With the GE13 date set for May 5, we will see the culmination of Malaysia’s longest campaign period in our history. Although the formal campaign period is 15 days from Nomination Day, the unofficial campaigning started since PM Najib took over the reins from Pak Lah. For the past 4 years, Malaysians have gotten all kinds of goodies shoved at them with little economic fundamental progress. Whether they be budgets, programs, policies or expenditures, they are all short term designed to create the impression of strategy but with the intent to make the people feel good about Najib.
Well, the time will soon come for the day of reckoning if all that is said by BN and PR are well understood by Malaysians to translate into real votes for either of these political alignments.
Every political party is on the campaign road knowing full well nobody will stop them anymore regardless of the fact that the official campaigning period is not yet here. Everyday on TV, we will see how Najib pronounce the fact that BN is the savior of Malaysia and everybody else is rubbish.
Then, again, no Govt linked media will ever say anything bad about the ruling parties so that Malaysians will believe anything the media says and BN can do no wrong and there is everything wrong with the Opposition.
Thanks to the Internet and the alternate media, Malaysians can now assess for themselves both sides of the story. It appears that the Opposition has made significant inroads to the Internet savvy voters but those who are not so savvy may be missed out. More work to be done, obviously.
Fast forward to after GE13 and *&^%#$ has won the elections and now the Federal Govt.
We have two very distinct eventualities to consider. Many people are unaware that both BN and PR offers Malaysians two different destinies. Their manifestos may be incomplete but their general sense of direction are diverging. Furthermore, there are many intentions of both BN and PR that are not mentioned in their manifestos.
Najib touts his ETP will get Malaysia to become a “developed nation” by 2020 and the GDP growth projected will be adequate to get us there. Anyone who understands projections and future promises will know that numbers can be made to say anything they want and definitions of targets may well be totally different in our understanding.
Take for example, developed nation definition. What exactly does that mean? How do we compute when we have arrived? Just because the PM says so?
We may not have Najib as the PM for very long if he does not win back the 2/3 majority. So, his ETP is as good as Najib is in office.
Next, the Govt must have a more predictable source of income. Hence, after the GE13, the implementation of GST will proceed. This is a most definite program that will change the way the Govt gets its income from the people forever. The Govt needs this source of income because most people who are working do not pay income tax. Now, everybody who buys anything will eventually pay taxes as they consume.
Then, subsidies of every form will be pulled out over the course of the next few years. Petrol, sugar, flour, etc will all go up in price and will spark an increase in inflation in real terms as affecting the people, not in Govt statistic terms. Everything will go up in price and this time, it will be significant. Our disposable income is going to be sorely stretched beyond imagination.
However, not all is lost to the Govt. The BN manifesto says that handouts like BR1M will continue to be given out and at amounts of RM1,200. Will this help the people to even out the impact of GST and consumer goods price increase? The answer is a definite no but BN will say to us, Janji Di Tepati regardless.
So, for every handout coming to the people, the Govt is taking away even more from the other hand.
How will the BN Govt help the people in more concrete ways? How can wages be normalized and harmonized to real inflationary terms? How much more will there be real economic stimulus that affects the people?
The BN Govt will always want to spend more and more so that the people can get something. Whether real or otherwise, this is BN belief that by the Govt spending more, the people will benefit.
And do not question the Govt now as they are going to buy more fighter jets, Scorpene submarines, marine vessels, helicopters, tanks, and these are not meant for public consumption. It is national security so there will be no accountability nor transparency of the matter.
So when Najib says to give him the mandate so that he can make more open tenders in appearance of being accountable, he did not mean the large ticket items like defense equipment or even highways and railways. He was probably referring to buying pens and screwdrivers and much smaller ticket items.
Oil producing states will be able to know that there will be 20% of revenue going back to them in various ways but not directly. So do not get too excited. The question should also beckon, what is the real Petronas revenue and should it not be even more than today if middlemen were removed? If revenues were small, 20% is also too little. If revenues were big, 5% will be a lot.
In the impending AFTA opening up the automobile market, invariably, the import duties will be removed for cars assembled in ASEAN. But what about APs, sales and excise duties? The Govt has no choice but to remove import duties to be compliant to AFTA. But they can increase sales and excise duties to balance things up. And APs adds to the cost of cars. Will we really see a lowering of car prices at all?
BN promises to create 3.3 million new jobs. How? This is an astounding large number of jobs to create and will our economy be able to absorb them? Will Malaysians be trained to qualify for them? Or is this a nice big number for manifesto purposes?
The BN Govt plans to generate RM1.3T worth of investments. That is a thousand billion ringgit, a whopping lot of investments. Where are we for the GE12 term for investments? In 2012, Malaysia FDI was US$10B or RM30B. How in the world will we get such an enormous amount of investments when FDIs are avoiding Malaysia for Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand? What will change? Or is it RM1.3T on paper only? Or the definition of investments do not mean FDI but overall worth of projects?
Yes, after GE13, the BN Govt will spend even more, tax everybody more and hand down some crumbs to tell us they are helping the poor and in 2013, that means 40% of households with BR1M.
Is this what you are voting for?
Malaysia will see an immediate price drop of petrol at the pumps. There will be cheaper cars with the rationalizing of APs and excise duties. Drivers will no longer have the threat of AES. No more tolls (on aging highways, presumably, as new ones will have to be paid for somehow).
Students will have free education all the way to University. No more PTPTN. No more loans to worry.
We will have lower electricity and water rates.
This should lead to a historic lowering of prices of consumer goods. There will be no GST and no subsidy removals yet. But rest assured, they will have to happen sooner or later. The income that the Govt needs to finance such will come from savings of Govt projects and procurement. That is what PR believes they can do given their experience from Penang and Selangor.
Perhaps, once they studied the contracts which are one-sided, they will have more to grapple with. Reviewing IPP and highway operator contracts are considered most challenging. If they succeed, there will be more money for the Govt to spend.
BR1M equivalent programs will be continued. Maybe this statement was in retaliation to BN’s manifesto. But it is a silly reaction. To the people, if there is money, take it.
There will be 1m new jobs for Malaysians as the dependency of foreign labor is reduced. Unless Malaysians are keen on plantation and construction and maid jobs, we will see very little impact on the economy. What about white collared jobs?
But how will the PR Govt generate income growth? By reducing payments to one-sided contracts, by removing commission payments, by getting the best deal for every project and procurement, basically there will be enough to sustain the goodies promised. This assumes that the leaks and excesses are of a large magnitude which the PR believes it to be.
Is that so? Time will tell if they can actually help save the billions for the programs to lower petrol, water and electricity. Maybe they will introduce GST after GE14 and hopefully by then, the economy will be much more vibrant.
We shall see a reformed Parliament and press freedom. More media fighting each other most likely. Perhaps that is what is meant by press freedom in Malaysia.
For this, we are looking at a better economy, bigger bang for our money and better governance all round.
Yes, after GE13, we will pay the same taxes but get cheaper petrol, cars, education, healthcare, and hopefully lower inflation.
Is this what you are voting for?