Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Putting the dictator's campaign of "dendam" and obsession in the right perspective


Lim Sian See's FB posted a message that incapculate the gist of this general election.

A UK based news portal column by Sholto Brnes expanded LSS's message further.

The writer described the poll as more of twist and turn more than a Shakespearean play to topple the government than any substantive policy differences.

The column by The National below:



MALAYSIA PREPARES TO GO TO THE POLLS TOMORROW AFTER MORE TWISTS AND TURNS THAN A SHAKESPEAREAN PLAY

The drama started just before nomination day, when a number of candidates were either disqualified or were not allocated a constituency, writes Sholto Byrnes

THE NATIONAL
May 7, 2018

It was billed as “the mother of all elections” by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and by the time Malaysians go to the polls on Wednesday to vote, they will certainly have had their share of excitement.

It started just before nomination day, when many candidates in both the governing Barisan Nasional (BN) and the opposition Pakatan Harapan (PH) were either disqualified or bitterly disappointed to find they had not been allocated a constituency.

One BN hopeful reportedly only decided against running as an independent after some fatherly advice from the Sultan of Johor while a PH politician notorious for having once bitten a policeman found that a subsequent conviction for insulting another policeman had disbarred him.

The former prime minister, 92-year-old Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who nominally heads PH, added to the theatricality by claiming a plane he was due to travel on had been sabotaged and continued to do so even after all the relevant authorities found that it was a routine maintenance issue.

This was mild, however, given that he had also ludicrously warned that someone might assassinate him.

In a further twist on Sunday, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi – the premier in between Mr Najib and Dr Mahathir – broke a long silence with a statement clearly backing BN and warning against former enemies allying solely to seize power.

As his rule was marred by Dr Mahathir’s constant attempts to tell him what to do, followed by his ultimately successful campaign to oust Mr Badawi for not doing so, he may have had extra reason to come out in support of his successor.

For the electorate, the key factors have been the rising cost of living and the introduction of the unpopular but completely necessary goods and services tax (GST) – not so much the controversy surrounding the state fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB), from which $3.5 billion was allegedly misappropriated, despite PH’s desire to make it a defining issue.

It is too distant for the rural voters who will decide this election and who are, by and large, grateful to the decades of BN rule for the infrastructure they have received and the assistance they have been given.

Many rightly conclude that the BN has done a lot for them and Mr Najib’s government in particular has implemented a wide range of programmes to help the so-called “bottom 40”, a reference to the 40 per cent of households on the lowest monthly income.

Ultimately, however, this has been an election like no other as it pits a current BN premier (Mr Najib) against a former one (Dr Mahathir), now contesting under the PH banner.


Dr Mahathir’s beef with Mr Najib is essentially the same one he had with Mr Badawi. Mr Najib refused to act as a proxy for the older man and he didn’t do enough, in Dr Mahathir’s eyes, to advance the career of his son Mukhriz to the top tiers of the BN leadership.

Everything else is just details. Dr Mahathir has seized on a range of issues to try to get rid of Mr Najib, such as opposing reforms that his new allies in the opposition supported and has failed at every turn.

His last gasp has been to perform an act of astonishing opportunism by teaming up with a coalition, most of whose leading members were jailed at least once under his time in office (from 1981 to 2003), while many of them had previously called for him to face justice for the excesses and loss of up to RM100 billion ($25.4bn) of public funds that occurred during a period when even Dr Mahathir has admitted he was a “dictator”.

Many Malaysians appear to believe that he has changed and that the tears he has dramatically shed about his wish to correct his past misdeeds – conveniently filmed and blasted out on social media – are not those of a crocodile but a remorseful old man.

The wife of Anwar Ibrahim, the deputy Dr Mahathir had jailed in 2000 for sodomy and corruption – and who will supposedly take over from his former boss if PH wins – did not appear to be so convinced at one recent rally.

Referring to the “blue eye” symbol that PH campaigns under, she asked supporters to remember the black eye Anwar had received when he was beaten up by Dr Mahathir’s chief of police in 1998. And she – Dr Wan Azizah – and Dr Mahathir are supposed to be the closest of allies.

The truth is that the PH is an alliance of inconvenience, not convenience, because it is very inconvenient to remember all the grievous insults they have hurled at each other over the years, the many lost years in prison to which Dr Mahathir has consigned his new “friends” and the totally contradictory policy positions they have taken.

It is very inconvenient for them too when they repeatedly cry that Malaysia is on the verge of bankruptcy – then are confronted with the glowing reports the BN government receives for its handling of the economy every time the World Bank and the IMF come visiting.

The irony of this election, as one government critic said to me, is that Mr Najib might be most damaged by an issue – the introduction of GST – that all credible international observers agree saved the Malaysian economy from its prior over-dependence on oil and gas revenue.

With a third party, the Islamist PAS, also standing as a third force, this election is currently too close to call.

As Mr Badawi put it: “Any government comprising people of differing and opposing political ideologies who only come together for the sole purpose of wresting political power will not and cannot be good for the country.”

It is to be hoped Malaysians take his advice seriously. Too much is at stake for them to risk the chaos, incoherence and infighting that a change of government would result in.

https://www.thenational.ae/opinion/comment/malaysia-prepares-to-go-to-the-polls-tomorrow-after-more-twists-and-turns-than-a-shakespearean-play-1.728118

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Putting aside Mahathir's vengence and deceitful campaign, Dato Najib put his campaign in the right perspective below: 

THE RIGHT CHOICE TO MAKE MALAYSIA GREATER

Article by Najib Tun Razak, Prime Minister of Malaysia

7th May 2018

1.      My fellow Malaysians, on 9th May we will cast our votes in our country's 14th General Election. We should be proud of our strong democratic tradition that goes back further and stronger than anywhere in our region. The right to choose your government is the bedrock of our democracy and Barisan Nasional will always protect that right.

2.      But I’m sad that this election has been fought in unfortunate circumstances.

3.      Since the last election in 2013, the opposition have gone to extraordinary lengths to topple the democratically-elected government in between election cycles, ignoring the will of the people as expressed at the ballot box, and not allowing us to govern peacefully during our mandated term. If the opposition resort to undemocratic means to acquire power, they will never rule democratically.

4.      Furthermore, to make an informed choice at this election, voters must know the truth. And the DAP-led opposition have done everything they can to obscure the truth with a tsunami of fitnah. Their lies have become so outrageous that even the Western media are beginning to wake up to this. Indeed, one international publication wrote this week that Dr Mahathir Mohamad's speeches "contain little policy substance but maximum slander". That is an extraordinary condemnation that he cannot refute – because it is true.

5.      It has been my privilege to serve you as Malaysia's Prime Minister since 2009, and I'm proud of what we have achieved together.

6.      The 2.7 million jobs. The average growth of 5.4 percent since 2010, which the world's advanced economies could only wish for. The Gross National Income up by over 50 percent, which represents a huge increase in the national wealth, and explains why the International Monetary Fund commends us for being well on the way to high income status.

7.      These are the achievements of all Malaysians, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Don't let the opposition rubbish those achievements by saying they don't exist, or wildly claiming that the country is on the verge of going bankrupt. They criticise for the sake of criticising but offer nothing of substance in return. Worse, they make false promises they know they cannot fulfil. For example, they claim that they would remove the GST but have yet to propose how they would replace the RM43 billion it brought in last year.

8.      Introducing GST was one of the hardest decisions I have made. I knew that it would lead to some increases in the prices of some goods and services, and that it would be painful for some Malaysians. But I also knew that without GST, our economy would continue to be overly reliant on the price of oil. This is something that was out of our hands and any downturn in the oil price, as we experienced a few years ago, could without intervention have led to a serious recession that would hit the people hard. GST, however, made us fiscally independent and stable. And while there may be some short-term pain, I assure you that the rewards will be long-term and felt in the years to come.

9.      For those Malaysians who are struggling to get by, we have introduced a huge range of programmes to help the Bottom 40 and others deserving of our help. The best known is BR1M – which opposition politicians cruelly wanted to take away – but there are countless other measures we have taken to help young people get training, micro entrepreneurs get credit, and all kinds of assistance for women, rural communities and many others. You don't hear a lot about some of these programmes, and the opposition will never mention them. But the people know the efforts BN and my government has been making on their behalf.

10.  As the son of Tun Razak, how could I do any different? He did more than anyone to uplift the Malays, the rural communities and the poor. He instilled in me that we must always fight for all Malaysians, and that we can never let any of our countrymen be left behind in our journey to national development.

11.  The Felda settlers know how much Tun Razak did for them and how much they meant to him. BN and I are proud to serve them humbly to this day.

12.  Yet we have much more to do, and we have not always gotten everything right. But we learn from our mistakes so that we can do better for the people in the future. We are honest about that, and our track record is there for all to see. You can believe our promises for the future, such as increasing the minimum wage to RM1500 and creating three million new jobs, because we have delivered on our promises in the past.

13.  However, where we offer sincerity and delivery, the opposition offer populist promises they can’t deliver on, and often outright lies.

14.  The DAP is the largest party in the opposition with the vast majority of parliamentary seats, and therefore is their real power. But they deceive the people by deliberately camouflaging their leaders behind Malays. Will they allow Dr Mahathir to become prime minister if they win? Every time he is asked, he says he would need more time in office. Now it is up to three years. Dare they risk a 92 year old man who jailed so many of them having the levers of power in his hands yet again?

15.  Do not be fooled either by the tears and the ridiculous allegations of sabotage or even assassination! A former dictator, as he has called himself, does not change. He has apologised sincerely for nothing. The truth is he trying to use his former allies, just as they are trying to use him. Their hypocrisy is breathtaking.

16.  Imagine the country in their hands: a group of people who have spent their entire lives attacking and demonising each other, who still cannot agree on the most basic of policies, and whose only reason for coming together is to selfishly gain power for themselves.

17.  As Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi wisely warned on Sunday, "It is unwise to elect leaders who share the same bed but yet have different dreams." Pak Lah said that people of different and opposing ideologies who come together just to win power cannot be good for the country. That is exactly what the opposition is. A motley crew who can barely stop stabbing each other in the back even before the election, and who have stabbed each other in the back when they have won power at the state level before.

18.  And they are stabbing the Malaysian people in the back with their constant lies right now. The Malaysia they describe is an alternate reality to the harmonious vibrant country this government and the hard working Malaysian people have built together. This is the Malaysia that is recognised by the World Bank and other international institutions in their reports. This is the Malaysia that sees our government delegations welcomed at the highest level, from Washington and London to Beijing, New Delhi and Riyadh. This is the Malaysia that makes the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques choose our country in which to establish the King Salman Centre for International Peace. The truth is that Malaysia's standing in the world is very high. But you won't hear any of that from the opposition.

19.  For them black is white and white is black. They offer not hope but disaster.

20.  Now, for instance, they are threatening to cancel the East Coast Rail Link. If they call that off, which is set to create 86,000 jobs, what will happen to the young generation in those states? The ECRL is an example of the major investments this government has fought hard to win, and if we decide to cancel it, then China will stop buying palm oil from us, which will particularly affect Felda smallholders.

21.  The opposition scaremonger that we are selling our sovereignty to China. But this is absolutely false. Malaysian investment into China used to be bigger than Chinese investment in Malaysia, and we have more Malaysian investments overseas than foreign direct investments in this country. So this is a two way street. And we have actually had more FDI from Japan than China, but they don’t say we are selling our country to the Japanese! In the interests of national development, we welcome investors from around the world, including Africa, the Americas, China, the EU, India and Saudi Arabia.

22.  This is just one example of how Pakatan Fitnah take the successes Malaysians have achieved together under BN and twist them. They tell outright lies about GST – money which goes directly to the Malaysian people in carefully targeted programmes so that it goes to those who need it most, rather than having blanket subsidies that benefit instant billionaires who scornfully scoff at the recipients of BR1M. They undermine our nation in their relentless pursuit of power. It is, as the international report I cited earlier said, slander.

23.  We have never faced an election in which these tactics and dirty tricks have been used so blatantly and shamelessly. But I urge Malaysians to see through these lies and recognise the real country we have been building together.

24.  It is a country we should be very proud of. It is a country that has been built by a partnership of BN and the people. This is a partnership you know, you can rely on, which is listening to you, and which has delivered and will continue to deliver for you.

25.  So I ask you now not to risk all that and remember instead all that we have achieved together and what heights we can soar to in the future. I pledge that if you put your trust once again in Barisan Nasional, we will continue that work for you, in the service of the people, and we will continue to build this country together. Let us unite for a greater Malaysia.

DATO’ SRI NAJIB TUN RAZAK,
PRIME MINISTER OF MALAYSIA

https://www.najibrazak.com/en/blog/the-right-choice-to-make-malaysia-greater/

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The explanation on GST is well explained by Tan Sri Wahid Omar:

Assalamualaikum wbt dan salam sejahtera rakan-rakan sekalian.

1. Alhamdulillah dua hari lagi pada hari Rabu 9 Mei ini, kita rakyat Malaysia bakal menjalankan tanggungjawab untuk mengundi dalam Pilihanraya Umum ke14. Ramai rakan-rakan yang tidak sabar untuk keluar mengundi setelah sekian lama berkempen dan 'dikempen'. Bagi kita yang bukan ahli politik pun terasa penat. Bayangkan apa perasaan ahli-ahli politik yang terlibat secara langsung dalam PRU14 ini.

2. Kita menghargai mereka yang secara sukarela mengenengahkan diri untuk bertanding dan berkhidmat kepada rakyat. Tidak kira sama ada menang atau kalah, kedua-duanya memerlukan pengorbanan tenaga, wang dan masa keluarga. Sekiranya menang, sebahagian daripada mereka berpeluang memegang jawatan dalam pentadbiran yang pendapatannya mungkin tidak setimpal dengan tanggungjawab berat yang dipikul. Sekiranya mereka kalah, lagilah berat kerana mungkin terpinggir dari kancah politik negara sekarang-kurangnya selama 5 tahun.

3. Dalam tempoh kempen, pelbagai isu telah dibangkitkan. Antara yang paling kerap dibahaskan adalah cukai barangan dan perkhidmatan atau GST. Izinkan saya menyentuh 5 perkara berkenaan GST yang telah diperkenalkan 3 tahun yang lalu pada 1 April 2015:-

i) GST 6% ini menggantikan cukai jualan 10% & cukai perkhidmatan 6%. Ia bukan cukai tambahan.

ii) Kadar 6% yang dikenakan adalah yang terendah di ASEAN dan antara yang terendah di dunia. 160 negara telah melaksanakan GST atau Value Added Tax (VAT). Sebagai contoh, kadar di Singapura 7%, Thailand 7%, Indonesia 10%, Vietnam 10%, Filipina 12%. Di Australia 10% dan di UK jauh lebih tinggi iaitu 20% .

iii) Untuk mengurangkan kesan kenaikan harga barang kepada rakyat, Kerajaan telah memperluaskan senarai barangan asas yang dikenakan kadar sifar atau terkecuali dari GST. Ini termasuk barangan makanan asas seperti beras, gula, minyak masak, ayam, daging, ikan & sebagainya, ubat-ubatan, buku-buku dan minyak petrol RON95 & Diesel.

iv) Semasa pelaksanaan GST diumumkan dalam Bajet 2014 pada 25 Oktober 2013, Kerajaan juga telah mengumumkan langkah 'pengimbangan' atau offset measures seperti pengurangan cukai pendapatan individu antara 1-3%, pengurangan cukai pendapatan korporat dari 25% kepada 24% dan pengurangan cukai perusahaan kecil & sederhana dari 20% kepada 19%. Pemberian BR1M isirumah berpendapatan RM3,000 kebawah sebulan juga ditingkatkan dari RM500 ke RM650 manakala isirumah berpendapatan RM3,000-4,000 sebulan mula diberikan BR1M RM450 buat pertama kali. Seterusnya dalam Bajet 2015, jumlah BR1M telah dinaikkan masing-masing kepada kepada RM950 & RM750 . Untuk individu bujang berpendapatan RM2,000 kebawah pula, BR1M dinaikkan kepada RM350. Ini semua bertujuan untuk meringankan impak kenaikan harga barang.

v) Tujuan asal pelaksanaan GST adalah untuk memperluaskan asas percukaian negara memandangkan kita hanya ada 2 juta pembayar cukai pendapatan, satu jumlah yang kecil berbanding jumlah rakyat Malaysia seramai 30 juta. GST adalah cukai penggunaan (consumption or indirect tax) dimana mereka yang berbelanja lebih adalah dari kalangan mereka yang berpendapatan lebih. Ini juga selaras dengan langkah konsolidasi fiskal yang mensasarkan bajet seimbang dalam jangkamasa pertengahan. Dengan peningkatan pendapatan Kerajaan, kita bukan sahaja dapat mengurangkan defisit fiskal kita malah dapat melaksanakan banyak projek pembangunan yang tertangguh sebelum ini seperti pembinaan lebuhraya, jalanraya, jambatan, sekolah, hospital, klinik desa, dll. Ini termasuklah pembinaan lebuhraya Pan Borneo yang sedang rancak pembinaannya dan dijangka siap pada tahun 2022.

4. Terdapat cadangan untuk menghapuskan GST dan berbalik kepada sistem percukaian lama iaitu SST. Bagi saya ini suatu langkah yang ke belakang atau 'regressive' dan boleh membahayakan ekonomi. Ini kerana kutipan GST pada tahun 2017 adalah sebanyak RM42 bilion dan dijangka meningkat kepada RM44 billion tahun ini berbanding kutipan SST RM17 billion pada tahun 2014. Sekiranya GST dimansuhkan, terdapat kekurangan pendapatan sebanyak RM27 bilion (2% daripada KDNK).

5. Sekiranya Ini berlaku, Kerajaan ada 3 pilihan. Pertama - Menaikkan cukai pendapatan atau memperkenalkan cukai baru seperti cukai keuntungan modal (Capital Gains Tax). Kedua - Mengurangkan perbelanjaan termasuk perbelanjaan pembangunan. Ini bermakna membatalkan atau menangguhkan projek-projek pembangunan yang telah diluluskan sebelum ini; atau Ketiga - Meningkatkan defisit fiskal kepada 5%. Kesemua opsyen tersebut amat berbahaya kerana boleh menjejaskan pasaran modal dan mengakibatkan penarafan kredit hutang antarabangsa negara kita diturunkan daripada paras A3/A- kepada BBB. Ini sudah tentu akan meningkatkan kos pinjaman dan memudaratkan ekonomi negara.

6. Saya berharap sistem GST akan dikekalkan. Perhatian boleh diberikan kepada memperbaiki lagi pelaksanaan program dan projek-projek yang dapat memberikan lebih peluang perniagaan dan pekerjaan kepada rakyat dan mempertingkatkan kesejahteraan rakyat. Ini selaras dengan matlamat model baru ekonomi yang mensasarkan Malaysia menjadi sebuah negara maju yang inklusif dan mampan.

7. Menjelang 9 Mei 2018, saya menyeru rakan-rakan mengamalkan 3 perkara berikut:-

i) Keluar mengundi seawal mungkin kerana ini adalah hak kita sebagai warganegara Malaysia.

ii) Jangan membenarkan pendapat politik memecah-belahkan atau mengasingkan keluarga. Silaturrahim perlu dikekalkan.

iii) Menerima keputusan dengan hati terbuka, merapatkan saf dan bersatu membangunkan negara.

8. Marilah kita bersama-sama memainkan peranan masing-masing, bersikap membina dan menghayati/ mengamalkan prinsip Rukun Negara iaitu Kepercayaan kepada Tuhan, Kesetiaan kepada Raja dan Negara, Keluhuran Perlembagaan, Kedaulatan Undangan-undang dan Kesopanan dan Kesusilaan.

Selamat mengundi & Salam hormat.

Abdul Wahid Omar
7 Mei 2018.

FMT report in English below:

Taxes may go up if GST abolished, warns PNB chairman Wahid Omar
http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2018/05/07/taxes-may-go-up-if-gst-abolished-warns-pnb-chairman-wahid-omar/

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