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Before claiming to have fulfilled BN’s 2004 general elections promises, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has to explain why he performed worse than Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad after taking over as Prime Minister in 2003


Press Statement

by Lim Guan Eng



(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has to start afresh from basic principles of socio-economic justice, adopting a merit system, delivery system based on competency and efficiency as well as respect for the rule of law before he can claim that the Barisan Nasional administration has fulfilled promises made at the last general election. His stewardship of the country has been marked by failures ranging from the worst press freedom rankings, worst corruption rankings, and highest crime rate and income inequality between the rich and poor on record to the first time ever that Malaysian public universities are not in the top 200 universities in the world.

Before claiming to have fulfilled BN’s 2004 general election promises, Abdullah has to explain why he performed worse than Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad after taking over as Prime Minister in 2003. Malaysia was ranked at No. 37 under the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index in 2003 before sliding to No. 44 last year and No. 33 in 2007. Similarly Malaysia ranked 124th in the 2007 Press Freedom Index released by Paris-based watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF), our worst performance ever as compared to 104th ranking in 2003.

What is the use of having an astronaut in space if our universities fail to make the international grade? The failure of Malaysian public universities to make it into the top 200 universities in the world under the Times Higher Education Supplement (THES) - Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings (THES-QS) is simply shameful. UM dropped from 192nd last year to 246th this year whilst UKM dropped from 185th last year to 309th. The best university in Malaysia, Universiti Sains Malaysia dropped from 277th last year to 307th this year. UPM dropped from 292 in 2006 to 364th.

The Prime Minister had this to say,

"Three years ago, we had Universiti Sains Malaysia among the first 100 and another two universities in the top 200. Now, none of the Malaysian universities are in the top 200. "People will ask - if (foreign) students come to Malaysia, is it because it is cheap? If it is cheap, we must still have quality. We cannot accept cheap education but of low quality.”

Distribute Petronas profits - fight corruption, fight inflation!

The question is why has Abdullah failing to deliver on inculcating a culture of excellence in education just as he failed to wipe out corruption or make our streets and neighborhoods safe from crime. Whilst the crime index soared to its highest level ever of 198,622 crimes in 2006, an increase of 11.6% from 157,459 crimes in 2005 to, the top police officers were engaged in a turf war.

Both the Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hasan and Commercial Crime Investigation Department director Datuk Ramli Yusuff were involved in allegations of corruption with Tan Sri Musa escaping charges of corruption whilst the “RM 27 million man”, Datuk Ramli has been charged. Is Datuk Ramli the only one in the police force who is corrupt or is he being made the scapegoat for the government’s failure to wipe out corruption in the police force or failure to check rampant crime?

The greatest concern is the inability of the government to address the economic hardships faced by the people following rising prices and inflation. First the government has attempted to cover-up the harsh impact of inflation by claiming that the inflation rate from January to September 2007 is a mere 2% when the true picture on the ground place it at more than 20%. Secondly, the government has failed to give assistance to the middle-and lower classes to maintain their standard of living.

One supermarket manager told me recently that he noticed a marked increase in pilferage of milk powder whose prices have increased by 30% this year. It is sad that normally honest parents are forced to steal just to feed their hungry children because they are unable to make ends meet based on their meager pay. Forcing small private businesses to increase pay is not the solution as these small businessmen are also affected by rising costs of their supplies and inflation.

Worse is that some government subsidiary companies have failed to pay their workers salary up to 8 months. This is happening not in Kuala Lumpur but in the state of Melaka, which Abdullah only praised recently for its ability to pay RM 1.5 billion in taxes last year despite being such a small state. Is he aware that Malays working in a Melaka state government subsidiary company have not being paid for 8 months this year?

The only solution is to attack the causes of escalating prices namely corruption and distributing the huge profits earned from Petronas. Economists have identified corruption as one of the causes of inflation Badawi can not deny that his failure to prevent corruption from getting worse under his stewardship has only worsened inflation. The exposes in the Auditor-General report of public wastage where a RM 40 two-tonne jack is bought for RM 5,417 and the leaking water in expensive RM 100 million renovation works in Parliament house or newly completed RM 400 million court complexes are just some of the examples of abuses of power.

An urgent immediate solution is to distribute Petronas profits because it is immoral for Petronas to benefit from huge extraordinary profits whilst 27 million Malaysians are suffering. The Malaysian government claims that it spent RM 40 billion on subsidies whilst Petronas spent another 27 billion in gas subsidies to the power sector including TNB, Independent Power Producers and the industrial sector last year.

If the government is to abolish these subsidies, why not give these subsidies to ordinary Malaysians. Both the government and Petronas can afford to give an annual RM 3,000 to every working Malaysian earning less than RM 3,000 a month or an annual RM 6,000 to every family with a combined income of less than RM 6,000 a month. Giving out money has been done by developed countries such as Singapore which gives S$2,500 annually to every poor family despite not having a single drop of oil.

Doing so will not only alleviate the economic hardships faced by ordinary people but also reduce opportunities for corruption. Better this huge RM 40 billion subsidy is distributed amongst the people than to be exploited and employed by irresponsible parties for corruption purposes.


* Lim Guan Eng, Secretary-General of DAP

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