This is where the proverbial deer gets crushed to death and where Malaysians should be prepared to face an uncertain and a difficult future whereby corruption and injustice would then become a way of life in this country.
This rings not only true but too cheap for them where the price is always higher that the people has to endure and the lists of abuse is endless with the future of Malaysians have been robbed away of the scholarships that would otherwise the country resources easily have helped generations of education that bring multitude orders of fields to a developed nation that we can rely upon to become one of the best in the region. But we are so ignorant and gullible with the politics of division that we have incurred own own loss and lost to the culprit of one bunch of smart dirty political party!
Will the Jala fellow go and talk to the million of middle working class in the country and check what has change for them? Don’t just play around with statistic and rhetorics. Let’s face the reality of life in malaysia. With all the talk about the greatness of the ETP by this jala fellow, the average income of millions of working never increase much over the last few years. Affordable housing in urban areas whcih is paramount to support this middle working class is non existence, and please don’t talk crap in saying that they can buy affordable housing far away from the urban areas. Do you want to travel 100km everyday to go to work? Do you expect hundreds of thousands of this middle working class drive all the way from the far outskirt for 100km to work? Is this reality? Is it real that we have to pay so much for a car in this country? Is it all because of the cost of production of the car? Or is it because of the blow up cost due to ridiculous taxes and a piece of paper called AP which can be sold for tens of thousands of ringgit? This is such a ridiculous country. Low salary for the middle working class. High price of housing which is depriving the middle working class to stay sufficiently close to their urban working places. High car prices and lousy public transport putting a huge hole in the pocket of the middle working class needing the transport to go to work places which will be at a distant from their affordable housing area. So Jala fellow. please answer simple question and don’t play god with figures to syiok sendiri.
The best possible way to assess the future of a country is to look into certain basic fundamentals. These fundamentals, if accurately gauged and analysed, will give a clear indication of what is in store for a nation despite global uncertainties.
In Malaysia, the fundamentals that are often looked into by economists, politicians and others in assessing the economic and political and social climate of the country are considered “narrow” and perhaps even limited.
Nevertheless, the Barisan Nasional government which has governed Malaysia exclusively since the inception of Merdeka, has given Malaysians many assurances that the future of the country is bright as the fundamentals are all strong and well.
Despite dispensing these assurances, and even providing “formidable evidence” that Malaysia is a safe bet to hedge your future, the belief and trust by many Malaysians in the leadership of the country is to be found wanting.
Why is this so? A stream of propaganda is being churned out of the huge successes achieved by the BN government’s Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) and yet in spite of providing so many facts and figures, more Malaysians are worried of their future than having their minds put at ease.
Perhaps it was the late John F Kennedy, a former US president, who best echoes the lurking realities in the minds of most Malaysians. Kennedy once stated openly to the US Congress that “there are lies, damned lies and then there are statistics”.
Perhaps now the troubled mindsets of a growing number of Malaysians are understandable. Most Malaysians who reflect and ponder on the spewing of the glowing statistics and achievements of the BN government generally stomach the whole exercise with a pinch of salt.
It is glaringly evident to Malaysians that these remarkable facts and figures emerging close to the 13th general election are not in tandem with what they witness in the real, harsh, hard realities of life in the country.
Quite obviously, the rosier the picture of the future is painted by the government, the more disbelief it evokes from Malaysians. Between what is witnessed as the proof provided by the government and what Malaysians are witness to in everyday life, there is a wide schism and disparity.
It is for precisely this reason that Malaysians are not buying the bull. Based on what they witness in their daily lives and surroundings, Malaysians, who now command better education and are better informed, are able to read between the lines of government propaganda churning out scenarios of grandeur and the future of the nation in reality.
The painful reality for Malaysians in the know is that their country faces a hard struggle. And this struggle is set to become a protracted crisis given that the quest for power and the right to rule by both sides of the political divide has become not only acrimonious but also hostile.
In view of this, the Malay proverb rings true: “Gajah sama gajah berjuang, pelanduk mati ditengah-tengah.” (The elephant fights with the elephant but it is the deer in the midst of them which dies.)
Are Malaysians being merely used as pawns in the struggle for power? One side of the divide is struggling to gain power, while the other side is struggling not to relinquish power.
There is seemingly this ferocious pull and push and in the process, since the last general election to be exact, Malaysia has stagnated into a state of a muddled mess.
Put the blame entirely on the politicians. Their lack of leadership ability, true wisdom, knowledge and understanding of what it entails to rule and govern a nation has led to the stage being set for Malaysia to see their clock of whatever progress they have achieved over the years being pushed back.
This is what would happen in the future of the nation if Malaysians are not careful. What is set to take place by the indicators given, and if these indicators are assessed accurately, Malaysia faces the dire prospects of a bleak future with the possibility of descending into a rogue nation or failed state.
There is ample evidence now that the rot has begun to set in, and these factors were long festering in this nation but only came to the surface in the last general election and this 13th national polls is expected to become a nerve-wrecking experience for Malaysians if all parties are not willing to co-operate and play by the rules of the game.
If leaders across the political divide are unable to stand together and agree that they will come clean in their bid to be the chosen victors – unless they are willing to play fair and square – it will be merely wishful thinking for Malaysians to hope for a brighter, better future, whoever gains the right to govern.
This is where the proverbial deer gets crushed to death and where Malaysians should be prepared to face an uncertain and a difficult future whereby corruption and injustice would then become a way of life in this country.
Descending into chaos
The only way to safeguard and guarantee a better future for the nation is for Malaysians of all walks of life to carefully and thoughtfully cast their votes and for political parties to present credible and capable candidates to champion the wishes of the people.
It is imperative that Malaysians choose wisely and weigh carefully their choices and for political parties to make a serious bid to secure and win votes by offering the best possible candidates up for election.
A 13th general election that is free and fair can only do a lot of good for the country.
Sticking to democratic principles and abiding by the rules of fair play and justice by political parties, their candidates and voters will reflect well on the maturity of Malaysians.
If Malaysians gamble on their future by subscribing to anything other than playing this 13th general election by the rules of the game, they are set to witness the country descending into chaos.
The onus of responsibility to ensure the well-being and to safeguard the future of Malaysia is with the voters, election candidates and political parties. In the spirit of a true and united Satu Malaysia, may the best candidates win and the best political party rule to the satisfaction of all Malaysians.
By Kimberly Kindy, Scott Higham, David S. Fallis and Dan Keating, Published: June 24
In the days that followed, Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. made frequent phone calls and visits to Boehner. Neither Paulson nor Boehner would publicly discuss the progress of their negotiations to shore up the nation’s financial portfolio.
On Jan. 23, Boehner (R-Ohio) met Paulson for breakfast. Boehner would later report the rearrangement of a portion of his own financial portfolio made on that same day. He sold between $50,000 and $100,000 from a more aggressive mutual fund and moved money into a safer investment.
The next day, the White House unveiled the stimulus package.
Boehner is one of 34 members of Congress who took steps to recast their financial portfolios during the financial crisis after phone calls or meetings with Paulson; his successor, Timothy F. Geithner; or Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke, according to a Washington Post examination of appointment calendars and congressional disclosure forms.
The lawmakers, many of whom held leadership positions and committee chairmanships in the House and Senate, changed portions of their portfolios a total of 166 times within two business days of speaking or meeting with the administration officials. The party affiliation of the lawmakers was about evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans, 19 to 15.
The period covered by The Post analysis was a grim one for the U.S. economy, and many people rushed to reconfigure their investment portfolios. The financial moves by the members of Congress are permitted under congressional ethics rules, but some ethics experts said they should refrain from taking actions in their financial portfolios when they might know more than the public.
“They shouldn’t be making these trades when they know what they are going to do,” said Richard W. Painter, who was chief ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush. “And what they are going to do is then going to influence the market. If this was going on in the private sector or it was going on in the executive branch, I think the SEC would be investigating.”
Boehner, now the speaker of the House, declined to discuss his transactions. His spokesman said they did not pose a conflict because a financial adviser executed them and they were made in diversified mutual funds. Other lawmakers also said their financial advisers handled their trades. They said that the timing of the trades and the conversations was “coincidental” and that they did not adjust their portfolios based on what they were told by the administration officials.
Questions about conflicts of interest and possible insider trading on Capitol Hill prompted Congress to pass the Stock Act this year. The act specifically bans lawmakers, their staffs and top executive branch officials from knowingly using confidential information gleaned from their legislative roles to benefit themselves, their family members or friendsThe act does not prohibit lawmakers from trading stocks in companies that appear before them or from reworking their portfolios after briefings with senior administration officials. Top executive branch officials are banned from investing in industries they oversee and can influence — for example, Fed chairmen are prohibited from investing in the financial sector.
The Post analysis did not turn up evidence of insider trading. Instead, the review shows that lawmakers routinely make trades that raise questions about whether members of Congress have an investing advantage over members of the public.
“Members of Congress are still loosey-goosey about what they require of themselves,” said Painter, who teaches securities law at the University of Minnesota. “I think it’s time for Congress to impose the same rules on themselves that they impose on others. The Stock Act doesn’t do that.”
A shift to Treasury securities
In late 2006, Congress started crafting legislation to overhaul Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, a major effort to stem a rising tide of defaults on risky loans given to home buyers with poor credit.
As Congress worked to rein in the two government-sponsored lenders, Fannie and Freddie pushed back with aggressive lobbying campaigns, stalling the effort in early 2007.
Paulson started working the Hill, trying to break the deadlock and win support for the revisions. He called and met with a number of members of Congress, including Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), on this and other reform efforts.
Paulson and Nelson spoke on Jan. 10. The next day, Nelson sold between $250,000 and $500,000 in Lehman Brothers certificates of deposit. (Congressional financial disclosure forms list only approximate ranges.) Nelson also purchased between $100,000 and $200,000 in Treasury notes, a safer investment.
On Feb. 12, Paulson met at 4 p.m. with Nelson in the lawmaker’s office in the Hart Senate Office Building. That day, Nelson bought $50,000 to $100,000 in Treasury bills.
That year, Nelson had only one other call with Paulson and no other meetings, records show. He made 103 other trades during the year, eight of which exceeded $100,000.
Nelson declined to be interviewed. A spokesman said that the senator discussed only policy matters related to disabled veterans during the call and meeting with the Treasury secretary and that the senator learned nothing that would have influenced his trades.
“Like everyone in Congress, Senator Nelson is bound by the laws, rules and guidelines established for members of Congress,” Nelson spokesman Jake Thompson said in a statement. “He carefully follows both the spirit and intent of them. He has not, and would not, have conversations with Executive Branch officials about matters affecting his personal finances.”
Under congressionally imposed ethics laws that cover Treasury secretaries, Paulson and Geithner would have been prohibited from making the same investments. Congress prohibits Treasury secretaries from investing in financial institutions or Treasury securities.
Nelson “has often sought and had one-on-one conversations with numerous cabinet secretaries under both President Bush and Obama on dozens of issues before Congress,” Thompson said in an e-mail. “That’s what good legislators do, they seek dialogue and understanding at the senior level about local, state and federal policy matters, as well as foreign policy issues.”
Paulson, through a spokeswoman, declined to discuss his conversations with members of Congress during the financial crisis.
Toward the end of the summer of 2007, the foundation of the nation’s real estate market started to shake. On Aug. 6, the American Home Mortgage Investment Corp., the nation’s 10th-largest mortgage firm, filed for bankruptcy.
Three days later, Paulson was headed to work at the Treasury Department when he received word that the U.S. mortgage crisis and tightening credit markets were spreading to Europe, he would later write in his autobiography, “On the Brink: Inside the Race to Stop the Collapse of the Global Financial System.”
Paulson and Bernanke put their staffs on full alert. The Fed crafted a loan package for the nation’s banking industry. Treasury lawyers scrambled to figure out a way to stabilize the increasingly volatile markets, Paulson recalled.
On Aug. 9, the Dow fell nearly 400 points, its second-biggest one-day drop in five years. The next day, the Fed issued a statement pledging to “provide reserves as necessary . . . to promote trading in the federal funds market.”
At 4:30 p.m. on Aug. 13, 2007, as the markets closed, Paulson called Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), chairman of the Budget Committee, according to the Treasury secretary’s appointment calendar.
The next day, Conrad adjusted his family’s portfolio for the first time in four months. Conrad reported that a total of between $150,000 and $300,000 was shifted out of three mutual funds in his wife’s 401(k) retirement account. He moved $100,000 to $250,000 of that money into a lower-risk money-market fund within the retirement account.
That year, Conrad had two other calls and one meeting with Paulson. He reported 29 other transactions during the year, including three that exceeded $50,000.
Conrad said his conversation with Paulson had nothing to do with his trades the next day.
“There is absolutely no connection between the two,” Conrad said. “Our records show that Paulson called me about the debt limit extension and that had nothing to do with the reason for my making the trades.
“The decision that my wife and I made with our financial advisers to diversify into lower-risk investments had everything to do with what was happening that was on the front pages over every paper, including yours. His call to me had absolutely nothing to do with those issues.”
Trading amid stimulus plans
By the beginning of 2008, the Bush administration had decided to take a more aggressive approach to confront the growing economic crisis. On Jan. 2, the president told Paulson to consult with members of Congress, investors and the nation’s business leaders to come up with a strategy.
“This was a touchy point for Republicans, but the president was not an ideologue: He wanted to see quick results,” Paulson wrote in his autobiography
On Jan. 18, Bush announced a proposed $145 billion stimulus package designed to give the economy a “shot in the arm.” Paulson reached out to Republican and Democratic lawmakers in an attempt to strike a compromise. The House, not the Senate, would handle the negotiations with Paulson and the White House.
Boehner, the House minority leader at the time, would be the Republican point man on the Bush proposal; then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) would represent the Democrats.
In the days that followed, Paulson made frequent calls and visits to Capitol Hill, according to his appointment calendars. He called Boehner on Jan. 21 and again the following morning at 10:45, shortly after Paulson met with Bush to discuss the status of global financial markets. In public, Boehner and Pelosi disclosed little, telling reporters their negotiations were confidential.
On Jan. 23, Paulson had a breakfast meeting with Boehner and Pelosi. The two House leaders then held a brief news conference.
“A lot of plans were discussed,” Boehner said. “But nothing will be agreed to until everything is agreed to.”
Later that day, Boehner, Pelosi and Paulson got together again, this time for a two-hour, closed-door meeting. When they emerged, they told reporters that they couldn’t discuss the details of their discussions.
“We’re just not at that point,” Pelosi said.
“We’re hopeful,” Boehner said.
“I’m not going to comment,” Paulson said.
Boehner would later report that two adjustments were made to his financial portfolio on that day: between $50,000 and $100,000 was transferred out of the more aggressive mutual fund. He also reported purchases of between $50,000 and $100,000 in a less risky fund, spread over that day and four others throughout the year.
That year, Boehner had 46 other calls and one other meeting with Paulson. Boehner made 42 other transactions during the year, including one that exceeded $50,000.
Pelosi, who frequently buys and sells in the market, made no trades around the time she spoke with Paulson, according to her financial disclosure forms.
Boehner’s spokesman, Michael Steel, said the congressman’s trades are handled by an investment adviser. Steel declined to identify the adviser or disclose how often they discuss investment strategies. He said they did not discuss the mutual fund moves that were made on Jan. 23.
“The speaker has no say whatsoever on day-to-day investment decisions,” Steel said. He also noted that mutual funds have been exempted from stricter reporting requirements under the Stock Act because they are broadly diversified and have long been considered to be a “safe haven” for lawmakers.
“The issue, or perception, of insider trading is a moot point,” Steel said.
On Jan. 24, 2008, the day after Boehner’s trades, the White House formally announced that it had reached a tentative agreement with the House on the stimulus package, which had risen to $150 billion. The proposal, approved by the House, called for giving tax breaks to businesses and rebates to taxpayers.
When the proposal went to the Senate, lawmakers began to make revisions and additions. Several Democrats wanted to attach spending provisions, including one that would extend unemployment benefits. Republicans warned that the passage of the plan was being placed in jeopardy.
Paulson worked the phones to salvage the deal. He called Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) three times on Jan. 28, and McConnell called Paulson once that day. On Jan. 29, Paulson called McConnell five more times.
The next day, Paulson again called McConnell five times, and McConnell called him three times. The bill had become bogged down in the Senate as lawmakers continued to spar over adding spending measures to the package.
The next day, Paulson called McConnell twice. Senate Democrats pledged to force votes the following week over whether to expand the package, setting the stage for what the White House, Paulson and McConnell had been hoping to avoid: a showdown that could scuttle the deal.
“The stimulus train is grinding to a halt here in the U.S. Senate,” McConnell told reporters on Jan. 31.
That day, McConnell would later report making four trades, each worth between $15,000 and $50,000 in his portfolio, rearranging four mutual funds. He reported selling shares in a one international fund, buying shares in another and reconfiguring his investments in two domestic funds. He hadn’t made a trade since Nov. 20, 2007, and he would not make another until April 14, 2008.
That year, McConnell had 44 other calls and three meetings with Paulson. McConnell made 11 other transactions during the year, including two that exceeded $15,000.
McConnell declined requests for an interview. His spokesman, Michael Brumas, said the senator does not own specific stocks, to avoid the appearance of a conflict, and he does not make his own trades to his funds, relying instead on the advice of an investment adviser.
The adviser, who works for Merrill Lynch in Louisville, Barry Barlow, said he conducts periodic readjustments of McConnell’s portfolio. The moves he made at the end of that January were suggested by Merrill Lynch, not the senator. Barlow said he couldn’t recall whether he spoke to McConnell before the readjustment, but he said the senator frequently tells him to stay away from purchasing individual stocks, to avoid the appearance of a conflict.
“He invests in broad-based mutual funds with hundreds of securities,” said Barlow, who was given permission to speak about the trades by McConnell.
McConnell’s attorney, Russell Coleman, said the trades were authorized by a staff member who worked for the senator. She relayed Barlow’s request to McConnell, who then gave Barlow permission to make the trades, Coleman said.
“They never spoke directly to the senator,” he said. “It’s an important distinction.”
Bailing on bonds
During the spring and summer of 2008, another sector of the economy began to wobble: the market for municipal bonds, which local and state governments sell to raise capital. Normally considered to be one of the safest investments on Wall Street, the muni market was falling victim to the economic crisis.
As chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) had the power to hold congressional hearings and introduce legislation aimed at calming and reforming the bond market. In March, he held a congressional hearing titled “Municipal Bond Turmoil: Impact on Cities, Towns and States.” In June, when the bond market was still in turmoil, Frank introduced two overhaul bills. Bond experts said the market was running scared.