Saturday 11 August 2012

Najib’s voodoo economics — Sakmongkol AK47

AUG 11 — Why is the government fudging over the issue of giving back what it owes the Kelantan government? That’s RM7.4 billion. The deal and agreement was signed between the Kelantan government and the federal government represented by the first chairman of Petronas, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah.

Why the double talk? Why the need to form a special committee overseeing the payment of oil money owed? Is it because Umno is so accustomed to playing the role of the rent seeker?

I have asked earlier, wouldn’t it save public funds if the government asks Tengku Razaleigh what the agreement entails? He is still Umno, right? So why is he treated with mistrust? Najib was carrying his bag when he was working for Tengku Razaleigh.

And why is it the federal government implicitly mistrusts the Terengganu government by controlling the oil royalties that should be given to Terengganu? During Abdullah Badawi’s time, the appointment of the oil money was effectively controlled by Patrick Lim and his cohorts. Terengganu’s money was being managed by people at the Federal level because the Terengganu folks won’t know how to handle the money.

So you have the floating mosques, the crystal mosque, the Monsoon Cup complexes, a village consisting of a constellation of RM1 million holiday homes in Pulau Duyung and all that. Every kilometre, you have grandiose mosques built where polyclinics are more needed. You have ample number of mosques in Terengganu.

The answer is, because the federal government wants to command the use of the money and appoint it to uses it thinks fit. All in furtherance of its political interests. This flouts the cardinal rule of  better we to manage our money than someone else. The states must have independence in managing their own finances.

The truth is, the federal Umno leaders themselves don’t trust the provincial Umno leaders. Also the federal government jealously guards its concentration of powers. It will not allow the functioning of the true concept of the federation of independent states with their own legislative assemblies.

The oil money was first transferred into a Terengganu Sovereign Fund and later absorbed into 1MDB.

Now, it’s given back to Terengganu on the quiet, fearing that Kelantan may want the same. But the money is applied in questionable ways. Is the oil money used to build the RM1 billion new palace for the Terengganu Sultan? The oil money it seems is more generously applied to the benefits of the elite and selected few.

The monies are justifiably owed to the state. The essence of a federation is the arrangement whereby each state exercises its own autonomy over a broad range of matters including control over its income and subsequent appointment of that income. The federal government has no business to restrict this independence.

So why is the federal government acting as the obsessive big brother to the individual states? The answer is because Najib Razak, like the PMs before him, likes to concentrate power in his hands or in the hands of a selected cabal consisting of likeminded and pliant minds with the support and connivance from the business cronies.

We have seen the adverse effects of this; the drive to extend the scope of government, in general, is mostly led by men of good will who will be the first to rue its consequences. The meaning of this artful description simply means, power corrupts the power holders.

Najib and those economic commissars must understand this. The great advances in civilization have never come from centralized government. We don’t advance because of a directive from central government.

Similarly, our economy will not advance because, Pemandu directs it. Economic advances are the product of individual geniuses in Balakong, in Old Klang Road, in Sungai Besi, in Felda schemes and the result of the exertions of the mind and body of individual entrepreneurs.
They do not come from central government.

Just look at the pace of economic advancement between the Malaysian Chinese and Malays. Why is the pace of economic advancement of Malays slower than that of the Malaysian Chinese?

The general answer is, the Chinese are largely left to develop on their own individualism depending primarily on the exertions of their minds and body. The Malays, on the other hand, depend on central directives and, using the favourite words of the PM, initiatives and his patronage. How clever and omnipotent is Najib to think that he can plan for the entire country? He is no bigger than the market.

The people in Balakong, in Sungai Besi, in Old Klang Road, in Sungai Buloh Industrial area, as well as in other places are able to develop better and faster because, central directives are weakest there.

Because of that, as we are now seeing, the Chinese are forming a better check on the excesses of the government. Umno responds to this by vilifying the Chinese and driving a wedge between harmonious race relations Malays are missing out on this action.

By relying primarily on private enterprise, the Malaysian Chinese can ensure they become an effective check on the powers of a government. Not only that, economic power IS an effective protection of freedom of speech, of religion and of thought.

Will the Muslim scholar arrive at a different personal view if he were a man of independent resources not depending on the government for his livelihood?

Ask an independent scholar what he thinks and we will get a different answer and indeed he will likely say, support to Umno and its political cabal is forbidden and haram. —

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