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Najib’s Penchant for Flip-Flopping More Pronounced Now

April 19, 2010

Najib’s Penchant for Flip-Flopping More Pronounced 

Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad, Member PAS Central Committee.

Najib penchant for flip-flopping has never been more pronounced. I couldn’t but now agree to a friend’s suggestion that the 6th Malaysian PM must be most appropriately dubbed as the ‘Father of All-Floppers’. A year after in the office of the PM, Najib has yet to deliver anything substantial. He has widely known to have engaged an international public relation outfit caled APCO Worldwide.

The parliament is informed that APCO is paid RM77 million, a whooping sum hugely in excess of the usual consulting fees of a PR firm. Never mind the notorious association of APCO worldwide with Israel-Zionist connection which has become the contentious issue that may witness the head of opposition of the Malaysian parliament be referred to the Committee of Special Privileges with a suspension order already alleged mooted by Cabinet insiders.

But the bigger fallout which is even more appalling is the imminent compromise on both our national security and international credential. Malaysia, through the vocal and ‘recalcitrant’ Tun Mahathir has in fact established herself as almost a NAM and OIC’s de facto ‘spokesman’ against atrocities and an open critique of US foreign policy especially in regard to Middle East and the Palestine.Ironically under the APCO’s PR influence, Najib has turned to be a worse flip-flopper and is now widely perceived as ‘shifting’ the BN’s foreign policy.

 In my piece on Najib’s 1-year Tenure – ‘Trying to be all things to all people’, I’ve insinuated that Najib may end up ‘satsifying no one’. For trying to appease everyone, Najib has turned to be a ‘flip-flopper’ that would embarrass and reduce his immediate predecessor as a novice at that.

To recap, Najib has flip-flopped on the GST – a value-added tax based on consumption that he vehemently argued would be the shot-in-the-arm to the flagging government’s coffer. True, but critics have it that timing is the essence and not when the rakyat is strangulated in a middle-income trap and a higher performing economy based on productivity is no where in sight while the country continues to rely on low-skilled 3 millions foreign labour. He flip-flops and delays the eventual debate in the parliament blaming it on reasons that the public wasn’t consulted enough.

He flip-flops on the 2-tier mechanism on petrol subsidy and to date still fails to table a national blue-print on ‘subsidy’ that will clearly spell out the BN’s stand on the entire issue that will clear the air, once and for all. He is hesitant and till to date is still undecided. He dares not bite the bullet and is hoping to ‘to eat and keep his cake simultaneously’.

Similarly he flip-flopped on the electric tariff issue, the toll hike and the highway concessionaires, the RPGT, the need of a proper crackdown on the foreign workers, both in the West and East Malaysia and the list keeps growing longer.

Even in handling the long awaited New Economic Model, he is still doing a flip-flopping gait as not to be pinned down by critics especially the Pakatan MPs in the parliament. His ministers are now saying that the NEM is not as yet a document of the government as it is only a proposal from the NEAC.

Substantively, the NEM hinges on 3 important pillars of sustainability, inclusiveness and a high-income economy. Given the space constraint, let us be focus on the issue of what could be done practically to energise the private sector as a mean to reduce government spending and debt and propel  a sustainable growth.

The greatest stumbling bloc and impediment to achieving his set goals and reforms is the political will and commitment to reform.  Various bills, the like of the Competition Policy and its Commission have been recently tabled and passed by the parliament. The Act should ensure that there is healthy competition, It is a legislative tool for the promotion of sustainable economic activity and the integrity of private sector activities.

It should determine the place of the state in the economic life of the nation by defining those activities that the state will be involved in, and those that will be left to the private sector. It also should regulate in appropriate ways, the manner in which the private sector is to function so that the best interests of al are served.

Sound competition policy forms the basis a vibrant economy especially if Najib wants to see an energised private sector taking the lead in future growth. But these are noble wishes and targets. But making it happens is another ball game altogether.

But to cite an example highlighted by my colleague from PJ Utara, Tony Pua, as to how government is the greatest impediment of the Competition  Policy is perhaps to pinpoint on procurement procedure by none other than the Finance Ministry itself. The examples are numerous.

For the past decade the Ministry of Finance has issued ‘Treasury Contract Circulars’ which clearly specifies panel contractors which all Ministries, state governments, statutory bodies and local authorities must employ for purchase of specific goods and services. The purchase of RM27.5 million worth of ladies leather shoes from Syarikat Visi Footwear Sdn Bhd in the MyProcurement Portal tells it all. The other 2 panel companies which form the panel of companies being Pearl Crown Trading and Marancorp Industries Sdn Bhd based in Maran Pahang.

This is a classic case of an oligopoly supported and sustained by none other than the government, a scourge it intends to abolish, both in the NEM and the Competition Policy. Is Najib aware and is he to deconstruct this to pave way for a better competition and energise the private sector? Or is he the typical person of ‘cakap tak serupa bikin’ – not ‘walking the talk’.

To allow for a healthier private sector, government has to withdraw from business and create more rooms for competition and avoid the ‘crowding out’ (literally though). Development has essentially been driven by government spending all these decades. The government is the single largest consumer of the Malaysian economy accounting fro RM95.1 billion or 21.7% of total consumption in 2009. It is also single largest investor in the country with its investment spend of RM82.1 billion or 55.5% of total investment in 2009.

Inter alia, Najib had earlier announced that Khazanah and the EPF will lower its equity holdings in government-linked companies listed at the bursa. There was an immediate follow-up announcement of Khazanah’s divestment of its 32% holding in Pos Malaysia.

Just as the market was about to rejoice with such announcement of divestment and disposal of its assets, EPF is now expected to take direct interest in business and increase its overseas investment which currently runs at 6% of its overall portfolios.

A policy that encourages a divestment of one agency only to be taken up the other is smack of incoherency which invariably breeds distrust and contempt.

One of the first projects announced was the development of government lands in Sungai Buloh for a gross development value (GDV) of RM5 billion jointly developed by government and EPF. The positive response was short-lived as news that MRCB was expected to be appointed was bandied around.

Najib has to address the basic issues of governance and integrity. He has simply to take on his greatest enemy – ie himself, his party, the BN and not the least, Perkasa.

His flip-flopping doesn’t help at all and if he fears to change and to remain steadfast thereafter, he will imminently be changed.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. jerry permalink
    April 19, 2010 2:46 am

    Basically what the majority of Malaysians want today is decent food on the table;some rice;instant noodles;eggs;flour & salt & pepper;its too much to expect anything more.We cant even get rice at the government recommended price of rm1.80 per kilo;what more is there to talk about;food for thought:LOL

  2. drafunt permalink
    April 19, 2010 5:27 am

    Basically it is true if you look back and see what he has done………nothing much! But he has had excellent PR work and most people would probably be impressed that he got to meet Obama! Which is again nothing really.

  3. sputjam permalink
    April 19, 2010 7:07 am

    How to stop oil subsidy? The nanotag supplier earns tens if not hundreds of millions per year supplying the special dye to the govenrment.

  4. klik permalink
    April 19, 2010 7:26 am

    drdzul,

    these are the traits of a spineless leader. any politician who aspires for the highest position in politics would want to use the powers that come with that position to steer the country to more progress, to provide better opportunities to her citizens across the board, and etc. etc. etc. instead, here we have najib in that position, one who holds almost absolute power.
    and what does he do? try to smile and look good on all mainstream medias daily and with his wife beside him as though sharing power together with all the glamour and limelight. off screen? probably looking all around him for brutuses or would be ones from his own party who would back-step and kick him from his position. so, what reforms can he execute? what progress can he initiate? what can he do for the country despite him holding the highest office? in matured democracies the pm would step down, with dignity intact, if they find that they cannot contribute. here in malaysia you find, the pm and all his ministers will cling on stubbornly/obstinately to their positions and will only relinquish them if there is absolutely no choice. to serve the rakyat? that’s the cruellest joke. talk cock they can and excellently too.

  5. klik permalink
    April 19, 2010 7:32 am

    sorry, typo error should be “back-stab”

  6. Black Arrow permalink
    April 23, 2010 5:00 am

    Najib is just going around showing a big smile and bad-mouthing Pakatan Rakyat. His performance is nothing to shout about, all empty rhetoric only. He has not yield any results.

  7. TUN Sri Lanang permalink
    April 29, 2010 8:39 am

    Instead of just ranting and wasting your breath why don’t you people (if ur really that smart, including Dr. who?) give some constructive suggestions instead, then we’ll see whether you have what it takes to be a P.M. or ur just some dusts to be blown away into oblivion! ehehehheheheheehe!!!!

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