living here for the rest of my life."
Expat Paula Gallegos echoed Cooper and said she was not surprised that Malaysia was in the top three.
"The apartments here are cheaper than in my country, Mexico, and I enjoy the fact that Malaysia caters to all nationalities.
"It even has different food sections in supermarkets so that I can shop for Mexican food," said the 27-year-old student currently pursuing a postgraduate degree in World Literature at Universiti Putra Malaysia.
Gallegos, who followed her American husband to Malaysia after he secured a job here, said her experience here was more comfortable after getting to know the locals.
Countries that did not make it into the top 10 are Portugal, Nicaragua, Ireland, France, the Philippines, New Zealand, Italy, Brazil, Chile, Honduras, Belize and the Dominican Republic. - NST

GFI to visit Malaysia to explain capital flight findings

Financial watchdog Global Finance Institute (GFI) has agreed to present its study on capital flight from Malaysia at a seminar organised by the Selangor government, said PKR director of strategy Rafizi Ramli.
Rafizi said the seminar would be tentatively held on Jan 17, while Selangor economic adviser Anwar Ibrahim added that he would write to Bank Negara later today to formally invite them to attend.
GFI had previously reported that about RM196.8 billion was siphoned out of Malaysia in 2010, placing the country second to China in global rankings in illicit capital flight.
“We want GFI to be present to explain the details and mechanism on how they  came about these figures and then we would cordially invite Bank Negara and all the relevant parties,” Anwar said at a press conference today.
He had also previously said that he wanted to invite Bank Negara governor Zeti Akhtar to explain the issue.
Rafizi said it was difficult to get GFI to come to Malaysia, and that he hopes to get as many people to attend the seminar as possible, especially economists.
“Whatever people say, the concept of ‘illicit funds’ is really new. It is not your traditional economic concept.
“Most people don’t understand it. I would bet you that most people in Bank Negara do not understand it. It is a good opportunity for them to look at it,” he added.
On a separate matter, PKR secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution Ismail said the party has not received any feedback from the Registrar of Societies (ROS) on the status of Pakatan Rakyat’s registration as a political coalition.
He said that Pakatan Rakyat had initially applied under a pro-tem committee led by former de facto law minister, Zaid Ibrahim.
When he left PKR in 2010, the ROS contacted Pakatan Rakyat once to inform them that they needed a new pro-tem committee.
The coalition reapplied with Tumpat MP Kamaruddin Jaafar as the new pro-tem chairperson in the same year, and has not heard from them since despite follow-ups several times a month.
“I think the onus is on ROS to come back to us, what are the requirements or the prerequisites that we need to fulfil in order for them to give approval.
“I don’t think their job is just to receive the application and remain quiet. It is not fair at all,” he added. - malaysiakini