Saturday, May 24, 2014

Let the numbers do the talking, Dr Dzul

I sent the following piece to The Malaysian Insider on 22 May 2014 and 23 May 2014. I think TMI Editorial team will not bother probably because they were comparing Dr Dzul vs "who is this Goh Wei Liang". But I hope TMI did not evolve into a 1Voice, 1Opinion, 1Direction site. Two party system must have three opinions lah - Government, Opposition, and the shy ones.


I refer to Dr Dzul's article "GTP and ETP 2013 Report: Looking beyond numbers". I must commend him for being one of the few MPs from the Opposition bench in Parliament who actually cares about our economy. All these while, I thought it was just YB MP Serdang who cares. I won’t go into the details of my “it’s complicated” relationship with YB MP Serdang.

Let's go straight into the comments by Dr Dzul.

Comment #1 – Dr Dzul: Poor scores of four NKEAs were noted. They have failed their KPIs as noted by RHB Research Institute
While it is true that some of the NKEAs did not hit their targets, should we not commend the Prime Minister and his Cabinet for being transparent on their KPIs and their actual achievement? If you flip through the Annual Report(s), the Government actually reported what they have done in the past 12 months in the following order:

1.  What went well
2.  What went wrong and why
3.  Moving forward (targets and plans for the following year)

When you think of Najib, regardless of whether you like him or not, at least the first thing that comes to mind is his Transformation Programmes. He releases annual reports for you to judge, regardless if he is achieving them or not.

When you think of the Economic Advisor of Selangor (I don’t know what has he advised Khalid Ibrahim on), the Chief Ministers, do you know what are their annual targets and achievements? Can you name any? I am not just talking about the Pakatan Rakyat-led States but also the Barisan Nasional States.

Comment #2 – Dr Dzul: Investments were down by 75% year-on-year to RM8 billion as compared to RM32.1 billion in 2012 and RM179.2 in 2011. Research houses are already alluding to concern of our attractiveness as an investment destination.
Investments are not down. Private investment have been increasing year on year. The growth rate of investments were higher post 2010 as compared to the years before. This, to me, is a sign of confidence in the Malaysian economy and our political stability.

In fact, the approved investments under MIDA and the other investment promotion agencies in 2011-2013 have exceeded the RMK10’s annual target of RM148 bil. This is a clear sign of a healthy pipeline of investments.

If there’s anything to be worried about, it is probably the water issue and the quality of the infrastructure in Selangor such as roads. Please don’t come and tell me that these are Federal Government’s responsibility because clearly not all roads are Federal Government roads. Already the Economic Advisor of Selangor was caught red handed on Twitter when a netizen highlighted to him that a stretch between Kulim to Bukit Mertajam is in a bad condition. Conveniently, YB Permatang Pauh said “Jln persekutuan-dah ruj Kem”. The Works Minister checked and sent a reply that says “Just finished cabinet meeting n just checked that this road is P7, it is a state road”.

Now we know why Penang’s budget is in a surplus position.

Comment #3: Dr Dzul - Are we on a sure trajectory, ceteris paribus, which will propel us into a high-income economy come 2020?
No one can be sure but it looks like we are closing the gap on high income threshold (we are catching up!)

Comment #4 - Dr Dzul: More specifically here, neither has the quality of life for the bottom 40% of the rakyat or citizenry improved, worse still, declined. Nor that the size of the middle class has become broader based and improving.

I am not going to talk about quality of life but standard of living measured by income. It is extremely important for us, regardless if you are Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Rakyat or still shy to take sides, to actually put bread and butter on the tables of those who are less fortunate.

Say what you like, but the Government did not sideline the bottom 40%. And when we talk about the bottom 40%, please don’t think of this as folks in Selangor, Penang or Johor only. Remember our brothers and sisters in Sabah and Sarawak.

Under the 10th Malaysia Plan, the mean income of the bottom 40% of households in 2009 was RM1,440 per month. This increased to RM1,847 in 2012. That’s a compounded annual growth rate of 8.7%.

  • 188,781 people were moved out from Poverty between 2009 and 2013. In 2013 alone, it was 79,731 people.
  • 18,249 1Azam participants' increased their income by RM300 in 2013. 
  • The Government has spent RM7.72 billion in technical and vocational education and training.
  • The Government in 2010 has approved RM1 bil for oil palm smallholders replanting and new planting for implementation in 2011-2014
  • The Government introduced the minimum wage in 2013. An estimated 3.2 million people in Malaysia will directly benefit from Minimum Wage and I was told that the compliance rate is at approximately 97%.

In the overall labour market context, according to a briefing by a Cabinet Minister to analysts and media:
  1. Income less than RM2,000 per month: 57% in 2009, it is 47% now.
  2. Income between RM2,000 – RM4,000 per month: 28% in 2009, it is 32% now.
  3. Income between RM4,000 – RM7,000 per month: 11% in 2009, it is 13% now.
The Government did not and will not stop here. The focus will always be to assist those that are less fortunate and the needy.

Of course, I must say that we must applaud some of the non-Government's efforts such as NRC 11's #KitchenForHomeless and DAP's Impian Sarawak projects. After seeing the pictures of YB MP Serdang carrying bags of fertilizer and delivering them to long houses in interior Sarawak, I think he deserves a pat on the back. This clearly shows that this is not just the responsibility of the Government, but us all.

This is our country and we must work together in this transformation journey.

I am always searching for thoughts or words when it comes to writing the conclusion. So, I will just re-use what Dr Dzul said and send it back to Dr. “As the saying goes, if you want to have what you never had, you have got to do what you have never done”.


The above is the personal opinion of Goh Wei Liang.

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