Foreign Workers – Anas Alam Faizli Magna Est Veritas Prae Velabit - The Truth is Mighty and will always Prevail! Sun, 21 May 2017 15:58:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Whither Malaysia: Where do We Go from Here? A Wish-list for Fundamental Correction Wed, 28 Dec 2016 07:00:04 +0000 Malaysia is a one of a kind unique and a rare gem of a nation. A melting pot of infinite ingredients and mixed culture. We are a mixture of various races, speaking a plethora of different languages. This beautiful country is what blends us all together, coalescing all strengths and weaknesses. Here we are at Asia’s southernmost tip, the only nation with land on both continental Asia and the Malay Archipelago.

Only here can you find a significant portion of the population that has roots from two of the world’s oldest civilisations; India and China. The Malays share similar cultural values with Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country. Islam as a religion gives us access to the Muslim world. The inherited British system meanwhile gives us access to the Western world as well. ‎We are like chameleons, and we can infiltrate and be at home in almost every nation on Earth!

Interestingly, a survey by Facebook found that Malaysia is the most cyber sociable country with ‎the most Facebook friends.

Malaysia is also a country of Multiples. We are the only country on Earth that is multi-racial, multi-lingual, multi-religious, multi-cultural, multi race-based sports associations, chambers of commerce & industry, and political parties, multi-national cuisines, multi-government (1 federal and 13 state governments), and multi-monarchies (9 kings from the world’s total 35 monarchs)!

If the above is not enough, let me reinforce my case with the following arguments:

We are the only nation on the planet that has vowed to protect Allah, and ban others from using that name; and have allegedly labeled Hotdogs and Rootbeer as Haram due to literal reasons.

We house the oldest tropical rainforest, said to be over 130 million years old, older than the Amazon and Congo Basins, home to 14,500 species of flowering plants and trees, with more than 200 species of mammals, 600 species of birds, 140 species of snakes and 60 species of lizards.

And we had the longest King Cobra in the world, measuring in at 5.71 metres, that was found in Port Dickson in 1937.

We also have the biggest roundabout in the world in Putrajaya measuring at 3.5 kilometres in circumference; arguably we also have the “biggest spin in the world” too.

Yes, Malaysia is unique. Not just truly Asia, but truly The World! Can you beat that?

Not to mention our eclectic and exhaustive list of cuisines which spans a line from the East to the West. What dishes can’t you find here?

Blessed with abundant natural resources and harvests, from tin to ‎rubber, palm oil, timber, bauxite, and of course with petroleum being the most precious now. Malaysia is a rich country. So based on our uniqueness, we have all the essential ingredients to thrive and flourish as “a paradise on earth”, but have we done so?

The Land of Multiples comes with Multiple Problems

It is shocking how this small country of 31.8 million people managed to shockingly earn the most unwelcome title of the region’s most unequal nation, most in-efficient energy user, among its many other titles including being the home to the world’s largest financial scandal, 1MDB.

Prior to 1MDB, we have had a litany of scandals from Bank Bumiputera, Perwaja, Metramac, Malaysia Airlines, Bank Islam, Transmile, Megan Media, Scan Associates, and a yearly recurrence of repeated “red reports” on audits of government agencies from the Auditor General’s office. All of these scandals point to one indisputable conclusion – Rampant corruption!

We are trapped in a hollow economy, with over reliance on foreign workers, with the majority of our population earning low income and facing distressing rise in the cost of living. Moreover, the majority of Malaysians do not have savings adequate to survive more than one month if they lose their job.

A serious pensions crisis is looming where two-thirds of 54-year-olds having less than RM50,000 in their EPF accounts.

We are perceived to have 1st World infrastructure but sadly demonstrate a 3rd World culture or attitude. We score bottom third on international education rankings, many of our drivers are insane with road thugs and mat rempits, we are number 20 in the world in terms of fatalities from road accident per capita, besides facing severe vandalism in our cities, having unprofessional and unethical taxi drivers and widespread claims that Kuala Lumpur is one of, if not the rudest city on Earth.

Environmentally, mother nature is crying; we have flash floods (poor town planning coupled with inadequate facilities management) in our cities, massive flooding on the East Coast‎, poor management of our water resources and supply, poor waste management, and rampant illegal dump-sites plus “illegal logging” of our forests and mountains, even in water catchment areas.

Malaysians are also famous for how gullible we can be when it comes to popular get-rich-quick money making schemes! There is a massive, parallel underground economy, covering illegal gambling, drug and other commodity smuggling, pirate DVDs, and credit card cloning. These are also “unwarranted (and unwanted) awards” of Malaysian innovation and enterprise, often derided sarcastically as “Malaysia Boleh”.

The saddest part is, on almost every street and traffic lights pole, without fail, there will be two types of glaring advertisements, either the telephone numbers of Ah Longs (illegal money lenders) or the number for Massage and Escorts services!

Politics is so intense that there is no time to formulate policies, but energy is wasted to tirelessly attack one another. Politics of hate and racial polarisation have been in the forefront over the past two decades. ‎ Human rights, questionable discretionary laws, politically motivated and selective persecutions are also issues plaguing the country. Judicial independence appears to have lost credibility.

As a result we scored 66th of 73 countries on Electoral Integrity and 146th of 180 on World Press Freedom Indices.

So, are we doomed “to rot in purgatory”? Are we heading south? Potentially, but, there is a way out, if only we want to take it!

Endless Impossibilities

If there is one thing that history has thought us, it is that there are endless impossibilities. Throughout human existence, we have been continuously surprised by the successes of nations deemed to be insignificant; for example, The illiterate Mongolians, under Genghis Khan, went on to conquer two-thirds of the then known world, coming from out of no-where.

The Arabs were nomads, rated no higher than slaves in the eyes of the Romans and Persians.

The Japanese used to be lazy drunken farmers before the Meiji revolution. The Vietnamese fought their way and kicked out the French and the Americans from their land and won their Freedom.

Nothing is impossible, no matter how hopeless the situation seems. Always remember that the sun only comes out after the darkest point of the night.

The same goes for Malaysia. We have already steered off course and gone astray, so have we reached the depths of darkness and despair from which we can aspire to rise again?

There is a dire need to re-calibrate our way forward so as to head back to the right path for the good of the nation and Rakyat.

There is a way out of this state of affairs. We must now admit and acknowledge that critical problems plague our beloved nation. Honesty and Sincerity must return to our land.

This calls for every Malaysian to have faith and contribute their share towards this aim. One voice might be insignificant, ten might make a blink, but thousands and millions together can cause thunder and shake the Earth, or at least Putrajaya.

Wish-list for A Strong and Vibrant Malaysia

So here is my wish-list for Malaysia:

As there is so much to be done, an apt start would be convening a National Consultative Council Part 2 for a “back to the drawing board” social and economic re-engineering. This needs an amalgamation of the best minds across the nation to provide realistic and feasible strategies to chart the way forward for national recalibration.

Malaysia’s natural resources are finite and the environment is precious. An improved resource management structure, where these‎ resources are used optimally to be shared and tasted equally by its Rakyat is required. The oil royalty conundrum by the Federal Government and States involved must be resolved amicably for the best of the Rakyat.

Fundamental economic corrections must be made to correct the way we do things. We must evolve from rentier capitalism to techno industrial capitalism. Ideally, we must adapt the best practices from the social market of Europe and the state capitalism of China that are relevant to Malaysia.

Policies must be Rakyat centric, with social justice at its heart, placing decent wealth creation and equitable distribution at the core of its economic deliberations, while providing sustainable environment for corporations to thrive.

Entrepreneurs who can add value, and not mere venture capitalists, are key to our desired success.

We must declare “war” on income and wealth inequality, which creates a never ending vicious cycle that is detrimental to any society.

Primary boarding schools, affordable housing, people and social enterprises, must be developed and encouraged to be in place wherever they are needed.

Efficient and ‘green’ key sectors namely energy, transportation, ‎construction, water and waste management must be prioritized for their economic and environmental advantages.

Every Malaysian needs and deserves a good balanced life that can be provided by a decent and fair-paying job. The Rakyat should not need to have two jobs to live a reasonably conducive and happy life. Relentless, and perhaps unjust economic pursuits have punished the bulk of Malaysians and we have replaced our empathy with apathy.

Functioning family units allow parents to play proactive roles in child upbringing and education and to instil the true “Asian Values” that we so often pronounce, but hardly prioritize in practice.

Women’s empowerment alleviates current burdens on potential economic contributors and offer cohesive social and economic benefits.

Education is paramount as the overarching solution to the majority of the Malaysia’s social and economic ills. Education must be inclusive, and impart moral fibre, critical thinking, humanity, humility, religious tolerance, innovation and creative technological advancement for Malaysians.

A revisit of our national education philosophy must take place and be replaced with the Love Pedagogy.

We need to inculcate a reading culture, critical thinking and prosper our intellectual debating environment. We must celebrate thinkers and philosophers, and provide a conducive environment for public discourse. Intellectuals must be given the mandate to carry the torch and light our candles to see the way forward.

Healthcare must be made affordable and readily available to all segments of the Rakyat. We need more hospitals and training hospitals, and well equipped clinics to serve the sick and needy wherever they reside. A holistic public transportation is another severely needed amenity for the Rakyat.

Education and healthcare are indeed too precious and inalienable rights for all Malaysians, and should not be pawns for the politicians to kick around.

Volunteerism, the social activist NGOs, and the “third sector” must be encouraged and enhanced to strengthen democracy and “justice for all” in the country.

Good governance, integrity, freedom of access to information for the media and whistle-blower protection must be truly practiced to enable a successful fight against corruption, aimed at its core and as a check and balance to the principle of separation of power.

The Constitutional Law must reign supreme and needs to be applied justly, and not be abused for the benefit of the subservient cronies of modern dictators. We need “Rule of law” not rule by the Mafia. Democracy must be seen to be alive and be inclusive for every Malaysian’s participation, and not just a case of going to the polls every 5 years.

Let’s put an end to politics of race and hate. Racial harmony must be inculcated and nurtured from home and school at a young age, even before their pre-school years. After all, aren’t we born skin-colour blind?

Malaysia Boleh!

My wish list for Malaysia is composed of all the proposals that I’ve written, articulated and fought for before.

My mission here is to bring pressure, by means of creating public awareness for a re-navigation to the right path. There are no ‘impossibilities’ that we Malaysians cannot face and overcome and to ensure that everyone in the country counts.

We are a unique nation with the best mixture and ingredients that any nation can ask for. All we need is the intellectual clarity and the will. Let us draw from the power of our uniqueness and diversity and‎ mould them as a pillar of strength to move forward, and never as a crippling weakness, to achieve the Endless Impossibilities and be the best that we can be.

With all my heart, I sincerely echo, Malaysia Boleh! Let’s walk this path together, because together we can!

]]> 0
The Fallacy of Malaysia’s Economic Realities and the Foreign Workers Mon, 16 May 2016 01:00:07 +0000 Professor Robert Merton, one of the founding fathers of modern-day sociology argued that “a false definition of the situation evokes a new behaviour which makes the original false conception come true”. We are accustomed to several economic facts that we accept as the norm, although it might be different elsewhere. It is embedded in our mind that farmers and fishermen would be poor and only white collar workers are entitled to life of luxury.

Why is it that our local farmers and fishermen – providers of food that is essential to our survival – mostly live in poverty while their counterparts in Europe earn a decent wage and live a better life? There’s a Polish proverb that expresses this: “If the farmer is poor then so is the whole country.”

So, why is that the providers of non-essential goods and services such as cosmetics, jewellery, automotibiles and so on, are super rich? Things are equally bad for our rubber tappers, some of whom survive on less than RM500 a month, even though rubber is one of Malaysia’s prime industries.

This unjust economic setup is mainly due to the middleman’s monopoly of the supply chain. We cannot accept and continue to justify the stark economic divide as the norm. These realities should not be the case. It is something that can be changed if we pledge to make fundamental changes.

So where do we start? A good place would be on the policy on foreign workers and how it affect 90% of Malaysian workers.

Malaysia’s most vulnerable group

According to the Labour Force Survey Report, Malaysia, 2014, an approximately one million Malaysians work in elementary occupations as cleaners, helpers, labourers, service workers and refuse workers – competing directly with close to 800,000 legal foreign workers with the same job scope. There are also 300,000 foreign workers in service and sales, and who work as machine operators. Another 213,000 foreign workers in craft and related trade.

However, note that these numbers only refer to the legal, registered foreign workers. According to Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri Richard Riot, there are an estimated 6.7 million foreign workers (2.1 million legal plus 4.6 million illegals) in all sectors of the country.

What about our local workers? At the moment there are 11.8 million of them, 3.3 million of whom are in professional trades – as technicians, associate professionals, professionals and managers – that require more than Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) qualification. That leaves 8.4 million workers in trades that require only SPM and below.

It is irresponsible to let 8.4 million most vulnerable Malaysians compete directly with more than 6.7 million desperate foreign workers from poorer countries. Foreign workers have more to lose, and everything to gain, compared to our local workers if they are unable to secure a job.

Salaries paid to foreign workers – Capital repatriation

According to Nation Master (2009) – the internet’s one stop centre for international statistics – Malaysia ranks No 12 in the world in the amount paid to foreign workers – USD 6.53 billion a year. On average the amount of money foreign workers sent home is around 40-50%, which makes the total salaries paid to them is approximately USD13 billion.

For every dollar in Malaysia’s GDP/capita, 2.1% goes to foreign workers. Here, we rank No 7 in the world behind Switzerland, Saudi, Kuwait, Oman, Lebanon and Luxembourg which we are in a different league. This was in 2009.

We would expect measures had been implemented to reduce the size of our capital repatriation. Unfortunately, seven years later, the Deputy Finance Minister, Johari Abdul Ghani in a Parliamentary sitting informed that for the year 2015 alone, a total of RM34.8 billion was repatriated by the foreign workers. Total salaries paid would be close to RM70 billion.

For an idea of how big that sum is, the amount would be sufficient to pay up to fourteen years’ worth of PTPTN loan disbursement or provide fourteen years Free Higher Education to the borrowers. It is also close to twice the amount of the 1MDB loan episode of RM41 billion – that is just for 2015 alone!

The Malaysian Employer’s Federation (MEF) has highlighted that the capital repatriated back to the foreign workers’ country of origin is a loss of economic gain to the country. Imagine if the money is being circulated in our local workers’ pockets and circulating here instead.

The hard fact is that the continuous reliance on foreign workers depresses local wages and reduces the incentives for businesses to become more innovative and productive.

We need to know where we want to go from here. Is this a reality we are willing to accept?

Myth of the local workforce

Defenders of the current business climate would be quick to argue that Malaysian local workforce are lazy and it makes financial sense to the bottom line to hire foreign workers, in terms of productivity. This is a false and misconstrued reality.

Is this true or is it a misleading perception built for years, driven by the profit motive? What does lazy mean and how do we gauge it? Are we comparing apples with apples? Is it acceptable to say that foreign workers are cheaper and have lower expectation on working condition and this make them more attractive for hire?

Let us test this reality. There are 200,000 Malaysians who commute daily between Johor Baru and Singapore. They leave home as early as 5.00 am and only to come back at night. They work mostly in the manufacturing and service sectors. At the same time, 300,000 foreign workers work in Johor Baru, surprisingly in the same sectors!

What about the onshore and offshore local welder, fitters, riggers and helpers who work 10 hours a day under the hot sun? Can we call the Cameron Highlands farmers who start their day as early as 4.00 am lazy? What about our sailors that sail the seas for months without seeing their families?

The Penang government did great job by offering 2,500 positions just for Malaysians (to collect refuse) with a monthly wage of RM1300. They received 25,000 applications, which debunked the perception that Malaysians are unable to work in 3D – dirty, difficult and dangerous jobs.

The real problem here is not that Malaysians are lazy and will not tolerate 3D jobs. Rather, the problem is they are demotivated because of the low pay and the minimum wage structure, which does not allow them to afford a decent standard of living.

Strong Government Policies – A Game Changer

Strong government policies and leadership can navigate and shape where Malaysia would be in the years ahead. What is set in place now will affect our future. Let us draw up a new economic reality.

Economic think tank BLINDSPOT had previously proposed for the government to set a minimum wage of RM1,500 for 2016 and raise this to RM1,850 by 2020 to achieve the 40:60 ratio for wages to business profits as proposed by Minister Dato’ Sri Abdul Wahid Omar. BLINDSPOT also proposed to limit the use of foreign workers in certain industries. Government may allow 100% foreign workers for genuine domestic maids. However, there should be zero foreign workers in the service and manufacturing, a maximum of 30% in construction and 50% in the agro based/ plantation industry.

These proposals are to ensure that the salaries of locals are increased while dependencies on foreign workers is gradually decreased, together with capital repatriation and other social woes associated with it. Bring back the days of “minah karen or mat kilang”, when it was acceptable for Malaysians to be cashiers and waiters, and let locals fill these services jobs now being done by foreign workers. The time has come to make a fundamental change as to how economy works in Malaysia and we must do it now.

Malaysian corporations can afford to pay their workers more. The national gross national income (GNI) indicates a 30:70 ratio for wages to business profits. This is far behind more developed economies’ at 60:40 ratio. The cost might increase but in the long run, we will be building a stronger economic foundation and will be able to compete on quality. Plus, capital repatriation will be reduced.

At the moment, productivity in manufacturing, for example, is 45% above salaries, which means our workers are significantly underpaid. Imagine being paid RM55 a day, when you should be making RM100!

If we allow this discrepancy to continue, there will be negative, long-term repercussions for the country. More jobs will be taken over by the foreigners and the salaries of locals will remain stagnant.

Change Malaysia’s Economy Fundamentally

Where do we want to see Malaysia in the next 10 years? Do we want an economic setup like in the Arab countries, where the foreign workers do most of the work? Or do we want to be like Australia / South Korea, where the locals do everything, from strenuous physical labour to professional services despite the fact that most of them have tertiary education?

Can we dream of a strong local workforce where both our skilled and professional workers are locals who earn high wages that are sufficient for them to live comfortably? Or a see a worsening of the current situation with many locals unable to find jobs and the majority of them earning low incomes?

Put more money into Malaysian pockets. This will spark a virtuous economic cycle as buying power will increase, which will in turn increase business profits and tax collection. When the government collects more taxes, it can spend more on human capital and, in the end, the economy will grow further. Virtuous economic cycle!

This might seem difficult to achieve but with the right planning, we can make this happen together. It is all about enforcement, leadership and strong policies. The nation was built on the sweat and tears of our workers, and it is time we acknowledged their contributions. The government needs to engage actively with corporations and unions to reconsider its policy on foreign workers policies and come up with the best solution.

Let’s hope that when we celebrate Labour Day next year, the slogan that we hear will be “Save Worker’s Day!” Save our workers and we save Malaysia.

*A version of this article first appeared in The Edge on the 14th May 2016

]]> 0
Who to Vote For: A Dummies Guide to the Manifesto Thu, 02 May 2013 02:22:10 +0000 The most anticipated general elections looms, yet we still hear utterances of political apathy, such as “politicians will be politicians” and “they are all the same”. For especially the young voting population which forms a majority of the 3.7 million new registered voters, this upcoming polls seem to be likened to the uphill task of “choosing the lesser evil”.  There is actually a significant difference between the two proposed manifesto and it will shape Malaysia differently.

Modern democracies like the US and the UK see very distinct ideologies engrained within their political systems. We have left wingers such as the labour party and the democrats, as well as pro-market and business-friendly republicans and conservatives. As a result, once a new alternate government is elected into power, we will see tremendous shifts in public policy and the country’s entire strategic direction. This is why for example that the slashing of more than 70 percent of the Carter-era taxation to below 40 percent when Reagan took over, did not come as too much of a surprise. What this gives us are actually very powerful sets of data points which allows for retrospective and empirical assessments of the different policies and ideologies.

It is a bit different here in Malaysia, where neither coalition seemed to be skewed towards either end of the political philosophy spectrum. But there is one thing for sure; that the rakyat’s concerns have unanimously evolved to cost of living and safety and security, as found by the latest Merdeka Centre census. While infliction of racial-supremacy and claims for legitimacy continue to be bandied about this election, significant imbalances, wealth and income inequality, and laggard wage growth has lead to a major shift in the Malaysian political direction; from race-based politicking of the post-Merdeka period, to a class-based discourse.

Rakyat-friendly welfare items thus became very important for either side of the political divide, making manifesto-drafting a very populist endeavor. In our quest to be an informed voter, we need go beyond this plethora of physical promises and start reading between the lines.

Malaysia’s Factsheet

Before dissecting a manifesto, it is always good to keep some facts at the back of our minds. Only then we can decide which manifesto will benefit all Malaysians holistically, especially in the longer term.

29.6 million people now inhabit Malaysia, the majority being the Bumiputera at 61% of the population, followed by the Chinese 24% and Indians 7%. Our GNI/capita stands at USD 9,970, with 12.7 million employed workers including legitimate 2 million foreign workers. Reports indicate that on top of that there is another 2 million illegal foreign workers residing in the country. By 2011, 827,000 Malaysians are working overseas, while talent initiatives by PEMANDU has brought home less than 2,000.

Our GDP, which is close to RM1 trillion, is made of 47% services, 41% industry and 12% agriculture.  National debt is at RM546 billion, which is 53% of GDP, mainly from domestic lenders. Our household debt to disposable income is among the highest in the world, surpassing that of the US at 140%, meaning for every RM1 taken home there’s RM1.40 worth of debt.

Welfare states and the average OECD nation contributes more than 20% of their GDP for social spending, largely on health and education, while Malaysia spends 4.1% on Education (ranking her 101) and 4.4% on Healthcare (ranking her 156 in the world). Malaysia also ranks among the largest disparity gap in Asia between the rich and poor.

Malaysia’s forecasted revenue for 2013 stands at RM208.6 billion, while RM201.9 billion and RM49.7 billion of operating expenditure and development expenditure are expected. Fiscal deficit is 4% of GDP.

Transparency International reported that there is RM28 billion of money lost to corruption every year and the Asian Wall Journal placed Malaysia highest in the cost of doing business perception.

Bearing all this in mind, which manifesto then is sustainable and will further grow or even sustain our pockets?

2008 – 2013 Report Card

To begin, one must critically evaluate the proven track record between both contesting parties. Let’s benchmark using the 2008 Manifesto.  In essence, there have been promises kept by BN but it will be quite tricky to measure. Some of the highlighted promises are general, vague and difficult to quantify.

There are straightforward cases like the five economic corridors, which no longer receives the spotlight under the new premiership. Then, there’s the question; if Muhyiddin were to take over the helm later, will the Manifesto’s promises be continued?

What about GST? PEMANDU has come out clearly to advocate for GST and despite no mention were made in the BN manifesto, it is touted to be very much in the plan. PR meanwhile recognizes that the income profile of majority Malaysians is still unready to stomach GST.

BN came short of the promised 2 million new employments in its 2008 manifesto. Less than 1 million new jobs were created over the past 5 years. Corruption and dubious manslaughter cases still persisted; a number of them made known to public such as the PKFZ scandal, NFC cow and condominium fiasco, Scorpene, diamond rings, Ahmad Sarbani, too many to name here. One may argue that cleaner and transparent government alone would already bring about material returns.

Unbearable rise in the cost of living and price of goods still continues. Whereas there was a promise made to reduce the fiscal deficit, the BN government has been overspending for the past 15 years when in power. To compare with PR’s performance, the Auditor General reported that the Pakatan-led states were the best financially managed states with Penang registering 95% reduction in debt and 47% increase in revenue. Selangor deposited RM1.2 billion, its highest record in 28 years. Kelantan too boasted a 58% surge in the amount of consolidated funds.

Manifesto: Barisan Nasional (BN) versus Pakatan Rakyat (PR)

The BN Manifesto is largely business as usual without any fundamental or structural changes to how things are executed in Malaysia. It is the same things albeit more attractive goodies and cash handout! The Manifesto offers promises in 17 categories with over 150 very comprehensive promises. Question is, are they sustainable? Can they be maintained or are they purely election winning strategies? These are questions that needed to be asked.

More apparently is that the BN manifesto lacks the spirit of reform that is badly needed, such as the abolishment of lucrative IPP compensation methods and cessation concessions with ridiculously long contractual terms to the politically affiliated. There was no mention on the abolishment of tolls (which will result in RM5 billion per year returning to the people’s pockets) to reduce cost of living, no mention of structural reforms to foreign workers policy. Neither were there proposals to clamp down on cronyism, transparent contract awarding and revisit monopolistic corporate structures that allow for the exploitation of end customers.

In education, BN is proposing the same protectionist policies for the vernacular schools, except that different format schools such as religious, missionary and special needs schools are included. Rather out worldly, it also promises to increase the education standards to the top three ranked in the world, where we now stand in the bottom third. According to the National Education Blueprint 2013- 2025, 15% of our schools lack access to clean water. On top of that, 20% have inadequate science labs and 27% have inadequate computer labs. This needs addressing. PR on the other hand proposes 5 new technical universities and 25 new vocational schools.

In its development and housing proposals, BN promised 1.0 million houses in the span of five years, compared to the rather manageable and more realistic target of 125,000 by the PR government. This is a repeat of Manifesto 2008.

A simple analysis indicates a yearly reduction of roughly RM1,500 in the cost of living if  the BN Manifesto is executed; by means of BR1M and other handouts. If the PR Manifesto were to be executed instead, RM5,500 will effectively be reduced. How is this proposed to be achieved by PR? It is via lower fuel prices, electricity, water, lower car prices, free education, more affordable housing, abolishing anti-competitive tolls and monopolies as well as the imposition of a minimum wage of RM1,100 via gradual and steady reduction of independence on foreign labour.

For economic growth, BN has promised 5.3% and the achievement of high income nation before 2020 while PR promised 7% yearly growth.

The difference between the two is subtle yet most defining. Changes will not come from seemingly transformative patchwork of myopic polices that simply add-on to existing processes. It needs political will to revamp underlying inefficiencies and leakages within the systems in place. 1.0 million new affordable housing is noble but is it achievable and who will be the contractors? What are the procurement policies with regards to this massive scale of projects? What kind of incentive systems are in place within the contractors, to ensure the targeted rakyat groups receive quality affordable housing? Will there be exceptions in the balloting and allocation of those houses?

Another example is the reduced car prices and fuel subsidy rationalization, BN proposed to reduce car prices by 20- 30% in gradual stages. Yet, the issue at hand is bigger than this. There is no mention of ways to tackle crony-favouring practices in the awarding and subsequent trading of APs?  car price reduction truly in the Meanwhile, the PR addresses this specifically by proposing the reduction of excise duty and auction off APs. BN did not even touch on reducing petrol price, while PR despite questioned as being unsustainable promises a reduction of 40 cents to pump petrol prices, to be financed by removing gas subsidy to the IPPs.

So Who Should We Vote For?

First, consider the baseline, which is the starting point that the manifesto will have to work from. Identifying needs such as tackling inequalities, quality of education and cost of living, consider then for yourself if what we need are core structural changes backed by political will to ensure sustained outcomes however expensive it may seem, or would we rather temporary fixes, which too are expensive, but in no way guarantee that the systems in place will be changed to make way for fresh new policies.

You might not agree with everything BN or PR proposes, but they are at the end of the day political manifestos to win our votes. It is only fair to go through the manifestos in its entirety and not in piece meals limiting ourselves to personal sentiments, and only what our hearts and pockets desires.

If one is contented with one’s current situation, afraid of change and is happy to be considered qualified for welfare aids like BR1M angpows, by all means your vote should be for BN. However, if you are willing to step up for the sake of your livelihood and that of your children in hopes for structural and fundamental changes within a cleaner government, a vote for PR might be your salvation. Many already are excited by the prospects of PR, as showcased in the past 5 short years in the four Pakatan-led states.

Albert Einstein famously said that, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” And you will be insane to hope for a change if you vote for status quo.

Your vote counts! “No man is good enough to govern another man, without that other’s consent.” – Abraham Lincoln

* Datas and figures are derived from EPU, DOSM, HIS 2009, HDR 2011, World databank and BNM. For details, please refer to BLINDSPOT (

]]> 6
Malaysia is No 11 in the World Spending for Foreign Workers Tue, 15 Jan 2013 14:14:21 +0000 MALAYSIA’s FOREIGN WORKERS SALARY

We are number 11 out of 170 nations in the world!
Current total Malaysian workforce is at 12.7 million. We are spending USD 6.5 Billion = RM20 Billion / annually for these workers and they will repatriate a portion of this money back home.
Malaysia needs foreign labour to fill in gaps but do we risk lowering market wage rates for Malaysians, social illnesses, and large outflow of funds in remittances?

Foreign Workers Spending

Current total Malaysian workforce is at 12.7 million. Of this 16% are made up of legal foreign workers at ~ 2 million. Forecasted total workforce in 2020 is 16 million in total with 4 million legal foreign workers
Question: Influx of foreign workers. What are the implications of a foreign labour dependent economy?

Foreign Workers Breakdown

Malaysia needs foreign labour to fill in gaps but do we risk lowering market wage rates for Malaysians, social illnesses, and large outflow of funds in remittances?

]]> 0