Sunday, February 10, 2013

How will the 2013 Malaysian election affect the economy?



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How will the 2013 Malaysian election affect the economy?

Author: Shankaran Nambiar, Kuala Lumpur
 

Senior economists at investment houses JP Morgan Securities and Eastspring Investments Berhad have been quoted as saying that investors will act negatively if the opposition wins the upcoming Malaysian election.
However, it is too simplistic to say that a victory for the opposition will have a completely positive or absolutely negative effect on the Malaysian economy. The truth is more likely to lie somewhere in between these two extremes.
 

Ideologically speaking, the Malaysian opposition coalition is similar to the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN), as both coalitions subscribe to market-oriented economic policies. Both the BN and the opposition accept the value of FDI, the role of multinational corporations and the importance of trade.
The media has depicted the leader of the opposition, Anwar Ibrahim, as being close to the West and some oil-rich states in the Middle East. More generally speaking, media reports indicate that he is close to international capital. If that is true, then it is more than likely that he will use his influence to attract more FDI and portfolio funds.
 

Regardless of who rules the country, economic realities must be taken into account: Malaysia is a small, open economy that has to rely on foreign investment and trade to drive its growth. Neither of the potential leaders — Najib Razak nor Anwar Ibrahim — can deny this. Whichever party comes to power after the 2013 election will race to liberalise the economy. Differences, if any, will lie only in the manner or pace at which this is done.
 

The United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), a founding member of the BN coalition, claims to be the sole champion of Malay rights, and the only party that can ensure that Malays (the bumiputera) achieve a fair share of the nation’s wealth. Nevertheless, in its attempts to enjoy the benefits of free trade agreements, the government has slowly reduced some of its preferential treatment for bumiputera businesses.
 

The bumiputera entrepreneur development programs that some government-linked companies have created will have to end. The scheme to restrict petrol kiosks only to bumiputera businesspeople will similarly have to be cut back. Bumiputera vendors associated with the national automobile project will soon become more sensitive to market forces as the government ceases to protect this industry. The recently enacted Competition Act does not exclude bumiputera business from its ambit.
While the UMNO has to take care of its constituency, protectionist policies will need to be addressed if the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement and the EU–Malaysia free trade agreement are signed. The government no longer has the sort of free hand it once had to extend preferential treatment to promote the growth of bumiputera business.
 

Will the opposition act like the BN if it comes to power? Perhaps not. One of the opposition’s key policy platforms is transparency. The other platform is the eradication of wastage and leakages from the system. The opposition also speaks about improving the economy as a whole, rather than just the economic wellbeing of particular racial groups — like the bumiputera.
 

Fiscal policy is another critical area that demands attention in Malaysia. The Malaysian government’s policy of repeated fiscal deficits, especially when they are not needed, has to be addressed. This is an issue that the opposition has shown an interest in resolving, and it is a development that could improve Malaysia’s rating in the eyes of foreign investors, as well as placing the economy on more solid ground.
 

Another important issue is that of government expenditure. This raises two points. The first is projects and policy initiatives that involve high levels of government expenditure. It would be wrong to say that the opposition is opposed to spending on big-ticket items. They are unlikely to be averse to these projects in principle. Rather, it could be expected that the criteria for commitment to these projects will be assessed on their usefulness, efficiency and projected returns. As the opposition’s policy platform outlines, there would be greater accountability and transparency in undertaking these projects.
 

The other point pertains to the execution of ongoing projects. Legal requirements prevent the opposition from discontinuing projects that the government has already commenced. It would be wrong and to the opposition’s disadvantage to delay projects perceived to be in the national interest.
In truth, there is likely to be a balance of views among economists regarding the outcome of the 2013 Malaysian election. Those set on the long term, and those who see the prospect of economic reform, will be more positive in their evaluation. Those with their noses stuck in the very short term will wait to see how effectively the new government can run its business of managing the economy
 
 
Investors are likely to be bullish if the opposition projects confidence in the first months after their victory — that is, if they do in fact win.
 

Shankaran Nambiar is an economist who consults for national and international agencies. He lives in Kuala Lumpur. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Elections will not affect economy – Analyst

| January 7, 2013
Kuala Lumpur, Jan 7 — The forthcoming 13th General Election would not have a big impact on the Malaysian economy, says an analyst.
economic-crisis-450x300
Templeton Emerging Markets Group Executive Chairman and analyst Mark Mobius said Malaysia has relatively good economic growth with low inflation and an investor friendly government.
“(Regardless of) what happens in the general election, the economic policy, generally and socially, will continue on the same path.
“I don’t think there will be any change because of what happens in the election,” he told a press conference today. -BERNAMA
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

What’s the market impact of a Pakatan win?


A letter in Malaysiakini
By GH Kok
As the 13th general elections looms, many people are wondering what the impact will be on the financial markets in Malaysia in the event of a Pakatan win. Well, there is no precedent in Malaysia. We never had a change of federal government – one of the very few countries left in the world that hasn’t had a change of government.
However, we can use precedence from other countries around the region. Let’s look at Indonesia. In 1998, General Suharto was overthrown after 33 years in power. At least a million people went to the streets and demanded his overthrow. The ensuing chaos led to his resignation.
The Jakarta Composite Index (JKSE) dropped to a low of 245. Five years after his downfall, the JKSE doubled, and another five years later, it reached 900 percent appreciation, and currently it stands at a record high of 1,700 percent appreciation. That means, if you had invested RM10,000 in Jakarta stocks at the height of the revolution, it would be worth RM180,000 today. Not a bad investment.
Let’s look at Thailand. The Thai SET Stock Index Chart shows that the Index has reached a record 5-year high today and has been climbing consistently for the last 4 years despite the chaos in Bangkok in May 2010 and the subsequent general elections in July 2011, where the Pheu Thai Party defeated the Democrat Party of PM Abhisit.
Let’s look at Taiwan. In the year 2000, Chen Shui-bian won a historic election in Taiwan, breaking the Kuomintang’s 55-year monopoly on power. In 2004, the pro-Independence Chen stood for re-election. He – and his vice-presidential candidate – were shot during a re-election campaign, at the same time China amassed warships around the islands threatening to attack if the people voted for him. He won anyway.
The TSEC chart shows that the market reacted to the events but it never fails to bounce back.
Let’s look at South Korea. In 1980, martial law was declared. This was followed by the Kwangju massacre. By 1997, 1 million people flood the streets to demand General Chun Doo Hwan’s resignation. He eventually did. After he stepped down, President Roh-Tae-woo took over followed by another four presidents. All through this time, the markets were hitting new heights . Today the KOSPI is at a 25-year high.
 

So history shows us that revolutions and change of governments presents great ‘buying opportunities’ for stocks. It’s good for the markets and good for investment. Stay tuned for the greatest stock buying opportunity of all time. In Malaysia.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Malaysia’s 2013 Elections: Slow Reformers vs. Foreign-Funded Faux-Reformers

The Race to Putrajaya: Malaysia’s 13th General Elections (Op-Ed) 

January 17, 2013 (NileBowie) - Distrust and animosity between Malaysia’s two leading political coalitions has run high following the Himpunan Kebangkitan Rakyat (HKR) rally held in the iconic Stadium Merdeka. As the authorities concerned argue with each other over which attendance figures are more accurate, it cannot be denied that Pakatan Rakyat, especially PAS, has the ability to mobilize. Leaders of the opposition coalition addressed the crowd with fiery rhetoric, with PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang calling on the people to “declare a second independence.” Anwar Ibrahim took the stage and demanding that the government stop stealing from its citizens. The HKR rally follows November’s UMNO General Assembly – both key events in the buildup to elections – where Prime Minister Najib Razak apologized for the government’s shortcomings and called on Malaysians to be weary of experimenting with changes in leadership, emphasizing the economic stability brought in under the ruling party. Many would argue that Malaysia’s political climate has never been so polarized. Indeed, the outcome of the 13th general election has the capacity to bring enormous changes to the country.

Hardliners accuse of Najib reforming too much, while others feel he hasn’t reformed enough. Can one imagine the opposition holding a rally in Stadium Merdeka during Mahathir’s time? In stark contrast to former leaders, few acknowledge the emphasis that Najib has put on deconstructing draconian legislation that once allowed for indefinite detention and scoop arrests. Clearly, there is a vocal and undeterred segment of the population which values civil liberties, freedom of expression, and free assembly, rightfully so. The fact that HKR went on without incident is a sign that the administration is getting more comfortable liberalizing. Another issue is the mainstream media, which many feel fails to present balanced stories that reflect both the ruling party and the opposition, and one cannot ignore the open mudslinging so evident in the political mouthpieces of both parties, which often times leave readers in search of media with more substance. While Najib has liberalized rules regarding the publication of books and newspapers, the next administration would gain enormous public support by relaxing controls on political expression and encouraging citizen participation in alternative media.

Members of the opposition and civil society are also to blame, as they have disproportionately cast doubt on the government’s legitimacy and ability to lead. Take the issue of electoral discrepancies, which have been misrepresented and sloganized ad nauseam by the Bersih Coalition. It was claimed by civil society groups that the electoral roll had major incongruities which prevented the Election Commission from ensuring clean elections, due to around “400,000” doubtful voters on the electoral roll. EC Chairman Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof challenged Bersih to legitimize their claims by offering substantial proof of electoral fraud, which they have not made available. The EC published a little-noticed report that refuted allegations of vote rigging; the commission did confirm that 42,051 voter names with no valid and verifiable information were indeed on the role. Because removing registered voters from the electoral roll is unconstitutional without the EC first getting approval from the National Registration Department, the EC displayed the names of the doubtful voters for a three month period, allowing those voters to either come forward or be removed from the roll after a death certificate was presented by the person’s family members.

The EC provided logical and consistent refutations to the allegations made against the electoral system, though it was open to taking the demands of civil society on board. Despite this, Anwar Ibrahim appealed to the Australian government to interfere in Malaysia’s electoral process in an attempt to ensure their legitimate conduct. Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr has said that Australia cannot and will not influence how Malaysia’s elections are run, inciting harsh criticism of Anwar, who was thought to be falsely equating Malaysia’s electoral standards with that of Afghanistan, Iraq, or the Congo. Many cast doubt over the electoral system for its past blemishes; the Project IC in Sabah sparked much controversy, promoting allegations of the state’s electoral demography being manipulated in favor of the ruling party. In 2012, the parliamentary select committee agreed upon implementing recommended electoral reforms addressed by civil society groups, prompting statements from the United Nations confirming that Malaysia was completely in-line with international norms and electoral standards.

Civil society groups and members of the opposition are not wrong in bringing discrepancies to the forefront, but they have disproportionately pushed allegations of “election-rigging” as their main talking point, without any definitive evidence that an election had been stolen, all while the opposition itself democratically took power in key states following the 2008 elections. Bersih coalition leader Ambiga Sreenavasan is already dubbing GE13 as “the dirtiest elections ever seen” – this isn’t really fair statement, considering that the new legislature in place would mandate Malaysia to hold what would be its most regulated election yet. Since Pakatan Rakyat took power of four state governments, those states have experienced administrative mismanagement, resulting in water shortage issues that have left people without basic necessities. Despite claims that it would reduce water tariffs, the PAS administration in Kedah increased them with the expectation that the DAP-led Penang government would fork over RM20 million for water being channeled to the state, which naturally created tensions between the two parties.

Institutions such as the Malaysian Water Association (MWA) and Syabas (the water concessionaire in Selangor) have criticized the Selangor government for mismanaging the state’s water resources, stating, “either they don't understand water management or they just refuse to understand. They are just politicizing it.” PKR Selangor has pointed fingers at Syabas and Barisan Nasional for contributing to the crisis, claiming that “[Syabas] does not manage the water well… we have enough raw water supplies that can last beyond year 2015.” MWA President Ahmad Zahdi Jamil struck back stating, “Selangor may have enough raw water but it is either polluted, scattered all over or not enough to cater for future demand. Even it is enough now but it is depleting. But remember those are raw water not treated.” Budget restructuring and tight conditions introduced under the watch of the PKR Selangor government have halted the construction of needed water treatment plants, despite the current plants running at near maximum operating and distribution capacity.

The fact that these untested state governments have mismanaged state resources to the point where people lose access to necessities like water should not be forgotten by the Malaysian voter. Barisan Nasional is not a perfect coalition, but its component parties have at least demonstrated their capacity to agree on political programs; the opposition is not only marred by disagreements between their component parties, but also with inner party disputes. Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng has taken much heat from members of his own party. Penang’s Deputy Chief Minister Mansor Othman is on record ridiculing Guan Eng, while DAP assemblyman Teh Yee Cheu has called out the state government for overriding local authorities in favor of ‘mafia property developers.' On the other hand, PAS has been accused by many of dividing Malay Muslim communities by labeling UMNO and their supporters as “infidels” for cooperating with non-Muslim parties.

By means of necessity, PKR’s component parties – though ideologically incompatible – have allied to further their own individual programs. PAS members, such as Shahnon Ahmad, have cast doubt on the party for no longer adhering to the needs of Islam by working together with the DAP. A closer examination of rebuttal comments presented by Spiritual Leader Nik Aziz offers something telling; Aziz cites how the Prophet Muhammad cooperated with the Jews in Medinah and the non-Muslims in Mecca to strengthen the ancient city’s defenses, adding, “however, the Muslims managed to capture the city after that." Can one then derive the notion that PAS is only cooperating with PKR’s component parties to further it’s own program of founding an Islamic state governed under hudud law? Splits in PAS’s leadership over the word “Allah” being using by non-Muslims illustrates not only disunity, but also an overly disproportionate emphasis given to an issue that does nothing to improve the livelihoods or well being of the individuals they seek to govern.

In assessing what PAS would bring to the table, Malaysians should examine the Egyptian scenario, where non-Muslims find themselves in an increasingly marginalized position under the incumbent Muslim Brotherhood administration, which has attempted to introduce Sharia Law in the Egyptian draft constitution. PAS has advocated gender segregation, dress code requirements, a crackdown on high heels and lipstick, banning movie cinemas, and a ban on Valentine’s Day (which is viewed as immoral). Such a political program only appeals to a limited demographic of the Malaysian population, and imposing the will of Islamists unto the non-Muslim population obstructs religious freedom and civil liberties. The introduction of such laws in a country like Malaysia would be nothing less than a dictatorship of a theocratic minority over the multi-faith majority. The focus of the next administration should be centered on safeguarding the religious and cultural freedom that binds together the vibrant fabric of Malaysian society – be it those who individually choose to live by hudud law, those who choose not to pursue religion, and everything in between.

Image: Malaysia opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim (C) shouts slogans during a grand gathering at the historical Medeka Stadium during a rally for electoral reforms in Kuala Lumpur.(AFP Photo / Saeed Khan)
....

And where would Malaysia be with Anwar at the helm? The recent lawsuit filed by Ibrahim against Political Scientist Dr. Chandra Muzaffar provides telling insight. Anwar pressed charges against Chandra for simply saying that his hypothetical tenure as Prime Minister would be “an unmitigated disaster for Malaysia.” This case should be nothing short of alarming to those who value dissent and political expression – what would the status of such things be under an Anwar-led administration? As Deputy PM under Mahathir, Anwar’s economic policies have always been aligned with international financial institutions such as the IMF and World Bank, which have historically dictated structural adjustment policies that cut social services and dismantle social safety nets in favor of gluttonous central bankers and lending institutions. One can surmise Anwar bending over backwards to please IMF head Christine Lagarde, who has called for the dismantling of Malaysia’s subsidy regime. If those policies are pursued in haste, the nation could one day find itself marred with fuel-riots that have rocked Nigeria and Indonesia in recent times, and vicious anti-austerity protests that have become commonplace in the EU members states, such as Greece, Spain, and Portugal.

And how would Malaysia’s foreign policy be shaped under an Anwar administration? Members of civil society and the opposition have openly received funding and leadership training from institutions such as the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International Republic Institute (IRI), both component organizations of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). In addition to senior US officials such as Colin Powell, John McCain, and Madeline Albright lining key positions in both the IRI and NDI, the NED receives its funding directly from the US government. PKR’s policies would likely align Malaysia’s economic and defense priorities much closer to the United States, one could foresee a PKR-government investing in American armaments, and potentially even approving American military bases on Malaysian soil in line with Obama’s pivot to East Asia policy. The American taxpayer in the end foots the bill for the NED’s overseas political meddling, at the expense of needed social, medical, and infrastructural needs of American people – Malaysian civil society groups have knowingly or unknowingly taken funding from NED-component organizations in bad faith.

Barisan Nasional, for all the negative things said about it, has delivered a laudable measure of economic growth and stability. According to studies, 21.6 percent of Malaysian households live below the poverty line, a far slimmer demographic than the equivalent seen in neighboring countries in the region. BN’s legitimacy is most garnered from its ability to deliver economic growth, and with some of the lowest inflation rates in the world, unemployment at a meager 2.9 percent, and steady economic growth figures at around 5 percent, Malaysia enjoys a relatively healthy economy in a time of global economic uncertainty. The next administration must find innovative ways to reduce the increasing public debt levels, bolster its program to increase incomes, strengthen populist policies and the social safety net, all while steadfastly maintaining capital controls that have allowed the nation to navigate through economic uncertainty. Malaysia must respond to calls for subsidy reform by balancing its budget wisely while retaining beneficial protectionist measures as it embarks on sweeping infrastructural projects throughout the country.

The bottom line is that many in Malaysia do not feel like the government is listening, and that it is more interested in appeasing foreign investors. Amendments such as 114A, which is perceived to obstruct Internet freedom, remains highly unpopular, as does news of Malaysia signing onto the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement. The looming GE13 will be a tight race, the results of which may drastically alter the direction of the nation. If Najib finds himself back in power, his administration would capture enormous public confidence if it continued liberalizing political expression, in addition to squashing capital punishment and overseeing reform of the Royal Police Commission by putting the spotlight on their spotty custodial death figures. More regulations must be put into place to prevent corruption, mandating that contracts be awarded through open tenders. Politicians, ministers, and civil society members should declare their assets, disclose sources of political donations, and declare any foreign assistance. There is now a new precedent for the next administration to take a progressive line on unpopular policies, whoever makes it to Putrajaya must not waste that opportunity.

....

Nile Bowie is an independent political commentator and photographer based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He can be reached at nilebowie@gmail.com
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How will the 2013 Malaysian election affect the economy?


Senior economists at investment houses JP Morgan Securities and Eastspring Investments Berhad have been quoted as saying that investors will act negatively if the opposition wins the upcoming Malaysian election.
However, it is too simplistic to say that a victory for the opposition will have a completely positive or absolutely negative effect on the Malaysian economy. The truth is more likely to lie somewhere in between these two extremes.

Ideologically speaking, the Malaysian opposition coalition is similar to the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN), as both coalitions subscribe to market-oriented economic policies. Both the BN and the opposition accept the value of FDI, the role of multinational corporations and the importance of trade.

The media has depicted the leader of the opposition, Anwar Ibrahim, as being close to the West and some oil-rich states in the Middle East. More generally speaking, media reports indicate that he is close to international capital. If that is true, then it is more than likely that he will use his influence to attract more FDI and portfolio funds.

Regardless of who rules the country, economic realities must be taken into account: Malaysia is a small, open economy that has to rely on foreign investment and trade to drive its growth. Neither of the potential leaders — Najib Razak nor Anwar Ibrahim — can deny this. Whichever party comes to power after the 2013 election will race to liberalise the economy. Differences, if any, will lie only in the manner or pace at which this is done.

The United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), a founding member of the BN coalition, claims to be the sole champion of Malay rights, and the only party that can ensure that Malays (the bumiputera) achieve a fair share of the nation’s wealth. Nevertheless, in its attempts to enjoy the benefits of free trade agreements, the government has slowly reduced some of its preferential treatment for bumiputera businesses.

The bumiputera entrepreneur development programs that some government-linked companies have created will have to end. The scheme to restrict petrol kiosks only to bumiputera businesspeople will similarly have to be cut back. Bumiputera vendors associated with the national automobile project will soon become more sensitive to market forces as the government ceases to protect this industry. The recently enacted Competition Act does not exclude bumiputera business from its ambit.

While the UMNO has to take care of its constituency, protectionist policies will need to be addressed if the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement and the EU–Malaysia free trade agreement are signed. The government no longer has the sort of free hand it once had to extend preferential treatment to promote the growth of bumiputera business.

Will the opposition act like the BN if it comes to power? Perhaps not. One of the opposition’s key policy platforms is transparency. The other platform is the eradication of wastage and leakages from the system. The opposition also speaks about improving the economy as a whole, rather than just the economic wellbeing of particular racial groups — like the bumiputera.

Fiscal policy is another critical area that demands attention in Malaysia. The Malaysian government’s policy of repeated fiscal deficits, especially when they are not needed, has to be addressed. This is an issue that the opposition has shown an interest in resolving, and it is a development that could improve Malaysia’s rating in the eyes of foreign investors, as well as placing the economy on more solid ground.

Another important issue is that of government expenditure. This raises two points. The first is projects and policy initiatives that involve high levels of government expenditure. It would be wrong to say that the opposition is opposed to spending on big-ticket items. They are unlikely to be averse to these projects in principle. Rather, it could be expected that the criteria for commitment to these projects will be assessed on their usefulness, efficiency and projected returns. As the opposition’s policy platform outlines, there would be greater accountability and transparency in undertaking these projects.

The other point pertains to the execution of ongoing projects. Legal requirements prevent the opposition from discontinuing projects that the government has already commenced. It would be wrong and to the opposition’s disadvantage to delay projects perceived to be in the national interest.

In truth, there is likely to be a balance of views among economists regarding the outcome of the 2013 Malaysian election. Those set on the long term, and those who see the prospect of economic reform, will be more positive in their evaluation. Those with their noses stuck in the very short term will wait to see how effectively the new government can run its business of managing the economy. Investors are likely to be bullish if the opposition projects confidence in the first months after their victory — that is, if they do in fact win.

Shankaran Nambiar is an economist who consults for national and international agencies. He lives in Kuala Lumpur. East Asia Forum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MCA’s last show of party strength

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday, 07 February 2013 14:10

Soi Lek's doomsday prediction is INSANE!

Written by Harakah
PAS Kuala Selangor member of pParliament Dzulkefly Ahmad has dismissed the claim by Chinese-only party MCA of an economic downfall should Pakatan Rakyat win the next election.
Dzulkefly said the doomsday prediction by MCA president Chua Soi Lek was nothing more than another attempt to help BN return to power.
““The fact you voice those thing means you don’t understand democracy; it shows you’re an autocratic, despotic government, because you can’t accept a regime change,” Dzulkefly told news portal Free Malaysia Today.
Chua had said that the Kuala Lumpur Composite Index (KLCI) would plunge by 500 points if PR took control of Putrajaya.
“Chua’s claim that a 500 point drop is equal to [a loss of] RM350 billion market capitalisation is insane,” said Dzulkefly, who added that the market would welcome PR with its better financial policies and greater transparency.
Dzulkefly stressed that change was part of a democratic routine and could not be equated to destruction.
“If this time people decide you have go, you go lah! Don’t involve Bursa [Malaysia] and all such nonsense. Stop the rumour-mongering and politics of fear. People will judge us based on our performance,” he added.
-Harakahdaily

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

'Country could plunge into financial chaos if Pakatan wins'


KUALA LUMPUR: The MCA has warned that the country would plunge into financial chaos should the opposition wrest control of Putrajaya in the coming general election.

Its president, Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek, said the KL  Composite Index -- the country’s market indicator -- would  drop by more than 500 points “within a week” if Pakatan  Rakyat won the polls.
 “If the opposition wins, Pas will be the dominant political  force as they are fielding far more candidates than DAP and  PKR.
 “And everyone knows that handling the economy is not the  Islamic party’s strongest suit. They only know how to talk  about hudud and Islam,” he told reporters after launching  the Kepong MCA division 64th anniversary luncheon here  yesterday.
He also said a change in the political leadership in  Putrajaya would cause political instability which, in turn,  would severely affect the economy.
 “If the country is not stable, then the economy will be  severely affected. The Chinese would end up being the  biggest casualty.
 “I can openly declare that if there is a change [of gov ernment], and the opposition pact is dominated by PAS, our  stock market will drop by  500 points within a week.
  “The stock activities are inter-connected with our daily life,  with many businessmen using the stock market to guarantee  their assets, to take loans.
 “If there is a drop, many of their shares would be wound up.  Many shops will close down. Investment confidence will  deteriorate and foreign investors will turn away from  Malaysia,” he claimed.
 Dr Chua said under the leadership of Prime Minister Datuk  Seri Najib Razak and the Barisan Nasional government,  however, the country would experience continued devel opment and transform into a high-income nation.
 “This is apparent as the ruling government has managed to   increase the national income per capita from about  RM20,000 in 2009 to RM30,000 in 2011.
 “The country’s Foreign Direct Investment had also in creased from RM5 billion in 2009 to RM34 billion in 2011.  The six-fold increase shows that Malaysia prospering under  the present administration,” he said.
 Dr Chua, who is a former health minister, added that the  opposition’s promises to abolish highway tolls and provide  free education were populist and farfetched policies.
 “Such rash moves would either plunge the country into  bankruptcy within two years or the people would be taxed  more to get more funds,” he warned.
On another matter, Dr Chua reiterated that the BN com ponent parties should not act selfishly but prioritise the  needs of the ruling coalition instead, to achieve victory in the  coming polls.
 “If a BN component party feels that it cannot win a seat,  then its leadership should inform the BN president im mediately. Let another party which is confident contest  instead,” he said.
Dr Chua was hinting that MCA might fight to contest in the  Kepong parliamentary seat.
The seat is traditionally contested by BN’s Gerakan, but it  has been held firm by DAP’s Dr Tan Seng Giaw for close to two  decades.
 “So in those areas where we got a higher chance of  winning, we won’t give up our fight to contest. Likewise, they  (other BN component parties) can take our seats if they fare  better in our constituency,” Dr Chua said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MCA’s last show of party strength

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nuffnang Ads

Malaysia 13th General Election (GE) – when is it happening and how is it going to affect Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange (KLSE)?

The first question is anyone’s guess but the second question deserves some serious thoughts. Whether you are a value investor or a trader, it will inevitably impact your portfolio. There’s only 2 outcome – you could be feeling euphoric or you could be feeling extreme pain, at least in the short term. You could enter the market now as a fundamentalist, armed with tonnes of data and research to justify your stock of choice is undervalued, bla bla bla. But anyone who doesn’t have the holding power or a strong stomach to ride through the waves of volatility caused by the general election, sleepless nights would ensue. And understand that the movers behind stock markets are essentially human beings with emotions, so sentiment, plus herd mentality play a significant role. A wise man once said, whoever wishes to foresee must consult the past. So how did KLSE move before and after the previous Malaysia general elections?
malaysia general election
I present to you, KLCI performance during and post Malaysia General Elections since the 80′s
“The impending Malaysia 13th General Election – How Would It Move KLSE? Let’s see some historical facts during previous GEs.” <- Click to Tweet This
malaysia general election stock market Say, back in the Form Six days where you are required to complete this Pengajian-Am-like compulsory question, how would you interpret this table in no more than 120 words?
OH MY GOD! Sure fail already, not because I don’t have sufficient main points to write, but because there are so many things to write! But of course, there would not be any politically related sentiment in public exam questions. That would be so wrong, despite the fact that political sentiment is the all around us – they say, it’s like an elephant in the room which we choose to ignore. We were so naive and innocent while donning those blue pinafores and dark green pants.
Anyway, I digress. Okay, if I were to write a brief summary on this, here’s the main points I would list down:
The Explicit – otherwise known as Isi Tersurat
  1. Every time got general election in Malaysia, KLSE sure very volatile one.  –> very Ah Beng style :)
  2. Volatility can be up or down –> Tadaa! Thanks for stating the obvious!
  3. The impact is not so much before polling day
  4. The real impact to KLSE is only seen within a quarter after polling day
malaysia general election stock market sentiment
The Implicit – otherwise known as Isi Tersirat 
  1. Malaysia citizens (otherwise known as the Rakyat) were not very happy when Tun M. took the helm in 1982. KLCI slumped 11.8 percent after the general election.
  2. Tun M as PM proved his mettle as the de facto leader – I was still very wet behind the years that time but I knew Proton (every Malaysian’s ahem, pride)  was Tun’s brainchild.  So the Rakyat gave their full support to the Father of Malaysia modernization in 1986 general election. Good sentiment drove the stocks up 28.8 percent – holy sh*t!
  3. The people are probably neutral, and divided in 1990. Seats won were just over two-third majority, and KLCI barely moved after the election.  After effects from 1987′s turbulence inside Tun M’s club caused by Semangat 46 perhaps?  Someone enlighten me please?
  4. I copied this excerpt from Wikipedia: In 1991, Tun M announced Vision 2020, under which Malaysia would aim to become a fully developed country within 30 years. One of Vision 2020′s features would be to gradually break down ethnic barriers. Vision 2020 was accompanied by the NEP’s replacement, the National Development Policy (NDP), under which some government programs designed to benefit the bumiputera exclusively were opened up to other ethnicities. The NDP achieved success in one of its main aims, poverty reduction. By 1995, less than nine per cent of Malaysians lived in poverty and income inequality had narrowed. Tun M’s government cut corporate taxes and liberalised financial regulations to attract foreign investment. The government rode the economic wave and won the 1995 election with an increased majority.
  5. [Censored, but the cause for the drop in majority seats had to do with the forming of a new party, and a political insurgence with ended with a *cough* sotong-mee trial & conviction - Google for more details]. But investors certainly felt relieved and appreciated the stability of the ruling government returning to power after the general election, hence the stock market shot up to a 35.5 percent all time high in just 3 months!
  6. It was a landslide victory for the ruling coalition in 2004 Malaysia general election. However, it did seem that the policies of the new leader left little to be excited about – hence the stock market knee-jerk response to this all time high parliament majority seemed lacklustre. Which is good for investors who didn’t manage to get out fast enough from the market, as your portfolio probably lost no more than one fifth of its value.
  7. Stock market plunged an astounding 12.3 percent, first in the history, as much as the seats lost to the opposition parties when the ruling coalition failed to secure two third majority for the first time(?).  The people sentiment is growing restless, and investors who are not remotely interested in politics will not be spared from the grasp of downward volatility that’s threatening their portfolio return. Trying times ahead indeed as we approach the 13th Malaysia general election, latest by April 2013.
Maybank Investment Research original comments:
We expect the market to reach positively (albeit mildly) post the 13th general election. Construction stocks, selected oil and gas names, Tenaga Nasional and CIMB are likeliest to reach immediately.
So what grade do you think I deserve given the points above? :)
**This article is written for entertainment purpose and should be treated as an a politically-motivated rant/opinion.**













 

 

 

 

 

Looking ahead of the GE13: impact on shares, – the danger and opportunity areas

I have been wondering what will happen to the stock market in this coming GE13. Why? To be better prepared, to avoid the "danger" areas and to maximise the gains in the "opportunity areas. Hope that you can all chip in and build a list we can all analyse and later use some of the learning with good returns. My first go below, no rocket science.
A – BN stays put
Danger
?
Opportunity
* the big/international daily products consumer companies
* GLC (a case of riding/sleeping with the enemies?)
* companies with big/many govt contracts
B – OPPOSITION takes over
Danger
* GLC shares dropping like stones in water (before and after the election). Maybe some gems to collect after the election.
* companies with big/many govt contracts
* drop in RM vs US$ (knee jerk reaction, short term?), bad for importing companies with higher costs
Opportunity
* the big/international daily products consumer companies
* drop in RM vs US$ (knee jerk reaction, short term?), good for exporting companies with higher revenue
I have more"negatives" above if opposition wins BUT it will be for the better to clean up the economy!
Hope that you can help me and add to the list from shares investing perspective. biggrin.gif
Thanks. Cheerio.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Murky Crystal Ball for Year 2013

This post has already been read 280 times!
While the news of the GE-13 not announced may not be giving investors much to cheer about, it is a nice diversion to the stock market’s Nov sell-off if you had hold on to your high quality dividend stocks either in KLSE or SGX.
And like a much needed year end holiday, it may be just the break local stock investor’s need before heading into the new Jan 2013 trading season. But until then, we must weather a turbulent market short term sell off and buying support by local institutions until next year.

Now, I’m not sure if your favorite stock company has announced their year end 2012 results yet, but I have noticed that there seems to be something missing at the end of (some of) the reports. And it’s making my ability to predict the future that much more difficult.
Typically, at the end of an earnings report, a company will finish off teasingly with a “forecast” or an “outlook” for the next quarter 2013 and sometimes the remainder of the full year 2013. Something that will make us stick by their side through thick and thin.
Unfortunately, market volatility and ever growing geopolitical tensions e.g. North Korean firing missiles are making it tougher for companies to predict what’s going on quarter-to-quarter.
Iran, situated at the hot spot in the Middle East may not be an economic powerhouse that’s creates part of global market volatility…and also last week’s North Korean firing missiles was enough to shake global markets temporary. In addition, oil prices hit a new month high record and the KLSE Market looking bit of toppish too.
It’s tough enough trying to accurately predict how well your company is going to do quarter-to-quarter when times are good. Throw in rising tensions in the Middle East, a depressed market in US and European Debts woes, and an all too present GE-13 before April 2013, and you’ve got a murky crystal ball.
Why? When consumers get strained by higher prices and pay more to borrow, investors are worried that they’ll have less to spend; lowering overall demand for good and services. In return, some businesses need to absorb higher costs without scaring away customers. And customers like you and me are the ones that impact a company’s earnings.
Still, high quality companies investors ought not be too nervous about market jitters. (Click here for high quality companies in KLSE.) These resilient companies, by their very nature, can take advantage of changing economic conditions and opportunities better than other cyclic sectors like plantations.
And a jittery market means there are still lots of good buying opportunities out there. There is obvious strength in retails and consumer sectors. But for contrarian investors, you want to find something that isn’t obvious. Or at least isn’t obvious to the rest of the investing herd.
Predicting the future of the stock market day-to-day is difficult enough, let alone trying to guess what you’re going to do quarter-to-quarter; unless you have a time machine. In which case, we need to talk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Believe in miracles: why the 2013 Malaysian elections may surprise

by James Brown - 12 October 2012 12:24PM
While I was travelling in the US recently, I was fortunate enough to speak with Sidney Jones, the International Crisis Group's senior adviser on Asia. Sidney is at the University of California in Berkeley researching, amongst other things, land disputes in Asia.
Sidney has a new paper on the upcoming Malaysian election, which is likely to be called for early 2013. The Malaysian governing coalition, the longest serving coalition in the world, has been in power since 1955 and Sidney concludes that it would 'take a miracle' for them to lose. Even so, some people believe this might just happen, and in this video Sidney explains why:



























Malaysia’s Coming Election: Beyond Communalism?

Asia Report N°235 1 Oct 2012
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Malaysia’s thirteenth general election, which Prime Minister Najib Razak will have to call by April 2013, could be a watershed in communal relations. More than ever before, there is a chance, albeit a very small one, that opposition parties running on issues of transparency, economic equity and social justice could defeat the world’s longest continually-elected political coalition, the National Front (Barisan Nasional), that has based its support on a social compact among the country’s Malay, Chinese and Indian communities. That compact, granting Malays preferential status in exchange for security and economic growth, has grown increasingly stale as the growing middle class demands more of its leaders. Both ruling party and opposition are using images of the Arab Spring – the former to warn of chaos if it is not returned to power, the latter to warn of popular unrest unless political change comes faster.
Social and demographic change, coupled with effective opposition leadership and the rise of a broad-based movement for electoral reform, are likely to make this election at the very least a close contest. The ruling coalition, composed of the dominant United Malays Nationalist Organisation (UMNO); the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA); and the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC), as well as several smaller parties, faces the Peoples Alliance (Pakatan Rakyat), composed of the Peoples Justice Party (Partai Keadilan Rakyat, PKR), led by former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim; the Democratic Action Party (DAP) and the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (Partai Islam Se-Malaysia, PAS). More than ever before, the swing vote may be the Malay middle ground: urban professionals, students and “netizens” – internet users – who have benefited from constitutionally-protected preferential status for Malays but who are tired of cronyism and corruption and are chafing under the tight controls on civil liberties.
The deck is stacked against the opposition for many reasons, not least because of an electoral system based on questionable voting rolls and carefully gerrymandered, single-representative constituencies where victory requires only a plurality (first past the post). Demands for a more level playing field gave rise in 2007 to a broad-based civil society movement, the Coalition for Free and Fair Elections, known as Bersih (Clean), that has held four mass street rallies drawing tens of thousands of participants: in November 2007; July 2011; April 2012 and August 2012. The first three were broken up by police with hundreds of arrests. In the third, violence on the part of a few participants led to harsh police counter-actions and allegations of brutality. Former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, now retired but leading UMNO’s ultra-conservatives from the sidelines, has been warning Malaysians to expect more violence in the streets if the opposition loses.
The big issues are the economy, corruption and political reform. Bread-and-butter topics matter most to the electorate, and Barisan’s vast resources enable it to dole out economic favours to strategic constituencies in the lead-up to the election. The opposition is getting plenty of mileage out of corruption scandals involving top UMNO officials, although UMNO is fighting back with legal challenges and defamation suits. Political reform is seen by both sides as a political winner. Prime Minister Najib has rolled back or reworked some of the draconian legislation – most notably the colonial-era Internal Security Act (ISA) – that Mahathir used to curb dissent during his 22 years in power, but the opposition denounces it as too little, too late.
Two huge issues are largely off the official agendas of both coalitions but dominate them in many ways. One is the preferred treatment for Malays in virtually all spheres of public life and whether opening political space and promoting social justice would diminish that status. The ultra-conservatives within UMNO are determined to protect Malay rights at all costs. The other is the question of Islamic law and religious tolerance. Under Mahathir, Malaysia embarked on a program of Islamisation of the government and bureaucracy, culminating in his declaration of an Islamic state in 2001. PAS, once known for a hardline Islamist agenda, is now led by pragmatists who are willing to put contentious issues like Islamic criminal justice on hold, at least temporarily, in the interests of trying to defeat Barisan. But neither side is above trying to scare non-Malay communities, particularly the Chinese, by predicting greater intolerance if the other wins. Within the opposition coalition, relations between PAS and the Chinese-dominated DAP remain fragile.
Both sides are furiously making calculations about tactics to win seats, tailoring their message to the communities concerned. The two eastern states of Sabah and Sarawak could be kingmakers, because they control 25 per cent of the available seats.
Ultimately the question Malaysians will have to answer on election day is which of the two choices will be better able to accommodate political change, while protecting minorities against the hardline forces that more openness can produce.
Jakarta/Brussels, 1 October 2012
















Dr M: Struggle for PM post dividing Malays, empowering minorities



















UPDATED @ 07:07:40 PM 31-01-2013
January 31, 2013
KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 31 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad warned Malaysians against voting for change today, arguing that it will result in a weak government that will hinder economic progress.
The former prime minister also expressed his hope for Barisan Nasional (BN) to regain a strong two-thirds parliamentary majority in the next elections so that the government can implement its policies without resistance.
“Change itself will be destructive, and turmoil is not good for any country,” Dr Mahathir (picture) said at the 15th Malaysia Strategic Outlook Conference here.
Dr Mahathir clarified later that this does not however mean that no government change should happen at all in Malaysia, but rather the change must be studied first.
“Are you just changing for the sake of changing, or changing because it is going to be for the better?” he asked.
He also claimed that the current government headed by Datuk Seri Najib Razak was considered weaker than previous ones.
A weak government will in turn have to resort to meeting demands and delivering handouts in order to satisfy all parties, he said.
“When you see a government that is weak, that has only a small majority, then all sorts of criticism and demands will be made against them,” he said.
“If there is a strong government, with a two-thirds majority, the government can expect full support from the parliament and from the people as well.”
The former prime minister also mocked Pakatan Rakyat (PR), insisting that the coalition was not a “real” one, and was only formed to win elections.
“Pakatan is just an agreement to work together for the purpose of winning the election ... it’s not truly a coalition, it’s just a coming together of three parties which work together during the elections.
“But after the elections it’ll be difficult for them to work together,” Dr Mahathir claimed.
He alleged that the people just want PR to win to show that Malaysia implements a fair two-party system, but insisted that there is no need to prove so.
“We never had a two-party system, and we can never have a two-party system,” he said, adding that the coalitions in place so far are still made of discrete component parties.
He also gave the examples of changes promised by Idi Amin in Uganda and Barack Obama in the United States which, he claimed, were not for the better.












Dr M: Struggle for PM post dividing Malays, empowering minorities




























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Elections will not affect economy – Analyst

| January 7, 2013
Kuala Lumpur, Jan 7 — The forthcoming 13th General Election would not have a big impact on the Malaysian economy, says an analyst.
economic-crisis-450x300
Templeton Emerging Markets Group Executive Chairman and analyst Mark Mobius said Malaysia has relatively good economic growth with low inflation and an investor friendly government.
“(Regardless of) what happens in the general election, the economic policy, generally and socially, will continue on the same path.
“I don’t think there will be any change because of what happens in the election,” he told a press conference today. -BERNAMA

























| by Mark Pabst Malaysia Kuala Lumpur

Despite Election Jitters, Malaysia on Solid Ground

Malaysia is facing its share of uncertainty in 2013, with both the local stock market and the national currency registering unusually high levels of volatility. Much of the turbulence can be linked to elections that will take place later this year. But strong domestic demand and booming foreign investment indicate that the economy remains strong, regardless of how uncertain the political situation may appear.

Key to the country’s economic resilience is an ambitious investment program launched by the government in 2009, which helped boost private expenditure by more than 20 percent in both the second and third quarters last year. In a recent report, Credit Suisse analyst Santitarn Sathirathai praises the initiative, known as the Economic Transformation Program (ETP), for putting Malaysia in a strong economic position.

While the ETP includes a number of elements, including infrastructure improvements and a shift towards supporting industries that create jobs providing high-value services, the meat of the program is focused on making the country a more attractive destination for foreign investors. The aim is to make it easier for businesses to navigate the country’s regulations and bureaucracy.

So far, it appears to be working. In the last two years, Malaysia has jumped from 23rd to 10th in the World Bank’s “Doing Business” survey, which tracks how easy it is to start and operate a firm in a country. In the latest survey, Malaysia jumped over 20 spots in the categories dealing with registering property and obtaining construction permits, two items that are important to foreigners with cash to invest.

The resulting surge in private investment has not only helped drive domestic demand, but has also provided a buffer against the generally gloomy global economy. The World Bank stated that Malaysia is well positioned to dodge the worst of an anticipated global slowdown created by Europe’s ongoing malaise. Sathirathai predicts real GDP growth will hit 5 percent in 2013, better than many of Malaysia’s neighbors and an upward revision from an earlier Credit Suisse prediction of 4.8 percent.

Along with Malaysia, neighboring Indonesia has also passed comprehensive land reform legislation to modernize its public infrastructure and boost direct foreign investments into the country.

Still, there is concern in some quarters that the country’s economic output could suffer if upcoming parliamentary elections fail to provide a strong mandate to a single party. Prime Minister Najib Razak is required to call elections by the end of April, but has been hesitant to name a date. Although his ruling coalition, the Barisan Nasional, has not lost a general election since the country gained independence in 1957, many expect a tight race. Close elections could seriously hamper Kuala Lumpur’s ability to set decisive economic policies, especially since the next government will be forced to curb spending to fight a persistent budget deficit.

In the short term, at least through the campaign season, the government is not expected to curb spending, a move designed to curry favor with voters. Once the elections are over, however, the Parliament will be forced to get its fiscal house in order, probably by cutting easy targets, such as fuel subsidies.

A tighter national budget may take some of the wind out of consumers’ sails, but Sathirathai points out that significant investment in ETP projects could offset the impact of austerity budgets, meaning that private investment will likely be the key to Malaysia’s continuing strong economic performance.


























Will it be business as usual for Malaysia in 2013?

In 2012, the Malaysian economy and its politics went in different directions — the economy out-performed many countries, but there were uncertainties and tensions in politics.
Although the political environment could have dampened business confidence, Malaysia overcame this by pressing ahead with its economic and governmental transformation programs to stimulate investment and business activity.
In the first three quarters of 2012, the Malaysian economy grew by 5.2 per cent per annum. The UK’s Financial Times described Malaysia’s growth this year as ‘a gravity-defying boom’. It is on track to meet its overall target of 5 per cent for the year. This strong growth was supported by domestic demand, namely from public sector spending on infrastructure projects and direct transfers designed to mitigate the rising costs of living. Private sector investment was also strong, notably relating to the regional centre of Iskandar, which taps foreign investments especially from Singapore.
Although Malaysia has a very open economy, the global trade slowdown affected it only marginally: the economy had already been restructured so that domestic demand was the main source of growth. Likewise, Malaysia survived the vagaries of capital flows well, because its financial system is well regulated and well capitalised. Steps taken after the Asian Financial Crisis in 1998 have helped in this respect.
Yet boosting growth through domestic demand and public sector spending gave rise to concern about macroeconomic management. Household debt has risen to 76 per cent of GDP, the government debt–GDP ratio has increased to 53.7 per cent (nearing the limit of 55 per cent set by the parliament) and there is a need to reduce the persistent fiscal deficit, which is still too high at 4.5 per cent of GDP.
On the political front, the imminent 13th general election has preoccupied the entire nation. Although the term of the current parliament does not expire until March 2013, the Barisan Nasional (BN) government may dissolve parliament and call an early general election at any time. Various factors may have persuaded the BN government that a 2013 general election would suit it better. These factors include the timing of disbursement of cash support to lower income groups and ensuring that measures to ameliorate the rising cost of living and reduce the crime rate are fully implemented. Religious and cultural celebrations would also make an election impractical over the remainder of this year.
Malaysia also saw more political liberalisation with the repeal of the Internal Security Act and the introduction of the Peaceful Assembly Act. Civil society continues to advocate for reform. The Bersih movement called for electoral reform, and in May held the largest street demonstration of the year, but its message was diluted by some violence and by claims that it had been manipulated by opposition political parties. The liberalisation of political space also facilitated public opposition to a rare earth production operation by Australian company Lynas, and has fuelled the growth of Malay rights movement.
In 2013, political events will be at the forefront. In the previous general election in 2008, the BN lost its two-thirds majority in federal parliament for the first time and lost control of four states. Prime Minister Najib Razak has very high personal popularity and is intent on recovering the 2008 losses. He launched the ‘1Malaysia’ concept of an inclusive society, and is trying to reach out to Malaysian youth and the middle classes. These groups generally want greater empowerment, elimination of corruption and good governance.
The opposition coalition, Pakatan Rakyat (PR) is confident that it can perform even better than in 2008, but this is not without its challenges. The important issue of the Islamic state and implementation of sharia law, which had been agreed earlier by the three PR component parties, has resurfaced recently. Also some sections of PAS (the Islamic component party of PR) have rejected Anwar Ibrahim as the putative prime minister if the coalition were to form the government. This in turn is part of the larger question of how the PR will set major policies and govern the federation effectively.
Two thousand and thirteen will be a defining year for Malaysia. Whatever the outcome in the 13th general election, Malaysia needs to seriously transform its economy and strengthen its macroeconomic fundamentals if it is to beat the middle-income trap and achieve its goal of becoming a developed country by 2020. The public sector should reduce its economic role, the debt–GDP ratio must be reduced and the budget balanced. The tax system should also be reformed by introducing a Goods and Services Tax to increase government revenue and to widen the tax base. Finally, productivity must be increased, to offset the effect of salary increases, the introduction of the minimum wage and a higher worker retirement age.
Mahani Zainal Abidin is Chief Executive at the Institute of Strategic and International Studies, Malaysia.
This is part of a special feature on 2012 in review and the year ahead.
This article first appeared in the East Asia Forum blog.




























Economic Update

Malaysia: Year in Review 2012

Asia | 21 Dec 2012
It has been another year of good growth for Malaysia, even as the international economic climate has been uncertain. Strong domestic demand, government investment, greater diversification and regional resilience have all played their part.
GDP growth is expected to hit 5% this year or possibly exceed it, according to several analyses. The economy has been supported by higher incomes and accommodative monetary policy, as well as by government spending. Malaysia has been pushing ahead with its Economic Transformation Programme (ETP), which seeks to lift the country to its long-term target of achieving middle-income status by 2020.
To this end, the ETP entails large-scale investments in infrastructure, health and education, as well as interlinked efforts to push key sectors further up the value chain, in order to reduce Malaysia’s reliance on raw material exports and increase skill and income levels.
After talks between Malaysia and Singapore in January, the two countries agreed to strengthen transportation links to benefit bilateral trade and the construction sector. Progress has been made on a $9.7bn mass-transit railway system linking Malaysia’s southern Johor state and Singapore, which is part of a new line that will cut travel times from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore from six hours to 90 minutes.
In May, the international business press reported that AECOM Technology had been awarded the $42m contract for the design and engineering study for the Malaysia-Singapore Rapid Transit System (RTS) link by the relevant Singaporean and Malaysian authorities.
Infrastructure development also entails the expansion, upgrading and diversification of Malaysia’s power-generation capacity. In May, Peter Chin Fah Kui, the minister of energy, green technology and water, announced that Malaysia would increase the proportion of electricity it generated from coal to 44%, up from 30%, and lower the share derived from gas to 46% from 60%.
The government’s desire to lower dependency on gas supply was informed by rising gas prices, and a desire not to pass them on to customers, as well as by a connected gas supply shock in 2011. In May, the government confirmed plans to invest $3bn through state power firm Tenaga Nasional to construct two new hydropower plants and two new coal-fired stations, with a total of more than 2500 MW of installed capacity.
Meanwhile, further generation capacity is needed to support the demands of Malaysia’s manufacturing sector, which has performed well in 2012. Industrial production rose by 4.9% in the first nine months of 2012, according to official data. Manufacturing output rose by 5.2% year-on-year, while the other segments included in industrial production – mining and electricity – grew by 5.9%.
Growth came despite the uncertain global economic climate, which was affected by the eurozone crisis, the US’s debt problems and slowdowns in major emerging markets. However, strong domestic demand has helped manufacturers offset slower exports.
Together, manufacturing and mining contribute 35% of GDP, so the expansion of industry has been key to the economy’s good performance in 2012. Next year seems likely to see similarly healthy levels of GDP growth, as both upside and downside risks from 2012 are likely to continue into 2013. On one hand, the Malaysian economy should continue to benefit from its realignment towards domestic demand, supported by an expected maintenance of low-interest rate policy and the further roll-out of the ETP. The development of value-added industries, as well as service sectors such as tourism, should also help the economy.
On the other hand, Malaysia cannot be immune from international events. A significant worsening in the eurozone, the US, or a “hard landing” slowdown in China would undoubtedly have an impact. The Malaysian general election, due by June 2013, may also create an element of political uncertainty, though it is also spurring government spending. The economy, particularly government finances, remains sensitive to fluctuations in commodity prices, including that of oil.
Observers are split on whether there will be a slowdown, or if the economy can accelerate further. The UK’s Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales sees a drop to 3.8%, and international investment bank Nomura expects a fall to 4.3% from 5.3% in 2012. Manokaran Mottain, the chief economist at Kuala Lumpur-based Alliance Investment Bank, forecasts a slight fall to 5% from the 5.2% he expects this year. The independent Malaysian Institute of Economic Research, however, forecasts a pick-up from 5.1% to 5.6%.
Policy-makers will be keeping a keen eye on the international environment, as Malaysia cannot go it alone. However, next year should see the developed and diversified future economy envisaged by the ETP move closer.


















Malaysia is no longer safe: Billions wasted on Public Security

 


















February 11, 2013

File photo of a woman shopping at a market in Kuala Lumpur. Most of the women interviewed complained about the rising cost of living.
KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 11 — Women voters are focused on security and the rising cost of living, even as analysts highlight the demographic as fence-sitters that could determine the results of Election 2013. The Malaysian Insider conducted a straw poll among 10 female voters recently, most of whom also said that Barisan Nasional (BN) would win the 13th general election, citing various factors like government cash handouts, a disunited opposition pact and electoral fraud.
“Crime nowadays is so high,” housewife Salina Mohd Akhir told The Malaysian Insider recently, echoing the main concern among those living in cities.
“Even though sometimes you want to bring your child outside, you have to protect them all the time. Even when you go out on your own, you feel it’s not that safe for you,” said the 42-year-old, who lives in Subang Jaya near here.
According to the latest statistics provided by the Election Commission (EC), women make up 50.2 per cent, or 6.58 million voters out of a 13.1 million-strong electorate.
Salina said she worries for her five-year-old daughter whenever the latter goes to school.
Six-year-old William Yau was found dead last month after he went missing for more than a week.
Putrajaya’s efficiency unit Pemandu said last July that index crime in Malaysia dropped by 10.1 per cent from January to May in 2012 compared to the same period in 2011.
Crime watchdog MyWatch, however, said last month that the crime rate went up last year, alleging that national crime statistics have been manipulated.
Salina, whose husband works as an airline executive with a monthly pay of about RM5,000, said that the cost of living was also very high.
“If one husband is working and one wife is not working, they feel the pinch... Nothing is cheap — food, clothes. It’s not cheap anymore,” she said.
“Even if you buy average groceries, it will cost you around RM200 a week. That also you don’t get everything,” added Salina.
The housewife also said that she would support BN, highlighting the Bantuan Rakyat 1 Malaysia (BR1M) RM500 cash aids that were dished out last year. A second round of BR1M this year is expected to benefit 4.3 million households and 2.7 million single unmarried individuals compared to 4.2 million people for the first BR1M.
Accounts executive Liow Mei Fong, 30, said the escalating cost of living was a top-priority issue.
“Owning a house is quite far-fetched. Most of my peers still can’t own a house,” Liow told The Malaysian Insider recently.
“I am quite debt-free, but can’t really save to buy a decent property without compromising my lifestyle,” she added.
Liow, who earns about RM5,000 a month and usually goes travelling every year, said that she could only afford property costing below RM300,000.
“Prices are crazy these days. New ones (Petaling Jaya condominiums) are ranging RM400,000 plus,” she said.
The latest Property Market Report 2012 has revealed property prices in major cities such as Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Johor Baru and Kota Kinabalu to be well above the affordability of any middle-income wage earner with a take-home pay of less than RM4,000, prompting the federal government to come up with several affordable housing schemes.
In Kuala Lumpur, a single-storey terrace house in Taman Tun Dr Ismail or Lucky Garden is priced above RM730,000, while a similar type of house in the nearby Petaling district costs above RM378,000.
Liow also worries about violent crime and rape, saying: “Rape, for any lady, is a big thing.”
Asked who would win Election 2013, which must be called by April, she said: “It will still be BN la. They will do what it takes to be in... trick is at the votes, how they temper it.”
Insurance agent Jamilah Mohamad, 53, fears sexual assault and violence against children.
“I don’t feel safe now. If you ask me to go for a meeting at 10 o’clock at night and come back home, I have a fear that someone will follow me home,” Jamilah told The Malaysian Insider.
The mother of four, who lives in Putra Heights, pointed out that women in India could walk around wearing lots of jewellery whereas in Masjid India here, “at least four women will tell me to be careful of my chain, (though) it’s costume jewellery.”
Jamilah stressed that the cost of living was increasing, saying: “Two to three years ago, (groceries) for a week is RM100 plus, now easily RM200.” Jamilah and her husband have a combined income of about RM7,000 and are currently taking care of their 12-year-old daughter, while their three older children are living on their own.
Jamilah added that she would vote for BN as PR was not united, pointing out the “Allah” row that showed conflicting views between PAS and the DAP.
“Yes we need opposition. If not, nobody is there to monitor them (BN). But if they (PR) rule, we have doubts,” she said.
Angel, a 49-year-old Kadazan who lives in Kota Kinabalu, said the high cost of living was a major issue.
“Just (at) the mention of minimum wage, everything went up. A cup of teh si kosong is nearly RM2. Last time, (it was) RM1.20,” said Angel, who did not want to give her last name.
She also noted that Project IC, where citizenship was allegedly given to immigrants in exchange for votes during the Mahathir administration, was another issue of concern.
“BN will still win, but with a less(er) majority. A lot of dissatisfaction (is) creeping up... the ICs, cost of living, cabotage policy,” she said.
“They (the opposition) have yet to have a united front. Here, they’re so divided... especially in Sabah, there are so many political parties,” added Angel.

























February 13, 2013

A child plays with toys at the Taska Seri Cahaya kindergarten and childcare centre. — Pictures by Choo Choy May
KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 13 ― The difficulties and rising cost of hiring maids from neighbouring countries are forcing urban middle-class parents to send their children to private childcare. Many parents The Malaysian Insider spoke to noted, however, that private childcare was also expensive, making it difficult to save money amid other escalating living costs like food and housing.
Several government departments and agencies have crèches for their staff but very few companies provide such facilities for working mothers.
Nurse Carys Chew, 28, said that sending her baby to a babysitter costs RM850 a month ― nearly 14 per cent out of her monthly household income of RM6,000.
After spending on milk and diapers, servicing the housing loans for a house in Pahang state capital Kuantan and an apartment in Kinrara, Selangor, where she resides, and other household expenses, Chew and her husband can only afford to save their bonuses.
“We cannot save at all. My husband’s side is kosong (empty) every month,” Chew told The Malaysian Insider recently.
Asked whether it was difficult to hire an Indonesian maid, Chew pointed out that maid agency fees alone would amount to several thousand ringgit.
The Malaysian Maid Employers Association (MAMA) reportedly said last month that only 108 maids have been sent to Malaysia, compared to the

Leow says her full-day care clients have doubled in recent years.
22,000 requested by Malaysian employers since Indonesia ended the embargo on maids in December 2011. Human Resource Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said last December that some maid agencies charged fees of up to RM12,000 per maid.
Several childcare centres and parents have told The Malaysian Insider that childcare costs ranged from RM300 to RM1,300 a month.
Irene Leow, who runs the Seri Mawar Child Care and Development Centre in Jalan Ampang, said that the number of children staying for full-day care doubled to 20 in 2009 from less than 10 in 2003. The figure has remained constant in the past three years.
Leow charges RM770 monthly for full-day care, RM620 for care until 2 pm, and RM450 for care until 11.45 am.
“Childcare does take a chunk out of people’s salaries. That’s why people should think of all these costs before having children,” Leow told The Malaysian Insider recently, adding that one-third of her clients were expats.
Peter & Jane kindergarten founder Patricia Teh said that she now charges RM1,300 a month for education and childcare for children aged between two-and-a-half years to six years, after increasing her fees by RM100 last month.
“To me, RM400 is way too low for childcare,” Teh told The Malaysian Insider, adding that Peter & Jane’s waiting list amounted to more than 100 people each year.

Teh said couples needed to be mindful of the costs of raising a child before having one.
Teh, who is also a committee member of the Early Childhood Care & Education Council (ECCE) that was conceived in the government’s National Key Economic Area (NKEA) lab, said there are 550 children in five Peter & Jane centres located in Mutiara Damansara, SEA Park, Damansara Jaya, Saujana Villa and Jalan Ampang for Citibank employees. Of those, only 130 children opt for the full nursery and childcare programme. Without childcare, parents paid RM700 a month.
“Even to fork out RM700 a month is a lot. RM1,300 (for education and childcare) is just for fees. What about field trips and concerts? I have friends who didn’t realise it’s so expensive until they came to Peter & Jane,” said Teh, 53.
Teh stressed, however, that expensive childcare fees are necessary to recruit quality staff. “70 per cent of your income goes to HR (human resource) and children ― food, toys, keeping it clean,” she said, adding that she pays each of her 70 academic staff at least RM1,200 a month.
The majority of Peter & Jane clients are Chinese, while Malays make up some 20 per cent, and the rest are Korean, Japanese and other clients, said Teh.
The Peter & Jane centre in Mutiara Damansara boasts spacious areas ― where children learn mathematics through wooden blocks or lie down and imagine the night sky ― that are not designed as traditional classrooms. There are no doors or walls. Instead, classes are divided by colourful bulletin boards.
This enables everyone to be seen, said Teh. The large centre has a high ceiling and pastel walls with blue and red stair banisters.
Church pastor Karen Chan, who has a household income of about RM14,000, spends about RM1,130 a month to send her eight-year-old daughter to a daycare centre in Taman Megah and her four-year-old son to a babysitter in SS2.
“If I have a third child, I cannot work,” Chan told The Malaysian Insider, pointing out that the childcare costs for three children would near her salary.
Chan, 39, added that it was very difficult to obtain Indonesian maids. “I’ve had friends pay RM10,000, RM14,000, but they still haven’t received (the maids) yet,” she said.

The law requires that each caregiver be responsible for no more than three charges under the age of two.
Association of Registered Child Care Providers Malaysia (PPBM) vice-president PH Wong said that the minimum wage policy, which was implemented on January 1, has pushed the fees of childcare centres in Selangor from RM250 to RM300 a month. “In PJ (Petaling Jaya), childcare fees are RM600 to RM800. KL (Kuala Lumpur), it’s RM1,200,” Wong told The Malaysian Insider recently.
She noted that it was usually the wealthy who hired full-time maids, while middle-income earners sought private childcare.
Wong added that most Chinese living in urban areas sent their children to private childcare, while low-income Malay and Indian parents sent theirs to government and low-cost private childcare centres respectively.
The number of registered childcare centres has jumped from 245 in 2008 to 1,962 in 2012, according to statistics provided by the Social Welfare Department (JKM). There are also at least 1,600 unlicensed childcare centres.
Taska Seri Cahaya owner Shamsinah Che Shariff said that her monthly childcare fees are RM700 for babies and RM550 for children aged three to four years.
The childcare centre currently has four babies and 20 children aged two to four years, while Shamsinah’s kindergarten ― which operates at the same venue in Subang Jaya ― has over 100 children.
“I’m surviving because I’m not depending on childcare money,” Shamsinah told The Malaysian Insider, adding that she relied on her kindergarten business, which charges RM400 a month.

Shamsinah said parents from rural areas were often unprepared for the realities of urban childcare costs.
Shamsinah, who is also the PPBM president, pointed out that the childcare provider to children ratios required by law ― 1:3 for babies and 1:5 for children aged two to three years ― swell the overhead costs of childcare centres. “For a quality centre, you can’t survive with RM300 a month... ideally, the fees for quality childcare is RM1,500,” she said.
“Our home-based operator in Kedah in a paddy field can charge RM300 a kid. In Pahang, they charge RM400. I think our parents have been spoilt with low fees,” added the 54-year-old, who opened her kindergarten in 1998 and childcare centre in 2006.
Church administrator Kasturi Sashi spends RM300 a month to send her six-year-old daughter to a kindergarten, which also provides daycare, in Puchong Jaya, five minutes away from her home. She also gives RM300 a month to her mother, who lives in Bidor, Perak, to take care of her two-year-old son, whom she visits on weekends.
Kasturi, who has a household income of about RM5,500, said she and her husband find it quite difficult to save money.
“My husband keeps telling me to stop work. But nowadays, everything is expensive. I don’t want to give my husband so much burden,” said the 34-year-old administrator, who noted that sending her daughter to daycare forces her to leave work at 5pm sharp so that she can pick her daughter up by 5.30pm.

















Malaysia is no longer safe: Billions wasted on Public Security













































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The First Lady was prepared for the humidity














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Datin Serti Rosmah and Datuk Seri Tun Najib with fellow VIPs














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The VIPs chatting away












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One for the album












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The VIPs























































February 14, 2013
FEB 14 ― During the last few weeks there have been increasing predictions from Barisan leaders emphasising that there will be a sharp fall in the share market should there be a Pakatan Rakyat (PR) victory.
The latest prediction by MCA leader Dr Chua Soi Lek in a party event at Kepong argues that Malaysia will witness a “‘huge financial disaster if Pakatan Rakyat comes to power in the 13th general election”.
This type of electioneering tactic aimed at frightening the electorate is dangerous and irresponsible. How can the MCA president be so confident as to openly declare that our stock market will drop to 500 points within a week if the opposition wins power?
Challenge to Dr Chua Soi Lek
Let us subject his prediction to closer analysis. Firstly, it is not clear whether he stated that the KLCI will drop by 500 points or drop to 500 points. Whichever is the correct version, his claim implies that anything from one to two thirds of the total share value of the KLCI will be wiped out due to the election result.
Now if this were to happen, the drop will be unprecedented in the history of share markets anywhere in the world. So far as I am aware, no modern national stock exchange has had such a sharp fall as a result of a national election outcome and I am sure it will not happen in Malaysia.
I am willing to place a big bet with Dr Chua that his fears of a 500 point drop are unfounded and baseless. The loser of the bet will have to donate an agreed sum of money to the other person’s preferred charity. I hope he will agree to this and prove to be a man of his word.
Will the market rise on a BN victory?
Not only should we discount the possibility of a sharp fall, but we should also – on the basis of stock market behaviour elsewhere in the world – not assume that the Malaysian share market will automatically rise as the result of a BN victory.
For example, on November 7, immediately after Barack Obama, the incumbent Democrat president, was returned to power, the Dow Jones industrial average plummeted as much as 369 points, or 2.8 per cent, in the first two hours of trading. It recovered in the afternoon, but ended down 313, its biggest point drop for more than a year.
Various analysts that I have talked with have made the point that Dr Chua is not a stock market expert. They argue that in trying to exaggerate the prospect of a market meltdown, Dr Chua is contradicting the BN’s argument that the economy is fundamentally sound and resilient.
At the same time, these analysts anticipate that there could be a market fall in the KLCI even if the BN is returned to power. They base this prediction on several factors:
• The BN through its control of EPF and other major government and government-linked investors has been supporting the market and propping up Umno-linked counters such as Felda Global Ventures Holdings Bhd (FGVH) which is struggling to hold on to its initial public offer price of RM4.55. Without this pre-election support aimed at placating the Felda settlers and gaining their vote, FGVH will definitely be trading below the IPO price.
• The European and American economies are still going through a phase of recovery. Although there has been an inflow of foreign funds into the Malaysian market, there could just as quickly be a reversal of financial flows.
Prediction of market rise with PR victory
What is likely to happen should there be a PR victory? My prediction is that there will be a rise in the share market should there be no attempt at violence or a coup d’état by the losers. This is because of the following factors:
• The Malaysian economy has been under-performing all these years while under BN rule. The attached table shows the growth of GDP per capita of South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia from 1980 to 2011. From the table we can see the gap has arisen between these countries and Malaysia in this measurement of the wealth of nations. Should we continue under BN rule, our economy is likely to continue to under-perform and our stock market will continue to stagnate not only in the short term after the elections but for the long term.
• Foreign investors who have long been underweight in the Malaysian market due to Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s disastrous economic model built around mega projects, crony capitalists as key players, and other distortionary policies will be attracted back into the market. As recently as in 2011, Bank of America Merrill Lynch noted that Malaysia remained a “big underweight” for investors in emerging markets. An underweight call is a recommendation for investors to reduce their investments in a particular security, asset class or, in this case, country. Malaysia also slipped from 14th place to dead last among the 15 countries studied by the investment bank, despite the roll out of big ticket Economic Transformation Programme projects.
There are other indicators that the market will not take fright but will rally on account of a Pakatan victory. As pointed out by an SME investor, they include:
• The fact that the opposition states of Penang, Selangor, Kedah and Kelantan have attracted more investment that the ten BN states by accounting for RM25 billion in investments comprising 53 per cent of Malaysia’s total investments of RM47.2 billion in 2010.
• If a major sell-down occurs in the Bursa as a result of a Pakatan victory, the nation’s economic institutions such as EPF, PNB, Khazanah and other GLCs would support the market.
• PAS has administered Kelantan for more than 20 years, and Kedah for five years. These two PAS state administrations have neither acquired nor appropriated property, assets or businesses belonging to non-Muslims.
Proposals for a sustainable market rise
Although I am optimistic that the market will rise on account of a PR victory, it is necessary for the new government to act decisively when it comes to power. I would like to propose the following measures to ensure that the post-elections market rise is sustainable:
• To form a business council with captains of the leading industries to find ways for economic improvement and expansion.
• MACC directly under Parliament to look at illicit money outflows and recovery of the monies.
• Investigate the way Petronas sells our national oil and to verify the rumour that it has a long term contract with a company which buys it at much lower than current prices.
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.























Elections a Risk for Malaysian Banks’ Share Prices, Says Credit Suisse

Reuters
A giant image of Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak with an election campaign message is displayed on the facade of his United Malays National Organisation headquarters, as the landmark Petronas Twin Towers are seen in the background, in Kuala Lumpur.
Foreign investors in Malaysian banks may do a good deal of selling ahead of the country’s general election, which is thought to bring a lot of political risk, and several banks in particular are thought to be most exposed Credit Suisse sa CSGN.VX +0.34%ys.
Investors in Malaysian shares often turn jittery before and right after general elections because the government wields an especially heavy hand in the economy–and controls nearly half of the companies on the benchmark stock index, either directly or indirectly.
Foreigners now hold around 25% of overall share capital in Malaysian banks–the highest level since the global financial crisis–and those banks most exposed to a pre-election sell-off are CIMB Group Holdings Bhd 1023.KU -0.28%., 34.8%-owned by foreign investors Public Bank Bhd 1295.KU +0.25%. (31%) and Malayan Banking Bhd 1155.KU +1.57%. (20.5%), it says.
Investors think CIMB faces a particularly high level of political risk, Credit Suisse says. The bank is headed by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak’s brother, Nazir Razak.
CIMB raised its international profile last year when it acquired the Asian operations of Royal Bank of Scotland PLC, RBS.LN -0.16% as part of efforts to compete in the region against global investment banks.
The ruling National Front coalition is likely to retain power, but it could lose seats in Parliament in what is expected to be the most competitive poll in Malaysia’s history. The election must be held by June 27 but is expected to take place much sooner.
























Malaysia will survive GE13, says ‘Dr Doom’

UPDATED @ 04:41:02 PM 01-03-2013
By Zurairi AR
March 01, 2013
KUALA LUMPUR, March 1 — The Malaysian economy will weather the next general election and stay robust even with a change in government, renowned world economist Nouriel Roubini said today.
Roubini (picture, left), also known in the media as “Dr Doom” for his consistently pessimistic economic outlook, gave his prediction today amid previous warnings by names such as veteran statesman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and former top cop Tan Sri Musa Hassan that Malaysia will descend into political and economic chaos should Pakatan Rakyat (PR) wins the next polls.
“I would say whatever the result is going to be, this country has shown institutional and political stability,” Roubini said here in his keynote address at the Datum Economic Forum 2013.
“Investors recognised that, and therefore as long as there is a democratic process, as long as there’ll be policy clarity after those elections, it’s certainly going to be positive.”
Roubini admitted that the electoral process itself will introduce elements of uncertainty for investors, but refused to comment on the election date that has yet to be announced.
“I think whether the decision will be taken imminently or shortly ... whatever those results may be, this is a stable democracy that’s been committed to following economical policies to economic success
“It’s going to be positive,” he added.
Roubini also offered his observation on pre-election practices which are affecting Malaysia’s economic standing.
“Whenever there’s an election, whoever’s in power before elections provides cash handouts to the people as a way of boosting chances of winning, and that increases a chance of deficit in an election year,” Roubini said.
“Hopefully that will be reversed after the election.”
Roubini, who was named as Top 100 Global Thinkers by Foreign Policy magazine, gained popularity after he predicted the United States sub-prime crisis and the subsequent worldwide recession in 2008 three years before it happened.
On January 2011, Roubini’s analysis firm Roubini Global Economics (RGE) commented that much-needed reforms to Malaysia’s pro-Bumiputera policies would likely be put on the back burner until Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak secures a new electoral mandate.
In the report titled “Wednesday Note — Malaysia’s Middle-Income Malaise” RGE reported that Umno was “unlikely” to revamp such policies “blocking” Malaysia’s rise to high-income nation status before the next general election for fear of antagonising Malay voters.
It also said that affirmative action policies have exacerbated the non-Bumiputera brain drain problem and also created a “strategic disadvantage” for local firms by limiting human and financial capital as well as “perpetuating an unlevel playing field” for entrepreneurs.
Roubini, an economics professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business, previously advised the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) and currently holds research fellowships at London’s Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) and the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

























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