Friday, June 27, 2008

Is Anwar Ibrahim pricing himself out of credibility?

Malaysiakini has published a damn good article titled Opposition pledges yet unfulfilled by Baradan Kuppusamy.

Don’t worry too much about the 1st impression the title projects – no one’s expecting every pledge by each Pakatan Rakyat (PR) component party to be fulfilled in just 100 days. They still have almost 5 years to come up with the goods.

However and unfortunately, a large number of our voters cannot distinguish between an absolute pledge and a conditional pledge ... absolute and conditional being kaytee's choice of words.

In Australia, more than a decade ago, John Howard wrestled the right to form government from the Labour Party in an election where one of his pre-election pledges was that no civil servant in Canberra, the Australian equivalent of Putrajaya, would lose his/her job.

But once he won the election, he reneged on that pledge and sacked some 20,000 of them (or some other but equally draconian figure).

He spun it as his pledge being not a ‘core’ promise, which from that day became a well-known Aussie sarcasm that whenever he or his colleagues had no intention of honouring a promise, it would automatically be ‘non-core’.

In fact, after that incident, when he made a promise, pledge or promised policy, reporters/journalists would pointedly asked him whether it was ‘core’ or ‘non-core’ ;-).

Howard started a fad because the dodgy cynical meaning behind 'non core' became rather popular in Australia that it (including 'core') has been adopted for use in various context, apart from qualifying 'promises'.

Most politicians around the world are the same – they are generally liars. The Asian/African pollies are just more crude and blunt or, if you like, more 'honest' about their lack of honourable intention to keep their promises, whereas Western pollies use sophisticated words like ‘core promise’ and other equally well-dressed nonsense to hide the same dishonourable intent.

So, we could say that our Malaysian absolute pledge and conditional pledge would be equivalent to John Howard’s ‘core’ and 'non core’ promises. Of course the brilliance of Howard’s 'flexible' intent was that he didn’t pre-brand which promise was what. He made the classification only after he saw fit ;-)

Examples of absolute pledges would be like what Lim GE, Nizar, Nik Aziz and Khalid Ibrahim have been fulfilling as best as they could – eg. open tender, curtail government extravagant wasteful spending, transparency, accountability and competency (even unto head hunting expertise who may be BN members).

Khalid has had a few minor stumbles thus far but, except for the case of Anwar Ibrahim's brother (isn't this a wee worrying), were not serious enough to fret over ... yet.

The sole exception to the PR's MB/CMs is the new PAS Kedah MB who has reneged on his pre-election condemnation of and thus opposition to BN’s scary environmental-harmful projects, by adopting every one of them - see my post PAS Kedah menjadi Raja Go-starn. Such sheer double-face hypocrisy!

He even wants to approve a water catchment area for timber logging – Lim GE is now so pissed off with this potential environmental vandal who could possibly jeopardise the drinking water for 5 million Malaysians in the next 5 years. PAS Kedah has f* even its absolute pledges.

Then we come to conditional pledge …

Baradan wrote on what I would term conditional pledge: “It is clear now that it was easy to make election pledges, but next to impossible to fulfil some of them, especially the promise to lower the price of petrol to pre-2004 levels, world price then was about US$20 a barrel. The price of oil is now hitting US$150 a barrel.”

“In 2004, pump prices in Malaysia were under RM0.92, but today the price is RM2.70 and set to rise to RM3.20 by year-end.”

Today I heard the station price per litre of unleaded petrol in Australia is $1.75 (roughly RM5.30) and continuing to rise, with $2 (RM6) per litre expected very shortly.

Obviously a PR pre-election pledge on petrol price has to be conditional on winning majority rule at the federal level to form government.

But the success of the PR in many states had actually come as a surprise to the PR themselves, as acknowledged by Lim GE, his father and many PKR and PAS pollies ….. for one simple reason, while they had expected to pick up some extra seats, they didn’t expect to win so handsomely as to form state governments in places like Penang, Perak and Selangor.

Because of the belief that they might not even break the 2/3 majority control by the BN, I imagine that someone felt a certain freedom or lack of responsibility in making extravagant unachievable promises to lower fuel prices below even RM1.92.

I am sure you know who made those wild pledges. Either it was, as stated, with the abandonment of a person who thought it would be unlikely he would be required to honour those pledges, or he had no clue as to what was then happening to the price of oil globally – the latter hardly surprising when he showed himself to be a lousy Finance Minister as articulately researched and enunciated by the Jebat Must Die blog.

But post-election when he kept on harping on his ability to lower fuel prices in the face of all the facts, he had gone too far and driven a Universiti Malaya economist to lament to Baradan in sheer exasperation, stating: "I cannot understand how Anwar is going to lower pump prices when world price is set to cross US$200 by year end."

"I think he has to tell his legions of supporters soon that petrol prices will only rise and not drop because the commodity is limited but usage is increasing.”

Hardly likely – where there’s no likelihood of ‘responsibility’ (in the need to make good a promise), some people would act with even greater ‘authority’ ….. because such authority or promises are cheap (no need to fulfil).

It is not easy to identify Anwar’s stubbornness or recklessness in continuing to pledge the same impossible promise, to lower oil prices in the face of all the global evidence, except to offer what I reckon would be some possible multi thread thoughts in making his ‘non-core’ promise, namely:

(1) He doesn’t have to worry as he won’t be a PR PM to ever need to fulfil those extravagant promises – which supports my contention that his froggy tauntings have never been a genuine campaign to take over the government but merely a ploy to destabilise the UMNO-led government and allow himself to pry his way back into UMNO through frightened UMNO decision-makers, who thus far have proven to be rock-steady, either by cool deliberate control or just by nature ;-);

(2) If he becomes a PR PM (highly unlikely though), he’ll blame the previous AAB government for pathetic piss-poor management which was 'so horrific' that will make it impossible for him to fulfil his promises, as that would be economically irresponsible (basically the Howard explanation for his non core promise);

(3) Ho hum, no worries man, man man lai, Malaysian mudah lupa lah;

(4) He’ll do it anyway, after all he is the ‘world’s greatest economist and Finance Minister' – read Asia Sentinel
Anwar’s False Promise on Fuel Prices by Joe Fernandez who lambasted Anwar’s attempt to reintroduce fuel subsidies in Malaysia as grossly irresponsible.

Fernandez also commented: "This is not the first time that Anwar has grossly misled the public in making pledges by referring to his 'credentials' as a former Finance Minister for so many years."

"In the run-up to the March 8 general elections and in its aftermath, Anwar promised the oil-producing states of Terengganu, Sabah and Sarawak that he would increase up their current royalty of 5 percent to 20 percent, and at one stage even 40 per cent, if and when his Opposition Alliance was to seize the reins of power from ….... "

(5) Or, as Kian Min and Oon Yeoh of Malaysia had suggested in one of their articles, he’ll lower it from RM2.70 to RM2.50 and then claim he has ‘fulfilled’ his promise (which was actually made to lower the fuel price even less than RM1.92) - all very smoke and mirror.

And Tian Chua was quoted by Malaysiakini as stating: "As the opposition we promised the sky to win but as the government now we have great difficulty to deliver because we don't have the power, our power to effect change is limited. But we are doing our best and the people understand it ... they are with us."

… though Tian Chua didn’t explain why his boss keeps on promising the impossible.

Additionally, Tian Chua mustn't assume voters are like party acolytes, loyal, steadfast, ideological, even fanatical, and prepared to accept sacrifice, etc.

In reality most voters are essentially very selfish and very fickle minded people ... so don't think they will be with PR or PKR forever.

In the end, I wonder how anyone with open-ears, open-eyes and a functioning brain, with powers of full reasoning, and presented with all the facts and details of global oil prices, can ever condone, let alone believe, Anwar’s recklessness about lowering fuel prices.

If we want a 1st world political mentality as preached by Lim Kit Siang, we should hold each and every one of our politicians including Anwar Ibrahim to account. Let's start off with his fuel price promise.


  1. I remember I took bus to Singapore from KL Puduraya.... I saw this posters from PKR telling Anwar's ceramah at where... and the "key issue" to talk about was... "Harga minyak turun, gaji minimum RM 1500"...

    I cant imagine the inflation of having gaji minimum 1500 in the nation...

  2. Tian Chua going to ceramah in Dengkil today.........thats very close to Putrajaya already !

  3. kaytee

    this article by a pseudo-journalist is crap in the first place. the darn article was so one-sided to condemn PR, i just wonder how you came to the conclusion that it was a well written one.
    well, on the oil issue, we can debate till the cows come home. just tell me where has all the additional profits from the record crude oil prices gone? if you give me the arithmetic that the country will go bankrupt by not hiking the petrol price as it had, then i will forever keep my mouth shut on this issue.
    this massive price hike is so inflationary and now even the association of car repairs want a 30% hike in repair cost. kaytee, instead of your usual bombardment of Anwar, take a moment to feel for the poor who are going to be adversely impacted by this unconscionable price hike. Believe me, many young ones will have to go bed hungry because of this. Real sad part that this is avoidable if the govt can account for the windfall profits from the record crude oil prices.

  4. Baradan Kuppusamy does not know it, but after mid July, the price of crude oil will be coming down and not expected to increase unless there are serious geo-political incidents such as Israel bombing Iran. Then all bets are off. Why is so many people making the questionable assumption that oil will continue to go up?

    Knowing what I know and which Bank Negara also know, and the Bankers and financial houses also know, the hiking up of pump prices means, in all liklihood, a hugh windfall for the Government in terms of revenue.

    Which brings the question - can the Government be trusted with the spending or investment of all that money?

    Although, I am not in a position to say if Mr Anwar Ibrahim is able or not able to bing down the price of fuel, I think my expectation and belief that the crude oil price will peak in July, is well placed. I believe Mr Anwar has also the same informed expectations.

    Cheer up a bit. If the peak is going to be over in July, I too would like to see the pump price come down as in every consumable item whose prices have gone. Otherwie a f*%^&*#g curse on all those greedy bastards and whores!

  5. You are obvioously one of those who believes in Santa Claus too.

    You summarily have, without saying it, but committed yourself to believing that you wholly trust the UMNO led BN government to responsibly use the Petronas Billions for the good of the people and the nation.

    I too don't believe in subsidies. But with subsidies of petrol at a massive level I at least know for sure that the Petronas Billions benefits the largest spectrum of the community in every which way.

    Now I have to keep wondering how the Petronas Billions is "Alocated", as against "apportioned" between the UMNO elites and their cronies.

  6. One other thing. Teh problem with you guys is that you completely avoid having to deal with the Petronas Billions in all your arguments like as if that does not exist. Just like Howard la!

  7. With the billions made from oil profit, the Government should start to make projects that will depend on oil for the future. Now the mentality is continue to use cars and road transportation of our goods and export. We should reduce the dependency on oil by having more effecient and reliable public transport which is subsidised by the Government. If the rich can afford to drive, then the day US$200 per barrel.

  8. I give this thesis a night thought! I bet all politician going to hell???

    What they promise never materialize! I hope they really meant what they preach this time!

    how hard can they press? what do politicna live for?

  9. My deconstruction of Baradan Kuppusamy's article
    "public euphoria that brought them into power is beginning to cool off as people tighten their belts in the face of a slowing economy and escalating cost of living".

    Unlike the author, most ordinary people understand that the bulk of the economy is under the influence of the Federal government. An often overlooked, but Important Part of the cause of our escalating inflation is Bank Negara's politically motivated refusal to tighten the money supply in face of galloping inflation. It is as irresponsible as the US Federal Reserve's similar refusal to raise interest rates.

    "The era of blaming the previous governments for all the ills in the country is over and people want the new leaders to deliver," he said.

    Hello, Badawi, UMNO and Barisan Nasional are still in charge in Putrajaya, as Ktemoc keeps reminding us. They are not "the previous government".

    Why we are intensely focused on how terribly and wantonly evil Anwar Ibrahim is, the wonderful Barisan Nasional continues to rob the country blind...

    Please visit the Air Itam Market sometime. Its quite an eye opener on how desparate the cost of living issue is becoming. Its very easy to get out of touch, blogging from a comfortable armchair in Very Comfortable Australia.

    I was in Ozzland for more than a 1/2 decade.
    I know I personally got way out of touch with Malaysia, even though I was in very regular communications with family and friends back in Penang and read Malaysian on-line papers daily.

    Chin Nia Kuai Larn Knia
    Bayan Lepas, Penang.

  10. Ktemoc,
    "for the case of Anwar Ibrahim's brother"

    Rosli Ibrahim ? My Hantu tells me Rosli Ibrahim is not, and never was on Kumpulan Darul Ehsan's payroll.

    He's known the DKEB president for some 20 years, so no way it can be construed as a conflict of interest with the PR government.

    How come people suddenly become so eager to spread Ezam's propaganda now that he has rejoined UMNO ?

    My suspicious mind is working in a certain direction again.....

  11. Previously Hillary and Obama were bitter rival, they fought vigorously in their campaign, each trying to out do the other and attacking their political opponent weaknesses detrimentally.

    After her defeat, Hillary now endorse Obama to be the Democratic Party nomination for the US Presidency. She even went further to campaign for him and Today at their joint rally, she said WE STAND SHOULDER TO SHOULD to their supporters. She is able to put down her differences and see a bigger picture.

    Likewise why can't we do the same?.......our election is over........BN won, period.....No more politicking, no more spinning, no more finger pointing........this chapter is close for a new chapter to's time to work together. Anyway Cooperation and Teamwork are strength and not weaknesses.

    Cheers and have a nice day