Saturday, June 7, 2008

Post Election: 100 days reflection

Malaysia will never been the same again after March 08, 2008. The people have spoken. It’s Malaysian – a multi-racial country – wanted change. Divide and conquer, scarce tactics, etc are no longer working. We can see a multi-racial opposition party that consists of Malay, Chinese and Indian in PKR. Chinese and Indian in DAP working hands-in-hands for the betterment of Malaysian. The landscape has changed: the end of politics monopoly – a competition-based politics is born.

At least, we all can see the government is a bit Kia-Su. The Prime Minister launched a series of confidence recovery to fight for his political survival despite of many calling him to step down. He is more determined with reformation instead of paying lips service when he came on board in 2004, when the people given him the full mandate and landslide victory.

He phased out the “dinosaurs” ministers like long-serving trade minister Rafidah Aziz. He injected half of the new faces into his team. There is a Chinese saying, some will never shed tears until they see a coffin. I think Badawi out of desperation will have no choice but to make things happen of what he promised in 2004 to fight corruptions and restore judiciary independence. Under pressure, he at least expressed his regrets of saga lead to sacking of the country’s top judge in 1988. He took on more risks to face-off with his old boss in Lingam’s case over the issue of appointments and promotions of senior judges. His old boss quit UMNO and hoping more will follow him to unseat Badawi. Unfortunately, our 4th PM miscalculated: no money and power, no followers.

Badawi was getting shrewd to strengthen his position. He bows down to key demands of key states like Sabah and Sarawak. He pledged to tackle illegal immigrants, increase funding for rural development and building more power plants. As soon as he secured supports, preventing them defecting to opposition, he announced restructuring of fuel subsidy. It was shocking to most people with 41% increase of petrol price. Though many were complaining but no major violence breakout. Many of the educated lots understand the logic but grass root society may find it difficult to swallow. Two thumbs up from me on the potential income tax reductions, RM 625 rebate and food security subsidy program.

We are stepping into the right direction with better check and balance. Mega projects were reviewed, some scrapped some still will go on. I applaud our opposition grilled Maybank CEO for overpaying Indonesian Bank. Penang state managed to secure multibillion foreign direct investments from IBIDEN and Honeywell and still courting many others. Selangor’s residents get relieve from water tariff reductions.

Let me sum up my reflection and observation this way, it’s better late and never. I’m bullish on Bursa Malaysia over the long term. The fruits of the reformation can be reaped later as we soon as we are moving into a society of fair play and compete based on ability and not privilege. For short-term, we have to go through some rough patches. Some foreign investors will feel uncomfortable with the stability of our government especially taking such an unpopular decisions.

This reminds me of the previous Chinese Premier, Zhu Rongji advice to Pakistan president on Pakistan’s debt, investment problems and investors’ confidence. Investors are like pigeon. When a government frightens them with poor decisions, they all will fly off together. When the government improves its policy to attract them back, they will return only one by one. I’m not equating Malaysia to similar deep trouble that Pakistan once had, I am saying as long as Malaysia is able to maintain its fundamentals, Ringgit and Bursa Malaysia will be perceived undervalued – the pigeon will return one by one.

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