Monthly Archives: May 2013

What 20 cents can tell you about our economy?

A lot of people queuing up at money changer outlet for the past few weeks. To be exact, the day after the General Election is over. Well, what does this thing say about our economy?

It seems that Malaysia Ringgit (MYR) is getting stronger against foreign currencies. Now you can get one US dollar for two ringgit ninety five cent. Previously it was twenty cents more. Of course 20 cents is a pittance if you just exchange for 1 dollar.

Imagine you have RM10,000 cash in your hand. So you go to the money changer and ask the merchants to exchange your ringgit to US dollar. (For some people, they may ask the merchants to sing the Negaraku first due to their striking resemblance to Bangladeshis. However that’s another story.)

Now you have USD3,400 in your hands. What happen next? Since most of the economic activities are transacted in US Dollar, the value of the currency will go back to its normal level- as it always does. Therefore given the 20 cents difference between current value and normal value, you will get extra RM800 should you decide to exchange again to Malaysia Ringgit.

RM800 profit from RM10,000 is a 8% dividend. That is more than 3-4% fixed-deposit interest and comparable to any medium-risk unit trust products. After all, you don’t have to wait for one year to reap your dividend and you get the money immediately (read: liquidity). The only hassle is for you to line up at the counter over and over again.

Well, where does the 20 cents difference in currency exchange come from? Why suddenly Malaysia Ringgit is so strong and US dollar is cheaper? How is that possible?

We know that financial market in European countries is sluggish and weak. Greece, Iceland and Cyprus have gone bankrupt. Austerity measures have been put in place so there is little money coming from the government. As a result, the private sectors are also tightening its belt. It means less investment, less project and less economy activities. Consequently, the market is deemed less attractive for investors.

The same goes to the mighty United States. The clarion call for reducing national debt and deficit has dampened the effort to revive the economy. United States’ economy too has lost its charm..

We know for a fact in turbulence times, spending is more important than saving. The mantra of ‘your spending is my income and my spending is your income’ should be remembered.

Here is the situation; there are hundreds of billion from investors, multi-national companies and countries floating in the market that need to be invested. Already realised the United States and European countries are no longer the most preferred destination, investors are looking for a new destination to park their money.

Knowing this opportunity, our trained-economist Finance Minister (who happen to be the Prime Minister as well) together with first-class economy graduate International Trade Minister and PEMANDU have introduced Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) outlining 12 strategic sectors that needed the money the most. ETP has become the impetus behind the country’s growth.

To inject the much needed capital to stock market as well as uplifting the profile of Bursa Malaysia to restless investors around the world, Malaysia has successfully launched the second and third biggest Initial Public Offering (IPO) in the world namely Felda Global Venture and IIH. Actually the size of IPO doesn’t matter. The most important thing is the timing was right.

Slowly but steadily, the Bursa Malaysia has seen capital inflows worth billions of ringgit were coming in. This is where the overwhelming demand of Malaysia Ringgit comes from. Applying the rule of supply and demand here, anyone can tell with stronger demand for Malaysia Ringgit, the value of the currency will increase.

For the past 1-2 years, investors were playing wait-and-see game. They hold their money until the new government is elected. In this case, it should be noted that many foreign investors and international financial mouthpiece are in favour of retaining Barisan Nasional as the new government.

Why wouldn’t they? BN’s economic policies are far more comprehensive, pro-growth and business-friendly. BN’s ability to deliver also speaks louder than rhetoric.. As far as profit is concerned, Barisan Nasional is the better bet.

Therefore when it was announced Barisan Nasional won the election, money starts to coming in- in a large amount. The next day after the election, we saw Malaysia Ringgit was valued at RM2.95 for USD1- 8% stronger. Bursa Malaysia has reached its all-time high with over than 1,800 points.

Malaysians or detractors may say BN has lost popular votes and gained fewer seats than the last election. But for foreign investors especially those from matured democracy countries, the 44 seats majority was not a ‘razor-thin majority’ as widely claimed. In fact it was a solid majority and good enough to instil confidence among them.

I know people on the street couldn’t care less about this number. They are not the broker, shareholder, and currency trader anyway. But for majority of Malaysians (people on the street included) who put high regards to Mat Salleh’s wisdom, they should not be selective in their assertion. Just accept the fact our economy is well-managed and Malaysia is enjoying gravity defiance boom that is confounding sceptics.

I know it sounds so cliché and mainstream. But as long as people continue to prosper, it doesn’t matter.

 

ps: perplexed why government can handle the economy very very well but not in politics and perceptions.

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Mitos Demokrasi dan Perpaduan

Antara mitos terbesar demokrasi adalah majoriti yang menguasai (majority rules). Mitos ini wujud kerana pendukung demokrasi merasakan dengan bilangan yang ramai, sudah tentulah yang sedikit bilangannya dapat dikuasai. Oleh itu bagi pihak majoriti, mereka tidak perlu risau selagi mana jumlah mereka kekal ramai.

Jika begitu keadaannya, bagaimana kita dapat menjelaskan keadaan di mana kaum yahudi yang kurang 0.1% jumlahnya di dunia ini menguasai ekonomi, kewangan, teknologi, hiburan dan politik?

Bolehkah kita menjelaskan juga mengapa kaum cina di Malaysia yang populasinya hanya sekitar 30% menguasai lebih 70% ekonomi seperti pemilikan ekuiti, hartanah, rantaian pengeluaran (supply chain) barangan dan menjadi ‘kingmaker’ di lebih 50% kawasan parlimen.

Jika benar demokrasi berkisar tentang majoriti, sudah tentulah perkara ini tidak terjadi.

Hakikatnya adalah, di dalam demokrasi majoriti atau minoriti sebenarnya kurang penting. Sebaliknya yang menentukan kekuatan dan kemajuan sesuatu bangsa di dalam demokrasi adalah perpaduan.

Bangsa Yahudi dan Cina bersatu padu dalam mencapai matlamat memajukan bangsa mereka melalui politik dan ekonomi. Apabila dikatan bersatu padu bukanlah bermakna mereka tidak bergaduh sesama sendiri.Mereka juga bergaduh dan bertelagah, mungkin lebih dasyat. Namun apabila berkaitan soal kemajuan dan survival bangsa, mereka mengenepikan perbezaan yang ada dan memilih untuk bersatu padu.

Pilihanraya 2013 yang lepas menunjukkan 95% pengundi cina bersatu menolak Barisan Nasional yang menganjurkan konsep perkongsian kuasa. Sebaliknya 95% pengundi Cina memilih Pakatan Rakyat yang mengamalkan konsensus dan kesamarataan.

Ramai yang terlupa menjelang pilihanraya Pengerusi DAP Johor secara terang-terangan bergaduh dengan Penasihat DAP, Lim Kit Siang. Di Melaka dan Perak juga perkara sama turut berlaku. Di sebalik pergaduhan dalaman parti Cina ini, pengundi Cina tetap memberikan sokongan yang ‘solid’ kepada DAP. Bahkan purata majoriti kawasan dimenangi oleh DAP adalah lebih 10,000.

Jika ini bukan bersatu padu, jadi apa sebenarnya yang dikatakan besatu padu?

Perkara ini membuktikan bahawa di dalam demokrasi, pihak minoriti juga boleh menjadi ‘kingmaker’, kuat dan maju daripada pihak majoriti asalkan mereka bersatu padu.

Kita sering diberitahu antara punca kemunduran umat Islam di dunia adalah kerana sering bertelagah, bertelingkah isu remeh temeh dan berbunuhan sesama sendiri.Secara logiknya, tidak mungkin umat yang mempunyai penganut lebih 1/6 populasi dunia serta kaya dengan ratusan billion petrol-dollar boleh berterusan mundur dan lemah.

Yang anehnya, apabila diajak untuk bersatu, timbullah suara yang menentang. Lebih pelik lagi suara ini datang di kalangan umat Islam sendiri.

Antara mitos popular penentang perpaduan yang sering dimainkan adalah ‘bersatu padu ini tujuannya adalah untuk menentang pihak yang lagi satu.’ Lebih mengejutkan lagi pihak ini mengatakan perpaduan adalah provokasi untuk mewujudkan pergaduhan..

Jika perpaduan dianggap sedemikian rupa, adakah golongan penentang ini merasakan keadaan akan menjadi lebih baik dengan terus berpecah belah?

Analoginya, apabila ibu bapa kita menyuruh anak-anaknya untuk bersatu padu demi kemajuan keluarga itu sendiri,adakah ia bertujuan untuk bergaduh dengan keluarga jiran sebelah? Bagaimana pula seruan bersatu padu di dalam organisasi,kelab, pasukan dan syarikat? Adakah ia bermaksud untuk bergaduh dengan pihak yang lain ataupun demi kekuatan sendiri?

Mitos seterusnya adalah perpaduan hanyalah ‘fallacy’ dan manusia memang berpecah sejak dahulu lagi.

Jika manusia khususnya bangsa melayu di Malaysia tidak pernah bersatu, jelaskan mengapa Malayan Union gagal direalisasikan? Adakah kerana tiba-tiba British insaf dan bermurah hati ataupun sebenarnya British gentar dengan kesatuan bangsa melayu dari pelbagai persatuan, wilayah dan negeri?

Perpaduan di kalangan bangsa melayu yang diteruskan dengan perpaduan di antara melayu, cina dan india telah membawa kemerdekaan kepada negara.

Kemajuan negara yang pantas selepas insiden rusuhan kaum 13 Mei juga hasil daripada perpaduan orang melayu yang kurang bergaduh sesama sendiri sebaliknya lebih tertumpu memajukan bangsa sendiri melalui kerjasama dengan kaum lain.

Pihak penentang perpaduan boleh berkata apa sahaja. Tetapi sudah jelas perpaduan bangsa melayu lebih banyak membawa manfaat daripada perpecahan.

Jika bangsa Cina yang sudah maju masih lagi menganjurkan perpaduan di kalangan mereka terutama soal pendidikan dan kuasa politik, apa pencapaian yang boleh dibanggakan oleh bangsa melayu untuk terus berpecah?

Mengapa melayu sahaja yang kerap disuruh untuk bersatu? Ini kerana bangsa melayulah yang paling berpecah belah dan perpecahan ini hanya melemahkan orang melayu sebagai pihak majoriti di negara ini.

Adakah penyataan ini rasis? Hanya mereka yang rasis sahaja melihat perpaduan di kalangan bangsa melayu sebagai provokasi untuk bergaduh dengan bangsa lain.

GE 13- Chinese or urban, this is a real tsunami election

A WEAK AND UNPOPULAR GOVERNMENT: BN has less 300,000 popular votes and 28 seats they won are less than 2,000 majorities.

1. 11.9 million Malaysians have decided. Ironically, despite of repeated mantra of ‘suara rakyat suara keramat’ (people’s voice are sacred), several politicians are not respecting people’s choice.

2. Some people downplayed the voting pattern that is racially polarised by suggesting the outcome of the election was the manifestation of Malaysia tsunami. Some say it was an urban tsunami.

3. However the fact remains that a Malay-based ruling party and a Chinese-dominated opposition party have improve their performance tremendously in this election. Both have gained between 10-11 seats each in parliament.

4. How do you explain UMNO which contesting in Malay majority seats fared better against PAS and PKR while DAP trashed out MCA and Gerakan in Chinese majority seats? This happened both in urban and rural areas.

5. Undeniably there were Malays, Indians, Sabahans and Sarawakians who voted for opposition. But they were an overwhelming support for Pakatan among Chinese voters. Unlike Malay, the Chinese move almost as a single political bloc where out of 10 chinese, nine voted for Pakatan candidates.

6. If the statement of Chinese tsunami considered as racist, then the majority of the Malay voters are equally racist for voting for BN. It was the Malay Tsunami that denied Pakatan’s chance to form federal government. As much as the Chinese overwhelmingly backed Pakatan, more Malays backed Barisan.

7. Therefore, it was not a Malaysia tsunami simply because both Barisan and Pakatan hasn’t command the overwhelming support from all races.

8. It may be considered as Urban Tsunami. But one should remember the bulk of Chinese-majority seats are located in urban areas. Moreover, urban malay-majority seats like Kangar, Johor Bharu, Putrajaya, Labuan, Setiawangsa and Titiwangsa won by BN.

9. Whatever, the term doesn’t matter. The Chinese clearly rejecting BN’s candidate irrespective of races. The Chinese are not against the Malays as some race extremists pointed out. What they reject is the concept of ‘kongsi’ or power sharing espoused by BN where each races must give and take. They believe a vote for PR means a vote for meritocracy in everything where the winner takes all and the devil takes the hindmost.

10. Admittedly the government of the day is very much a weaker government. Though legitimate, it is very unpopular government. Not only BN has less 300,000 popular votes but 28 seats they won are less than 2,000 majorities. 0.2% swing vote from these areas will see the down fall of BN. And don’t forget defection is allowed in Malaysia democracy.

11. In western countries, 13 is considered as a bad luck number. Coincident or not, it was a disaster performance for BN in this GE 13. Well, let’s hope in upcoming GE 14, BN is still alive because according to the Chinese, 14 is a bad number because it is nearly homophonous to the word ‘death’.

Next Topic: National Reconciliation, what needs to be done?

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