Festive season is on!
For the Chinese, it will be a time of giving angpow and receiving angpow, eating, drinking, gambling and late nights.
The economic downturn that seems to affect everyone has dampened the festive mood and of course the spending.
I notice that there is not enough media coverage on the impending slowdown that Malaysia, like many other countries faces.
I read in Singapore Straits Times recently and they devoted many, many pages to the slowdown. The Singapore government wants to prepare the rakyat to face the slowdown.
However, I notice that the Malaysia media do not give adequate coverage of the impending slowdown in Malaysia. Either it is a directive from political power, or lack of awareness by the media on inevitable slowdown that we are going to face.
While other nations have admitted that they are entering recession, Malaysia is still talking about growth of 2-3 percent.
I’ve also read small prints by economic analysis that the government growth will not be more than 1 percent.
Of course I must admit that economic prediction is like weather forecasting. In fact, the American bankers, financial analysts and so-called experts have been proven deadly wrong.
The government should do more to face this impending slowdown or it would turn into déjà-vu or a state of denial.
We are now told that government may introduce a 2nd stimulus package. We have not even heard much about the 1st stimulus package.
Economic stimulation will not work unless implemented properly so that the target group could directly benefit from it.
There is a lack of information in the 1st stimulus package. The government dissemination group should be beefed up in time for crisis in order to keep the rakyat informed and connected of what the government is doing. This will generate goodwill of what the government care and do.
The government has to do more in the stimulus package to lighten the burden of the lower income group in view of inflation and the possibility of reduced income.
I cannot imagine why it takes so long for the government to review the electric tariff, which has a direct impact to all industries.
It has been shown in many countries that direct monetary grant to the lower income group to help them tie over the financial crisis is effective.
It is a question of having accurate data and distribution of the direct grant. Rakyat are normally not appreciative of indirect subsidy since everybody seems to benefit.
A new approach is needed to demonstrate that the government care and willing to share the burden of rakyat. The impact from economic slowdown often has the greatest effect on the lower income group.
It is estimated about 200, 000 people will be retrenched. I suspect more often than not, it is Malaysian workers who get retrenched more than foreign workers.
Enforcement is weak here. Why an employer should retrench a Malaysian worker who is paid RM1000 – RM1200 per month and a foreign worker whose salary is just RM600 – RM800 per month?
There is a need for monitoring mechanism to ensure that the process of retrenchment is not abused.
The government needs to drum home that employers must save cost to save job and not save cost by cutting jobs.
Road accidents and mortality has become part and parcel of any celebration. Our highway becomes a war zone, averaging about 20 deaths a day.
There was even some smart suggestion that express bus should not be allowed to operate after midnight since accidents occur more frequently at night. It is a typical Malaysia knee-jerk reaction by politicians.
Since most crimes are committed at night, then the government should implement curfew after midnight to reduce crime rates.
Politicians should learn to be more creative and innovative in responding to media query rather than shooting from the hip, which often becomes a dining joke.
Let’s not get depressed by such political statement. It will only serve to dampen our festive mood for celebration. Happy Chinese New Year!