Malaysia “Gloom and Bleak …No! Read Further..”

IdrisJala_ETPIf Malaysia is all Gloom and Doom many of us who can afford (the middle income bracket and qualified to earn a living somewhere else)  would have just pack our bags and leave the country. Whats the point in protesting and telling the world that Malaysia is not a place call “Home” anymore.?


Of course, we were born here and we have the rights (enshrined in the Federal Constitution)to grieve and speak our minds within reason not harmful to the security of Malaysia. Nobody’s stopping you but you know you will need to face the consequences if you get out of line.


GE13 has come and gone and now we leave it to the 222 lawmakers to slug it out in Parliament and to ensure the country moves forward for the benefit of ONLY Malaysians. The others can wait and apply later….

This article which was in the Star and reproduced is worth to have a glanced through and there are good points for us to reflect on. Malaysians should be PROUD of their country and this land is ours and no one else’s.

The article

RECENTLY, I had a robust conversation with a Malaysian. He was very  angry. He had so much to complain about everything in our country. To  him, nothing is right in Malaysia.

I reproduce my responses to  his complaints, in the hope that it might shed some light and provide  some hope to those who feel our country is in a hopeless decline.

To maintain his anonymity and privacy, I simply call him “Angry Malaysian”:

Angry Malaysian (AM): I  think Malaysia is the most corrupt country in the world. If the  Government is not corrupt, we will solve all the problems in this  country. There will be no poverty and everyone in Malaysia will be  prosperous and happy.

Idris: That’s not true. Last year,  Malaysia improved in Transparency International (TI)’s Corruption  Perception Index (CPI). Malaysia’s 2012 score improved compared to 2011  to 49 out of 100 from 4.3 out of 10 (TI’s new scoring methodology  changed in 2012 from assigning a score between 1 to 10 in 2011 to 1 to  100 in 2012) . Also Malaysia’s ranking improved from 60 in 2011 to 54 in  2012.

It is equally wrong to say that the only solution to poverty, prosperity and happiness is government corruption.

Almost all the countries that are ahead of Malaysia in the world corruption ranking still have absolute and relative poverty.

For instance, not everyone in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany or Singapore is rich.

Crime still exists in these countries.

Whilst  there is hardly any corruption in many rural villages in Malaysia or  anywhere else in the world, yet the people are still poor.

When I  grew up in Bario, in the Borneo highlands we were almost isolated from  the rest of the world and there was no corruption in the village.

Yet, we were poor.

We  should stop looking at corruption as something that leads to other  peoples’ problem – the poor, the marginalised and expect only the  Government to tackle the issue.

It is true that corruption must  be eradicated in the interest of creating a level-playing field and  enhancing standards of living.

The Government is serious about implementing this through various initiatives.

Whilst  we deploy policy measures to arrest corruption, there is also a  responsibility upon every Malaysian to ensure they do not engage in or  encourage corrupt practices.

As long as there is giving, there  will be taking – it is a vicious cycle. Eradicating corruption is not  the job of the Government alone, it is a shared responsibility.

AM:  Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said at a rally before GE13, that Malaysia’s  illicit capital outflow over 10 years of RM873bil, as reported by Global  Financial Integrity, is proof that corruption is the scourge of  Malaysia.

According to him, if we stop this corruption by the Government and its cronies, there is enough money for Malaysia.

Idris: Bank Negara has refuted this claim.

It has clarified that 80% of illicit capital outflow is trade mispricing or transfer pricing.

This  means private companies produce receipts or invoices which differ from  the actual amount of money transacted, usually to pay lower taxes to the  Government.

This is not government corruption.

Bank  Negara established that the remaining 20% of illicit capital outflows is  due to “errors and omissions”, which includes small residual amounts  due to illegal business and corrupt practices.

Based on the Bank  Negara report released in March, it is totally wrong to say that  RM873bil of “illicit capital” outflow is due to government corruption.

AM:  Twenty years ago, Malaysia was on par with South Korea in many ways for  example GNI (gross national income) per capita. Even in soccer, we used  to beat them. I believe Malaysia lost its competitiveness because of  the New Economic Policy (NEP).

If we remove the NEP, then Malaysia will immediately improve its competitiveness and catch up with South Korea.

Idris: It is true that South Korea has made a lot more progress compared to us.

However, I do not agree that as soon as we abolish NEP, Malaysia will be on the road to catching up with them.

The  South Koreans did it because they did not complain incessantly about  not getting government contracts. They did not incessantly complain  about everything that was not perfect around them.

They simply  focused on innovating their products to be the best in the world and  trained their sights on marketing and selling them in the world market.

AM:  A lot of people, particularly non-bumiputras, are leaving Malaysia in  droves because of unfair policies such as the NEP. Many of them migrate  to Singapore where there is no NEP and it is a fair society.

Idris: That’s  not true. A Mindshare survey of 2,000 Singaporeans carried out last  year showed that over half of them (56%) wanted to migrate, although  there is no NEP in Singapore.

According to the World Bank,  Singapore had 300,000 migrants in 2010, nearly 10% of Singapore  citizens. Reasons for migration are complex and varied and cannot be  just pinpointed to the NEP.

AM: The Government collects  lots of taxes from all of us. So many of us work hard only to pay so  much in taxes. The Government wastes the tax revenue through corrupt  practices and cronyism.

Idris: I don’t agree that Malaysia  is taxing everybody and also over-taxing the people. First, Malaysia  has a population of 29 million people.

Last year, our working  population was 12.5 million people. Out of this, only 1.5 million people  were registered taxpayers but only 1.2 million paid taxes.

Second,  most of the government tax revenue comes from Petronas and the oil and  gas companies, followed by other corporate taxes and then by the 1.2  million taxpayers.

Third, it is not true that Malaysia is  over-taxing. Its corporate and personal income tax is competitive when  compared with all other countries worldwide.

Fourth, Malaysia is  one of the few countries that has not implemented the Goods and Services  Tax (GST). More than 140 countries have already implemented GST.

Fifth,  since Malaysia wants to keep income taxes at reasonable rates, and  since the Government continues to pay huge sums of money on subsidies  for the rakyat, our tax revenue is insufficient to pay all our operating  and developing expenditure.

So Malaysia has a fiscal deficit.  Under the leadership of our prime minister, we have been steadily  reducing our fiscal deficit from 6.6% in 2009 to 4.5% last year.

AM:  I hear that the Government will be introducing GST. This will hurt the  poor people and the middle-income group in this country. GST will bring  untold suffering to our people and Malaysia’s economy will collapse.

Idris: No decision has been made by the government to implement GST.

More  than 140 countries worldwide have implemented GST and this includes  many developed and developing countries eg the United States, United  Kingdom, France, Germany, Brazil, Argentina, Singapore, Tanzania, Sri  Lanka, Somalia, Ethiopia, Cambodia, Laos, Philippines, Indonesia and  many more.

Under GST, many items that are typically consumed by  the poor and the middle-income group are exempted from GST. Some items  are “zero rated”, which also reduces the impact of GST. This is why the  implementation of GST was done in many developing and poor countries. I  don’t agree with you that GST will bring “untold suffering to our  people”, nor will our economy collapse. Let’s be clear, these problems  did not happen in the 140 countries which implemented GST.

AM: Crime is happening everywhere in Malaysia.

Everyday,  I read in the newspapers about street crime and violent crimes. The  police are not doing anything. The Government doesn’t care about the  safety and security of its people.

Idris: The Government  considers crime as one of the top national priorities to address. It is  indeed one of the National Key Results Areas (NKRA) under the Government  Transformation Programme (GTP).

The Deputy Prime Minister, Home  Minister, IGP and the police are all working hard to implement  initiatives to fight crime. As a result of our collective efforts, crime  has dropped from 575 cases per day in 2009 to 407 cases per day in the  first five months of 2013, which is an improvement of over 29%.

But  that does not mean crime does not occur. It still does, but the rate  has reduced. Whilst we take note of this, we continue to address problem  areas and ensure we continue to make our streets, villages, towns and  cities safe. This is a priority. It is pertinent for us to look into  UK’s experience in 1998, when ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair launched an  intense nation-wide program to fight crime.

Significant amount of  resources were provided to strengthen UK’s police force to fight crime.  This program succeeded in turning around crime trend.

However,  while the crime rates have started to drop in 1998, the general UK  public perception was the exact opposite – believing that crime rate  continued to increase.

It was only six years later, in 2004, that  the UK public perception of crime finally started to turnaround. This  was how long it took for the UK public to catch on with their country’s  improving crime situation.

Malaysia is experiencing this same syndrome, called the “Crime Perception Lag”.

We are in the third year of the Crime NKRA program – half-way into the perception lag period experienced by the UK.

I  believe we need to redouble our efforts to fight crime – by  strengthening police presence in our streets, improving investigation  and prosecution outcomes, engaging the larger community to fight crime  via to be United Against Crime, and incorporating Safe City elements in  the development of our cities and townships.

Well, that was the gist of my conversation with the AM.

Yes,  things are not perfect in this country of ours. Where is it perfect?  But we have a lot going for us and it is up to us – each and every one  of us – to grasp the opportunities available to progress and help our  country and ourselves to become developed.

Things are never as bad as they seem.

Datuk  Seri Idris Jala is CEO of Pemandu and also Minister in the Prime  Minister’s Department. All fair and reasonable comments are most welcome  at

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