Tuesday, June 26, 2012

GOVERNMENT

As posted by Dr. Mahathir Mohamad at Che Det on June 25, 2012

1. We are seeing some strange things happening in Europe. This continent of rich developed countries is going through afinancial and economic crisis that resists attempts to turn it around and recover.

2. Several countries of Europe are actually going bankrupt. Greece is bankrupt. Now Spain is practically in recession. Reports indicate that Portugal and Italy are also in deep financial trouble. Even the UK and France are in trouble.

3. Where did they go wrong? It is important to know the reasons for their decline because we who are fond of copying the Europeans might be going the same way.

4. I am not an economist of course. Neither am I a financial expert. But as a layman I noticed certain things which may have a bearing on the decline of Western nations and the United States of America.

5. Simply put the decline is due largely to living beyond their means. In other words they are spending more money than they actually have or earn.

6. Younger people may not be aware of it but there was a time when all the white goods, machinery and motor vehicles that we bought were from Europe and America. Today you hardly see any of them. We now buy everything from Japan, Korea and China. The products of Europe and America are too expensive and often of poorer quality that we just don’t buy them.

7. Their high cost is due to their paying their workers wages many times higher than what they should be paid for the productivity level they achieve. They also reduce working hours per day, lesser number of working days per week. They give long holidays to their workers, high overtime allowance, generous pensions and medical care etc.

8. Even then their workers are not satisfied. They go on strike, which actually increases the cost of production. They may be given what they demanded even if their employers could not afford. The price of their products or services had to be raised again even though they were already too high and uncompetitive.

9. Rapidly they lost the market. Unemployment increased and unemployment benefits had to be paid out by the Government just when revenue decreased due to decreasing sales of their products.

10. Countries like Germany may be able to sustain the high cost of production while maintaining high living standards. This is because Germans work hard and are productive. But the poorer countries of Europe such as Greece, which tries to live like the rich, cannot. So they borrowed money.

11. We can borrow if we can invest for greater return in order to repay. When we borrow in order to just spend, we will never be able to repay. What can happen to individuals who borrow in order to spend can also happen to countries. They go bankrupt.

12. Is there a lesson in this for Malaysia? I think there is. We in Malaysia like to live well. If we cannot pay for it then we can ask the Government to pay. We believe the Government has unlimited amounts of money to pay for everything.

13. At the same time we want tax rates to be reduced. As for the tolls they should be abolished. We seem unaware that when we reduce or abolish tolls, the Government has to compensate the operators. What this means is that Government expenditure would increase just when revenue decreases. Abolishing toll does not mean we don’t pay. Through the Government we will be paying indirectly. The sad thing is that people who do not use the expressways will also pay. With tolls, only the users pay.

14. The opposition is promising increases from 5% to 20% of gross profit to be paid to the states where oil is produced. At 5% these states are already getting more than what other states get from the Federal revenue. Imagine the amount at 20%. The fact is that the oil is found in Malaysia and all Malaysians must benefit from it.

15. Then the opposition parties demand for higher education to be free for everyone. Do away with PTPTN. As far as I know only Germany, the richest country in Europe provides free tertiary education.

16. Taking all Ministries together, Malaysia spends almost 25% of its budget on education. No other country in the world developed and developing, allocate this much. Of this a very substantial portion has always been for scholarships.

17. But such is the demand for education in Malaysia that there are not enough scholarships for the deserving. Government had to launch a new scheme involving loans to cater for those who are qualified but cannot afford. The terms are very generous as the interest rate and repayment scheme permit repayment after they begin to earn an income. The loans are greatly subsidised by the Government.

18. The opposition can promise to remove all payments by the people, but all the expressways, education service and the amenities/infrastructure will have to be paid by someone. We think of the Government as some sugar daddy with unlimited funds. It is not. Government money is in fact our money acquired through taxes of all kinds. Reducing tax will mean the Government has less money, and forcing the Government to pay for all our needs will lead us to bankruptcy. That is what happens to Greece and the other European countries.

19. We are a democratic country whatever our detractors may say. The people have the power to choose their Government. Power corrupts and the right to choose who should govern the country is also a potent kind of power.

20. That power can be used to threaten the parties wishing to contest in elections. The incumbent Government is most exposed to this threat. Under threat it may forget prudence in the management of our finances. It can lead to the Grecian problem.

21. The opposition doesn’t care. For them winning the election is the only objective. Beside when they form the Government they can forget promises.

22. Remember how President Obama of the “greatest democracy in the world”, promised to close down Guantanamo detention camp two days after his installation as President. Well Guantanamo is still there.

23. The opposition will certainly forget much more easily than Mr Obama.

Friday, June 22, 2012

MALAYSIA IS STILL GROWING

As posted by Dr. Mahathir Mohamad at Che Det on June 21, 2012

1. I am not talking about GDP and Per Capita. I am talking about feeling. I feel that Malaysia is growing. Certainly Kuala Lumpur is growing. High-rise buildings are everywhere.

2. Take KLCC. The twin towers were once without partners. Now the garden area is completely surrounded by high-rise hotels, condos and officers.

3. It is the same with the railway station. It is now hidden by a palisade of hotels, offices and apartments.

4. Jalan Tun Razak is now lined with high-rise offices and headquarters of numerous big corporations.

5. Perhaps they are empty. I know about cities going through a building boom only to precipitate a bubble. But at night I see lighted windows of the condos indicating that they are occupied. The bubble may yet come. But for now the building boom is not yet a bubble.

6. The suburban parts of Kuala Lumpur now see a number of new towns, linked to the city. There is Mont Kiara, Sri Kembangan, Puchong and many others. Then there are old Petaling Jaya, much changed, Subang Jaya, Putrajaya and Cyberjaya. In between there are the well-laid-out housing estates, small towns in themselves.

7. When the Kuala Lumpur International Airport was relocated to Sepang, Subang became deserted except for the occasional military aircrafts of the transport squadron landing and taking off. Today the second terminal has been refurnished and upgraded and is the hub for the Firefly turboprops. In addition there are two FBOs serving scores of private jets and other aircrafts. Many foreign aircrafts are parked in the huge AIROD complex, where they are being serviced or repaired.

8. Toll roads and flyovers help to reduce traffic at ground level. But the number of motor vehicles being put on the road each year continues to cause congestion.

9. Foreign investors invest billions for each of their projects. And Malaysia companies also report billions of Ringgit of profits. And they are also going abroad to build power plants, roads, ports and airports. I remember in my time when profits of a hundred million Ringgits were considered great. Now profits for a quarter may exceed one billion for banks and other businesses.

10. The rural areas are not neglected. Roads, schools, clinics, water supply and electricity reach even the remotest villages.

11. There may be unemployed graduates but their number are really small.

12. I have been visiting many countries and in none of them do I see growth as I see in Malaysia.

13. I also notice that many richly endowed countries of the developing world remain backward and underdeveloped. And invariably they fail because of politics, because dictatorships or wrong ideas about the freedoms of democracy. In both cases the love of self is greater than love of nation. Consequently they would rather see their nations remaining poor and undeveloped as long as their selfish ambitions remain supreme.

14. Malaysia is really well on the way to achieve the objective of becoming a fully developed country of 2020. But politics may still get in the way.

15. Some who see the Arab Spring seems bent on proving that the Government of this country is like the Governments of these Arab countries. The Government is being demonised despite the fact that this country with less resources than the Arab countries has developed beyond expectations; has given its citizens a good life and has seen democratic election being held wherein the Government party suffer serious losses and the opposition make very substantial gains. In Malaysia, unlike in the authoritarian countries in the Arab world, there has never been elections in which the Government gets 90% of the votes. Admittedly the same party has won all the 12 elections. This is frustrating for the opposition parties. But as much as the people can reject the Government party, the people also have a right to return the same party in any election. What is important is that support for the party is due to its success in developing the nation and meeting the needs of the people.

16. Change is not always for the good. There have been many instances when changes have brought disaster for the nation.

17. On the other hand the people have a right to criticise or even condemn the Government they elected. This is necessary to keep the Government on the straight path.

18. Some time between now and mid-2013 Elections must be held. I hope the people will not be swayed by the campaign of hate but should make a proper assessment of the qualities of the people and parties which will contest. Think of the development and progress of this country and choose wisely.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

T P P

As posted by Dr. Mahathir Mohamad at Che Det on June 19, 2012

1. Not many people know what these letters stand for. I too did not know until some Japanese MPs gave me a badge with “No to TPP” for me to wear.

2. They told me that TPP means Trans Pacific Partnership. It is conceived and promoted by the United States of America. Apparently Malaysia had agreed to join this new organization.

3. The MP asked me why did Malaysia join? I must admit I could not answer.

4. Apparently TPP is yet another scheme by the United States to penetrate the markets of the fast growing and rich Eastern countries (Pacific Rim).

5. Once upon a time they proposed GATT (General Agreement on Tariff and Trade). Numerous meetings were held but the rich countries were protective of their products (wheat and soya bean oil in the case of the United States). No agreement was ever reached.

6. In frustration we proposed the East Asia Economic Community so as to balance the power of the North America Free Trade Association (NAFTA) and the European Union.

7. America (James Baker) told Japan, Korea, Singapore and Indonesia to reject the EAEC. Instead America supported Australia’s proposal for APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Conference) which would include America and Australia. As usual America dominated the organisation.

8. In the meantime America proposed a borderless world and globalisation to enable America to break the tariff barriers of the countries of the world. Most countries balked at the idea of the free flow of capital and investments by the rich countries. A borderless world would not include free flow of people from the poor to the rich. So it is not a borderless world after all.

9. Unable to achieve much America then promoted bilateral free trade agreements. Singapore which is already a free market acceded and entered into an FTA with America. Now the pressure is on for Malaysia to have FTA with America and Europe.

10. Now comes the TPP – the Transpacific Partnership. Malaysia has decided to join. Japan and other SEA countries have agreed to study.

11. What the United States wants most is access to contracts for Government procurements. This is something which every country, including the United States uses to support domestic businesses and industries. Once the United States gains access, not only will it make bids but their Government pressure would be used to favour their companies.

12. I wonder whether Malaysian negotiators have studied the full implication of the TPP. When we look at previous international agreements entered into by Malaysia, we seem to be always at the losing side; e.g. we agreed to sell water to Singapore at 3 cent per 1000 gallons forever, buy military aircrafts without source codes so they cannot be used even to defend us, delay of 6 months in the construction of our naval vessels would entitle us to compensation but beyond six months no compensation and the delay was for two years, and many more.

13. I fear the TPP would not give us any worthwhile benefit. If the Government has not finalised or ratified the TPP, I hope it would study it very carefully.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

MY FEARS

As posted by Dr. Mahathir Mohamad at Che Det on June 13, 2012

1) Lim Kit Siang is reported to have said that I am working hard to ensure the Opposition will not win because I am afraid when the Opposition Government is in place, it will act against all my “misdeeds” when I was Prime Minister.

2) No doubt he is inspired by what happened to Gadaffi and Mubarak. He would love to see me dragged to the courts and sentenced to death or to at least a life sentence. Maybe like Gadaffi I would be murdered.

3) He is right. I am afraid. I am afraid of the kind of abuse of power that has already been shown by one of Pakatan’s great leader who got a senior police officer to frighten Dr Ristina and Ummi Hafilda into withdrawing Ummi’s letter to me.

4) I am afraid of the fabrication of charges so as to put me behind bars. That I am innocent would be irrelevant. What is important is Kit Siang’s satisfaction at seeing me behind bars and more.

5) Other than this I am not afraid. I had always been careful not to abuse the power I had as PM because I was mindful of having to step down and lose power at some stage. If I had abused power my detractors would gleefully expose me and strive to put me behind bars.

6) In fact this has been tried.

7) Since retiring I have been questioned by the police and the AG’s office several times. I was also made to appear before a tribunal to be questioned by all and sundry, including representatives of the Bar Council.

8) So far nothing could be pinned on me.

9) The anti-corruption people can even now investigate whether I have ever received illegal gratifications, whether I have detained or thrown people into jail for personal reasons, whether I benefitted personally from any of the projects carried out during my time.

10) I have not taken anything that is not mine. In fact all gifts given to me, many very valuable, have been given to the Government including a score of expensive cars. They can be seen in Langkawi or at the old PM’s house in KL. I must admit that I ate some of the fruits given me to prevent them from going bad.

11) I had not allowed my children to do business with the Government or to be candidates in elections though they have been offered several times when I was PM and President of Umno. Only after I stepped down did I allow Mukhriz to contest.

12) Whatever money I now have is from savings during 29 years in the Government. My salaries were not big. But the Government took care of my housing, water and electricity, my travels. I don’t even spend much on food as I get invitations to functions like weddings etc.

13) I was therefore able to save my pay and allowances.

14) Except for Mirzan, my children did not get any scholarships. I believe Mirzan paid back what he owed MARA. He had the scholarship before I became a Minister, in fact when I was expelled from UMNO.

15) I have bought or been given no shares except for 200 Malayan Tobacco shares I bought long before I joined the Government. Other shares are the Unit Trusts issued by PNB and State Governments which I was obliged to buy. I own shares in MICO pharmacy in Alor Star which I set up when I was a private practitioner.

16) I am not interested in getting rich or living a life of luxury. What I have now is far more than I had hoped for when I was dreaming as a student. I am grateful to Allah for what I have and for sparing me to live this long.

17) I am ready to go when my time comes. I am conscious that all that I have will not accompany me to the grave.

18) But for as long as I can I will work hard to prevent evil people and crooks from destroying this country that I love.

Friday, June 8, 2012

THE TRIAL OF A PRESIDENT

As posted by Dr. Mahathir Mohamad at Che Det on June 08, 2012

1. I watched on Al Jazeera the trial of President Charles Taylor of Liberia. He was accused of war crimes.  He was found guilty and sentenced to 50 years jail.

2. He is 64 years old and 50 years really means a life sentence for him. The prosecution was disappointed as they had asked for 80 years. I suppose the prosecution expects him to be discharged at the end of 80 years when he would be 144 years old!  He must live to that age so he can suffer fully for his crimes.

3. There is no doubt that Taylor was guilty as charged. The prosecution told about how he was responsible for the killings in a neighbouring country.  On one occasion he did not stop a soldier from forcing a woman to carry a sack-full of decapitated heads. That was truly inhuman, more inhuman than the killings and the hideous injuries inflicted by another President on hundreds of thousands of Afghans, Iraqis and others, more inhuman than the tortures of prisoners in Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and elsewhere.

4. Taylor had been captured in 2006.  He was there at the trial.

5. But leaders of powerful countries cannot be arrested and tried, not even when their war crimes are much worse.

6. The leaders of powerful countries have starved little new-born babies, deprived them of medicine, and exposed them to depleted uranium until half-a-million of them died in Iraq. As Madeline Albright said, it was worth it.

7. Leaders of powerful nations who had set up the International Criminal Court, who had formulated the laws governing wars, who had tried war criminals and sentenced them to death; leaders of powerful countries are privileged, are above the very laws they formulated. No! They are actually heroes and their pictures are put up in the Presidential Palace with proper ceremonies, so the nation would always remember them for their bravery in killing babies and potential terrorists.

8. And we are told to apply the rule of law in our countries if we want to be democrats like them.  If we don’t then we might be replaced through regime change or be arrested, tried and jailed for a hundred years. Truly we are living in a world devoted to fairness and justice, a world where full legal process would be instituted against us because we are weak. Only the weak will be punished; the strong will be celebrated as heroes for committing the same crimes.

9. Its like what our teachers told us long ago, “Do as I told you, but don’t do as I do.”

10. And the response to this would be that UMNO is much worse.

Monday, June 4, 2012

EQUALITY BEFORE THE LAW

As posted by Dr. Mahathir Mohamad at Che Det on June 04, 2012

1. One of the nonsense that we believe in is equality before the law. Of course this is one of the great fictions that democracy is said to uphold. But then democracy itself is often not even democratic. The people, the ordinary citizens never really govern themselves. But that is another story.

2. Now, about equality before the law that democracy is said to uphold. It is not upheld at all. Some people are actually above the law and some are far below it, i.e. they don’t really get the benefit or the protection of the law.

3. I will deal with those who do not benefit first. The democratic legal system gives the power to the courts to decide on disputes between individuals or organisations. The courts are presided over by legally qualified but very human judges. The contestants have to convince the presiding judge of their innocence.

4. Not being conversant with the laws the complainant and the defendant hire lawyers to argue their cases for them. Now some lawyers are clever and smart, but some may be just plain stupid. But both cost money. The smarter lawyers would naturally cost much more than the not-so-good ones.

5. Some lawyers have great reputations. In fact some may even be great politicians. Some of these political lawyers can be frightening to the judges.

6. The result of the inequality of representation by brilliant and fearsome lawyers on the one hand and the ordinary run-of-the-mill lawyers is most likely to be victory for the highly paid, brilliant and fearsome lawyers. The rights and wrongs of the case are of little consequence.

7. Effectively the law almost always favours the rich and not the poor. There is clearly no equality before the law. Get a good expensive lawyer and you can get away with murder. Get a bad cheap lawyer and you may be hanged for someone else’s murder.

8. International law is no better. If you lead a powerful country you can massacre a few millions and all that happens is a statue, as a war hero, will be put up in your honour.

9. If you lead a poor weak country and you act against violence by the opposition, then you may be accused of oppression and tolerating police brutality. The opposition, when they are clever enough to promise a variety of freedoms, can do no wrong even when they use violence to provoke the police into so-called acts of brutality.

10. If you are a favourite candidate of foreign powers for regime change, you can do what you like, and any Governmental action against you would be labelled as uncalled for oppression. If an election is near and the favourite is going to be a candidate and bring about regime change, then Government action against this privileged person would be regarded as attempts to undermine his chances of overthrowing the Government.

11. That the favourite purposely timed his violence just when elections are near would be ignored. That the provocation of the police is deliberate and meant to elicit “police brutality’” will also be ignored. That the police are beaten up, that police cars have their glass windshields smashed and the police car is overturned in full view of TV cameras – all these are inconsequential.

12. The main thing is the action against the favoured opposition by the Government will be deemed political rather than an exercise in legal equality by the Government.

13. The clamour is for the police to be charged for crimes against the people. Actions by the police to enforce the law must not be allowed. These must be regarded as criminal acts.

14. But blatant criminal acts by the opposition leaders must be regarded as permissible. In law they must be considered as privileged people.

15. There really is no equality before the law. Instead there is blatant inequality; there is bias in favour of some people especially the aspirants for regime change.

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