We meet in a spirit of hope and optimism. For the first time in a generation, it is the BN that appears lost and disillusioned. From marginalised opposition parties, DAP have finally attained our objective of becoming a full partner in government with our allies PKR and PAS in Pakatan Rakyat.
Let me congratulate everyone of you, especially the members who worked tirelessly without any expectations of reward for making history possible. This people’s victory belongs to you, who kept faith in the party during those difficult 42 years.
Malaysia economic growth in the third quarter this year, with a real gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 4.7% compared with 6.3% and 7.1% in the second and first quarter, respectively, is the lowest quarterly growth in three years. The BN government and Bank Negara Governor Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz must take heed of these warning signals and wake up from its denial mode that Malaysia will not slip into recession following the global financial crisis.
Malaysia must follow China’s aggressive fiscal and monetary measures of both fighting the oncoming economic recession and looking beyond towards economic recovery. China announced the largest economic stimulus plan of USD 586 million over 2 years. However its 30 local governments has announced a larger USD 3.5 billion spending over 5 years. With total USD 4 trillion spent by China, this is almost double its international reserves of USD 2 trillion.
Comparatively Malaysia’s fiscal stimulus spending is only USD 2 billion or RM 7 billion, which is 2% of of our international reserves of RM343.8 billion (USD 100 billion). What is RM 7 billion in a budget of RM 207 billion, so insignificant that the people can not see, can not touch and can not feel any difference?
The country’s resources must be mobilised to fight the recession and prepare for a more prosperous future through good governance and an expansionary budget that is pro-growth, pro-jobs and pro-poor. DAP proposes a larger RM 50 billion or USD 14 billion expansionary budget which is 14% of our international reserves, so that Malaysians can see, touch and feel comprising as follows:
1. RM 6,000 annual oil bonus to all families earning less than RM 6,000 a month or RM 3,000 annual bonus to bachelors earning less than RM 3,000 a month will cost RM 35 billion or a mere one-third of Petronas last year’s gross profits of RM 107 billion;
2. Progressive reduction of corporate tax rate from the present 25% to 17% which will cost RM 13 billion;
3. Daily revision of petrol prices to take into account of changes in the international price of oil;
4. Immediate reduction in gas prices as well as electricity tariffs, which was increased by 26% for businesses when the price of oil was USD 124 per barrel to reflect in the drop to around USD 50 per barrel; and
5. An additional RM 2 billion wireless project to make all the major towns and cities in Malaysia wifi so that as many Malaysians as possible can be connected to the Internet.
The expansionary budget must not only fight the recession but also invest in infrastructure projects such as extending transport, communications, and broadband coverage that allows us to look beyond the recession. With the infrastructure in place when the economy recovers, Malaysia can take full advantage. A free wireless for all Malaysians, much like the free wireless initiative by Penang to become the first wifi state in Malaysia, will help to attract both foreign investors and tourists.
Completing The Political, Economic And Ethical Transformation Of Malaysia
To transform Malaysia as a civil society and a developed country, we need to complete the political, economic and ethical transformation of our country. Such triple transformation is even more crucial when we face the economic recession brought about by the global financial crisis.
We need political transformation to achieve political equality, respect for human rights, supremacy of people’s power and rule of law. We need an economic transformation that provides equal opportunities and relies on the energy, expertise and enterprise of our human resources will help us through the economic transformation. We need leaders of integrity for an ethical transformation that can ensure good governance based on CAT principles of Competency, Accountability and Transparency.
In Penang we practice what we preached when we introduced an expansionary 2009 budget of RM 477 million whose deficit has increased by RM 3.7 million to RM 39.4 million. There were 3 large social programmes amounting to RM 26.5 million as follows:-
* RM 1 million in voluntary crime prevention assistance;
* RM 17 million in RM 100 one-off water rebate to 170,000 families;
* RM 8.5 million in financial assistance to 172 government assisted schools based on needs(see table).
When we talk of CAT governance, we are not talking only fighting corruption, mismanagement and waste. We are not just talking about travelling economy class or cancelling the purchase of new cars. We are talking about getting better value for public expenditures so that we get RM 1 and not 30 cents for every RM 1 spent. That is why we must be creative and innovative as well as boldly undertake reforms that allows us to match international practices and standards.
When Penang introduced open tenders to stop the corruption and abuses of power, we were criticised by BN for being unfair. UMNO even organised demonstrations to force us to back down. I do not see how open tenders can be unfair so we boldly persisted. And we have been proven correct that BN which criticised us is now following us by steadily adopting the open tender system at the federal government level.
When we decided to insitutionalise the granting of financial assistance to the Sekolah Agama Rakyat, Chinese and Tamil schools, we were criticised by BN. But now BN is following us by announcing RM 200 million for the Sekolah Agama Rakyat, Chinese and Tamil schools.
That is why we want BN to follow us when we put up multi-lingual signboards with big Bahasa Malaysia and added with Mandarin, Tamil, Arabic or English in Georgetown. That is why we want BN to follow us when we launched the free wireless initiative in Penang so that we can be connected to the Internet anytime, anyplace, anywhere in Penang. That is why we want BN to follow us when we announced our plan to wipe out hard core poverty to do in one year what BN can not do in 50 years.
Most important of all, we want BN to follow us to adopt bangsa Malaysia where we are all equally treated as Malaysian citizens regardless of race or religion. We live in a world transformed by globalization,internet and by incredible events in America. Imagine a black man living in a White House. The world has been transformed by America which teaches us that content of character is more important than the colour of our skin.
Let us learn this lesson and also teach each other that behind our Malay skin, Chinese skin, Kadazan skin, Iban skin, Indian skin, our blood is of one colour.
Let us teach each other that we belong to one race – the human race and that our hearts beat according to the Malaysian rhythm of Negaraku.
We must stop seeing each other differently as Muslim or non-Muslims but as human beings and Malaysian citizens who are fathers, mothers, sisters brothers, sons and daughters.