Friday, March 20, 2009

An imaginery reality

As usual, when I went out with my wife to her bank, we recap with each other our thought for the day, and our view on current issues.

We started our discussion on economy, which recently becoming our main topic when we travel together.

She repeatatively stressed that she was once an admirer of Tun Mahathir, for his persuasive power and determination to make this country grow rapidly. But the 1998 incident on DSAI made her started to ask if Tun is doing the right thing on DSAI. Mind you that she is no DSAI fan, neither she buy-in the idea of Reformasi.

DSAI's incident has ignited her fear on state power intruded into personal life. She did not feel that strong until she iterviewed Kak Wan much later, although we went to the last Reformasi Rally right before DSAI was arrested.

Both of us work for media company, and we witnessed manipulation of information to be publshed, and the way it was handled.

We all know it is unjust for DSAI with the clown-led political trials but we were not able to offer any form of assistance to the deprived and those who have been denied.

But we, yes, she and I, were still very much appreciate Tun for what he has done for the country. We keep telling ourselves that Tun was probably blinded by his aides to act on DSAI harshly.

Before Tun step down, I even made a video with photographs of him, coupled with his favourate song "My Way" as my petty recognition to the Great man who has brought Malaysia to where we are now.

Today, my wife was grumbling about 2% interest on her FD. Prior going to the bank, she spoke to a bank officer over the phone, and was told the present rate, and was explained that Bank Negara is lowering the interest rates, commercial banks are obliged to do the same.

What struck in my mind when she told me the above, was that the lowering of interest rates by Bank Negara is with the intention to force cash sitting in the banks to either look for higher gain investment elsewhere, or to reduce the borrowing cost for businesses who need to borrow from the banks.

However, the big problem as I can see is that banks are still tight in releasing loans to needed businesses, and at the same time taking this advantage to reduce their retaining cost by paying less interest, or depositors choose to withdraw their deposits, banks need not to pay interest then.

The winning party is going to be the banks, and businesses favoured by the banks, and not the general public where they have neither enough to withdraw for alternative investments, or simply cannot get funding from the banks.

The move seems to ease the burden of banks and favoured businesses but it does not help the economy at large.

I then brought up my observation: should the country need to advance, at this juncture, the country should open up and allow free competition in all trades, ie removing trade barriers. This will bring all cost down as imported goods are cheaper. This will help most of us to be able to maintain with cheaper cost.

What about the domestic industries, in which we were told without protection
measures, these industries are going suffer due to competition.

In short term, I agreed that there will be adverse impact on businesses, however, this is the only way to ensure that the local industries playing seriously in their business by ensuring their quality of products are competitve even in their home country. Some businesses may fall due to intense competition, but businesses which improve themselves to sustain will grow stronger. My arguement is simple, if a business cannot even compete in their backyard, how can we depend on them to capture foreign markets?

Back to the current economy downturn. We are going to be even worse than we can ever expect just for a simple reason: We were given an opportunity to overhaul our system back in 1997/98, the financial crisis. But we have chosen the route not to rock the boat by containing and preserving what actually dragged us when we need to move fast, the bagage getting heavier after we imposed currency control, sweeping rubbish under the carpet and telling everyone that we have clean our house but the rubbish remain.

These rubbish and bagage comes back to haunt us when the world goes down. We have been sustaining a respectable growth during the final years of Tun, all in the expense of our future generations that they are the one who will have to foot the bills.

It is fortunate for those who did not manage to live their life to witness the bad hit we had now. They enjoy the benefits but need not pay for it, but their future generations are those who will be suffering from the mistake by the then and current administrations.

These are the people who will be supporting what we had enjoy for the past years due to policies and implementations that serves the need of handful.

We are now at the second crossroad, the players are roughly the same. It is unwise to say that we, or others who supports DSAI because DSAI is the only savoiur of this country. The truth is we feel, and know well that we need an overhaul, and this can only be carried out by someone not currently in the administration, and it appear that DSAI is there for us.

Should one day DSAI fail or otherwise, there will be someone who will gather support from those who wish the country do better, and certainly this someone will not, and never will be from the current administration, as the current administration is the main cause of the economic problem.

In short, Tun's administration rock the foundation of this country, and the current administration make it worse as the defy the call to reform.

DSAI happened to be there as an alternative, but he may not be the only one.

It is difficult to expess what I have and how I feel in writing. Sincerely I do hope we can do much better, and we do have talent to make things right, but we chose to sacrify them, pushing them off to other countries, sweettalk to our children on false directions for all the wrong reasons and created wasted human resources mismatched with the actual needs in human capital market. We were still dreaming that we have unlimited black gold and green gold (palm oil) that will bring this country to the next height.

Should we sit down and look at how Singapore, Sweeden, Denmark and other great countries excel in their own field, and the benefits are effectively channeled to their citizen, instead of watered down by leakage and wastages?

Can we make it thru this time?

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