Tags Posts tagged with "Economy"


A friend sent me this news commentary and I thought I would share it with you. Does it ring a bell by any chance?

Under sweeping privatisation policies, they appropriated profitable public enterprises and vast areas of state-owned lands. A small group of businessmen seized public assets and acquired monopoly positions in strategic commodity markets … While crony capitalism flourished, local industries that were once the backbone of the economy were left to decline. At the same time, private sector industries making environmentally hazardous products … have expanded without effective regulation at a great cost to the health of the population.

A tiny economic elite controlling consumption-geared production and imports has accumulated great wealth. This elite includes representatives of foreign companies with exclusive import rights in … automobiles. It also includes real estate developers who created a construction boom in gated communities and resorts for the super-rich. Much of this development is on public land acquired at very low prices, with no proper tendering or bidding.

Suddenly, it seems that the United States is on a charm offensive in Asia. It’s amazing what an economic slowdown or recession can do.

A flurry of high-level visits by top US officials appears aimed at reasserting American influence in the region as China flexes its economic muscles. These high-level US trips around the  G-20, Apec and the East Asia Summit (EAS) may also be seen as attempts to secure access to important markets (and cheap labour) and shore up US footholds in the region.

The US of course is also concerned about China’s growing naval power. America has large long-term bases in Japan and South Korea and military facilities and strategic arrangements elsewhere in Asia.

The UK National Archives has put on public display a memorandum dated 21 February 1956 by the UK ‘Secretary of State for the Colonies’ on the ‘Conference of the Constitutional Advance of Malaya’.

From the memo, you can sense the colonial anxiety that Malaya should continue to be open to and protect ‘overseas investments’ and defend the ‘Sterling Area’, which partly depended on rubber and tin for its resilience. That was probably linked to the imperative of protecting British economic interests in Malaya in the face of the rising tide of nationalism and struggle for economic sovereignty around the world. After all, the colonialists were heavily involved in the extraction of resources, especially rubber and tin, in Malaya.

Germany 4, England 1. The English Premier League may be the most popular league in the world with its players paid ludicrous wages, but for all the league’s global mass appeal, the host nation, England, is hard-pressed to deliver a top-class national team.

(Check out the ref’s funny blind spot here.)

The influx of foreign players and coaches and the lack of space in the top clubs for the development of promising English talent have contributed to the stagnation – if not regression – of the England national side.

GDP growth as a measure of economic well-being tends to serve the interests of Big Business rather than those of ordinary people.

Watch all the episodes of this excellent film ‘The Corporation’, described by many as the best documentary they have seen.

In mainstream economic thinking, there are a few fundamental assumptions that are rarely questioned – and they form the basis of economic theory. These assumptions have been so widely disseminated and taught that very few even think of alternatives.

We are told that the government is introducing a Goods and Services Tax (GST) to broaden its tax base. Low-income Malaysians and migrant workers will soon have to pay this indirect form of taxation on consumption whereas previously they were exempted from tax.

Obviously, the government is operating under tight budgetary constraints – and these have even affected essential services such as education. Check out the impact here and here.

Ordinary Malaysians are feeling the pinch as the government tries to narrow its yawning fiscal deficit.

One wonders what these low-income folks will make of Najib’s announcement of the immediate abolition of import duty on all golf buggies. The cost of a golf buggy will now drop to RM23,000 from RM34,000. No doubt they will be comforted to know that green trimmers and lawnmowers will now be cheaper as well.

Najib says the Malaysian economy is out of the woods and we are poised to do better this year. From what you see around you, do you agree?

A bunch of bananas in Penang is now RM1 more expensive, char koay teow and roti canai servings have shrunk, and many workers have lost out on increments over the last couple of years. Stress levels have soared as workers have to work longer hours to cover for those retrenched and not replaced. And now we have the spectre of GST looming over us.

The GDP figures did not do as badly as anticipated last year because of the pump priming and fiscal stimulus packages.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote an article on the Malaysian economy, which also touched on the net investment outflows from Malaysia in recent times: Capital outflows cloud economic outlook (Asia Times).

That prompted a thoughtful response from an analyst who makes a valid point – that we must discard our obsession with securing foreign direct investments (FDI), which has blinded us to alternative paths towards a more sustainable domestic economy. Instead, he says, we need to look at how we can promote domestic investment while assessing qualitatively how beneficial each investment is to the people and to the local economy:

Generally nice article. However, I thought the section on investment flows was somewhat misleading, although the overall question — why are Malaysians investing abroad — is valid and important.