New post test by kanda

Posted September 4, 2017 by Ramakrishnan Suppiah
Categories: From the desk of Senator S Ramakrishnan

Test contents….

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Blessed with sweet crude but cursed with bitter debts

Posted January 17, 2016 by Ramakrishnan Suppiah
Categories: From the desk of Senator S Ramakrishnan

Petronas has contributed about RM800 billion to the government since its inception in 1974. In 2008 alone Petronas contributed about 44% of the federal government revenue but dropped to 31% in 2014 and expected to drop further to 22% in 2016.

 

Fossil oil, called black gold, was once priced at US110 is now hovering around US30 per barrel. Crude oil has plummeted to a new low, never seen for a long time and the market foresee a worsening supply glut along with slowdown in demand. So the good old days of high oil revenue is over and Malaysia has to tighten its fiscal belt.

 

Wastage, pilferage and leakages in public spending have to be curbed but UMNO/BN government has a poor record on this spending. The government for the first time has turned to tax people by introducing GST to raise revenue. It’s a known fact that governments with rich natural resources are poor in managing wealth.

 

Petronas the government savior, sitting tight in its 88 floored twin towers, once the world’s tallest buildings, dominate the skyline of Kuala Lumpur. Over the years, Prime Ministers have tapped into Petronas funds to build their dream projects like the twin tower and bail out their mistakes like Bank Bumiputra Bhd in 1985 with RM3.5 billion, saving debt ridden shipping company and even rescuing proton at one point.

 

Petronas is only accountable to the prime minister’s office were used by powerful UMNO politicians for lucrative and exorbitant contracts. Now Petronas is finally trying to say no which may lead to strained relations between Petronas and the government.  Resource rich government of UMNO/BN were less dependent on taxes for revenue and thus less accountable to Malaysians and more authoritarian using oppressive laws and tactics to rein opposition and dissenting voices. Opposition to the construction of white elephant and extravagant projects built at high prices went unheard.

 

Now that oil revenue has reduced drastically and a new indirect tax, GST, has been introduced the government will be forced to be more accountable. Divide and rule policies of yesteryear may lose its bait and those taxed now for the first time, will demand more accountability.

 

Despite the RM800 billion oil revenues paid by Petronas for the past 50 years, Malaysia remains heavily indebted, with public debt at  RM582.8 billion or 54.5% of GDP and household debt at RM940.4 billion or 87.9% by end of 2014. Malaysia had to face a continuous budget deficit for the past 16 years. Essential services like supply of water, electricity and highways just to name a few are all privatized. Malaysia has driven away its skilled and knowledgeable citizens to other countries and instead imported 6.7 million legal and illegal unskilled foreign workers who are stagnating the wages of Malaysian workers. Only 28% of our labor force is considered skilled compared 50% in Singapore.

 

Malaysia did create the National Trust Fund in 1988 to ensure revenue from natural resources, including oil and gas, continues to generate wealth for future generations. As of 2013, Petronas was the sole contributor to the fund with cumulative contributions of 8 billion ringgit. With more demand for dividend payment from government, Petronas will have less to contribute to this fund in future. Malaysia have spent away RM792 billion of the revenue received from Petronas since 1974.

 

Norway started oil production in 1971 and had managed its oil wealth to protect future generations and invest the money generated in education and human resource development. For many countries resource wealth seems to have been a curse rather than a blessing. But Norway has invested instead of spending and they own one of the largest sovereign wealth funds in the world which has grown from zero to USD865 billion within 18 years.

 

Norway government emphasized on transparency in all aspect of the fund. The revenue from oil and gas were invested in a well- diversified global portfolio of financial assets to reduce the dependence on the value of remaining oil reserves. Through this fund they have transferred oil wealth into financial wealth that will benefit generations to come. Norway with a population of 5.084 million has made every citizen wealthy.

GST makes 2015 year of living dangerously

Posted December 25, 2015 by Ramakrishnan Suppiah
Categories: From the desk of Senator S Ramakrishnan

Tags: , , ,

2015 will always be considered one of the most dreadful Years for Malaysians due to the GST introduction on 1st April 2015. GST may have helped to narrow the budget deficit for 2016 but it created and continues to cut bigger holes in the people’s pocket. The prime minister cum finance minister has said that the government’s collection of revenue through the SST would have amounted to only RM18 billion. But GST is expected to rake in RM39 billion. And this make Malaysians poorer by the amount. While we were dependent on oil and gas all these years, it never struck the ruling government to develop its human resources and move up the supply value chain. The oil curse has reached Malaysian shores. The oil and gas dependence by the government has made the policy makers into complacency, recklessness, extravagant and unconcerned about integrity and honesty.

Malaysia’s long history of mega scandals like the RM2.5 billion from BMF, RM1.6 billion from MAMINCO, RM12.5 billion in PKFZ, RM9.4 billion from MAS, RM30 billion from Bank Negara forex dealing , RM10 billion Perwaja steel, RM250 million national feedlot and many more have made Malaysia poorer nation. Malaysia is currently surrounded by the 42 billion 1MDB and 2.6 billion controversies. Wastages, corruption and pilferage have become institutionalized.

To save the situation, the prime minister has resorted to implementing a 6% GST. Malaysians are going into 2016 with cost of living increasing and uncertain international economic growth. The prime minister seems to depend heavily on his foreign and private advisors who are supporters of neo liberal policies in shaping his economic policies and they have strongly recommended GST. But this view is not gaining traction among Malaysians.

Before the GST was introduced government promised people that prices of goods and services will go down because SST was 10% + 6% but GST only 6%. But instead prices of goods and services increased 2 to 3 fold. Malaysians felt mislead and deceived by their own government. GST introduced along with the withdrawal of subsidies on petrol and sugar, subsidy for electricity being reduced and tolls were hiked. Government has announced that LRT, ERL charges are also set to increase. All these measures by government at the same time has increased cost of living tremendously till Malaysians from all walks of life are feeling the pinch.

GST has now become an integral part of Malaysian tax regime and whenever government need to increase revenue they can just raise the GST tariff from 6% to up 7% or 8%. Singapore started GST at 3% now stands at 7%. With Malaysian’s household debt to GDP standing at 87.9%, one of the highest in the world, this regressive tax has been a hard blow to the not only bottom 40% but also the middle 40%. The long term ramification remains unknown and grim. These added financial pressures from 6% GST on the majority of Malaysians will increase their indebtedness further leading to more crime and social tensions in society as a whole. It’s time for the government to initiate a social economic impact study on the consequences of the GST introduction.

To add injury to insult GST was introduced in the mist of the prime minister’s own worst and most expensive corruption scandals. The RM42 billion 1MDB debt and RM2.6 billion donations where the prime minister is directly implicated remains unsolved and have increased the political risk in Malaysia. All these negative developments have weakened the Malaysian ringgit considerably leading to high cost of imports and increase in prices of goods and services. The high public debt was matter of concern among policy makers. GST needed to pluck the holes.

To make matters worse GST implementation was flawed and haphazard. Of course it’s normal to have teething problems but Malaysian’s problem went beyond the gestation period. The list of zero rated and exempted items were not settled long after implementation. The lack of consultation with workers representatives on service charges led to more confusion. The inability of customs department to handle technical questions and non-Malay speaking enquiries further added to confusion and disappointments. Poor implementation of the GST caused some sundry shops and retailers to close down. There are major discrepancies in the prices charged post GST which went well beyond the 6% GST level. The government doesn’t seem to have a clue why the price increased shapely and could not put a stop on traders raising prices.

GST has become a political thorn on the government especially the prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s regime. Malaysia is said to be facing its worse inflation after the GST implementation despite the many zero rated and exempted items. The concern and fear now is the government raising GST tariff to more than 6% in 2016 since oil price is expected to bottom out at US20 per barrel. In Budget 2016 oil revenue was estimated at US48 per barrel. 2016 looks grimmer than this year. Hope the finance minister provides information to Malaysians on meeting his 2016 budget proposals.

An immoral question in a moral subject

Posted November 23, 2015 by Ramakrishnan Suppiah
Categories: Uncategorized

Tags: ,

The SPM moral paper, as in the past has caused yet another controversy this year by insinuating, through examination questions, to students that they should not oppose the government or join anti-government protests.
Allowing such a question as part of a public examination shows the level of intolerance, non-scholarly and narrow mindedness of the examination syndicate. For a democratic country which elects a new government once in every 5 years, such questions are an anti-anecdote to our parliamentary system of governance.
If a student learns English, it improves the proficiency in English. Similarly, if a student takes up mathematics, the numeric skill improves and likewise in Bahasa Malaysia and other subjects. But if a student does well in moral paper, does it mean that the student has high moral values. It appears the Ministry of Education wants to convert the moral paper into a test of the government’ immoral propaganda! To participate in a peaceful rally against a corrupted government is a moral responsibility of a citizen.
Mahatma Gandhi said “civil disobedience becomes a sacred duty when the state has become lawless or corrupt. And a citizen that barters with such a state shares its corruption or lawlessness”. If Gandhi were to sit for SPM moral paper, he may fail. But to add insult to injury, the moral paper is compulsory for non-Muslim students, which is included in determining the overall performance of students.
The SPM Moral exam paper has been controversial ever since it was introduced. Instead of moral exam, a better moral message would be the exemplary role of the Prime Minister, his cabinet and the bureaucracy. The whole nation is docked with the RM42 billion 1MDB and the RM2.6 billion donation fiascos. To date no action or response is forth coming from the government. Is that morally correct?
Despite the highest allocation to the ministry of education every year, the standard of English, Maths and Sciences are slipping down. The ministry has no new idea to correct and reverse the trend. To add a politically slanted question in the moral exam paper is morally wrong. Despite the public outcry, the minister and his officials have not responded yet. Isn’t it their moral obligation to respond?
In the first place what use is the moral paper to the students and others concerned? It shows the lack of understanding of what is moral education is all about.
Moral education in many countries focuses on infusion of character and noble values. Besides learning numeracy, literacy, sciences and health education a focus on character building makes the schooling experience wholesome and nation building. To build cohesive and progressive society students need to be infused with a sense of responsibility, hard work, self-control, tolerance, respect and care for elders and patriotism to the nation. Some Community services nearby schools regardless of race and religion can send the moral lesson loud and clear.
Teachers and leaders have to be role models and dedicated and disciplined athletics coaches can better and effectively sent moral messages to students instead of testing moral as an examinable subject. Constantly harping on race and religion on every form of the bureaucracy and ministry of education is the most immoral message sent to the students. Hope the ministry gets their morality right before teaching moral to students and examining it later.

PAS is in the past, new hope with Pakatan Harapan

Posted October 22, 2015 by Ramakrishnan Suppiah
Categories: Uncategorized

Tags: , ,

Parti Amanah Negara, DAP and PKR have officially announced the formation of their new coalition Pakatan Harapan on 22/9/2015 with much hope and promise in view of the fast emerging new political landscape. One faction in PKR wants the formation delayed until PAS is persuaded to join the coalition. But PAS seems not keen in joining the coalition while their friendship with UMNO is warming day by-day.
PAS members who oppose their courtship with UMNO have deserted and have formed Parti Amanah Negara. So waiting for Hadi’s PAS to join Pakatan Harapan seems futile. PAS has shown that they cannot be trusted and their words mean nothing. For Hadi’s PAS, the hereafter is more real and rewarding than bring about a clean and just government here and now.
The race and religious politics of UMNO and PAS have divided Malaysians and keep the Malays under siege mentality. The Malays are forever warned that they will lose their privileges and political power to non-Malays if they do not support UMNO. But UMNO, with its total control over the government machinery, judiciary, parliament, law enforcement and even the royalty, has transformed the country into a heaven for the corrupt, racists and religious bigots. Non UMNO connected Malays themselves and other races are the big losers. Now we are known internationally for corruption and money laundering. The situation is becoming direr as we go forward.
Malaysians of all races are looking for alternative to the current mess created by UMNO. Pakatan Harapan should but instead lead the country move forward taking into consideration the aspirations of all Malaysians. The young are no more interested in the racial and religious divide and rule politics of UMNO and PAS.
But of course the UMNO warlords and leaders will continue to perpetuate their brand of politics and derail any alternative to their brand of politics. Unfortunately PAS, which has been fighting against the UMNO corruption and high handedness all this while, has fallen in love with UMNO that is fully immersed in corruption.
By including PAS in Pakatan Harapan may portend yet another Pakatan Rakyat disaster in the opposition coalition. Once bitten, one needs to be twice as careful. PAS under Hadi Awang seem to be moving back to the stone ages by making ridiculous statements like all those who desert PAS must divorce their wives and the need for 4 witness to prove that 2.6 billion donation is bribe.
Nobody takes bribe and has 4 witnesses to testify to it!. He seems to be the agent provocateur in Pakatan Rakyat. Under Hadi’s leadership PAS lost Trengganu and Kedah state governments. And now, without Tok Guru,Nik Aziz Nik Mat, PAS may lose Kelantan too.
Hadi seems to be the down fall of PAS. Even the moderates in PAS have deserted it and formed Amanah. So why should one faction of PKR want Hadi’s PAS to be in Pakatan Harapan? Something is not right here. Do we still need religious and race based political parties after all these hiccups, backstabbing and scandals.
With urbanites voting for change, rural areas in peninsula Malaysia seems to be the political battleground. UMNO or PAS were the choice they had all this while. Now both these parties are in shatters and seem to be imploding. Can Pakatan Harapan able to convince these voters into voting for a change. These important constituents may be more conservative to new political developments and may be slow to changes. Amanah has to move in quickly to fill the vacuum.
Of course UMNO and even PAS will throw spanners and bottles to frustrate Amanah’s attempt. Younger voters who are victims of GST and the bad economic policies of UMNO are the hope. So, all is not lost in the Malaysian political quagmire. There is still hope. Let’s seize the moment. There is a new hope…

UMNO’s red rally backfires

Posted October 22, 2015 by Ramakrishnan Suppiah
Categories: Uncategorized

Tags: , ,

The recent Bersih 4 gathering is an outstanding example of how a peaceful rally can gather without any incidences, in sharp contrast to the ‘red shirt rally, held, ironically, in conjunction with Malaysia Day. Bersih 4 gathering led by NGOs, was peacefully protesting against corruption, nepotism, unfair elections and the right to protest.
They were disciplined, polite and courteous. Bersih 4 participants even went out of their way to collect litter, rubbish and kept KL clean. They serve as role model to the outside world as to how a civil society movement can hold peaceful gathering. This only shows that Malaysians are matured and responsible in their public expression and gathering. Without police presence the 250000/300000 gathering went incident free.
But the organiser of red t-shirt rally on 16th Sept, PESAKA president Ali Rustam, said the Malay dignity was hurt by the Bersih 4 rally held on Aug 29th and 30th. This seems a most ridiculous and inconsiderate claim that even Malays themselves will not accept.
The Bersih 4 rally can only hurt the feeling of corrupt and chauvinistic UMNO supporters and leaders. The red shirt rally was held under a strong police presence and fully sponsored by UMNO and its leaders. Yet the gathering turned unruly towards the end. This rally insults and hurts the Malay pride and dignity.
Despite the reasonable Malay presence on the first and second day of Bersih 4 gathering, UMNO and their sponsored NGOs will continues to claim that the Malays did not participate in Bersih 4. The absence of Malays in Bersih 4 is only in the UMNO’s collective figment of imagination and not the reality on the ground.
Malays would have overwhelmed the Bersih 4 rally if not for the fear tactics of losing their jobs, losing PTPTN loan, scholarship and government contracts used by UMNO leaders. But red t shirt rally was fully sponsored by UMNO cronies and supporters.
It is public knowledge that UMNO/BN has lost the non-Malay support and are now losing the Malay support. They can’t accept the changes taking place on the ground therefore are throwing tantrums and want to show who the boss in Malaysia is.
Three-quarters of the hardcore poor are still Malays. Trillions of ringgit spent to uplift Malays did not serve its purpose. Where did the money go then? Malaysians, except the UMNO elite, are very much affected by the rise in cost of living, GST, depreciation of ringgit, economic slowdown and the chronic corruption.
UMNO instead of protecting and promoting pluralism and multiracialism, are behaving like gangsters and big bullies. They make false and imaginary claims and justify it by any mean. UMNO/BN are losing the moral authority and legitimacy to govern further.
UMNO protects its leaders no matter how corrupt and bigoted they are. After 58 years of independence, UMNO leaders can still label the non-Malay Malaysian as Pendatang (immigrants) and Penumpang (passengers). No other country calls its citizens with such label.
They are never grateful to the enormous contributions of non-Malays. Can Malaysia progress and go forward if this is the attitude and thinking of the ruling party of 58 years since independence?
UMNO will ruin this country with corruption, narrow mindedness and divide and rule polices. With UMNO in power, Malaysia will stagnate while the whole world is moving forward. Malaysia has become a laughing stock for the whole world due to 1MDB and 2.6 billion donations. Do we need any further insults? Its time Malaysians especially the rural folks wake up to the changing reality.

Blind bureaucratic loyalty takes the edge out of 1MDB probe

Posted July 28, 2015 by Ramakrishnan Suppiah
Categories: From the desk of Senator S Ramakrishnan

Tags: , , , ,

The silence and apparent collusion of law enforcement agencies like Bank Negara Malaysia, the Attorney Generals chambers, the police and the Malaysian Anti-corruption Commission in the inreasing number of criminal breach of trust episodes, while whistleblowers get reprimnded, shows the lack of governance and a culture of blind obedience prevalent in the civil service. The unaccounted flow of funds by the MOF owned GLCs are frightening and worrying.

When billions of ringgit vanished, there was no red flag raised by any of the law enforcement agencies. If not for the independent business news paper, The Edge, opposition lawmakers and civil rights groups who acted as whistleblowers, the RM42 billion debt incurred by 1MDB would not have been detected and publicly exposed. The Malaysian law enforcement agencies, instead of protecting and complimenting the whistleblowers, are instead arresting and reprimanding them for their patriotic and brave acts.

The bureaucracy and law enforcement agencies as professional bodies are committed to deliver high quality services and display cost effectiveness and high integrity in the management of public funds. The civil service displays a culture of obedience and blind loyalty to the extent that they have become ineffective and inefficient. The question foremost is “can the bureaucrats be trusted to safeguard the national coffers and arr tax collections well managed?”

The evidence revealed in social and print media are beyond reasonable doubt that there is a prima facie case for law enforcement agencies to initiate an investigation. But the culture of obedience and blind loyalty to their political masters make them ineffective and lame ducks. The order of the day seems to be corruption and sweeping wrong doings under the proverbial carpet. The recent arrest and ban on opposition MPs, corporate executives and prominent leaders of civil rights groups from leaving the country imply that whatever wrong doing or laundering Umno does, it can do no wrong.

Instead of responding to the issues raised, the law enforcement agencies are arresting and shutting the whistleblowers down. All the information of the alleged wrong doings is out for all sundry to see. What is the point of closing them down now? But even in doing this, the enforcement agencies seem inefficient and the closure of such media seems profoudly late in the day…after the horses have galloped away. This has become the hallmark of our bloated bureaucracy.

This prolonged inaction by the Malaysian law enforcement agencies and the attempt to silence the critics and cover up a serious fiduciary crime has engendered a general lack of onfidence in the governance or its ability to prudently manage financial resources. Of late rentiers, cronies and criminals have become chummy enough to walk and even seemingly own the corridors of power.

 

Honest, competent and dedicated people may never survive in the current culture prevalent in the Malaysian civil service. Whetever edge we had over our neighbours in the past, is now all gone. Where do we go from here?