Sunday, 8 March 2020

PSM CALLS UPON GOVERNMENT TO REMOVE THE FUEL SUBSIDY

I'm pretty sure Malaysians will gladly vote for Parti Socialis Malaysia (PSM) if petrol prices at the pump increase, despite the sharp plunge in the price of Brent Crude.

When the price of Brent Crude was down around US$30 per barrel, people were complaining that the price of fuel at the pump did not drop correspondingly and just because the price of Brent Crude plunged to US$33.98 per barrel today, PSM calls upon the government to remove the fuel subsidy

This is a perfect example of an oxymoronic term i coined - i.e. neoliberal-socialism.

I'd expect such a call to come from the likes of the neoliberal think tank, the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) but not from a party which claims to be "socialist".

However, this should not be surprising in the 21st Century, when "far-left" governments such as Syriza betray the results of the Greek referendum and impose austerity dictated by European Union and banksters' upon the Greek people. 



Removing fuel subsidy will save RM6 bil, govt told as global oil price plunges

FMT Reporters - March 9, 2020 9:44 AM

PETALING JAYA: Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) today called on Putrajaya to do away with the fuel subsidy, saying this would save the government nearly RM6 billion in the wake of reports that oil markets have suffered their worst drop since the Gulf War.

The party's environmental and climate crisis bureau committee member, Sharan Raj, said Perikatan Nasional should abolish the automatic pricing mechanism (APM) and allow for free float.

He said the money saved from removing the APM could be used to subsidise and expand public transport nationwide.

"The government could purchase more than 6,600 electric buses with RM6 billion savings or nearly 34,000 electric buses in five years," he said in a statement.

He added however that the price of diesel should be regulated to prevent upward pressure on inflation.

Noting that diesel is widely used for the transport of goods and public transport services, he said floating diesel prices would result in price fluctuations for logistic costs.

He suggested that the price for Euro 2M Diesel and Euro 5 Diesel be fixed at RM2.20 per litre and RM2.00 per litre respectively.

Earlier today, Bloomberg reported that oil markets tumbled more than 30% after the disintegration of the Opec+ alliance triggered an all-out price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia.

Brent futures suffered the second-largest drop on record in the opening seconds of trading in Asia, behind only the plunge during the Gulf War in 1991.

Putrajaya had planned to implement a targeted petrol subsidy scheme for low-income earners prior to the collapse of the Pakatan Harapan government. It has since been put on hold.


Meanwhile, stay tuned to the price of Brent Crude:-


Meanwhile, the ringgit weakened sharply from RM4.17 to RM4.2 to the U.S. dollar.




PSm should keep its scheiss to itself.

Yours truly

POLITI SCHEISS
http://politischeiss.blogspot.com/

Monday, 2 March 2020

THE SEVEN DAYS WHICH SHOOK MALAYSIA, AND PERHAPS MORE TO COME.

Looks like we're still in for a rough ride moving forward, folks. We could well be in a brief lull period now before the next storm or series of storms.

As I had said several times before in various forums, if a motion of no confidence is moved in parliament against Muhyiddin as prime minister, he will very likely have to resign, his cabinet will automatically dissolve and most likely a snap election will have to be called and if the outcome of that election produces no coalition or pact of parties with at least 112 seats in parliament - i.e. 50% plus 1 seat, there will either be another round of horse trading to make up the required number of seats for a majority or another snap election will likely be held and if once again, no coalition or pact wins at least 112 seats, the whole process will likely repeat again, and if this loop continues, Malaysia will be unable to get down to business as usual and will stagger on as a dysfunctional democracy. 

Bloomberg of 2 March 2020 writes, digging deeper into the background of events and causes which led up to the SEVEN DAYS WHICH SHOOK MALAYSIA (23 - 29 February 2020), and these go back farther than the events of 23 February 2020.

One could say that Bloomberg presents a rather western-eyed view of the events and that the writers of the article and the analysts quoted may appear to lean towards a pro-Pakatan Harapan perspective, but I leave you to read and decide for yourselves whether they make sense or not.

However, one thing I agree with is that it was intra-Pakatan Harapan and intra-PKR infighting which brought the Pakatan Harapan government down, and who knows - it may well be a unity government headed by Mahathir or someone else which will be required to stabilise the situation. Democracy is a messy business after all, especially when there are elected representatives ever ready to jump ship for opportunistic reasons, just like employees change job for career advancement, higher pay or both.

The Bloomberg article follows below:-

politics

How a $7 Billion Dispute Helped Topple Mahathir's 'New Malaysia'

By Anisah Shukry, Elffie Chew, and Yantoultra Ngui
2 March 2020, 13:00 GMT+8 Updated on 2 March 2020, 22:00 GMT+8

*   Infighting took down coalition after historic win in 2018
*   Policy differences remain even if Mahathir manages comeback

In the weeks before his shock resignation as prime minister threw Malaysia into turmoil, Mahathir Mohamad was getting agitated.

His then-ruling alliance had suffered a series of by-election losses, stunting its momentum after a historic election win in 2018 against a government in power for six decades. Mahathir wanted quicker action to reduce living costs, a key part of the "New Malaysia" agenda that had propelled the bloc's surprise win. But his proposals only spurred more bickering within the unwieldy coalition of four parties with racial and religious differences.

One conflict centered around highway tolls. In January, Mahathir agreed to let the conglomerate Maju Group take over highways operator PLUS Malaysia Bhd., which is controlled by the finance ministry, according to people familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified. Under the deal, valued at about 30 billion ringgit ($7 billion), Maju Group would've scrapped toll fees in return for government contracts to maintain the roads, the people said.

But his coalition partners disagreed: The largest, the Democratic Action Party or DAP, was strongly opposed to the deal because it wanted PLUS to be directly held by the government, according to a person familiar with the discussions. In the end, the administration rejected all bids for PLUS and restructured concessions to reduce highway fares instead of eliminating them.

The failed deal highlighted a series of policy disputes that eventually brought down the coalition, showing that the differences in Mahathir's government extended far beyond when he would cede power to Anwar Ibrahim, his long-time rival. New Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin is backed by parties that lost in 2018, shifting Malaysia back to an agenda favoring the Malay majority.

Mahathir, 94, hasn't given up: He's revived the alliance with Anwar and the DAP, and said on Sunday he has the numbers to oust Muhyiddin in a confidence vote during the next meeting of parliament, now scheduled for March 9. But even if he manages to quickly return to power, those policy differences in his coalition still remain -- signaling more turbulence ahead either way.

For Malaysia, the political disarray comes at a bad time: The economy is already growing at the slowest pace in a decade, and faces more downside risk as the global coronavirus outbreak disrupts travel and business operations. Malaysia's stock index is one of the world's worst performers since the 2018 election, and the ringgit last week reached the lowest level in two years.

This account of what led to Mahathir's resignation is based on conversations with multiple officials who asked not to be identified talking about private matters.
Cabinet Revamp

The infighting that brought down Mahathir's government had been brewing for months. He had wanted a cabinet revamp since at least November, but the disparate nature of the coalition -- made up of parties with contrasting views, including the multiracial DAP whose top leaders are mostly ethnic Chinese and his own Malay nationalist party -- meant he had to tread carefully or risk dismantling the alliance.

While Mahathir was mainly disappointed with the management of the economy, he could only oust ministers who belonged to his own party to avoid destabilizing the coalition, according to a person familiar with the discussions. One of them was then-Education Minister Maszlee Malik, a member of his Malaysian United Indigenous Party, or Bersatu, who came under fire for pushing policies that appeared to bolster Islamic influence in public education. His termination in January was meant to prod ministers Mahathir couldn't forcibly remove, the person said.

But it made little impact. The PLUS deal was one example: Mahathir's cabinet had invited companies to present bids for the company, which were then evaluated by the ministry of works. Maju Group was so confident it would be approved that it had begun approaching banks for funding, even before a decision was to be made at a Jan. 9 cabinet meeting, two people said. But the DAP opposed it because of Maju Group's track record and its close relationship with Mahathir, a person said.

When the deal eventually collapsed, Maju Group's executive chairman, Abu Sahid Mohamed, called the decision "stupid." Mahathir said the final call came down to PLUS's main shareholders: Khazanah Nasional Bhd. and Employees Provident Fund, both state-owned funds that manage public money.

Maju Group, Abu Sahid, the DAP, former Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng and Mahathir's office didn't respond to requests for comment on the deal. The finance ministry declined to comment.
'All of Them Are Weak'

Other key policy decisions also stalled due to differences in the cabinet. They included how to turn around companies from ailing flag carrier Malaysia Airlines Bhd. to FGV Holdings Bhd, one of the world's largest producers of palm oil.

On Jan. 20, Mahathir made a rare show of frustration in a meeting with journalists, warning his administration could be a one-term government unless it changes.

"They still don't understand," he said. "Instead they fight among themselves, they divide their people and all of them are weak."

As tensions within the cabinet grew, questions again began to surface over succession. Mahathir had repeatedly pushed back the date he planned to step aside for Anwar, who said publicly he expected to become prime minister around May.

Several of Anwar's rivals to the succession saw an opportunity to pounce. Azmin Ali, who was deputy president in Anwar's party, began holding talks with members of the opposition in the former ruling coalition anchored by the United Malays National Organisation, or UMNO. That party includes Najib Razak, who faces charges he denies over a money laundering scandal involving billions of dollars allegedly siphoned from state investment firm 1MDB.
Succession Fight

After a coalition meeting on Feb. 21, Mahathir and coalition leaders announced that he would stay on through the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings this year, which are being hosted in Malaysia. He said he retained the authority to decide whether he would step down at all. Anwar concurred and said he would need to be patient.

"There were two opinions, but in the end -- and I'm proud of this -- in the end it was all up to me, whatever I say, they will follow," Mahathir said.

Yet all was not well. Saying he was acting on behalf of Mahathir, Azmin invited lawmakers from across the country that weekend to fly to Kuala Lumpur in a bid to form a new coalition that excluded Anwar, according to people who were present at the event. The Feb. 23 meeting, attended by leaders from across the ruling and opposition coalitions, anticipated announcing a new government shortly, the people said. Some leaders also met with the king that day.

But Mahathir himself didn't attend the meeting, with his media adviser later saying that he didn't agree with Azmin's decision to work with UMNO. Instead, on Feb. 24 he went to the king and submitted his resignation -- a move that automatically dismissed the cabinet. He was then immediately appointed interim prime minister, putting him in the driver's seat to form a new coalition.
Unity Government

In public statements, Mahathir made it clear he wanted a unity government that was non-partisan, making it more likely he would get a cabinet that listens to him. He said he was willing to work with any individual lawmakers in UMNO but not the party as a whole, since it was still associated with Najib and corruption allegations.

"Keeping in mind Mahathir's authoritarian propensity and draconian track record, that sort of unity government is but a few steps away from de facto dictatorship," said Oh Ei Sun, a senior fellow with the Singapore Institute of International Affairs. "It could only be viable if he clamps down on dissent as before, and the lack of opposition would regress Malaysia to the dismal oppression of his first term."

The 20 billion ringgit ($4.7 billion) stimulus package Mahathir announced last week while he was interim prime minister reflected the divisions in his coalition. He made significant changes to the package compared with the version submitted earlier by the DAP-controlled finance ministry, said a person familiar with the matter.
Tactics Backfire

Mahathir's tactics ended up backfiring. While many initially supported him to return, soon they were proposing alternative names for prime minister, including Anwar and Muhyiddin, who was president of Bersatu.

After all the chaos, Mahathir now finds himself back with Anwar and the DAP -- but in the opposition rather than running the government. At the same time Muhyiddin's new coalition appears similarly disparate, raising just as many questions about policy direction if it manages to survive Mahathir's no-confidence vote and avoid a snap election.

"There doesn't seem to be a strong sense of ideological direction," Johan Saravanamuttu, an adjunct senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, said of Malaysia's new government. "I'm wondering how long that coalition will hold together."


I don't quite agree with that last statement about Muhyiddin's coalition being a disparate one. It is in principle, since it is comprised of different parties but the member parties in his coalition have fewer antagonistic ideological differences, and they are more focused on their common objectives, whether we agree with them or not.
 
Meanwhile, the ringgit has strengthened a bit to RM4.20 to the U.S. dollar,


whilst the U.S. dollar plunged on the U.S. Dollar Currency Index (DXY)


Yours truly

Politi Scheiss