Panelist For ‘Should Malaysia Wait Until November For Transition?’ Forum

I was one of the panelist for the ‘Should Malaysia Wait Until November For Transition?’ forum moderated by Jenny Hiew, with other panelists including YB Chang Lih Kang, YB William Leong, Prof Dr Tajuddin Rasdi and YB Wong Chen.

NIK NAZMI – REALITY AND COMPROMISES OF MALAYSIAN RACE-BASED POLITICS

'Malaysia made history when we had the peaceful transition the first time we changed governments in May 2018. Let's make history again to heal the two decade rift by a transition from Dr Mahathir Mohamad to Anwar Ibrahim in May 2020.' Full video of my speech at Should Malaysia wait until November for Transition. Video credit to TalkedaboutTV Youtube channel.

Posted by Nik Nazmi on Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Live Forum:Should Malaysia wait until November for Transition?

Posted by William Leong 梁自坚 on Monday, 13 January 2020

Responding To Merdeka Center Polls On Anwar Ibrahim’s Popularity

I read the news that Merdeka Center claims that Anwar Ibrahim’s support among the Malay community is low.

Indeed, polling is an unexact science. I used to trust Merdeka Center – in fact I appointed them to survey Seri Setia and an early survey in Setiawangsa previously.

But this industry needs credibility and independence. The credibility of Merdeka Center was compromised during GE14 as they played a role to advocate the idea that BN can only be defeated through a PH-PAS collaboration. In fact, one of the reasons BN lost was the existence of three-cornered fights.

As late as January 2018, Merdeka Center was still insisting that BN would obtain a two-thirds majority due to three-cornered fights!

In March 2018, INVOKE predicted PH would obtain more seats in Peninsular Malaysia compared to BN.

INVOKE was widely ridiculed. But INVOKE’s prediction was the most accurate of all.

I recorded this in my book ‘9 May 2018: Notes from the Frontline’.

The full book is available here: https://www.gerakbudaya.com/9-may-2018-notes-from-the-frontline.

‘On 7 May 2018, INVOKE released its final survey, that boldly predicted a Pakatan Harapan victory. Pakatan Harapan would win 111 Parliamentary seats in Peninsular Malaysia while Barisan Nasional would win 54 seats.

Pakatan Harapan was ahead in support among Malay voters in Penang, Selangor and Kuala Lumpur, but Barisan Nasional had a slim lead in the other states. In the 2013 election, Barisan Nasional had enjoyed a 30-per cent differential over Pakatan Rakyat among Malay voters; this time no state recorded more than a 20-per cent lead for Barisan Nasional.

As Pakatan Harapan enjoyed strong support from the non-Malays, this would enable the coalition to do well in mixed-seats across the Peninsula.

The only glaring misses for INVOKE were Kelantan and Terengganu. It had predicted that the two states would be won by Barisan Nasional but instead were won by PAS.

Rafizi explained after the election:

“Even in the case of Kelantan and Terengganu, it was obvious that fence-sitters resorted to tactical voting in the last week of campaigning; throwing their support behind PAS (instead of Pakatan Harapan) because realistically speaking only PAS was strong enough (as the second party in Kelantan and Terengganu) to defeat Barisan Nasional in those states.

Likewise, the voters knew enough about which party was the strongest to defeat Barisan Nasional in a three-cornered fight elsewhere, that there was a widespread tactical voting (especially among the Malays) throughout the country.”

INVOKE’s optimistic surveys contrasted with other agencies. Barisan Nasional’s private polling was on the other end of the spectrum, having placed them within a few seats of regaining the two-thirds majority in Parliament that had been lost since 2008. This explains the disbelief and paralysis that characterised the response to their election defeat. University academicians prominent in the mainstream media predicted an easy win for Najib Razak and Barisan Nasional.

In January 2018, Merdeka Center announced that Barisan Nasional would win the general election and re-gain the two-thirds majority in Parliament due to three-cornered fights, the redelineation of boundaries and the fractious nature of the Opposition.

‘The opposition’s prospects range from slim to zero as PAS leaders appear keen to prevent a PH victory. PAS seems ready to assist UMNO on the grounds of preserving Malay political hegemony.’

The polling outfit maintained their prediction in April. In their final poll presented on the eve of the election, they recorded the decline in Malay support for Barisan Nasional but concluded it was insufficient for Pakatan Harapan to win Federal power as the lead among Malay voters was still substantial for the ruling coalition.

They forecasted 100 safe seats for Barisan Nasional, 83 for Pakatan Harapan, two for PAS and 37 seats where the margin of error was within three per cent. This included my Setiawangsa Parliamentary seat.’

We Must Go Back To Our Manifesto And Stick To The May 2020 Transition

I would like to wish all Malaysians a very Happy New Year.

2019 was a challenging year for our country on many fronts. While Pakatan Harapan was able to bring about a number of remarkable achievements—including pro-rakyat economic policies, continued institutional reform and reducing the voting age to 18—the fact is that we ought to have done a better job especially in economic reforms.

Clearly, more work needs to be done in terms of not only creating more jobs and bringing the cost of living under control, but also future-proofing our economy, to ensure that our workers will be able to compete in the face of rapid technological change.

Urgent efforts must also be undertaken to reduce the growing inequality in our society, that is now, worryingly, manifesting itself within, as well as between, the different ethnic groups.

Doing this will undoubtedly blunt the rise of extreme identity politics of race and religion that we are unfortunately witnessing on our shores, as in a few countries throughout the world.

The fact is that Malaysia cannot be peaceful and progressive without socio-economic justice.

The iconic year of 2020 must hence be a year of reform for the rakyat.
Pakatan Harapan must continue the process of institutional reform and super-charge the modernisation of our economy.

We were greeted in the the New Year with the resignation of YB Dr Maszlee Malik as the Minister of Education.
I thank Dr Maszlee for his service to the nation. I am sure he will continue to serve his constituents in Simpang Renggam as well as the people of Malaysia generally.

The portfolio is not an easy one and while we differed on a few issues, the fact remains that Dr Maszlee was able to achieve concrete things despite a number of difficulties.

Like it or not, Pakatan Harapan must up its efforts to effectively communicate its agenda to ordinary Malaysians, as well as empowering them in government.

Moreover, we need to redouble our efforts to deliver on the pledges of our manifesto.
Among the things that the rakyat is demanding certainty is the transition as promised by the Pakatan Harapan

Consensus announced on 6 January 2018.

The Pakatan Harapan Presidential Council must clearly commit to a May 2020 transition from Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad as the Seventh Prime Minister to Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim as the Eighth Prime Minister as announced earlier.

This is something that needs to be done for the sake of our country. Whether it is my constituents that I meet in the market, civil servants in Putrajaya or the business community – they want a clear answer on this matter.

NIK NAZMI NIK AHMAD
KEADILAN Chief Organising Secretary
KEADILAN Central Leadership Council Member
Setiawangsa Member of Parliament

ASB Needs Improvements To Return To Its Original Aims

Yesterday I described the politicising of the distribution of ASB income as both malicious and ignorant.

But the Government too needs to consider a few improvements to ASB as per its original aims to increase the economic wealth of the Bumiputera community and contribute to national growth and prosperity for the benefit of all Malaysians. The need to improve has existed for quite some time, and did not just come about during New Malaysia.

There are a few facts regarding ASB that needs us to refocus on the poor and middle-class Malays, not the few rich elites.

Nearly 80 percent (7.4 million) of ASB unitholders have units worth less RM5,000 in 2018. A small 0.24 percent has RM500,001 and above.

The B40 and M40 of ASB unit holders have only RM4.1 billion whereas the top 9.15 percent has RM127.5 billion in the unit trust fund.

Thus while nationally our Gini coefficient (the measure of inequality) has improved from 0.513 in 1970 to 0.399 in 2016, but the Gini coefficient in ASB is a staggering 0.84 or highly unequal.

There is a need to consider capping dividend pay out to the maximum allowable investment (rather than basing it on the actual account balance, even when it exceeds the maximum allowable investment of RM200,000). The former benefits everyone, but makes it insanely tough for PNB to properly mark the investments to market, and the latter benefits the richest 10 percent of depositors, who account for something like 60 to 70 percent, if not more, of the ASB fund pool.

One move that could be considered in the medium term is for ASB dividends to be tiered, with unitholders classified as socio-economically in the B40 and M40 groups be given higher dividends than their T20 counterparts. The Singapore Central Provident Fund operates on a similar basis.

This move should not be considered as an attempt to “penalise” or “punish” T20 Bumiputeras, especially if they have been willing and able to save their money as well as support the ASB.

Rather, it is, as noted, to ensure that the ASB becomes an efficient engine to uplift B40 Bumiputeras and give the M40s an added boost when they need it.

The fact is that, contrary to conventional wisdom, wealth disparity is multi dimensional: including between the ethnic groups, but also within each ethnic group— Bumiputeras included.

There is hence no point in having high ASB dividends if it simply makes the T20 Bumiputeras richer while the B40s and M40s cannot catch up.

Loan schemes by banks for Bumiputeras to borrow and invest in ASB should also be reconsidered as there is a concern that it will exacerbate the situation if the global and local market take a further turn to the worse. Banks should not benefit from the losses of the common rakyat.

There’s no use creating or obtaining wealth for the Bumiputera if it is concentrated in the T20, or if such wealth is distributed in a way that dilutes its effectiveness.

Changes are needed to ensure that the wealth that PNB generates will be impactfully and visibly applied, i.e. by moving the B40s and M40s forward.

It also goes without saying that any change will need careful study with careful engagement and communication. More often than not, New Malaysia has not been effective in this regards. This is even more so in such sensitive and emotive issues such as ASB and the Bumiputera economy.

I hope that the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Yayasan Pelaburan Bumiputera and PNB will give this matter careful consideration as we move into the year 2020.

NIK NAZMI NIK AHMAD
KEADILAN CHIEF ORGANISING SECRETARY
KEADILAN CENTRAL LEADERSHIP COUNCIL MEMBER
SETIAWANGSA MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT

Politicising ASB’s Income Distribution Is Malicious & Ignorant

PNB has recently announced a 5.00 sen per unit ASB income distribution for the year 2019, as well as a 0.50 sen per unit bonus.

Certain irresponsible parties have, as predicted, attempted to politicise this development and have tried to blame it on the Federal Government.

However, this willfully ignores the fact that the global economy has faced significant setbacks this year and the many initiatives to boost good corporate governance that PNB has undertaken.

PNB’s Asset Under Management is also over RM300 billion, with about 90 percent being invested in Malaysia. Any major movement by PNB will have a huge impact on the Malaysian stock market. ASB is not a magic fund operating in a vacuum.

In this light, the 5.5% dividend, while perhaps disappointing for some, is still an achievement of some magnitude by PNB. RM9.0 billion is distributed to 10 million unit holders. It speaks volumes on the hard work of the PNB team including the new leadership.

Like it or not, as a trading economy Malaysia is plugged into the global economy and we will never be able to completely insulate ourselves from its currents. Making the people addicted to unsustainable dividends is simply irresponsible.

NIK NAZMI NIK AHMAD
KEADILAN CHIEF ORGANISING SECRETARY
KEADILAN CENTRAL LEADERSHIP COUNCIL MEMBER
SETIAWANGSA MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT