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MIER: BR1M not solution, will only fuel inflation….Did you hear that PM Najib?!

April 24, 2014

The Malaysian Institute of Economic Research (MIER) has urged the government to stop handing out money as a measure to narrow the gap between rich and poor.

MIER executive director Zakariah Abdul Rashid said with Bantuan Rakyat 1Malaysia (BR1M) rising to record levels, it will only fuel inflation and do nothing for productivity.

“Our income does not grow fast enough, our productivity is rising… this creates a mismatch,” the MIER economist said at the institute’s quarterly briefing today.

“That’s why BR1M is only an ad hoc measure and not a solution,” Zakariah (left) said, adding that Malaysian workers were in a precarious spot, not able to climb up the value chain.

He said that on paper, Malaysia looks like a roaring economy, with only 3.3 percent unemployment but a closer look reveals serious structural problems.

Foreign workers, who unofficially accounted for up to a third of the national workforce, kept wages tied down, but contribute to most of the new productivity.

In his report, Zakariah said, with more and more Malaysians receiving the BR1M payment, this populist measure would just be like a “helicopter rain of money”.

The BN government has been handing out BR1M for three years since 2012.

RM3.37 billion handed out  last month

Under the latest instalment handed out  last month, a total of 6.48 million individuals received a total of  RM3.37 billion, the government said.

Dubbed BR1M 3.0, it was extended to those with a monthly household income of between RM3,000 and RM4,000.

More BR1M money is slated to be given out next year as compensation for the implementation of the goods and services tax (GST).

Elaborating on his criticism of BR1M, Zakariah pointed out that the real problem was that Malaysians now expected welfare because they could not earn more.

They generally earned more than the highest pay for the cheapest foreign worker, but could not match the lowest pay for the highly-paid foreign worker, he said.

“Reform needs to be done to increase the productivity for the lower income group (based on studies) but there is a political side to this as the move may not be popular for some… but the message is that the government have to be serious about this,” Zakariah said.

At the same time, he also noted that Malaysia could not simply chase foreign workers away as they made up more than 90 percent of the construction and plantation workers in the country.

“Without them, nobody will harvest the fruits,” he said.

MIER cited a Bank Negara Malaysia report that showed inflation has been “persistently rising” since August last year and in March this year, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) grew at 3.5 percent. For 2012, it was mostly below two percent.

“Most worrying, these direct cash transfers come from federal coffers, obtained from taxpayers’ money…

“They provide minimal economic multiplier effects on the real side of the economy, except pushing consumer prices to higher levels,” Zakariah said, in an executive summary of MIER’s quarterly economic outlook that was presented at the Park Royal Hotel in Kuala Lumpur today.

Other than a dozen reporters, about 20 people attended the talk that they had to pay for – mostly economists, academicians and government officers.

Khidmat kesihatan, perumahan naik harga selepas GST

April 23, 2014

Sesiapa yang menonton Wacana Nasional Ahad lalu (20 April)  di TV1 atas tajuk GST – Cukai Barangan dan Perkhidmatan akan teringat tentang beberapa perkara yang saya tekankan.

Di sini saya hendak highlight tentang kenaikan harga/inflasi yang bakal menimpa rakyat di sektor kesihatan dan perumahan yang dinafikan pengarah GST Kastam dan YB Titiwangsa. Maaf. Tapi sebelum itu, mengulangi sedikit.

Tentang hutang dan defisit fiskal yang tidak akan dapat diatasi selagi tabiat berbelanja besar, pembaziran, ketirisan serta bocor dengan rasuah tidak dapat diatasi. Inilah ketirisan bahkan kebocoran pada “tempayan” kerajaan.

Maka banyak mana pun yang bakal dipungut, dikatakan RM20-RM27 bilion peningkatan hasil cukai,ketika stabil nanti, hutang dan defisit tetap tidak akan dapat diatasi sebab “kebocoran tempayan” mesti ditangani dahulu.

Beberapa perkara lain yang saya bangkitkan gagal dijawab secara tuntas oleh pengarah GST Kastam dan juga Ahli Parlimen Titiwangsa. Wakil PPIM tidak bersungguh mempastikan kepentingan rakyat selaku pengguna dipertahankan.

Tulisan ini mahu membangkit satu perkara secara lebih khusus kerana dalam Wacana Nasional satu jam banyak isu tidak dapat digarap secara tuntas dan muktamad. Antara asakan saya adalah untuk membuktikan bahawa GST tidak akan membebankan khasnya golongan berpendapatan sendah-sederhana, secara tidak adil dan ganas atau “regressive”.

Pengarah GST Kastam cuba sedaya upaya meyakinkan penonton tetapi fakta dan sokongan hasil penyelidikan pihak Kastam belum atau tidak kukuh untuk mempertahankan dakwaannya. Sebaliknya saya hanya perlu menyandarkan hujah saya kepada pernyataan timbalan pengerusi Kluster Ekonomi dan Kewangan, Majlis Profesor Negara, bahawa perlaksanaan GST nanti akan membebankan golongan berpendapatan rendah-sederhana meskipun ada barang-barang asas yang “dikecualikan atau disifarkan kadar” cukainya.

Begitu juga nama-nama pakar ekonomi seluruh dunia yang sependapat seperti Douglas Holtz dan Cameron Smith bahkan Pemenang Novel Laureatte Ekonomi Milton Friedman tentang persoalan mengatasi hutang dan sifat “regresif” cukai kepenggunaan atau Consumption Tax seperti GST.

Cukai progresif’ adalah seperti cukai pendapatan (Income Tax) dan cukai keuntungan modal (Capital Gain Tax- CGT). Contoh CGT ialah RPGT atau Real Property Gain Tax (Hartanah).

Di negara-negara maju (OECD), orang kaya di samping cukai pendapatan, dikenakan  “cukai buffet” untuk yang Maha-Kaya atau Super-Kaya. Itu baru adil terutama yang memilikki kekayaan kerana amalan kronisme dan kontrak-kontrak mega-mewah daripada kerajaan.

Juga wujud ‘Windfall Tax’ atau Cukai Keuntungan Berganda’. Malaysia pernah mengenakan cukai ini kepada sektor kelapa sawit sedikit waktu dahulu.

Keuntungan pemilik konsesi atau monopoli seperti lebuh raya atau telekomunikasi-media seperti Astro juga berbilion RM. Kenapa rakyat berpendapatan rendah-sederhana juga yang mahu dimangsakan?

Untuk hari ini yang mahu dibangkitkan adalah dakwaan kerajaan kononnya cukai yang dibayar oleh peniaga dalam rantaian bekalan contohnya sebagai pemborong, pengilang, peruncit tidak akan dipindah kepada pengguna kerana mereka akan dapat rebat atas “cukai input” mereka bayar kepada pihak Kastam DiRaja.

Dalam Wacana malam itu saya tekankan dan ulangi bahawa disegi teorinya betul tetapi rebat bukan seluruh jumlah “input tax” yang mereka bayar. Ia hanya perbezaan antara “Input Tax – Out Tax” yang dibayar pihak sebelumnya dalam rantaian bekalan.

Katakan kalau mereka dikenakan 6% GST yang berjumlah RM60 dan pihak yang bayar sebelum telah membayar cukai sebanyak RM20, maka mereka tetap akan membayar (RM60-RM20) yakni RM40 dan merekan hanya dapat balik RM20 (rebat) tetapi tetap membayar RM40!

Persoalan RM40 siapa hendak tanggung? Ini yang akan akan dipindah kepada pihak selepasnya dalam “supply-chain” itu dan akhirnya rakyat akan terbeban!

Hari ini ada dua sektor yang mengakui bahawa mereka terpaksa akan pindah kos cukai ini kepada pengguna iaitu sektor kesihatan dan perumahan.

Sambung baca….

Minister: Major GLCs need protection under TPPA….how about Rakyat?

April 22, 2014

5:46PM Apr 22, 2014 (MKini)

State-owned firms such as Petronas and Malaysia Airlines Berhad (MAS) being subjected to certain “disciplines” under the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), if signed, would be detrimental to national interests.

International Trade and Industries Minister Mustapa Mohamed said today that despite arguments that allowing SEOs to be subjected to international disciplines such as those in TPPA would be healthy for competition, the government considers such a move to be against national interests.

“Despite the arguments, the government’s position is that we need to protect our national interests, by ensuring the likes of Petronas, MAS, and Khazanah are not subjected to such disciplines,” he added during a media briefing session on TPPA today.

The SEO is one the chapters that Malaysia is having reservations about in the TPPA negotiations, and have asked for a carve out (a temporary delay in implementation) in the chapter.

Mustapa said that he hoped the TPPA negotiations could be wrapped up by the end of 2015.

MAS plane bound for Bangalore makes emergency landing in KLIA after tyre bursts

April 20, 2014

MAS plane bound for Bangalore makes emergency landing in KLIA after tyre bursts

April 21, 2014 (TMI)

Home Minister of Defence and acting Minister of Transport Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein meets pilot of aircraft MH192, Captain Nor Adam Azmi Abd Razak at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) early today. A Malaysia Airlines jet made an emergency landing at KLIA after experiencing problems with its landing gear. All 166 people on flight MH192 arrived safely. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Afif Abd Halim, APril 21, 2014. Home Minister of Defence and acting Minister of Transport Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein meets pilot of aircraft MH192, Captain Nor Adam Azmi Abd Razak at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) early today.

A Malaysia Airlines jet made an emergency landing at KLIA after experiencing problems with its landing gear. All 166 people on flight MH192 arrived safely. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Afif Abd Halim, APril 21, 2014.

 

A Malaysia Airlines plane with 166 people on board was forced to make an emergency landing in Kuala Lumpur early today in another blow to its safety image after the loss of flight MH370.

Flight MH192, bound for Bangalore, India, turned back to Kuala Lumpur after it was discovered that a tyre had burst on take-off, the airline said.

“As safety is of utmost priority to Malaysia Airlines, the aircraft was required to turn back to KLIA (Kuala Lumpur International Airport),” the airline said in a statement.

The plane landed safely at 1.56am, nearly four hours after it took off, the flag carrier said.

“All 159 passengers and 7 crew members on board have disembarked from the aircraft.”

The airline said tyre debris discovered on the runway had led to the decision to bring the Boeing 737-800 aircraft back.

“They have landed safely – thank God,” tweeted acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, who is overseeing Malaysia’s response to MH370.

The airline is still reeling from the loss and presumed crash of flight MH370, which disappeared March 8 while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

MH370 inexplicably diverted and is now believed to have crashed into the remote Indian Ocean with 239 people aboard.

Hishammuddin had tweeted that MH192 went into a holding pattern as other reports quoted officials saying it would only be allowed to land once all of its fuel had been burned off.

MH192′s passengers would be accommodated in local hotels and the flight was re-timed to take off at 3.30pm local time today, the airline said.

Malaysia Airlines had previously enjoyed a good safety record, as did the Boeing 777 aircraft used for MH370.

An Australian-led multi-nation search effort is now scouring a remote area of the Indian Ocean for wreckage from flight MH370 in a bid to confirm its fate and hopefully recover the flight data recorders to determine what happened to it.

No surface debris has been found despite a month of searching, but search crews had earlier picked up signals believed to be from the beacons of the plane’s data recorders.

A US Navy submersible sonar scanning device is now being deployed to look for wreckage on the seabed at depths of around 4,500 metres or more.

Nothing has yet been found and authorities have indicated they may reassess within days how to approach the extremely challenging search – expected to be the costliest in aviation history with estimates of more than US$100 million (RM324 million).

Malaysia’s government and the airline have come under harsh criticism from Chinese relatives of MH370 passengers – two thirds of its 227 passengers were from China – who have alleged a bungling response and cover-up. – AFP, April 21, 2014.

1MDB: Rakyat tuntut ketelusan pengurusan dana rakyat, PM.

April 19, 2014

Pendedahan tentang keuntungan IMDB untuk tahun kewangan yang berakhir Mac31, 2013 menunjukkan peningkatan keuntungan sebelum-cukai atau pre-tax sebanyak RM877.7 juta.

Ini jelasnya mengejutkan pelbagai kerana membuat lonjakan ketara berbanding tahun kewangan sebelum 2012 yang mencatatkan keuntungan hanya sebanyak RM44.7 juta.

Untung bersih (net profit) IMDB untuk tahun 2013 adalah sebanyak RM778.2 juta berbanding RM44.7 juta sebelumnya ketika syarikat tidak dikenakan cukai.

Namum apa yang menonjol ialah hutang 1 MDB pada penghujung tahun kewangan 2013 ini telah menokok ke paras RM42 bilion. Ini terdiri dari hutang pinjaman (non-current liabilities) sebanyak RM31 bilion berbanding RM8 bilion tahun sebelumnya.

Bersekali dengan hutang semasa (current) yang bersifat jangka-pended (short-term) jumlah I MDB terkini ialah sebanyak RM42 bilion berbanding RM9bilion pada tahun lalu.

Pun begitu yang ditunjukkan oleh ‘Balance Sheet’ I MDB yang mencatatkan sebanyak RM31 bilion asset pembelian penjana tenaga bebas (IPP) dari Jimah, Tanjung dan Genting sebagai asset-aset tidak semasa (non-current) mereka.

Akaun inilah yang menjadi kontroversi kerana kelewatan hampir setahun kerana didakwa tidak mahu diluluskan oleh pihak auditor syarikat KPMG, salah satu dari ‘Gergasi 4’ atau ‘The Big 4’ syarikat auditor terbesar di dunia.

Dikatakan bahawa akaun ini tertangguh selama hampir setahun baru sahaja diserahkan kepada pihak Suruhanjaya Syarikat Malaysia (CCM) hujung bulan lalu oleh sebuah lagi dari Big 4 yakni Deloitte. Dalam 5tahun operasi, 1 MDB telah diaudit oleh 3 dari 4 Nama Besar (Big 4) firma auditor termasuk Earnst and Young.

Keuntungan yang diperolehi untuk tahun  2013 ini adalah hasil peningkatan pendapatan ke paras  RM2.59 bilion berbanding RM633.2 juta untuk tahun sebelumnya.

Persoalan penting yang mesti dijawab pihak pentadbiran ialah apakah punca peningkatan pendapatan dan keuntungan untuk tahun 2013 ini?

Sangat dikhuatiri bahawa keutungan RM778.2juta seperti dilaporkan itu adalah dicapai melalui langkah penilaian semula atau ‘re-evaluation exercise’ hartanah yang mereka milikki.

Bersambung di sini….

‘No grounds for arrest under PCA’ – Is this ISA reincarnated?

April 17, 2014

| April 17, 2014

The family members PCA detainee say that Tengku Arif Bongsu is a good man and did not do anything wrong to be arrested.

n surendran and latifah koyaPETALING JAYA: Two lawyers have demanded the immediate release of Tengku Arif Bongsu because there are no grounds for his arrest under the Prevention of Crime Act (PCA) .

N. Surendran and Latheefa Koya said Arif was not given access to lawyers since his arrest on April 13.

We demand his immediate release because there are no grounds for his arrest,” Surendran told reporters at Parti Keadilan Rakyat’s (PKR) headquarters today.

Also present at the press conference was Arif’s wife, Nurul Shuhaidah Teh.

“I’ve only seen him once, which was on the day of his arrest. His rights to a lawyer was also denied,” said a tearful Nurul.

Nurul is now five months’ pregnant with their third child.

The Prevention of Crime (Amendment and Extension) 2013 Act (PCA), which provides for detention without trial to maintain public order and safety or crime prevention, was passed by the Dewan Rakyat on Oct 3 last year.

This allows for hardcore criminals to be detained for up to two years without trial.

Arif was arrested under the Emergency Ordinance (EO) in 2012 but released after he won a habeas corpus, for the lack of evidence or proof of his wrongdoings.

Latheefa Koya said the re-arrest was a complete abuse of power.

Arif was arrested at his house in Kajang at 4pm on last Monday without proof and valid reasons.

The internet cafe owner and businessman was taken into custody by about 30 police officers.

“They came to our house and wanted to break down the door. My husband is not dangerous nor did he do anything wrong.

“He is a good man with noble intentions who is always trying to help people,” said Nurul.

Surendran said only hardcore criminals were arrested under the PCA but Arif was a businessman with a pregnant wife and two young children.

He said Arif told his sister that he was forced to sign on a piece of paper with a list of names to incriminate more people.

“He was threatened by an ASP that he will be thrown in an underground cell if he refuses to sign the paper,” said his sister, Tengku Khairunniza.

Karpal Singh, Always In The Pursuit of Justice – ‘OBITUARY OF A STATESMAN’

April 17, 2014

OBITUARY BY THE MALAYSIAN INSIDER
April 17, 2014

 

Karpal Singh, known as the 'Tiger of Jelutong', will always be remembered as a Malaysian hero. – The Malaysian Insider pic, April 17, 2014. Karpal Singh, known as the ‘Tiger of Jelutong’, will always be remembered as a Malaysian hero. – The Malaysian Insider pic, April 17, 2014.

 

 

 

Karpal Singh – the prominent lawyer, lawmaker and DAP leader – died early this morning in a road accident while on the way to Penang, doing what he does best: going to court for a client. He was 73.

His reputation as a lawyer and politician had earned him the nickname the “Tiger of Jelutong” from the time he started legal practice in 1970 – which was also the year he joined the Democratic Action Party (DAP).

When he died early today, Karpal had just let go of the DAP chairmanship as he battled a sedition conviction that risked his four decades of legal and political career.

But the controversial decision was nothing to Karpal. He had been thrown out of parliament, put in detention during Ops Lalang in 1987 and had faced previous sedition charges.

“Eliminating me from the political terrain will not be the end of Karpal Singh. It will in fact lead to the rise of many Karpal Singhs!” said Karpal, who was Amnesty International’s “prisoner of conscience” for his detention without trial.

His legal and political colleagues remember him as a fearless and smart lawyer and politician, but to the countless ordinary people in his Penang constituency and legal office in Jalan Pudu Lama, Kuala Lumpur – he was a friend.

This was the other side of Karpal Singh apart from his legendary roles as a DAP politician and remarkable lawyer – he was a gentle-mannered man who was always ready to help the ordinary folk he came across in his daily life.

They knew Karpal as a humble man with a ready smile, who was always ready to stop and listen, no matter how small you were. No question was too trivial or repetitive for him to answer, no hello was too unimportant to stop for.

His tragic death in a road accident today meant that he “died in his saddle”, a term he had used upon turning 70 when he said: “I’ve always said that a lawyer should die in a saddle. I think it equally applies to being a politician.”

An earlier road accident in 2005 put him in a wheelchair while this morning’s road accident occurred near Gua Tempurung when the veteran lawyer was on his way up north to Penang in his white Alphard for a court case.

Anyone who knew Karpal would easily attest to how he was probably the busiest 73-year-old around, often shuttling between parliament and court during the week, and on weekends, travelling up north, mostly to visit his constituency or for a court case.

Nothing stopped Karpal, who at 73 was still shuttling between parliament and court or travelling north to visit his constituency. – The Malaysian Insider pic, April 17, 2014. Nothing stopped Karpal, who at 73 was still shuttling between parliament and court or travelling north to visit his constituency. – The Malaysian Insider pic, April 17, 2014. Nothing would stop him in court or politics. Not even the latest sedition conviction where he was alleged to have said that the removal of Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin as menteri besar of Perak by Perak ruler, Sultan Azlan Shah, could be questioned in a court of law.

Karpal’s defence was that he had offered a legal opinion and not a threat to the ruler, who was once the Lord President of the Supreme Court. Charged for the offence in 2009, Karpal was acquitted by the High Court without his defence called in the first round.

However, the prosecution appealed against the decision and succeeded at the Court of Appeal, and even pressed for a deterrent sentence against the wheelchair-bound politician.

He was handed down a RM4,000 fine, which would have disqualified him as an MP if he did not succeed in an appeal which has not been heard.

Karpal joined DAP in 1970 and was first elected as a Kedah state assemblyman in 1974 before becoming MP for Jelutong in 1978, a seat he held until he lost in 1999.

He returned to parliament in the 2004 general election as the Bukit Gelugor MP, and although the motor accident in 2005 confined Karpal to a wheelchair, it did nothing to curb his spirit or vigour.

Karpal’s legal career started when he was admitted to the Penang Bar in 1969 after reading law at the National University of Singapore.

He was one of Malaysia’s most prominent lawyers, and had taken up numerous high-profile cases, including drug trafficking charges against foreign nationals such as Australian Kevin Barlow, and the sodomy accusations against former deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

He was a staunch opponent of the death penalty, especially for drug trafficking offences.

He was detained in the Ops Lalang government crackdown in October 1987 under the Internal Security Act which allows for detention without trial, along with DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang and 104 others. He was released in 1989.

Karpal was also known to be opposed to turning Malaysia into an Islamic state, often citing the Federal Constitution that provides for a secular nation.

“I’m doing it for the country. At the end that’s what it is for,” he had told The Malaysian Insider in an interview before his 70th birthday.

He had also said then that “one can’t always win,but should not stop trying either”.

Clearly, Karpal never stopped. He was and will always be a Malaysian hero.

He will be missed, never forgotten. He will always be loved, treasured and respected for decades to come.

But that cannot be said about the government which until the last moment was trying to put him behind bars for speaking the truth and speaking lucidly about something that mattered dearly to him: the law.

He leaves behind wife Gurmit Kaur, daughter Sangeet, sons Jagdeep, Gobind, Ramkarpal and Mankarpal, and a host of grandchildren. And Malaysians. – April 17, 2014.

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