By Tony Pua, Member of Parliament, Petaling Jaya Utara
BN Government has fed Malaysians with subsidy “opium” over the decades to hide the impact of massive corruption, cronyism, leakages and maladministration from the Malaysian public.
If subsidies is akin to “opium” as described by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak, then sure the Barisan Nasional Government is guilty of being the “drug pusher” for offering “opium” to the Malaysian public over the past decades.
The reason why the BN government has fed “opium” to Malaysians in increasing doses over the years is to mask the fact that the Malaysian economy has been unable to grow at the necessary pace and competitiveness. As a result the people are unable to increase their income at a pace faster than the rapidly rising cost of living.
Hence the BN Government used “opium” to keep the general populace in an artificial state of bliss and ignorance that Malaysians are stuck in a middle income trap and rising income inequality.
While the population was induced with a “feel good” factor over the past two decades, BN continued to weaken the competitiveness of our economy through policies which were inefficient and ineffective, waste our scare wealth on poorly thought-out hare-brained projects and through rampant and blatant corruption involving the BN Government such as the RM12.5 billion PKFZ scandal. This has not yet included the fact the capital flight amounting to a shocking RM888 billion from 2000 to 2008 as
announced by the US-based financial watchdog Global Financial integrity (GFI).
BN could feed the people with “opium” all these years thanks to the growing production of oil and gas as well as rising international oil prices which led to record oil revenues received by the Government, hitting a high of RM67 billion in 2009.
However as a result of extravagant and unproductive government expenditure over the past 2 decades, the BN government now finds itself having difficulty in reducing the budget deficit, feeding their cronies while at the same time continuing to supply sufficient “opium” to the people.
The problem hence is that the “opium” is not the real problems faced by Malaysia’s economy, but just one of the symptoms. The underlying problem for the country’s economy in this case is the plundering and pilfering of the country’s wealth by the BN government with its crony business interests. Therefore even if the “opium” addiction is removed, the plight of the economy will still
continue because all that’s saved from the “opium” will still be pilfered away.
The only way to return the country’s economy to its potential trajectory is for the Government to start placing the interest of the rakyat above that of the BN cronies and start looking to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of its expenditures, as well as taking pro-active measures to improve transparency and accountability to reduce corruption and leakages. Without these key measures, removing the “opium” addiction will only be a short-term measure which will not lead us to become a high-income nation.