More interestingly, in a statement today, he said that contrary to popular belief, the rates should drop even if gas subsidies are cut.
However, Anwar said, this would require a revision of the lopsided agreements with the independent power producers (IPPs), particularly the first generation IPPs, that had been forced on Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) .
According to the man who was finance minister when the agreements were brokered, IPPs are currently producing electricity at a cheaper price as they use subsidised natural gas, but force TNB to buy at a bumper price of 13.7 to 15.5 sen per kWh.
To subsidise the gas used by the IPPs, which he claims are companies of well-connected businessmen and cronies, the government is blowing an estimated RM22 billion hole in its pocket.
The final result of this complex and lopsided agreement is a relatively disproportionate high electricity tariff paid for by the Malaysian public, he said.
Thai IPPs get no subsidy, but tariffs much lower By way of comparison, he said Malaysian households are paying 22 percent more than Thai users, whose power producers buy natural gases at market rates.
At present, market price for natural gas is three times higher than that enjoyed by the Malaysian power generators.
Similarly, retail customers under the category 'low voltage commercial tariff' also pay... 48 percent higher than Thailand's 25 sen per kWh, he said.
Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Idris Jala earlier this! month t old Malaysiakini that the government will review the subsidies given to the IPPs as the contracts are expiring. The government, through then energy and green technology minister Shaziman Mansor had in 2006 attempted to review the IPP contracts but no revision was eventually made.
Industry sources have been reported to have said that electricity tariffs will increase next month following subsidy cuts.
Elektrik: Putrajaya patut kaji konsesi IPP, bukan naik tarif dijangka Jun
Anwar: IPP subsidy powering inflation
Dari Nik Adha Nik Kamil, melalui e-mel
Perjuangan PAS sebagai sebuah hizbullah adalah berlandaskan hukum-hukum Allah swt. Sayugia, PAS menentang segala bentuk fitnah dan zina. Pendedahan video seks membabitkan Anwar Ibrahim boleh ditakrifkan sebagai fitnah zina.
Jika video itu palsu, sebuah fitnah telah direkacipta untuk menganiaya Anwar Ibrahim. Jika video itu benar, Anwar Ibrahim telah melakukan zina. Hitam atau putih, tiada ruang untuk kelabu.
Isu video seks ini meletakkan PAS di persimpangan jalan. Isu ini sudah semestinya menguji keikhlasan PAS sebagai sebuah parti yang memperjuangkan syariat Islam. Setakat ini pendirian pucuk pimpinan PAS masih kabur dan samar mengenai isu ini. Pada waktu sama tiada juga tindakan pro-aktif oleh pemimpin-pemimpin PAS untuk menentukan kesahihan video tersebut.
PAS sepatutnya atas inisiatif sendiri merujuk kepada pakar-pakar video untuk menentukan kesahihan video tersebut yang kini telah tersebar meluas. Begitu juga teknologi canggih seperti pengecaman-muka perlu digunakan untuk mengenalpasti pelaku dalam video itu.
Segala usaha-usaha ini bebas dari apa-apa yang dilakukan oleh pihak-pihak lain. Ianya semata-mata untuk membantu pemimpin-pemimpin PAS membuat keputusan yang tepat dan bijak. Sambil memohon kepada Allah swt untuk memberi petunjuk, segala kepakaran yang sedia ada perlu digunakan untuk memberi penentuan.
Berserah kepada Allah swt tetapi unta masih perlu ditambat juga!
Sebaliknya, apa yang dilihat umum ialah pemimpin-pemimpin PAS mengeluarkan kenyataan yang bercanggah-canggah. Mursyidul Am yakin Anwar tidak melakukan zina. Nik Aziz membuat kenyataan tanpa menonton video tersebut. Setiausaha Agung menyeru supaya menunggu keputusan siasatan polis. Mustafa Ali pula membuat kenyataan setelah dikatakan menonton video tersebut.
Pasukan polis yang menjadi rujukan Mustafa Ali adalah pasukan polis yang dilabel oleh PAS sebagai tidak adil dan tidak beb! as.< p>Dalam masa yang sama, pemimpin-pemimpin PAS bersikap seolah-olah isu ini tidak wujud. Calon Timbalan Presiden, Mohamad Sabu pada satu sidang media telah menyatakan tidak akan melayan soalan-soalan mengenai video tersebut.
Pengerusi Jawatankuasa Pemilihan PAS, Abdul Halim Abdul Rahman pula menyatakan bahawa muktamar PAS 2011 tidak akan membincang isu video seks. Ada pemimpin-pemimpin PAS yang sanggup menjadi burung unta yang lebih selesa menimbus kepala dalam pasir.
Sama ada mendapat restu atau tidak dari pucuk pimpinan PAS, ahli-ahli PAS dan rakyat biasa tetap akan membincang isu video seks.
Implikasi isu ini amat getir bukan hanya kepada keutuhan PAS sebagai sebuah hizbullah tetapi rakyat Malaysia turut, khususnya orang melayu, akan berpecah belah.
Yang membuat akar umbi PAS dan penyokong-penyokong Pakatan Rakyat amat gusar, lebih dari kandungan video tersebut, ialah tindak-tanduk Anwar setelah pendedahan dibuat. Banyak persoalan yang timbul:
- Mengapa Anwar tidak mengumumkan identiti alibi-alibi beliau?
- Mengapa penjelasan Anwar tentang ketidakhadirannya dalam ruang Twitter pada masa video dirakam amat mengelirukan?
- Mengapa tidak ditunjukkan kepada umum jam Omega, jam yang dikatakan oleh Anwar dan Wan Azizah masih disimpan oleh Wan Azizah?
- Mengapa tidak membuat sumpah laknat?
- Mengapa tidak membuat ujian polygraph?
- Mengapa tidak merujuk kepada pakar-pakar yang profesional dan bebas tentang kesahihan video tersebut?
- Mengapa Anwar tidak menyaman malu individu-individu yang membuat pendedahan?
- Mengapa Anwar gagal untuk mengesahkan persahabatan beliau dengan Eskay Abdullah?
Tindak-tanduk Anwar tidak mencerminkan kewibawaan beliau sebagai seorang pemimpin yang bijak menangani sebarang krisis.
Jika sah video tersebut palsu, PAS wajib mengembelingkan segala tenaga untuk menghukum pihak pemfitnah. Dataran Merdeka akan bertu! kar menj adi Dataran Tahrir.
Tidak cukup bumi untuk pemfitnah melarikan diri. PAS secara default akan menjadi pemimpin kepada sebuah gerakan massa yang memperjuangkan kebenaran dan keadilan.
Jika sah video tersebut benar, PAS wajib menyisihkan seorang penzina. PAS akan dianggap sebagai satu parti politik yang berprinsip kerana sanggup mengenepikan kepentingan politik demi menegakkan hukum Allah swt.
Sekaligus membuat parti-parti politik yang mengamalkan resam matlamat menghalalkan cara kelihatan kerdil bagai melukut di tepi gantang.
Isu video seks Anwar Ibrahim bukanlah satu musibah tetapi satu rahmat kepada PAS. Inilah peluang keemasan untuk PAS membuktikan ia benar-benar sebuah hizbullah. PAS sebenarnya kini berada dalam keadaan menang-menang.
I need a few weeks of rest, said the chuckling 63-year-old to Malaysiakini during an exclusive interview last week, But give up and give free reign to (Prime Minister) Najib (Abdul Razak) and (his wife) Rosmah (Mansor)? That's not possible. Neither fatigue nor fear of persecution, it seems, will stop Anwar in his tracks, not even the possibility of being named the man in the sex video revealed in March.
The police have claimed to have identified the man but will not make the information public - something Anwar said would involve a big risk.
(The police) have been giving political statements (but) taking no action, as if the investigation is as complex as the Altantuya murder case.
(If they announce that it is me) we will deal with it... I think they will take a major risk if they do that, he said.
But the Permatang Pauh MP could not reveal what the big risk is, saying that he has been advised against doing so by his lawyers. Anwar was also short of details over his relationship with one of the men who were behind the screening of the video, Shazryl Eskay Abdullah, claiming that he only knew the latter's full name recently.
'Many claim to be my best buddy'
Speaking tongue-in-cheek, he said that many claim to be (his) best buddy and that all of those who jumped ship from Pakatan are his best buddies too.
Som! e I don' t know who their families are or even their full names. Can you imagine? I didn't know his full name until he filed (the crooked bridge) case.
Of course I know him, yes, close. And believe me I have close friends whom I don't know their names? I didn't even know at that time if he is Buddhist or Muslim, I don't know, he said.
In the excerpt of the interview below, Anwar speaks of the sex video, its impact on Pakatan Rakyat support and why the word 'Omega' has him hot under the collar. Content has been edited for language and brevity.
Malaysiakini - Both BN and Pakatan have admitted that the fight for the Malay votes is in fact a battle for the 5 to 7 percent fence-sitters. How will the sex video affect these voters? This has been the topic of many of your ceramah.
Anwar - I make reference to it because it has been highlighted daily but in my discussion with the team, other than giving out pamphlets about the issue, I don't think we should be focusing about how to do it, it deflects from the central issue of governance and change.
Of course (their) strategy (is) to use it (on) the Malay crowd. But there is also a backlash because a lot of the normal ustaz and religious teachers who are not known to be with Pakatan Rakyat already expressed the view that it is too much.
But I don't know the impact as I don't really care.
But PKR has launched an all-out anti-slander campaign, showing that you believe there is some impact?
The anti-slander campaign has been done not only by PKR but also DAP and PAS. (PAS vice-president) Tuan Ibrahim (Tuan Man) is leading it. (Pakatan)! is usin g it to show how desperate Umno is, how corrupt is this politics of pornography, like I said, pandi kutty, which I don't specify to anyone, to show how desperate they are. This is what we meant by poor governance.
I don't think the line is defensive. The line is 'we will show you how nasty they are', that is offensive. Just because we mentioned the sex video, or sodomy trial, we are defensive? Not necessarily so. How it was articulated... how they used religion to take an oath to protect a murderer, a rapist, anybody can go and swear.
And then it goes back to the issue of governance, corruption, subsidy, price hikes, so it is very important therefore to use this, in fact it is a good issue because it moves people, they get angry at how nasty that is.
Police have said that they will not reveal the identity of the person in the sex video, how do you respond to that?
I have never responded. I have not been concerned at all because I have gone to the police, I have gone to the Syariah court, so then I would like to see what they are going to do. Then we will deal (with it) at the right time. We will not be dictated to by them because what they have been doing is give political statements, no action, as if the investigation is as complex as the Altantuya murder case.
And in the case of the video, until today there is no action. It's as simple as anyone who goes into a hotel and announces that I'm going to show such a film will immediately be arrested and charged. But not in this case.
What would happen if they say it was you?
We will deal with it at the right time. I think (the police) will take a major risk if they do that.
What are the risks?
I can't tell you. My lawyers will deal with it.
The way you responded to reporters when they ask about the Omega watch, sumpah laknat (religious oath), DNA samples, you se! em very. ..
Angry? It appears... No, no, listen. If I charge you with having sex every night will you be happy or angry?
Okay, but you're used to that?
You know I am also human, I have a family. Don't treat me like any rapist somewhere. That is one and who asks me this question with a very rude manner, from TV3 and Utusan. Not to blame them per se but they can always say, 'Datuk Seri, I'm sorry, can I ask...' but no. Omega, Omega, Omega. It's meant to be so rude. So how do I address this? I teach them a lesson. They say I made the kid (the reporter) cry but that's not my problem.
If you are prepared to sell your soul for money, then don't talk to me about morality. This Omega thing, I say no, it's not an issue. Am I right? Now you can see that I am right. You need to have patience for a few weeks. No, really, if I had responded then you are being trapped. you will say which Omega... you are dragging... you give credence.
Perhaps it would have been better to say 'I wish to not comment on this' and let it go. Okay, well, thank you for your advice on patience. Azizah takes your view.
She said 'Tak apa lah, sabar' (Never mind them, be patient.) She's patient. But you go through it for 13 years... so I want to teach them a lesson by responding.
This is really getting you hot under the collar.
[Laughs] No, it's grossly unfair. I understand that you want to be perceived as an independent media but you must remember that you're dealing with people's lives, people's families.
You are indirectly, although you claim to be doing your job professionally, but you are being a lackey of those corrupt rulers. Like it or not, you want to sell (your papers) therefore you have to report, so you are actually playing their game.
You don't talk about Buku Jingga (Pakatan's 100 day manifesto), you don't talk about corruption, you don't talk about econom! ic refor ms, because you have to play whose game? Utusan's and Umno's game.
But how did you meet Eskay? So how close are you with Eskay?
I meet everybody. All of them claimed to be my best buddy... All those who jumped ship are my best buddies. And some I don't know who their family are, or their full names. Can you imagine? I didn't know (Eskay's) full name until the time he filed the (crooked bridge) case.
Of course I know him, yes, close. And you believe that I have close friends whose names I don't know? At the time I didn't even know if he is Buddhist or Muslim, I don't know.
In the crooked bridge case, he testified that he took (defendant Yahya Jalil) to see you because...
That statement is not too wrong because what was said was this.(The parties involved) were a Mahathir outfit, close to (then domestic trade and consumer affairs minister) Megat Junid (Megat Ayub). Megat Junid arranged for the appointment for them to come and see me.
So Eskay came and brought this Yahya Jalil and in the affidavit he said that Anwar advised them to go to the (Economic Planning Unit) as it was the EPU's decision on privatisation. So that was it... I sent them to EPU, and in the process (Eskay) asked (Yahya's company for) that RM20 million. That was it.
Did he ask you to testify in his court case?
He did. (His lawyer) spoke to me, they wanted to confirm (the meeting between Eskay, Yahya and Anwar). So I said okay, but (the crooked bridge trial) coincided with my trial.
And later (the lawyer) told me, since this was never challenged, and Yahya Jalil eventually confirmed it - yes they met Anwar and Anwar asked them to meet EPU, so there is no necessity for me to go and testify to it. Eskay wasn't happy with it, he wanted me to testify.
So does it have anything to do with the sex video? The fact that you didn't testify?
He didn't say that but in his statement he wanted me and (wife and PKR president) Wan Azizah (Wan Ismail) to resign which is criminal intimidation. So in this country, criminal intimidation, pornography are all permissible in Najib-Rosmah's country.
The sex video is the latest of a series of allegations against you post-1998. Why have the attacks against you been largely involving sex?
When it comes to corruption, Mahathir asked for every single file in the treasury to be looked at and they couldn't find one company or a single share (linked to me). By insinuation here and there but not a single one, so what else? Sex.
For sex, too, it cannot be adultery which is common among leaders, (Mahathir) said in his private meetings, so they say sodomy because the Malays will reject this. It's nothing new, it's a 1998 story.
After three sex allegations, could it be that people may think that there is some truth in it?
Why do they bring this up? It's a moral issue and who wants to talk about morals? (Prime Minister) Najib (Abdul Razak), (de facto Law Minister) Nazri (Abdul) Aziz, (Former Malacca Chief Minister) Rahim Thamby Chik?
You may say it's pornography but if they can establish it it's one thing, but you can't create things out of nothing.
[...] That is the problem with the system. I am not talking about Umno or Perkasa, I'm talking about us. Why do we choose to entertain and give credence to the corrupt?
(Anwar was interviewed by Steven Gan, Salhan K Ahmad, Aidila Razak and Kow Gah Chie.)
Video seks: Anwar tak akan lepaskan Najib...
Inshaalah, mulai besok, Tulang Besi akan memulakan penulisan balik
Sehingga bertemu lagi.
- the use of Malaysia as a safe haven;
- the role played by older generation insurgency leaders in providing support to the younger leaders;
- identifying one veteran insurgent as actively ordering attacks;
- the insurgents receiving financial assistance via Singapore from unknown sources;
- younger generation separatists entering Malaysia, particularly when the situation became too hot; and
- young insurgents given jobs at Thai restaurants and on rubber estates.
It is a battle that Najib appears to have won, at least for now, having been named prime minister while an embattled Anwar remains in the dock, fighting charges that he sodomized an aide.
The cables, more than 900,000 words long and covering 15 years from 1993 to 2008, depict an Anwar who from the start saw Najib as a danger to him personally. He was in frequent touch with US Embassy officials, warning constantly that Najib was the perpetrator of a long series of corrupt acts in the procurement of defense equipment and that he was a danger to the exercise of democracy.
Equally, the cables depict an American legation determined to avoid becoming ensnared in Malaysian politics by taking sides. Christopher LaFleur, US ambassador from 2004 to 2007, wrote in a July 31, 2007 cable to US Army Gen. George W. Casey that Malaysia is important to us because it is an economically successful, stable, predominantly Muslim country that, over the longer term, may be able to support us more strongly in places like the Middle East The overall tone in Malaysian-American relations has improved considerably since Abdullah Badawi became Prime Minister in late-2003, and we seek to translate this into substantive improvements. Bilateral relations eroded under Abdullah's vituperative predecessor Dr Mahathir Mohamad, but Abdullah brought with him a friendlier style and an interest in projecting a more moderate image, b! oth for himself and for his country.
The embassy, however, watched closely as Anwar forged an unwieldy opposition coalition from the Islamist Parti Islam se-Malaysia, the Chinese Democratic Action Party and Anwars own Parti Keadilan Rakyat, made up largely of urban Malays. From the time Anwar was released from prison after a 1999 trial on what were widely seen to be bogus charges of corruption and sexual deviancy, the cables show a United Malays National Organisation paralyzed by inaction and led by an ineffective Abdullah Badawi while opposition forces raise enthusiastic crowds of tens of thousands of cheering spectators demanding political reform.
The need for Anwars crucial leadership of the awkward coalition is underscored by a Feb. 23, 2007 cable signed by LaFleur. PAS valued Anwar as the bridge between the non-Malays especially the Democratic Action Party (DAP) and PAS, and as a name-brand figure able to attract voters, La Fleur wrote.
PAS elders, he wrote, found it impossible to communicate with the DAP and other non-Malay parties. He quotes Azizan Abdul Razak of PAS saying that PAS and DAP were like chickens and ducks, feeding at the same trough, but unable to talk to one another. Anwar was seen as the only one who could blunt the ruling National Front juggernaut.
Anwar, LaFleur wrote on July 17, 2007, was concentrating his attacks on then Deputy Prime Minister Najib as a way to open up fissures in UMNO middle ranks that will give him other opportunities.
As pressure continued on the ruling coalition, Anwar led enthusiastic rallies all over the country, culminating in the March 2008 national elections that ended the Barisan Nasionals 50-year two-thirds hold on parliament. The cables in general seem to indicate a sense of growing panic and paralysis on the part of Barisan leaders, particularly in UMNO, and a desire to drive Abdullah Badawi from the premiership to make way for Najib. Anwar compounded the fears ! by displ aying an eight-minute videotape of a prominent lawyer, VK Lingam, apparently telling a Supreme Court judge to fix key appointments in the governments favor, thus spurring a royal inquiry into judicial corruption.
According to Ambassador James Keith, who succeeded LaFleur in July 2007, UMNO leaders worried about Anwar's drawing power on the streets. That Anwar and other opposition leaders proceeded successfully in the face of PM Abdullah's personal warnings should bolster the opposition's resolve and embolden them to plan further events.
After Anwar returned to politics by taking back his Penang parliamentary seat in a by-election, it was only a matter of time before UMNO replaced a faltering Abdullah Badawi with Najib. As Mahathir goaded Najib to act in April 2007, Anwar was telling the diplomats that his opposition coalition had a realistic opportunity to topple PM Abdullah's government by bringing over 30 or more BN MPs for a no-confidence vote in Parliament, Keith wrote.
All of that was brought to a halt on June 30, 2008,when former aide Mohamed Saiful Bukhary Azlan, charged that he had been sodomized by Anwar, a case that goes on to this day. The charges brought the oppositions momentum to a halt. On July 23, 2008, apparently aware that this second sodomy arrest was being viewed skeptically by the international community, Malaysian Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar assembled a flock of foreign diplomats to give them the governments view.
According to a cable on that date signed by Keith, Syed Hamid dismissed claims of conspiracy, defended the police handling of the case and emphasized that Anwar was being treated fairly.
The Government of Malaysia is becoming awa! re of th e negative impact the Anwar case has had on its international reputation and is acting to change the negative foreign perceptions, the cable read. Today's briefing was an attempt by the GOM to influence the diplomatic community, counter Anwar's own messaging the day before, and work against critical international media attention.
The skeptical tone of the cable is difficult to miss. Syed Hamid, the cable said, shared no new information with the group as a whole and we doubt the briefing swayed diplomats to change their prior opinions; indeed, we heard a good measure of cynicism from some of the gathered diplomats. The government's decision to hold the event and the Ambassador's discussion with the Home Minister afterward served to reinforce our belief that the Government of Malaysia already has decided to charge Anwar for sodomy, and it will take this next step by mid-August.
The cables take note of the fact that Anwar filed a police complaint on July 1, 2008 against the national police chief and the Attorney General. He held a press conference and later headlined a mass rally, using the podium to attack Najib and his wife Rosmah Mansor, whom he believes to be behind the current sodomy allegations.
Anwar's wife Wan Azizah met with Abdullah Badawi, the cable notes, to provide him with information on Najib's connection to Anwar's accuser, and receive Abdullah's assurances her husband would be treated fairly The sodomy case highlights that the risks for Anwar from the political status quo are significant and very personal, and provides impetus for Anwar to move ahead more aggressively to try to topple the BN government and stop Najib from becoming the next Prime Minister.
That was 2008 and that is pretty much where the political situation still stands three years later. Frustrated with the sodomy case and hamstrung by internal political squabbling within his coalition, Anwar may not be a spent force, but Najib has the far stronger hand. The cables con! tain no smoking guns about the sodomy case. But the trial itself, with the prosecutions numerous missteps and admissions that Najib, his wife and police officials met with Saiful before he made the allegations against Anwar, provides enough evidence of that.
Chapter 8: Culture, Institutions, and Leadership
Culture as an Agent for Change
Culture, far from being an impediment to progress, can be harnessed and made into an agent for change. Many are calling for a cultural revolution among Malays, but having seen the disastrous consequences of the Chinese Cultural Revolution and other social upheavals, I am not too enthused. Todays Malay armchair revolutionaries are calling for a revolusi mental (mental revolution). They would have Malays give up our cherished traditions and become kurang ajar (uncouth or crude) in order to compete effectively in a globalized world. Some are calling for Malays to colonize others!
I disavow such radical steps. Revolutions are by nature brute and crude; there would be just as many losers as winners in the end. We have seen the negative consequences of the reformasi (reform) movement. Instead of bringing much needed reform, it further divided and polarized Malays. Reformasis other legacy, somewhat more mundane but still very disruptive, is the bitter aftertaste of rowdy street demonstrations, vandalized roadside businesses, and massive traffic jams.
A more effective strategy would be to use elements of our present culture and modify them appropriately to suit modern conditions. In this way our existing culture and traditions would provide the anchoring stability as we explore new paths. I advocate evolutionary, not revolutionary changes. My principle is best illustrated with an example.
A Latin American government commissioned an American consultant to study why its leather handbags were not competitive in New York. American consumers are among the most sophisticated and fussy, and if a manufacture could compete there it could compete anywhere.
First the consultant asked the handbag makers why their prices were so high and the quality low. They immediately blamed the tanneries for the poor and high-priced leather. They used harsh chemicals and w! ere roug h on the hides, the handbag makers complained. We could improve our products considerably if only we could buy the cheaper and better quality imported Australian leather, but was prevented in doing so by the severe tariff.
The consultant then went to the tanners and asked why their leather was of poor quality. Blame the slaughterhouses, they replied, for not taking care of the hides and for being careless in cutting and handling them. They had to use those expensive chemicals and harsh treatment otherwise the hides would be useless. Off to the slaughterhouses the consultant went. Look at those cows with their large ugly brand marks and scars, replied the butchers, that damage the skin and make it difficult to handle. For good measure they added, Blame the ranchers for putting those mutilating large brands on the animals! The ranchers had their own ready explanation. They had to use those huge brands so thieves would not steal their cows. Besides, they added, those cows rub themselves against barbwires and infect their skin. Blame those dumb cows!
So in the end it was those dumb cows that caused the nations leather handbags for not being competitive in New York!
In Malaysia, when I hear the leaders blame the failure of their policies on lazy farmers or dumb Malays, I immediately think of this blame the dumb cow episode.
In the above case one does not need a high-priced consultant to find the solution; the chain of blame could be broken at many points. First, the government could allow manufacturers to use their business judgment to get the best material at the best price even if that meant using imported materials. Imagine if the tariff for leather were to be removed. The positive effect would be seen immediately in better quality handbag at lower prices. But there would be other improvements down the chain.
The tanneries, finding that they could not sell their poor quality local leather, would no longer accept poor hides from the butchers. The butchers, unable! to sell their mangled hides would now charge the ranchers extra for the added expense of disposing the useless skin. The ranchers in turn, finding that the extra charge would eat into their profits, would now find other ways to ward off poachers, like getting extra guard dogs and hiring more guards. Imagine the ripple effect of improved productivity and quality all along the production line just by introducing competition at one level. Mind you, the cows are still dumb, only now the people involved in the industry are not as dumb as the cows!
The solution may be easy and obvious; alas adopting it requires a strong political will that is so often lacking in many leaders. Imagine the intense lobbying by the tanneries, butchers, and ranchers to removing the tariff on imported leather. But unless local industries are forced to compete globally, there will be no impetus for them to improve and innovate. The positive effect of globalization is this one world standard. Handbag manufacturers simply want good leather to make good handbags; they do not care where the ingredients come from. To them, the prime considerations are price and quality, the very same concerns of their consumers.
My earlier example of the fishermen and their diesel motors is a dramatic example of blaming the dumb cow syndrome that is so prevalent in Malaysia. Another was the program in the 1980s of sending thousands of young Malays abroad for further studies at a cost of billions. For all the money spent, there was very little to show for the expensive effort. Most of them ended up at marginal universities. The authorities had the mindset that since they had selected the students and spent so much money preparing them, they were to be kept abroad until they graduated even if that took years. None of the failing students were recalled; instead they kept transferring from one mediocre university to another. Even when the students dropped out, they still collected their stipends. When the officials were queried, yep, they b! lamed th e lazy and ungrateful students!
But had the officials been more rigorous in their selection process and insisted on funding only the most capable and industrious students, they would have elevated the bar considerably and the students would have responded accordingly, and in the process saved the nation a bundle of money. By tolerating mediocrity, they encouraged it.
The truth is, Malaysian civil servants are not a terribly bright bunch. They in turn had low expectations of the students. President Bush, in his criticism of liberals in their soft treatment of failing minority students, warned of the soft bigotry of low expectations. There is no bigotry here; rather, dumb civil servants selecting dumb students. It takes talent to recognize one, and the civil service is sorely lacking in that.
Nor has the government learned its lesson. In 2001 in an attempt to increase computer ownership, it allowed workers to withdraw part of their pension savings to buy computers. But the red tape was, as usual, a major hassle. Additionally, the government forced workers to buy their computers from only one vendor. He was no doubt awarded the contract without any competitive bidding, a manifestation of Malaysias crony capitalism. As a result, entry-level computers were overpriced to the tune of 10-15%, or about RM400 per unit. The inflated price ensured a hefty profit for the lucky vendor but at the expense of thousands of would-be consumers. When workers balked at paying such steep prices and the program failed, the government blamed the workers. Again, blaming the dumb cow!
The government should have trusted the workers and just gave them their money directly and let them do their own shopping. The workers would have the incentive to get the best deal. There would then be greater competition in the market and the prices would go down and the quality of service up. Sure, they will be a few who would use that money for other than computers, but that would be their loss.
Had Ma! laysian leaders avoided blaming the dumb cows with the failures of many of their programs aimed at helping Malays, and instead concentrated on correcting the deficiencies and weaknesses of the various programs, Malaysia and Malays would be much further ahead today.
Next:The Institution of the Family