Wednesday, 30 January 2019


Build, build, build, build and now Penang faces a property glut, plus an environment further degraded from the clearing of hill slopes for "development", deadly landslides which have cost the live mostly of foreign workers, massive floods and so forth, and all this after over 10 years of Pakatan state government rule and even with all this overbuilding, housing prices in Penang remain stubbornly high and out of reach or most Penang people, especially on Penang Island.

Not that a Barisan Nasional state government in the past over 10 years would have been any better, but a Pakatan state government was supposed to have done very much better, going by their promises before they won Penang in 2008 but it now looks like business as usual under a Pakatan state government.

So now property developers are concerned about a property glut worse than in 1999.

Serves them right.


The Malay Mail reports:-

Claiming unprecedented glut, developers warn of worse year than 1999 crisis

Published 24 minutes ago on 29 January 2019

By Opalyn Mok

GEORGE TOWN, Jan 29 — Developers in the state urged authorities to act on the oversupply of homes in the country, saying the issue was worsening especially in the affordable housing category.

Penang Real Estate and Housing Developers Association (Rehda) chairman Datuk Toh Chin Leong said this was also why the National Home Ownership Campaign was being conducted.

Expressing concern about properties in the sub-RM300,000 category, he said measures were urgently needed to alleviate the glut.

"In these lower priced ranges, most of the buyers could not get loans so there is an oversupply of these properties," he said.

While saying the excess extends to other price categories as well, Toh said the problem was still not as severe.

"If we look at the middle range of between RM600,000 and RM800,000 that are in good locations, we can still sell these properties," he said in a press conference at Rehda today.

He warned that the already softening property sector would have further deteriorated this year had the ownership campaign not been launched or measures not been introduced by the government.

Penang Rehda's former chairman Datuk Jerry Chan went as far as saying that developers were expecting 2019 to be a worse year than 1999, when the Asian Financial Crisis had been in full swing.

"Back in 1999 it was an Asian situation, but back then, there was no severe overbuilding and the number of overhang units now is something we've never seen before," he said.

However, he said the issue of overhang or unsold units was more serious in Kuala Lumpur and Johor compared to Penang.

Chan said there is genuine demand for properties as there are still buyers, but asserted that tight lending rules prevented sales from happening.

In 2013, Bank Negara Malaysia introduced guidelines that made banks evaluate borrowers on their aggregate monthly repayments instead of gauging each loan against gross income separately.

Since then, buyers and sellers have repeatedly complained of high loan rejection rates, which BNM consistently rejects as overstated.

"It was easier for buyers to buy property in 1999 as it was easier to get loans then compared to now," Chan said, when adding that the complaints about lack of housing were no longer a supply issue.

Questioning the efficacy of such lending rule, he purported that consumers still have access to credit cards, hire-purchase and personal loans.

He then repeated the call for the government to revisit existing lending guidelines if it was serious about helping Malaysians own homes.

When asked for data to support their claims of a severe glut in the general market and the affordable home sector, however, neither could offer exact numbers.

Toh said there was not a unified database that collected and tracked property transactions or unsold units by all developers in the country.

"Rehda is now working together with the housing ministry to come up with a more comprehensive database on the property industry," he said.

He said there is a need for a centralised database to properly gauge the housing industry as a whole.

The government recently introduced the National Home Ownership Campaign, which will be launched in March, to sell some 30,115 completed homes nationwide. 

Monday, 28 January 2019


The Star of 29 January 2019 reported that Malaysia's prime minister Tun Dr. Mahathir said that the finance minister Y.B. Lim Guan Eng will be announcing that East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) is officially scrapped, since Malaysia cannot afford it. Fair enough.

However the last paragraph of the article reads:-

"It has been reported that the government is looking for a new contractor after terminating the contract awarded to China Comminication Construction Company Ltd to build the RM81bil mega rail project."

Hmmmm! Yes, there have been several reports and commentaries that construction of the ECRL could proceed under a different contractor.

Let us wait and see who this new contractor who can build the ECRL, supposedly for considerably less.

So is the ECRL on or off ????

Some people, including Pakatoon and NGO-types (non-governmental organisation types) are very uncomfortable and defensive when I refer to this video, which strongly suggests that U.S. imperialism won Malaysia's 14th general election.

"IRI chief admits helping M'sian opposition since 2002"

And this is the almost one and a half hour video from which that video clip was extracted (It's silient for about the first minute)

"Supporting Democracy in Challenging Times"

So where are all those self-proclaimed "socialists" amongst the Pakatoons, now that Barisan Nasional, UMNO and former prime minister Najib Tun Razak has been ousted and is charged with dozens of court charges and is pending trial.

Is this where your "socialism" ends - i.e. now that a Pakatan Harapan government is in power ????

Behind your "leftist" facade, you "lefty" activists are nothing more than "left" side-kicks of Pakatan Harapan parties, especially PKR.

GET A PROPER JOB!!! - where you must actually work, and not depend upon pay derived from handouts from funding organisations such as the National Endowment for Democracy, its core subsidiary organisations, Soros-funded sources and so forth to the various NGOs you work for.

BTW. I don't a single sen from UMNO, Barisan Nasional or Najib for writing and posting this. I am just one of the very much fragmented "Third Force", with my own independently derived viewpoints especially on geo-strategic and geo-political issues. 

Yours trully


Thursday, 17 January 2019


Good! Mr. Finance Minister - Make Goldman Sachs pay back - make em pay!

At today's exchange rates, US$7.5 billion translates into RM30.86 billion, which can pay off most of your stated RM38 billion of 1MDB debt (government guarantees), as published in The EDGE Markets.

It is great if a developing country such as Malaysia can fight back against globalist finance capital.

If they don't pay back, then do not honour any government guarantees to reimburse them. I.E. Malaysia keeps whatever is owed to them - FULL STOP!

Towards the latter part of Part 1 of this feature length video History is Marching, it describes how the rise of monopoly capital and then the dominance of finance capital leads to banks in the imperialist countries to export their over accumulated capital to other countries, especially developing countries.

Towards the latter part of Part 2, it describes in greater detail the export of capital to developing countries in the post World War II period to the period of globalisation following the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Part 3 describes how the US became the dominant finance capitalist country, why it had to float to US dollar which became a fiat currency and now the decline of its decline, the election of Trump as president of the US, and by extension, the  desperation of its banks to secure interest-bearing loans to developing countries - thus milking them.

All seven parts of History is Marching can be viewed in this over 2 hours long feature length video.

Great music, but don't worry, it does not include L'Internationale.

The Star's article referred to follows:-

LGE to Goldman Sachs: Sorry no cure, just pay back US$7.5bil

Friday, 18 Jan 2019
12:39 PM MYT

PUTRAJAYA: A mere apology from Goldman Sachs over the involvement of its former banker in the scandal riddled 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) is insufficient, says Lim Guan Eng.

The Finance Minister said an apology that came with US$7.5bil (RM30.8bil) was what mattered, and if Goldman Sachs followed up its apology with that payment, Malaysia would consider dropping charges against the investment bank.

"RM7.5bil...we can discuss lah," he quipped.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc CEO David Solomon apologised to Malaysians on Thursday (Jan 17) for the involvement of its former banker Tim Leissner's role in 1MDB.

"At least, he accepted that they have to bear and shoulder some responsibility.

"That apology, of course, go someway towards that, but that is, of course, insufficient. Necessary but not sufficient," Lim told reporters, adding that only when reparations and compensations were paid would the situation be sufficiently remedied.

Lim said the investment bank should understand the agony and trauma suffered by Malaysians because of the 1MDB.

He said if had not been for a change in government, Goldman Sachs, one of the largest investment banks in the world, would not even apologise.

Yours trully



So it looks like come February 2019, diesel powered car owners will have no option but to use B10 biodiesel blend, even if it is not compatible with their car's engines.

The price of palm oil has been down amidst an oversupply and palm oil stocks have been building up, so the Primary Industries Minister, teresa Kok's mandate that all petrol stations nationwide must switch to supplying the B10 blend of biodiesel from the current B7 blend by February 2019 is believed to help raise the price of palm oil.

B10 blend biofuel contains 10% of palm methly ester and 90% regular diesel, B7 a 7% and 93% blend resepctively, B20 a 20% and 80% blend respectively and so forth.

B10 programme mandatory for petrol stations by Feb 2019, minister says

Published 17 January 2019

PUTRAJAYA, Jan 17 — Petrol stations nationwide will have to switch to B10 biodiesel from the current B7 diesel blend by February 2019, said Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok.

She said the B10 biodiesel programme was rolled out in December last year for the transportation sector, and has been implemented in phases. 

"The B10 programme targets to increase the blending ratio of palm biofuel in diesel from seven per cent to 10 per cent.

"The government has announced the B10 mandate for the transportation sector as part of the crude palm oil supply management mechanism to stabilise palm oil prices by reducing the high domestic stock level and increasing the sustainability of energy sources," she said in her keynote address at the Palm Oil Economic Review and Outlook Seminar 2019 here today. 

Her speech was read by her deputy, Datuk Seri Shamsul Iskandar Md Akin.

Kok said the B7 programme for the industrial sector would be implemented starting July 1 this year, which would boost local demand for palm oil to 386,993 tonnes per year from the current 373,512 tonnes. 

"The mandatory implementation (of the programmes) in both sectors is estimated to require 760,505 tonnes of palm oil annually and is expected to have a positive impact on palm oil prices," she said.

Kok said the government also planned to increase the biodiesel blend from B10 to B20 by 2020.

She said the local palm oil industry's performance last year was somewhat mixed, with the industry recording a 3.6 per cent growth in the export of palm oil products. 

"But the crude palm oil (CPO) price declined to an average of RM2,232 a tonne in 2018 from RM2,783 in 2017, influenced by the weaker soybean oil price, its main competitor in the world market, and a high domestic palm oil stockpile," she added.

As a result, the revenue from palm oil products dropped by 12.3 per cent to RM62.68 billion during the January -November period in 2018, compared to RM71.44 billion in the corresponding period of 2017. 

"Overall, it was a very challenging year for the trade in vegetable oils and fats. 

"The Malaysian palm oil industry is facing numerous challenges arising from the build-up of domestic palm oil stocks, the United States-China trade tensions and the weakened ringgit against the US dollar. Collectively, this has caused the downtrend in the palm oil price," Kok said. 

To ensure sustainable production, Kok said the government was committed to implementing the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certification that would become mandatory on Jan 1, 2020.

The certification will elevate the country's palm oil industry to international standards and widen its market access in the wake of changing global consumer concern. 

It would also mark a significant step towards aligning and branding the Malaysian palm oil to globally accepted sustainability practices.

Kok said the government has also launched the "Love My Palm Oil" campaign this year as part of efforts to change the negative perception on Malaysian palm oil.

"Attempts to discredit palm oil will continue to crop up from time to time.

"We cannot afford to act alone to face all the challenges. Therefore, both Malaysia and Indonesia, are working together to address various issues and biased allegations related to the palm oil trade under the Council of Palm Oil Producing Countries," she added. — Bernama

Whilst this three percentage points increase in the percentage of palm methyl ester in B10 biodiesel compared to B7 biodiesel is expected to increase the price of crude palm oil, which in turn will help raise the income of oil palm smallholders, however, however according to automotive blogger Paul Tan, B10 biofuel potentially poses risks of some negative impact on the diesel engines of certain car models which the manufacturers say are not compatible with B10 biodiesel, and at the same time negatively impact the warranty terms, even though Tan concludes that these risks of long term damage to the car's engines are not as bad made out to be.

Paul Tan writes:-  

B10 biodiesel in Malaysia – separating fact from fiction

In Cars, Feature Stories, Local News / By Jonathan Lee / 27 January 2017

Ever since the nationwide introduction of B10 biodiesel was first mooted back in 2015, there's been a lot of conjecture regarding the fuel's suitability for Malaysia's diesel-powered vehicles.

So far, a number of companies including BMW Group Malaysia, UMW Toyota Motor, Volkswagen Group Malaysia and Isuzu Malaysia have stated that their cars will not be able to use the fuel, with BMW in particular citing international studies on the potential engine damage biofuels can cause. As such, the wider perception is that the higher biodiesel blend is harmful to engines.

Not helping matters is the fact that the B10 rollout has been delayed several times – originally slated to come into force in October 2015, it was pushed back to June last year, then to December. Last we heard, the implementation has been deferred indefinitely, although that is said to have been due to the unfavourable price of crude palm oil versus that of regular diesel.

The Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) has sought to clear any misconceptions and address public concerns regarding B10 biodiesel, and as such it has shared its research and findings with in order to present a clearer picture on just what kind of effect the fuel will have on diesel engines.

B10 biodiesel – a background

The B10 blend that was slated to be introduced at petrol stations nationwide consists of 10% palm methyl ester and 90% regular diesel fuel. Cleaner Euro 5 diesel will remain on a B7 blend, as will all diesel fuels sold in the highlands such as Cameron and Genting Highlands.

There are a number of reasons why Malaysia is pushing for higher biodiesel blends. The first is the potential of reduced air pollution – it is claimed that the switch to B10 biodiesel could cut emissions by an amount equivalent to 100,000 diesel vehicles on the road.

Increasing the blend would also reduce the dependency on fossil fuels, which would better safeguard the country against foreign exchange volatility. But of course, one very big reason is that Malaysia is the world's second largest producer of palm oil, and the use of local resources as renewable fuel would indirectly support oil palm smallholders and related industries.

Biodiesel blends aren't new here, of course. The country introduced B5 biodiesel in June 2011, followed by B7 in December 2014. But Malaysia has lagged behind certain countries, particularly Indonesia – the latter has been using B10 since 2013, then moved to B15 in 2015 and B20 last year. In fact, MPOB claims the usage of B20 there is at 90% versus regular diesel (B0).

Engine damage concerns regarding B10 biodiesel

Car manufacturers have raised issues with the use of B10 biodiesel, specifically the damage the fuel could cause to diesel engines. The list of potential problems is fairly long and includes fuel filter plugging, deposits on fuel injectors, material deterioration, engine oil dilution and degradation as well as component damage.

BMW Malaysia went one step further, highlighting a 2012 joint statement by five diesel injector manufacturers, Delphi, Denso, Bosch, Continental and Stanadyne, detailing the possible effects of fatty-acid methyl ester (FAME) biofuels – which includes palm methyl esters – on diesel engines.

While the companies did not specifically single out any 'bad' blends, and understood the need for continually revising standards, they raised issues regarding reduced fuel stability (leading to "plugged filters, sediments and sticking moving parts"), impurities in the fuel and compatibility issues with older vehicles (most likely affecting filters, hoses and seals) with the use of FAME in fuels.

However, MPOB pointed out that the statement itself stated that the European FAME standard EN 14214:2009 is being revised extensively to facilitate blending of up to B10, which the manufacturers support.

The board also drew our attention to fuel trials that it has conducted. The first phase, involving 31 vehicles running on regular diesel and B100 palm methyl ester, took place from 1986 to 1989, while the second phase with 36 buses running B0, B50 and B100 blends was conducted between 1990 and 1994. The ongoing third phase, involving 25 vehicles running on B10 and B20, has been going on since 2013.

Other bodies have also conducted tests, including DBKL and the Malaysian Biodiesel Association (MBA); Colombia also held trials on B5, B10, B20, B30 and B50 palm methyl ester blends from 2009 to 2010. But by far the most thorough test was conducted by the Japan Auto-Oil Programme (JATOP) and the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA) from 2007 to 2011, which tested six different methyl esters.

All tests observed little to no fuel filter plugging or injector deposits. There was some degradation of engine oil using palm methyl esters, but they were within the acceptable limit of the used oil performance test. The tests also showed regular component wear and tear, as well as no significant impact on engine performance.

However, MPOB found issues with material deterioration, such as the peeling of fuel tank coatings and paintwork, hardened fuel hoses, erosion on copper and lead and the dissolving of chloroprene materials – the board suggested switching to Teflon coatings and stainless steel braided hoses.

Meanwhile, JATOP and JAMA's testing of different methyl esters showed that palm methyl ester performed better than soy, walnut oil, coconut, rapeseed and jatropha methyl esters. In fact, in a B10 blend palm methyl ester was deemed to be slightly better than regular diesel in certain aspects, including fuel flow and engine torque, and was shown to have cleaned fuel injectors, whereas regular diesel did not.

Another test was conducted with B20 biodiesel on Denso fuel injectors in Japan, witnessed by an Indonesian government delegation in 2014. While the fuel was found to have deteriorated more quickly under high temperatures and affected the diamond-like carbon (DLC) coating of one injector, there was no change in fuel flow, nor any biopolymer deposits, after the test. Oxidation stability was quoted at 79 hours, lower than regular diesel at 113 hours, but way higher than B100's eight hour figure.

JAMA's feedback and conditions

For what it's worth, JAMA has stated that it does not oppose Malaysia's implementation of B10 biodiesel, so long as its conditions were met. These include a water content of less than 200 parts per million (ppm) and an oxidation stability of more than 35 hours, both of which MPOB has managed to accommodate.

The association also wanted the B10 blend to be limited to grades Euro 4 and below, so the Euro 5 diesel fuel currently sold in selected stations nationwide will remain on a B7 formulation. Diesel fuels sold in the highlands, such as Cameron and Genting Highlands, will also stick to a B7 blend, due to concerns over the gelling of biodiesel at lower temperatures.

However, JAMA has also stated that warranty coverage would be provided at the discretion of vehicle manufacturers, and is not guaranteed by the association.

So, is it safe?

As far as MPOB is concerned, the bevy of laboratory and real-world engine testing conducted both locally and in other countries shows that there will be no problems that will arise from B10 biodiesel. It has also stated that both it and the ministry of plantation industries and commodities (MPIC) will continue to engage relevant stakeholders in order to ensure a smooth implementation of the B10 programme.

During the presentation, it stressed that the B10 blend only represents a 3% increase in biodiesel content, and said that it believes carmakers would provide the same level of warranty after the B10 rollout. Of course, we would recommend that users clarify with the respective companies before using B10 biodiesel.

So far, Mercedes-Benz Malaysia has stated that its diesel-powered vehicles, which consist of the CLS 250d and GLE 250d, as well as the discontinued E 300 BlueTEC Hybrid, would be compatible with B10 biodiesel – rescinding an earlier, contradictory statement. Nasim has given the same reassurance for the Peugeot 508 GT HDi.

Manufacturers providing conditional coverage for vehicles powered by B10 biodiesel include Toyota, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Scania and Volvo Trucks, while BMW, CAMC, Ford, Grand Tiger, Hyundai, Isuzu, JLR, Mazda, Mitsubishi Fuso, Kia, Porsche and Chevrolet have said that their cars cannot be powered by the fuel. However, Isuzu has stated that its light- and medium-duty lorries (not pick-ups or older models, which cannot use B10) will be compatible with B10 biodiesel after a change of hoses.

Overall, while consumers should still be cautious about using B10 biodiesel and make sure that their vehicles are compatible with the fuel before using it, it does appear that the issue has been made more serious than it actually is. For those of you who are wary, or own a car that cannot be run on B10, there's always B7 Euro 5 diesel as an answer.

The problem here is that with all petrol stations being mandated to supply B10 diesel, owners of cars whose engines are deemed incompatible with B10 will have no choice but to use B10 biodiesel.

Can't the minister find other ways to boost palm oil usage to raise crude palm oil prices without putting car owners at risk of having to bear higher cost of maintenance of their vehicles?

This is a case of making ordinary people pay for problems of the palm oil industry.

Yours trully


Tuesday, 15 January 2019


PUTRAJAYA, 15 Jan — The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) today announced the establishment of the Debt and Liability Management Committee, which is tasked with reducing the government's debt and liabilities to a manageable level within 18 months.

PMO in a statement today said the committee would report directly to Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

The five committee members are experts in finance, economics, and law.

They are Treasury secretary-general Datuk Ahmad Badri Mohd Zahir,  Attorney General's Chambers head of advisory division To' Puan Azian Mohd Aziz, economic adviser to the Prime Minister Dr Muhammed Abdul Khalid, Bank Negara Malaysia board member Gooi Hoe Soon and Securities Commission board member Faris Rabidin.

PMO said the appointments were effective immediately.

The committee was proposed during the tabling of the 2019 Budget in November last year. — Bernama


Sunday, 13 January 2019


The high and rising cost of living was one of the reasons why Malaysians voted out the former Barisan Nasional government and voted in the present Pakatan Rakyat government which promised to reduce the cost of living, but the cost of living remains high and has risen slightly in some instances.

Now we learn that the high prices of chicken is because there is a shortage in the domestic market due to chicken being exported.

What is the Pakatan government doing about chicken and other foods being exported whilst we have shortages and high prices at home?

Is Malaysia so hard pressed for foreign exchange that we must export chicken or is it the opportunism and greed of the chicken farmers? 

Free Malaysia Today article follows below:-

Mydin boss cries fowl over chicken export amid supply shortage

Robin Augustin - January 13, 2019 7:00 AM

PETALING JAYA: Retail tycoon Ameer Ali Mydin has called for a ban on export of chickens as a supply shortage threatens to push up prices of the popular food.

Ameer, who owns Mydin hypermarkets, said there had been a 50% drop in the supply of chickens to his stores.

"The chickens are sold out by afternoon at our hypermarkets," he told FMT.

"This shortage has likely contributed to the RM3 increase in prices in just one month, from RM6 per kg to RM9 per kg."

Ameer also referred to reports that the price of chicken has shot up from RM7.70 to RM10 per kg in Johor Bahru.

A daily recently quoted a seller as saying that most chickens were exported to Vietnam which is facing a shortage due to the outbreak of the H5N1 bird flu.

Ameer said the situation in East Malaysia was also bad, where chicken prices have increased.

"But the government allows the exports which caused a drop in supply, It is the people who suffer. Despite our supposed shortage, Malaysia is still exporting chickens to Vietnam."

Ameer repeated his call for the government to do away with approved permits in the chicken trade.

"Why is it not doing anything to address the issue head on?" he asked.

He said the relevant ministries did not learn anything from the recent hike in egg prices.

Last month, Ameer urged the government to stop the export of eggs to Singapore.

Putrajaya had then said it was studying a temporary ban on export of eggs.

Ameer meanwhile said the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim), which issues halal certification, must address the chicken shortage by certifying more foreign markets as halal.

FMT's attempts to reach the Federation of Livestock Farmers' Associations of Malaysia for comment were unsuccessful.

FMT is also awaiting a response from the domestic trade and consumer affairs ministry.

Yours trully


Wednesday, 9 January 2019


If one cares to read articles in Malaysian mainstream media, alternative media and blogs on both sides of the political divide, one will find more or less the same news about speculation and opinion pieces on whether or not Anwar Ibrahim or Azmin Ali will be Malaysia's next prime minister after Mahathir, rampant speculation on who will be Malaysia's next Agong (Supreme Head), on how many UMNO members of parliament will jump ship to the ruling Pakatan Harapan coalition, especially Mahathir's party Pribumi which is one of the four parties within the Pakatan coalition, whether Barisan National coalition members the Malaysian Chinese Association and the Malaysian Indian Congress will collapse, who next will be hauled up for investigation by the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission, whether someone with deep pockets buys the yacht Equanmity at a good used yacht price or whether it will end up becoming a glorified sampan, the latest whereabouts of Jho Low and so forth.

And whilst all this juvenile politicking is going on amongst politicians at the top who should instead be working to strengthen Malaysia's economy and business prospects, as well as working to reduce prices for consumers, Japanase stockbroking company, Nomura Global Research downgraded Malaysian equities to "underweight", the second downgrade since the Pakatan Harapan coalition won Malaysia's general election on 9 May 2018, and one of the reasons Nomura gave for its second downgrade is the politicking which has been going on, which only serves as free entertainment for coffee shop, tea shop, pub, bar and social media politicians, and which helps sell newspapers, a major one which I hear is offering about 40 experienced staff a Mutual Separation Scheme (MSS) in the wake of a second consecutive quarter of wafer-thin profits.

Below is an article in TheEDGE Financial Daily of 10 January 2019, with key paragraphs highlighted in yellow.

(If you cannot view the embedded image of the article, please enable "view images" in your e-mail client)

On 9 January 2019, Free Malaysia Today reported:-

Growing political tensions are also seen as putting downward pressure on rating.

Below is a key excerpt from the article.
"Downward rating pressures could also arise if growing political tensions and diverging views within the government undermine the effectiveness of policies or impair the government's ability to adhere to its fiscal consolidation objectives, and/or threaten the stability of capital flows to Malaysia."

Malaysia risks downgrade if debt burden increases, says Moody's

FMT Reporters - January 9, 2019 12:48 PM

PETALING JAYA: International rating agency Moody's says Malaysia's current A3 stable rating could be threatened if the government's debt obligation increases.

"We would consider downgrading the rating if Malaysia's fiscal prospects weaken, or its debt burden increases," it said in its annual analysis of the country's credit rating.

It added however that Malaysia's A3 stable credit profile reflected a large and diversified economy with healthy medium-term growth prospects.

"The relatively high government debt is partly offset by a favourable debt structure and large domestic savings," it said.

This follows the transfer of federal power to a new government following the 14th general election in May last year. It marked the country's first transition away from Barisan Nasional, which had ruled Malaysia since independence.

The Pakatan Harapan administration had signalled a significant shift in policy priorities, some of which are expected to affect the country's credit profile.

Moody's said it expects real GDP growth to slow to 4.7% and 4.5% in 2019 and 2020 respectively, after averaging around 5.0% from 2015 to 2018. The rating agency said external headwinds from trade protectionism would weigh on trade activity, while a review of infrastructure projects and slowing public spending would be a further drag on growth.

Moody's also said the new government's fiscal policy choices, particularly the move to abolish the goods and services tax (GST), would narrow its revenue base and reduce fiscal flexibility. Malaysia's debt burden, which is significantly higher than the A-rated median, is also expected to remain a credit constraint.

The rating agency sounded a caution on pervasive corruption which it said was likely to remain a challenge for the government.

Downward rating pressures could also arise if growing political tensions and diverging views within the government undermine the effectiveness of policies or impair the government's ability to adhere to its fiscal consolidation objectives, and/or threaten the stability of capital flows to Malaysia.

The moderation in growth incorporates the cancellation or postponement of several infrastructure projects and slowing domestic public spending, it said. Continued trade tensions between China and the US will also weigh on the growth outlook, given the large share of trade in the overall economy.

Moody's said the Malaysian economy had transformed since the early 1980s, moving away from a reliance on commodities. Diversification has been both horizontal, away from primary sectors to manufacturing and services, and vertical through a move into high value-added activities, which has reduced commodities' share of exports.

Some of the fiscal policies that the new government has implemented are expected to undermine its policy effectiveness. Abolishing the GST will have a long-lasting impact on revenue collection in terms of both magnitude and quality, while also increasing Malaysia's reliance on more volatile oil-related revenue.

Partly because of these policy choices, a steady path of deficit reduction has been disrupted. Future consolidation will be more difficult to implement with an eroding revenue base, particularly in a weaker global environment, it said.

I guess we voted to put children in charge of the kindergarten and now have to live with the consequences of THEIR frivolous actions.

Yours most truly