Monday, August 18, 2014



Today, after remaining quiet for some months, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad launched another broadside against Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak. One of the criticisms against the Prime Minister is the country’s alleged over-dependence on imports.

Over the last 12 months, Malaysia’s imports ranged from RM48-59 billion while its exports ranged from RM61-67 billion. For years, Malaysia’s exports have exceeded its imports. How is this translated into over-dependence on imports?

One thing we have to accept is we cannot expect other countries to buy from us if we do not also buy from them. There is not a country in the world that exports without importing. We need to just make sure that we sell more than we buy. And this is what Malaysia is doing.

How do we reduce imports? By increasing the tax on imports? If we increase the tax on imports then other countries will reciprocate by increasing the tax on imports of Malaysian goods into their country as well. And this will make Malaysian goods uncompetitive.

Furthermore, won’t this increase in import tax burden the Malaysian consumer even more and probably cause a backlash on the government? How can Barisan Nasional be expected to perform better in the next general election if all the voters are angry about this increase in tax of imported goods and services?

One of the major grouses of the taxpayers is tolled highways, especially in Selangor, which is an opposition stronghold. So let us talk about that, an issue the opposition has managed to exploit to its advantage.


Malaysians do not want to pay toll on the highways they use. They want the highways to be free like, say, in the UK, where you can drive from Dover to the tip of Scotland without paying a single penny.

Is this what Najib should do, abolish toll charges on the highways? Who, then, is going to pay for the cost to build and maintain those highways? Who then is going to reimburse the private companies that spent billions building those highways? The government?

If the government compensates those highway concessionaires for allowing the public to drive on those highways free-of-charge, would this not just mean the government is going to spend more money? And is this not what Dr Mahathir is upset about, the money the government is spending?

Anyway, the privatisation of highways and allowing private companies to build highways and collect toll was an idea that Dr Mahathir himself mooted. And the reason for this is to avoid the government having to spend the money and make those who want to use the highways pay for it.

So is Dr Mahathir now saying he was wrong?

Dr Mahathir says that the people must criticise its leaders. He says he criticised the leaders in the past from the Tunku right up to Pak Lah. That may be true. But the circumstances were different.

Dr Mahathir criticised the Tunku because he was too ‘soft’ towards the Chinese, so said Dr Mahathir at that time in the letters he wrote to the Tunku, which got him sacked from Umno. Soon after the May 2013 general election, Dr Mahathir said the same thing about Najib.

Are we now going back to “May 13” era politics where the issue becomes racial? This should no longer be seen as Malays versus Chinese. That will not help Barisan Nasional one bit unless Umno wants to leave Barisan Nasional and contest the next general elections on its own.

On its own, Umno will never be able to form the government and we all know that. Umno is in power because of the non-Malays. And that is a reality we must accept. Umno should not be antagonising the non-Malays, especially those in Sabah and Sarawak. Umno should be trying to court the non-Malays because that is the only way it can remain in power.

In 2004, Barisan Nasional performed the best in its history. No Prime Minister has ever won an election with that type of majority since Merdeka. But then Dr Mahathir was still not happy with Pak Lah and in 2006 he launched an attack on the Prime Minister. And this resulted in the 2008 election disaster for Barisan Nasional.

Like it or not, more than 70% of the voters were born after Merdeka or after 13 May 1969. Even 10-year old Malaysians are internet-savvy and have their own Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and whatnot. These are not Malaysians with the mentality of the 1950s or 1960s.

So we cannot use 1950s or 1960s political strategies to win their hearts and minds. Najib knows this very well. Apparently Dr Mahathir does not. So just leave Najib alone to do his job. He knows what the young want and he knows that the young are going to determine who gets to form the next government.

You have better believe this or else be ready to lose the government in the next general election!

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