Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Everyone should read this.

Originally on Malaysiakini

This is not an exception. I myself have seen many, many similar situations and predicament, I was personally in the same boat. My naive, innocent yet blind loyalty to the country shattered within a single hour as every single, yes, every single one of my Malay friends leave on Government scholarships.
To add to it, my late father a Civil Servant himself, still had hopes that his son will one day land some government assistance for my studies. It was not meant to be, if you were a non-Malay - it was never meant to be, no matter how good or hard you work.
The odd thing about this story is that, there are still parents, non-Malay parents who continue to instill these noble values or loyalty, love and that virtues of hard work will be rewarded to their children. Non-Malay parents should wake up from this slumber, the political reality is that - the nation itself and the very construct that this nation was based upon has no place for virtuous people. It's a nation of cohorts, rent seekers and where the corrupt feasted on the poor, a nation where UMNO will run amuck with your tax money, further dividing the nation into various races brandishing to protect your rights, when they continue to enrich themselves.

It is a sad story - but sadly it's a story that's as old as the rain forest around this part of the world and it's a story that has been repeated too many times in many a family dinner table. Read on....

I am a teacher by profession. I am teaching in a government school. Being a teacher, I am expected to inculcate moral values in my teachings. I have memorised all the sixteen values ‘Nilai-nilai Murni’ as a result of twenty-five years of teaching – values that transcend curriculum. Day in day out, all the students are exposed to all the values which are expected to cultivate good thinking and moral values among our young citizens. Examples of some of the moral values are being kind-hearted, respecting each other, fairness, honesty, and moderation.

In the recent SPM examination, many of my students did very well, some scoring straight As. We, teachers of all races, felt so very proud seeing the achievements of our students. We had ‘Hari Anugerah Cemerlang’ in my school. Parents, regardless of race or religion were there to lend support for the programme and at the same time to motivate the children. One such student is my own daughter, who scored 12 As, best student of the school. She used to wake as early as 4 o’clock in the morning to start preparing for her SPM.

When I asked her why she has to take up 12 subjects and ‘torture ‘ herself, she told me, ‘I am not a bumiputera like many of my friends.’ So the need to take up two extra subjects (not offered in her school) in order to be on par with her Malay friends.

She applied for the Progran Matrikulasi well before SPM itself. Yesterday was the day she was eagerly waiting since obtaining her SPM results because all the applicants will get their reply from the matriculation office. While I was in school, my handphone rang. It was a call from my daughter. When I answered the call she was already sobbing, and I am so silly to think that it was tears of joy.

The sobs turn to cries after she heard my voice - she was devastated, depressed and very disappointed because she failed to get entry into this government-sponsored programme. She is the eldest in my family. I have another three school going children. May be I am to be blamed because it was me who asked her to study hard, get good results because being an ordinary teacher I can not afford to send her to private colleges.

When I came back after school yesterday afternoon, again I saw tears in her eyes. She asked several questions. ‘Is it wrong to get 12 As in SPM? My Malay friends who got 2As and 3 As got to do the matriculation programme, I am denied. What’s wrong? You are also a teacher just like uncle, (my Malay college in school) his son was offered a place although he scored only 5As. Why?’ I don’t have answers.

Being a teacher (I teach History and Moral Education), I teach my students to be loyal to the country, to respect the leaders, to obey the laws of the nation, to promote goodwill and so on. I encourage them to participate in ‘Rimup’ (a race integration programme among students of various races).

I do not know what to say to my daughter. I feel guilty because what I teach in school is actually rubbish, perhaps I need to tell them the reality being a non-Malay citizen of our beloved nation. For that I need to resign. Please Mr. Prime Minister, may be you have something to tell us.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Our economic forecast

Depending on how you view it, GE12 would have been a euphoric experience, or a downright disaster. One thing is certain, investors and the flow of money are neither ethical nor are they unethical. It simply flows to stable markets and a growing and productive economy. Malaysia in my opinion is neither growing nor is it stable at this moment. Though we all may have done the ethical thing of denying BN 2/3 majority, thus stopping and putting the brakes on mismanagement of funds and corrupt practices of the Barisan Nasional.

The iShares MSCI Malaysia Index ETF (EWM) dropped significantly and has not recovered since.

Our so-called business 'allies' - the Gulf nations of UAE and Saudi Arabia are making beelines to Singapore and China. Does Islamic solidarity counts in the language of money ? Or does prudent financial management and a booming economy booms louder than the call of the Azan ?

Forbes published a list of the Worlds top 2000 global Companies

Below is the list for Singapore

And here's the Malaysian list

Total Asset for Singapore companies on that list totalled US$426.94 Billion and Total Asset of the Malaysian companies totalled US$278.68 Billion

So the top Singaporean companies in toto are worth 2x that of the Malaysian companies.
In terms of GDP growth, Singapore's GDP (PPP) for 2007 is US$31400 as compared to Malaysia's US$12900.

Source : indexmundi.com

But before you wipe your brow, and heave a sight of relief that we're not too bad. Consider this :
From The US Energy Information Administration

Malaysia has had a good run of crude oil production since 1980, and since 2006-2007crude oil production has been declining. On the contrary, domestic consumption has increased dramatically.

Many thanks to our expansionist policies and energy intensive infrastructural economic policies. These infrastructural policies bears little long-term returns. A clear example is Proton, a car company, who's days are numbered even as the company tries to compete domestically against cheaper imports. The Sepang Formula 1 circuit, Pork Klang Free Trade Zone and Perwaja Steel to name just a few. Hence, the bulk of Malaysia's GDP or economic prosperity has thus far been generated by our crude oil exports or cheap access to crude oil.

Looking at Singapore from the same parameters paints a different picture

Crude Oil production is ZERO

Crude oil consumption is close to 900,000 barrels per day. Much higher than ours.

Singapore has been able to maintain good GDP growth within an framework of zero production with increasing domestic demand.

Malaysia on the other hand, has depended on crude oil for much of it's GDP growth, rising domestic demand have been eroding exports and it is expected that Malaysia will be a net oil importer by 2009.

Does it augurs well for this country ? Malaysia has a total landsize 474 times larger than Singapore and a net oil production country for the past 20 years, and yet the country has a GDP of 3x smaller than Singapore with a total asset of it's top companies 2x smaller than that of Singapore.

The damage of the past 30 years will be hard to undo. Until we all move in a concerted fashion rebuilding the nation brick for brick and instilling prudent spending coupled with robust economic growth - it is going to be a long road home.