- The End of Poverty, Soon
- KPRU: Pola Pengurusan Kewangan Najib Membawa Risiko Tidak Menentu Kepada Negara
- CORNERED, Umno man admits Jakarta has not approved PKR turncoat Zahrain for envoy post
- Is The Ban On The Muslim Brotherhood The Revolution’s End?
- Dr Mahathir: Lepaskan kuasa, elak Umno dipenuhi “orang bodoh”
Posted: 25 Sep 2013 02:37 AM PDT
Appealing for peace 50 years ago, President John F. Kennedy told the Irish Parliament, "The problems of the world cannot possibly be solved by skeptics or cynics, whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities. We need men who can dream of things that never were and ask, why not?"
Today, more and more people are dreaming of a world free of poverty.
In April, the Development Committee of the World Bank set the goal of ending extreme poverty by the year 2030. More recently, the United Nations General Assembly working group on global goals concluded that "eradicating poverty in a generation is an ambitious but feasible goal." As one who wrote in 2005 that ours was the generation that could end extreme poverty, I am pleased to see this idea take hold at the highest levels.
Are these errant dreams as the world barrels toward more confusion, conflict and climate change, or is there something substantial in the recent wave of high-level interest in the idea? The evidence is on the side of the optimists. And the evidence also supports both those who favor more markets and those who favor more public-private strategies. It's all a matter of context.
The global picture will surprise doomsayers. According to the World Bank's scorecard, the proportion of households in developing countries below the extreme-poverty line (now measured as $1.25 per person per day at international prices) has declined sharply, from 52 percent in 1980, to 43 percent in 1990, 34 percent in 1999, and 21 percent in 2010. Even sub-Saharan Africa, the region with the most recalcitrant poverty, is finally experiencing a notable decline, from 58 percent in 1999 to 49 percent in 2010.
The gains are more marked in health. According to the latest Unicef study this month, the mortality rate of children under 5 in Africa declined from 177 deaths per 1,000 births in 1990, to 155 per 1,000 births in 2000, to 98 per 1,000 in 2012. This is still too high, but the rate of progress is rapid and accelerating.
While the recent gains are undoubted, the question is how to ensure that progress on incomes, health and other dimensions of poverty eradication (including access to schooling, safe water, electricity, sewerage) continues until extreme poverty is vanquished. Debates rage on this question and often shed more heat than light.
Here are the basics: economic growth, and hence a market economy, is vital. Africa's poverty is declining in part because its growth rate picked up from 2.3 percent per year during the lackluster years of 1990-2000 to 5.7 percent during 2000-10. Without economic growth, there cannot be sustained gains in income, health and other areas. Continued progress depends on heavy investments in major infrastructure — water, electricity, waste management — and these in turn depend on large-scale private financing, hence a suitable market framework.
So anti-market sentiment is no friend of poverty reduction. But neither is free-market fundamentalism. Economic growth and poverty reduction can't be achieved by free markets alone. Disease control, public education, the promotion of new science and technology, and protection of the natural environment are public functions that must align with private market forces.
Consider two keys to Africa's recent poverty reduction. The first is the introduction of cellphones, which have revolutionized communication and much else in both remote African villages and the streets of Manhattan. Smartphones are poised to transform education, health care, finance and agricultural value chains. Malaria control, made possible by new technologies, including long-lasting bed nets, rapid diagnostic tests and a new generation of medicines, has also played a vital role in reducing poverty in Africa.
In both cases, the private sector has been essential, not only in developing breakthrough technologies but also enabling them to spread in a short time. Hundreds of millions of cellphones and hundreds of millions of bed nets have helped slash rural poverty in the past few years.
Yet the public sector is also critical. Public funds finance crucial scientific and technological breakthroughs. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, an agency backed by international public funds, has financed the mass distribution of the bed nets. Malaria is down by at least 30 percent as a result. Smartphone applications for community health workers are now similarly being hugely scaled up with increased public as well as private backing.
One can say that the fight to end poverty is helping to forge a new kind of mixed capitalism. Old debates of public versus private are being superseded by new strategies that involve both the public and private sectors. The need for both will become more urgent asclimate change and water scarcity intensify. Also, the idea of bold global goals' driving bold actions is proving the cynics wrong. A global commitment to ending extreme poverty will spur creativity and action.
As Kennedy also declared a half-century ago, "By defining our goal more clearly — by making it seem more manageable and less remote — we can help all people to see it, to draw hope from it, and to move irresistibly toward it."
Posted: 25 Sep 2013 01:39 AM PDT
Berikutan pembentangan satu lagi belanjawan tambahan oleh kerajaan pusat di bawah pentadbiran Perdana Menteri Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, badan pemikir Kajian Politik untuk Perubahan (KPRU) berpendapat, pola pengurusan kewangan negara oleh Najib semenjak beliau menerajui Kementerian Kewangan memaparkan sikap yang tidak berhemat dalam tadbir urus kewangan negara.
Sepanjang pentadbiran Najib, pola pengurusan kewangan negara menyaksikan pembentangan dua belanjawan tambahan secara konsisten berikutan setiap pembentangan belanjawan asal negara. Pembentangan belanjawan tambahan bukanlah sesuatu yang ganjil dalam sistem pengurusan kewangan negara. Namun begitu, dalam konteks kewangan negara berada dalam defisit fiskal sepanjang pentadbiran Najib, pembentangan dua belanjawan tambahan secara konsisten bagi setiap belanjawan asal menonjolkan suatu sikap tadbir urus kewangan negara yang tidak berhemat.
Merujuk kepada Jadual KPRU di bawah, bekas Perdana Menteri Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi telah membentangkan Belanjawan Negara 2009 pada 29 Ogos 2008. Seterusnya Najib memegang tampuk pentadbiran negara dan membentangkan Belanjawan Negara 2010, 2011, 2012 dan 2013. Dalam pada itu, Najib juga membentangkan belanjawan tambahan bagi menampung perbelanjaan negara bagi tahun 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 dan 2013.
Jadual KPRU: Belanjawan Asal dan Perbekalan Tambahan 2009 – 2013 (RM Juta)
Hak cipta © KPRU 2013
Sumber: Akta Perbekalan dan Akta Perbekalan Tambahan bagi tahun 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 dan 2013.
KPRU berpendapat, dalam keadaan di mana kewangan negara berada dalam status lebihan (surplus), pembentangan belanjawan tambahan dapat dilihat sebagai sebahagian daripada alat pengurusan kewangan negara yang mempunyai fungsinya yang berkait rapat dengan belanjawan tahunan. Namun, dalam konteks kewangan negara berada dalam status defisit selama enam belas tahun berturut-turut, pembentangan dua belanjawan tambahan secara konsisten dapat dilihat sebagai sebahagian daripada pola pengurusan kewangan negara yang membawa risiko tidak menentu berhubung masa depan kewangan negara.
Umum kini sedia maklum, pada 31 Julai 2013, agensi penilaian global, Fitch Ratings telah menilai unjuran kredit Malaysia dan menyemak semula prospek Malaysia daripada status "stabil" ke "negatif" berikutan kelemahan kewangan awam selepas Pilihan Raya Umum ke-13 dan juga kekurangan kemajuan dalam reformasi kerajaan dalam usaha menangani defisit fiskal. Fitch dengan nyatanya menunjukkan bahawa hutang kerajaan telah mencecah 53.3% dalam Keluaran Dalam Negari Kasar (KDNK) penghujung 2012 daripada 51.6% pada hujung 2011 dan 39.8% pada hujung 2008.
Dalam sebuah laporan bertarikh 17 September 2013, Bank of America Merrill Lynch berpendapat, hutang kerajaan Malaysia berkemungkinan besar mencecah silingnya iaitu 55% daripada KDNK. Laporan tersebut menyatakan bahawa, hutang kerajaan Malaysia telah meningkat kepada 53.8% pada penggal pertama 2013, seterusnya meningkat kepada 54.6% daripada KDNK pada penggal kedua 2013.
Malahan, apabila diambil kira tanggungan luar jangka (contingent liabilities), iaitu sebanyak RM147.3 bilion pada penggal kedua 2013, hutang kerajaan meningkat kepada 70.2%!
Berikutan pembentangan belanjawan tambahan kedua bagi tahun 2012 semasa sesi parlimen Jun 2013 dan pembentangan belanjawan tambahan pertama bagi tahun 2013 pada sesi ini, KPRU berpendapat, hampir pasti Najib akan membentangkan belanjawan tambahan kedua bagi tahun 2013 pada sesi parlimen tahun depan. Kini pembentangan dua belanjawan tambahan menjadi "peristiwa tahunan" selepas pembentangan belanjawan tahunan negara pada setiap hujung tahun. Hal ini bermaksud, angka defisit yang dibekalkan semasa pembentangan belanjawan tahunan lebih bersifat sementara sedangkan pengiraan nilai dan kadar defisit selepas pembentangan belanjawan tambahan lebih bermakna dalam memahami kerangka pengurusan kewangan negara.
Dalam konteks tersebut, berdasarkan anggaran asal Kementerian Kewangan semasa membentangkan Belanjawan Negara 2013, pengiraan KPRU di bawah mendapati bahawa defisit fiskal tahun 2013 akan mencecah 5.5% daripada KDNK setelah mengambil kira belanjawan tambahan pertama bagi tahun 2013, iaitu 1.5% lebih tinggi daripada unjuran asal sebanyak 4.0%
Statistik Kerajaan: Kedudukan Kewangan Kerajaan Persekutuan 2013 (RM Juta)
Statistik KPRU: Unjuran Defisit Fiskal Pasca Perbekalan Tambahan 2013 (2013) (RM juta)
Hak cipta © KPRU 2013
Posted: 25 Sep 2013 01:36 AM PDT
After trying to fob off the Opposition with ambiguous replies – even when in Parliament – Deputy Foreign Minister Hamzah Zainuddin has finally admitted that PKR turncoat Zahrain Hashim has not been approved by the Indonesian government although proposed by Malaysia as its new ambassador to Jakarta.
The rebuff, if confirmed, would be a serious slap in the face not only for Zahrain but also for Prime Minister Najib Razak, who has been accused of handing out top government posts as rewards for political favors even if the beneficiaries were not suitably qualified or the practice was unfair depriving more deserving choices from the civil service.
“How can we name him when we have not received a reply from Indonesia? Although we have appointed him and he has gone through due process including having an audience with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, we still need Indonesia’s go-ahead. Otherwise they might question why we named him without waiting for their response,” Hamzah told reporters on Tuesday.
‘They did not ask’ but why did Hamzah “laboriously avoided” naming Zahrain
The deputy minister then tried to up the ante against the Opposition lawmakers who had yet yesterday baited and caught him red-handed trying to lie over the issue.
“They don’t know what is happening, yet they want to comment. They just want to paint a bad picture of the government,’ Hamzah said.
“I was not being evasive, furthermore, they did not ask about Zahrain’s status inside the House, so how to answer when they did not ask.”
Foreign Minister Aniah Aman had on September 5 announced Zahrain’s appointment. However, till now, the Indonesian side has not given the green light.
Unprofessional Najib: ‘You help me, I help you’
The questioned posed by PAS MP Mahfuz Omar to the government was who were the ambassadors or top attache’s who had been picked from the political field.
Mahfuz had posed this question amid public grousing that Prime Minister Najib Razak was not being objective in selecting only the best and most suitable candidates to fill up top diplomatic posts.
Such grousing is not uncommon and actually reflects poorly on the BN’s track record but Zahrain was catalyst for the latest bout of unhappiness, especially amongst those in the civil service who believe they were better qualified for the post.
Many accused Najib of behaving unprofessionally by appointing Zahrain to the plum job. They saw it as a reward to Zahrain for pulling out of Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim’s PKR party in 2010 so as to embarrass the latter and weaken his party.
At that time, Zahrain was accused of having received a multi-million ringgit payout and left for a two-week holiday to London with his family immediately after announcing his resignation from PKR.
Saving face for Najib
According to Mahfuz, the Malaysian PM must select ambassadors with the greatest care as this was an important post which buttress Malaysia’s growth.
“We need people with brains. This is not just a ceremonial role and about drinking tea and eating cake,” said Mahfuz.
On Tuesday, Hamzah had named 4 ambassadors including former Inspector-General of Police Ismail Omar to France and former PPP vice-president Blanche O’Leary to Finland, but he “laboriously avoided” mentioning Zahrain.
“I can only think of 3 reasons why. The appointment has not been been carried out. Or has the appointment been cancelled? Or has the Indonesian president not approved the appointment?” Mahfuz’s PAS colleague, Hatta Ramli, the MP for Kuala Krai had said.
Some bloggers have also suggested Hamzah was trying to ‘save face’ for Najib, as the delay in approving Zahrain’s appointment also showed Anwar’s influence in Indonesia, where he is popular and known among the masses as a reformist.
Posted: 25 Sep 2013 12:36 AM PDT
There have been many moments in recent weeks that ought to have ended the debate over whether Egypt's military staged a coup against the country's struggling revolution, or somehow resuscitated it, when it deposed the elected President, Mohamed Morsi, in early July—so many that one can be forgiven for losing count. But if any doubt remained, it was removed conclusively on Monday, when a court formally banned the Muslim Brotherhood, which had stood behind Morsi, from public life.
The ruling was breathtaking in scope: it applied not only to the Brotherhood's political wings but to its social-services activities, and even to any personal declarations of membership individuals might be brazen enough to make—all were declared illegal. The intent was clear: to cast out the Brotherhood from any future role, not just in politics but in Egyptian society altogether. "The plan is to drain the sources of funding, break the joints of the group, and dismantle the podiums from which they deliver their message," an Egyptian official told the Associated Press.
But if the future of a democratic Egypt is bleak, it is not simply because of sweeping court rulings like Monday's. Indeed, the question that consumed Egypt for much of July and August —was it a coup?— was always the wrong one. Of course it was a coup. The real question is whether any of the lofty aims of the revolution (the dreams of a popular, democratic government, with civilian control of the military, and a thriving free press), or even the more basic ones (an end to wanton police abuses and outright political corruption) still stand a chance amid the backlash.
In answering that question, the focus on the intentions and orders of Egypt's generals and judges inevitably misses the point. Like the initial uprising itself, the survival of Egypt's revolutionary goals ultimately depends not on decisions from the top but the endurance of those at the bottom. It was these people, the ones with nothing to lose from standing up to Hosni Mubarak's police, who swelled the streets around Tahrir Square in early 2011, facing barrages of tear gas, rubber bullets, and the condemnation of everyone from politicians to their parents. They tended their wounds in field hospitals inside the square, and entertained themselves late into the night with concerts and speeches, grabbing sleep when they could on cheap blankets and under makeshift tents on the muddy ground. By the time the urban elite and moneyed classes joined in the revolution, bringing a critical mass and inescapable legitimacy to the uprising, the original legions had been squatting in the square for ten days.
The problem is that now these young and disenfranchised people have largely turned away from the revolution, too. Two and a half years of grueling politics left very few of them with the sense that anything had been accomplished, through all the tear gas and sleepless nights, other than perhaps the construction of new rhetoric from the elite and a crummier economy. The Brotherhood shares some of the blame for this. Ruling with majoritarian fervor, and without regard for popular dissent, its leaders spent much of their time in office transplanting the edifice of their organization into the halls of official power—bypassing the many who'd demanded a fresh start, and transparency, for Egypt's government.
But then, there is plenty of fault to go around. The young political figures who arose from Tahrir's revolutionary youth councils in the weeks and months after Mubarak's fall devoted far too much energy to squabbling and petty infighting. Their failure to coalesce around one or even two political leaders meant that none of their candidates stood much of a chance in the parliamentary—let alone the presidential—elections. The vote that put the Brotherhood's Morsi in power was a choice, in the end, between him and Ahmed Shafik, a former prime minister in Mubarak's government. In the two years after free elections arrived in Egypt, the voiceless majority still had no one in a position of real prominence to articulate its message.
When I travelled to Egypt in August, I visited a friend named Mohammed Magdy whom I first got to know during the early days in Tahrir Square. Magdy was in his mid-twenties when we met, an underemployed, secular Muslim from a middle-class household just around the corner from Tahrir. He's made occasional appearances in my reporting over the years, offering a counterbalance to the detached rhetoric of Cairo's absent elite or its urgently tweeting university-educated class.
At first, Magdy had been a source of buoyant optimism, and perpetual energy: by night, he'd join in the clashes against Mubarak's thugs; by day, he spirited around Tahrir jotting down any jokes he heard. (It's worth remembering how much humor there was at the start of Egypt's uprising.) Later, as the uninspiring politics of the post-Mubarak era dragged on, I watched as Magdy soured on the process; he joined in the street clashes against the interim military government in the fall of 2011, but with lessening enthusiasm. When it came time to vote in the first parliamentary elections, I wasn't surprised to hear, a few days beforehand, that he had no idea who he would vote for—or even who the candidates in his district were.
But I'd never seen him as disaffected as I did in August. We sat at a cafe in a narrow street behind Tahrir, one of the places of quiet reprieve we used to retreat to during the revolution, when the clamor or tear gas grew to be too much. As he sipped a glass of hot tea with milk and smoked a Cleopatra-brand cigarette (noxious, but cheap), he spoke energetically about his family and his new job constructing a restaurant with some friends from school. But he said nothing at all about politics, until I brought it up. Then he shrugged. "My two enemies are fighting each other," he said finally, meaning the military and the Brotherhood. "There is nothing for me in this." He went back to talking about the restaurant.
To keep the spirit of Tahrir Square alive, people like Magdy have to be willing to keep on fighting, even when the situation looks hopeless. When you've lost them, is the revolution over?
Posted: 24 Sep 2013 09:42 PM PDT
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (gambar) menasihati pemimpin Umno supaya tidak memegang kuasa terlalu lama bagi mengelakkan parti Melayu terbesar itu dipenuhi dengan lebih ramai "orang bodoh".
Bekas Perdana Menteri paling lama berkhidmat itu berkata, seseorang pemimpin perlu mengetahui had masanya semasa berkuasa.
“Pemimpin perlu tahu hadnya, jangan terlalu lama memegang kuasa.
”Sebaliknya akan berlaku, kamu (parti) akan mempunyai lebih ramai orang bodoh dalam parti,” kata Dr Mahathir dalam satu majlis di International Youth Centre (IYC) hari ini.
Beliau berkata, pemimpin Umno perlu bersikap terbuka untuk menerima mereka yang lebih bijak daripada mereka untuk menjadi pemimpin, bukannya mengamalkan sikap suka mencantas.
“Pemimpin yang teruk adalah apabila mereka menyekat pemimpin yang lebih pandai kerana takut tergugat,” katanya.
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