Is the public service really bloated?23 February 2017 @ 9:39 AM
Hobbes, an English philosopher, in his 1651 book Leviathan, argued that if left to fend for himself in nature, the life of man would be “nasty, brutish and short”. So, the role of the government is to protect life. Since then, the conception of government has spanned from the “minimal night-watchman” state of Hobbes, to a vastly expanded welfarist state advocated by Beatrice and Sydney Webb, the founders of my alma mater, the London School of Economics.
Plug loopholes that allow opportunities for graft16 January 2017 @ 10:29 AM
Recently, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has cast its net more efficiently across the bureaucracy and caught some high-ranking public servants allegedly thieving public money. Its actions must be lauded. However, what is confusing is the sheer extent of the scourge in a profession that pledges to uphold integrity in public services.
Boosting consumer confidence10 January 2017 @ 10:26 AM
Adam Smith once said: “Consumption is the sole end and purpose of all production; and the interest of the producer ought to be attended to only so far as it may be necessary for promoting that of the consumer.”
True to Smith’s exhortation of the power of consumption, consumer spending is a key driver of an economy. It constitutes 54 per cent of Malaysia’s gross domestic product and is primarily relied on to boost growth. And, behind consumer spending is consumer confidence over the state of the economy.
Planning for the future4 January 2017 @ 10:20 AM
Global challenges are neither respecter of years nor national borders. 2016 saw the world awash with global problems that bedevilled 2015. They will inexorably do so in 2017 and beyond, differing in only scale and magnitude. Being an open economy, many of these global troubles also wash up on our shores.
High-Speed Rail... now is the time20 December 2016 @ 11:02 AM
“The beginning is the most important part of the work,” so wrote Plato, an immensely influential Greek philosopher. And, so, following the memorandum of understanding in July, Malaysia and Singapore inked last week a historic agreement to construct a High-Speed Rail, or HSR, that will zip between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. In one fell swoop, both countries have catapulted their railways into the 21st century. The HSR is a project far unimaginable even as late as the turn of the century. Symbolising modernity, the HSR is the first of its kind in the region.
Bank Negara has done what it must do9 December 2016 @ 11:03 AM
Walk into a shopping mall and you will find long queues snaking to the moneychanger outlets. And as they wait, you will find people peering at the currency-conversion board, fixing their attention on the United States dollar-ringgit (US$-RM) exchange rate.
And if we can read their minds, we can pretty well be sure that what goes on in them is whether the exchange rate will stay, strengthen or weaken further, as the naysayers predict it would.
It makes sense to remove cooking oil subsidy31 October 2016 @ 11:02 AM
The latest removal of the subsidy for cooking oil is reminiscent of the 1980 hit song by the band Queen, Another One Bites the Dust. It comes in the wake of the removal of subsidies for sugar and fuel over the last three years.
The announcement last week of the phased removal over the next two months — except for the 1kg polybag — and swirling rumours of an impending shortage, whipped many Malaysians into clearing bottles of cooking oil off supermarket shelves.
Should GST be reduced?1 July 2016 @ 11:01 AM
The Goods and Services Tax (GST) was introduced amid great acrimony. It was perceived as a means to compensate for the money lost through government’s inefficiency.
As a tax, it hurts the poor more than the rich. It overburdens people already greatly in debt and facing increased cost of living. Although these brickbats are still hurled at the GST, and the opposition exploits them at the hustings, after a year of its introduction, the furore over the GST has subsided.
Without integrity 'nothing else matters'4 May 2016 @ 11:02 AM
In 1979, the song Honesty climbed up the charts to become a top-10 hit. Billy Joel crooned the words, “Honesty is such a lonely word, everyone is so untrue”. While it might seem an exaggeration, regrettably, the lyrics still resonate today.
Competing for the future11 April 2016 @ 11:02 AM
Over the years, we have changed the nature of our economy on the basis of new competencies. We migrated from an agricultural economy to manufacturing and heavy industries in the 1980s to escape from the vicissitudes of commodity prices — first with import-substitution industries, and eventually, into export of manufactures, chiefly electrical and electronics. We were able to diversify the economy because we were willing to learn new skills.
Then in the 1990s, we realised that there was greater productivity in service and knowledge-based industries.