Not one but two! There is only so much a Malaysian mind can take but in a span of only one week, we had two of them spreading their cheer. Neon lights are blasting that Christmas is nigh for my fellow country women and men!!!
Yesterday, Prime Minister Najib Razak unveiled BUDGET 2012. It was the talk of the town, second only to the various things said about Apple icon Steve Jobs who passed away on Thursday (may his soul rest in peace). After revealing his budget, Najib became none other than Santa Claus splashing his goodies around. It was clear for all to see that the ones who stand to benefit benefit most are: civil servants, pensioners, army personnel, teachers and Felda schemers.
BN fellas are already thumping aloud, saying that this is a wonderful piece of work; and tomorrow I will experience serious nausea or vomitting after reading the usual mainstream papers, who will act as if they had multiple orgasm as they MUST say good things about the goodies. I must make a mental note to stay clear of the papers but…I do that everyday, anyway…hahaha!
To the critical eye, the groups who stand to gain most from Najib’s budget form the largest support base for his ruling party, Umno, and in a broader sense, the governing coalition – Barisan Nasional. They’re mostly bumiputeras, and Najib thinks the Malays are definitely behind him since Pakatan Rakyat, or more precisely DAP, can’t take care of their interest.
I hope he is in for a rude shock!
Many are caling it a ‘populist, election’ budget, indicating that our 13th General Election may just be – tomorrow!!! It is as close as that, so better be prepared. But seriously, we are looking at November, or early January, when most people are too busy to take leave to go home to their hometown to vote. For BN, they do not need the urban voters as much as they do, rural folks, pensioners, and old timers?
What about after Chinese New Year holidays? Not likely. By this time, the Chinese are restless since money all spent liao…so time to coffee shop talk about how much the government is stealing for them and that they’re not getting anything even after working so so so hard.
One hard look at the budget and people can see that it is mostly short term measures to appease, to lure ex-voters back into the fold. Not a nice thing to do and it is so blatantly done in this budget. The critical mass is asking: where is the long term measures to address brain drain, unemployment and sustain competitiveness of the country’s business sector in the global market?
In the budget, there are no measures at all for the manufacturing sector, which takes care of brain drain issues and employment. Our corporate tax rate stands at 25%, sky high compared to Singapore, at 17%. Thailand is planning to cut theirs from 30% to 23%, and after the Jul3 election, it may be further reduced to 20%. Where do we stand in terms of competitiveness in the region? Business people are kind of disappointed the goodies bag are empty when it comes to them.
On top of this, they are asked to add 1% to the Employment Provident Fund (for workers earning RM5k and below). Thank God, I’ve ‘stayed hungry and foolish’ (according to Steve Jobs) and have remained poor enough to enjoy this little goodie.
But wait! One of the salient points that nudged me most in the budget is this” RM220 million for modern policing, RM440 million for PDRM (Royal Malaysian Police) development including housing, upgrade of police station and training centres “. Seriously, does this amount include tear gas shells and allowances to go chase/harass citizens at peaceful rallies which are not inclined to the ruling parties (read Najib’s) thinking?
But if Najib thinks that by showering senior citizens or pensioners with cash alone, he would see their votes cast his way, he might be in for a little surprise.
Although my mother, a pensioner and senior citizen, is jubilant that she would be getting a windfall this year – with 2% increase in her pension, a RM300 montly (?) as she is over 60, RM500 (min) bonus and another RM500 (min) allowance at the end of the year. But she says her votes are not for sale. That her vote is not that cheap. And that her heart is already taken, and she has made up her mind who to vote for! Many pensioners and senior citizens I know are THAT hard-headed and hard-hearted!
My 13 year old niece under my care is happy too as she will be getting a one-off RM100 for students. We’re telling her to take us to Pizza, but she says she wants to put her money in the bank! Then the budget also says that there would be no school fees to pay next year. Bullshit actually, because parents/guardians are expected to pay for a lot of stuff like t-shirts and society activities, etc, which are not categorised under school fees. Get rid of these, please.
Do read http://www.malaysiakini.com for more reports on the budget. You’ll at least get a fairer view. I guarantee that you will not be puking.
But Najib is not the only Santa Claus in town! On Tuesday, the Pakatan Santa Claus rode into Parliament, bringing a load of it own brand of goodies. This budget was also trashed as a “populist budget”.
Are our leaders incapable of thinking of long term measures to address the country’s core problems: FDI, housing, low income, etc?
– An annual allowance of RM1,000 for mothers to encourage them to enter the workforce.
– A universal minimum wage of RM1100/month.
– An across the board increase from RM300 per month to RM550 per month for welfare recipients
– Bonus to senior citizens that earn less than RM1500 permonth. They will be given RM1000 per year
– A ‘top-up’ allowance for low-income earners to RM550 monthly and many, many more.
His criticised the Opposition’s budget as being not sustainable, that some of the stuff proposed had been promised but not carried out under the Pakatan government in Penang, for example, the promise to give low income earners RM550 per month.
That giving a RM1,000 bonus to senior citizens are a waste of money because there already exist a kind of special welfare scheme that provides RM300 a month for those qualified in this sector; that an increase in welfare money from RM300 to RM550 was not prudent as it increases the welfare department budget by 83%.
And many, many more criticism.
However, the comment that takes top spot or icing on the cake comes from none other that former premier Mahathir Mohammad, who says Pakatan’s budget is an ’empty pocket’. Where will all the money come from?
Well, the same thing is said of Mahathir’s fave PM Najib. Where is the PM going to get all the money? People are already bracing for a price hike in many sectors after the general election. After splashing around so much money, surely the government must get it back, right?
Pejo Ung, a Facebook friend has this to say: “Do you know that out of total budget of RM232.8 billion, RM64 billion or 36% goes to wages and pension in the bloated civil service? It is indeed a huge sum to the nation. More mega projects to appease the cronies and rent seekers but no money for public transportation development. It is a pre-election budget with goodies all round”.
My cousin Chong Cheng Hai says on Facebook, too that “That’s why there are so many grants and funds set up … so that the leaks can benefit cronies…there should be a Rent-Seeking Control Act” !
I guess that pretty much sums up what I think of this bruhaha of an election budget. Please do not insult us and think we are of small minds. Najib, my ‘cool’ PM, you need to do better. But I do not think you have the time.