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Press Statement by Lim Guan Eng in Penang on Wednesday, 27th February 2008: 

DAP challenges Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to a public debate on DAPís proposed RM 35 billion fiscal stimulus plan granting an annual bonus of RM 6,000/- for working families earning less than RM 6,000 per month 

DAP challenges UMNO Deputy President, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, to a public debate on DAPís proposed RM 35 billion fiscal stimulus plan granting an annual bonus of RM6,000 for working families earning less than RM 6,000 per month (and not earning RM 6,000 a year as reported in the New Straits Times). Najib has said that DAPís RM35 billion fiscal stimulus plan is an empty promise that will ruin the country because it is not based on the ability to pay.

DAP has worked out that this plan would cost RM 35 billion based on 10.7 million working Malaysians. This sum is still only half of the RM 70 billion in gross profits earned by Petronas last year. For this fiscal year, gross profits are expected to exceed easily RM 80 billion. Is asking only half of the Petronasí annual profits to be distributed to Malaysians excessive and unreasonable? The government can no longer ignore the plight of working families with the reason that the inflation rate is only 2% in 2007 when the reality on the ground is more than 20%.

This RM 35 billion in annual bonus is less than the RM 43.4 billion annual cost in various subsidies such as fuel subsidies (RM 16.2 billion), gas subsidies given by Petronas to Tenaga Nasional Bhd and IPPs-Independent Power Producers (RM 18 billion) despite their huge billion ringgit annual profits as well as tuition, toll and fertilizers subsidies (RM 9.2 billion). To make the cost of the RM 35 billion annual bonus even lower, subsidies given to TNB and IPPs can be abolished since they are already recording huge profits.

Apart from helping the poor and middle-class reduce the financial hardships of rising inflation, giving them RM 6,000 yearly would also help stimulate the economy. These working families would spend the money in the local economy and not go for overseas holidays like BN leaders, creating a multiplier effect that would stimulate and generate business for the local economy.

The BN has brainwashed the people to think that giving money to poor working families is wrong, when that has been practiced by our neighbouring countries such as Singapore and Thailand. A government that does not give money to the poor when it can afford to do so is a bad government. Would Najib dare to debate with the DAP or hide behind BNís control of the mass media to continue his distortions about the DAP?

Foreign investors will be more attracted to a healthy democratic state that has a strong opposition to provide effective checks and balances

Another distortion is BNís advertisement that Malaysians are living well with low prices because the price of petrol and other commodities are lower than neighbouring countries such as Singapore. Such contentions are no different from comparing apples with oranges by completely ignoring the fact that Singapore has a higher standard of living and higher wages than Malaysia. And we should not diminish our devalue ourselves by comparing ourselves with a poorer country like Indonesia.

DAP rejects Najibís perverse logic that BN needs a two-third majority to provide a strong government that can gain the confidence of the market, investors and face up to the challenges of globalisation. Investors will be more attracted to a healthy democratic state that has a strong opposition to provide effective checks and balances.

A survey of developed nations will show that almost all are healthy and functioning democracies with a strong opposition. For this reason, if Malaysia is to have any chance of becoming a developed state by 2020, Malaysians need to vote in a strong opposition that can deny BN its 2/3 majority.


* Lim Guan Eng, DAP Secretary-General

 
 

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