DECEMBER 8, 2013
|Members of the United Malays National Organisation watch as Umno president |
Datuk Seri Najib Razak is seen on a giant screen as he delivers a speech
during the 2013 Umno General Assembly in Kuala Lumpur December 5, 2013. — Reuters pic
KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 8 — The Malays are heading towards a future that is rapidly growing dimmer under Umno’s continued rule, PKR said today, citing the ruling party’s alleged failure to address key national issues during its just-concluded annual assembly.
PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar said the week-long assembly had only seen more chest-thumping from the ruling party’s bellicose leaders to the tune of their new “1Melayu” refrain, instead of debates on the nation’s dip in education standards and how to better address issues like corruption and the rise in living costs.
“The spike in living costs, an issue that has grown more burdensome on the public, appeared to be mostly ignored.
“In fact, Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Razah still held on to his old rhetorical approach, saying — the people should be patient and sacrifice for the sake of the country’s finances,” she pointed out in a statement here.
The Lembah Pantai MP noted that international ratings agency Moody had recently upgraded its credit outlook on Malaysia to A3, on the back of improved prospects for fiscal consolidation and reforms in government spending, including measures taken to cut back on public subsidies.
“But the question the Umno assembly failed to address is this — how did Moody’s downgrade Malaysia’s outlook in the first place? Why didn’t a single leader or delegate speak on the effect of leakages, corruption and mismanagement of the economy?” Nurul Izzah asked.
“It was because of government extravagance and leakages that the public now has to face taxes like the GST, price hikes in petrol, sugar and electricity tariffs and even assessment rates by City Hall — all to boost the country’s credit ratings and raise the national debt at the hands of the select few identified for the Malay Economic Empowerment Agenda (Umno elites),” she added.
At his closing speech yesterday, Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Razak had told Malaysians that painful temporary subsidy cuts were necessary to boost the economy and to help Malaysia eventually achieve developed status by 2020.
The prime minister reasoned that the recent increases in fuel and sugar prices, as well as the electricity tariff hike next month, had improved Malaysia’s outlook by ratings agency Moody’s from stable to positive.
“We have to take some short-term pains for long-term gains,” Najib said as he closed Umno’s 67th general assembly here.
“It is only a little. Not very painful. By 2020, we’ll be a developed nation,” he added.
The electricity tariff in the peninsula will increase by 14.9 per cent, or 4.99 sen, to 38.53 sen for every kilowatt per hour (kWh), and 16.9 per cent, or 5 sen per kWh, to 34.52 sen per kWh for Sabah and Labuan, effective January 1 next year.
In April 2015, the controversial Goods and Services Tax (GST), a broad-based consumption tax, will also be implemented to help reduce the country’s fiscal deficit.
“We must strengthen our economy, then we can give more assistance to the people,” said Najib.
|PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar said the week-long assembly |
had only seen more chest-thumping from the ruling party’s bellicose
leaders to the tune of their new ‘1Melayu’ refrain. — Picture by Choo Choy May
The party president, now in his second term, had led the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) pact to a bittersweet victory during the 13th general elections that was expected to spur Umno towards introspection and reform.
But observations throughout debates during the ruling party’s annual meet over the week appeared to show otherwise as delegates chose instead to focus on more of the same rhetoric that is believed to have caused BN to bleed votes during the polls.
Earlier in the week, Pandan Umno delegate Datuk Mohd Haniff Koslan said government-linked companies (GLCs) should each produce one Malay millionaire every two to three years, ostensibly to prop up the position of Islam in the country.
Malacca delegate Datuk Akhbar Ali urged for the 30 per cent quota for Bumiputera equity in business to be more than doubled, since the Bumiputera community account for 67.9 per cent of the country’s population of 28 million.
In proposing the economy motion on Thursday, Bachok Umno chief Datuk Dr Awang Adek Hussin sought for GLCs to award public contracts and procurement to more Bumiputera firms.
The former deputy finance minister also wanted state-owned firms to prefer hiring Bumiputera graduates, while demanding a public key performance index (KPI) to monitor the extent to which GLCs are supporting the Bumiputera agenda.
Daily, the unifying theme was overwhelmingly “more”.
Umno is comfortable with living in its cocoon or its shell and does not want to think of further ways to promote the country as a whole... but just how to further concentrate power and wealth through a range of motions and rebranding policies tailored specifically for select party members. — Nurul Izzah Anwar
Peppered among the calls for more of the carrot were also some demanding the stick for those who did not throw their support behind Umno and BN in Election 2013.
Telling Putrajaya to only “bet on sure things”, Federal Territories delegate Datuk Mohd Shafei Abdullah on Thursday asked the federal government to re-examine the 1 Malaysia People’s Aid (BR1M) cash handouts with the view of excluding PR supporters.
Pandan Umno delegate Datuk Mohd Haniff Koslan suggested that the BN government play hard ball in federal to state dealings with the PR Selangor government, claiming the state made it harder for Malays to conduct business there.
Most controversial was Penang delegate Datuk Musa Sheikh Fadzir, who said Putrajaya should consider adopting “1 Melayu” in place of its all-inclusive “1 Malaysia” slogan after efforts to reach out to Chinese voters were snubbed in Election 2013.
Amid the pomp and pageantry, there was scant evidence that this was the assembly of a party whose coalition has just come off the poorest electoral result since that of the Alliance Party, which it replaced, in Election 1969.
“In conclusion, Umno is comfortable with living in its cocoon or its shell and does not want to think of further ways to promote the country as a whole... but just how to further concentrate power and wealth through a range of motions and rebranding policies tailored specifically for select party members,” Nurul Izzah said.
“Clearly, the future of the Malays and Malaysia will continue to darken under Umno if it still fails to implement national reconciliation efforts that are inclusive, to create a brighter future for all,” she added.