• The Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE) should not be overly obsessed with global university rankings but instead focus on locally developed indicators to improve our universities

    Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, Head of Penang Institute in Kuala Lumpur, on the 8th of September 2017

    The Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE) should not be overly obsessed with global university rankings but instead focus on locally developed indicators to improve our universities

    The Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings for 2018 were released earlier this week. The initial headlines focused on the fact that two United Kingdom universities, the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge, topped the rankings coming in at number one and two respectively.

    Malaysian universities, however, did not fare so well. Universiti Malaya (UM) was the highest ranked Malaysian university at the 351-400 range. Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR) was the next highest ranked Malaysian university at the 501-600 range. Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM), Universiti Teknologi Petronas (UTP) were all ranked in the 601-800 range followed by Universiti Tenaga Nasional (UniTEN) in the 801-1000 range and Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) in the 1001+ range (See Table 1 below).

    Table 1: Ranking of Malaysian Universities in the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2018

    Rank Name of University
    351–400 University of Malaya
    501–600 Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR)
    601–800 Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia
    601–800 Universiti Putra Malaysia
    601–800 Universiti Sains Malaysia
    601–800 Universiti Teknologi Malaysia
    601–800 Universiti Teknologi Petronas
    801–1000 Universiti Tenaga Nasional (UNITEN)
    1001+ Universiti Utara Malaysia

    The position of Malaysian universities in the THE rankings stand in stark contrast to the 2018 QS World University Rankings where five Malaysian universities were ranked in the top 300 with UM occupying the 114th position (UPM was ranked 229, UKM was ranked 230, UTM was ranked 253 and USM was ranked 264).

    If we examine the Shanghai Jiao Tong Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) and the US News and World Report’s Best Global University Rankings, two of the other well-known global university rankings, we also find Malaysian universities being ranked outside the top 300. For example, in the ARWU rankings for 2017, UM and USM were ranked in the 401-500 range while UKM and UPM were ranked in the 501-600 range and UTM in the 701-800.

    In the US News 2017 ranking, UM was the highest ranked Malaysian university at 356 followed by USM (576), UTM (639), UPM (670) and UKM (783).

    Figure 1 below shows the difference in the rankings achieved by Malaysian universities in the QS World University Rankings versus the other three global university rankings – THE, ARWU and the US News ranking.

    Figure 1: Latest Global University Rankings of the Top 5 Research Universities in Malaysia (2017/2018)

    What can explain the differences in the performance of Malaysian universities in the QS rankings versus the other well-known global university rankings? One likely reason is that the QS rankings allocate the lowest percentage of its overall score to research and citation based measures. Table 2 below summarizes the components of these four global university rankings and calculates the overall weightage which is given to research and citation based measures i.e. the publication output of a university. The QS ranking only allocates 20% of its overall score to research and citation measures. In comparison 60% of the THE, 70% of the Shanghai AWRU and 75% of the US News rankings are allocated to research and citation measures.

    Under the QS rankings, academic reputation and employer reputation account for 50% of the overall score. These are subjective measures which can be heavily influenced by the sample of respondents surveyed. For example, in the latest 2018 QS rankings, the representation of Malaysian academics in the academic survey is unduly large, considering that Malaysia makes up merely 0.41% of the world’s population yet its representation in the academic survey is 3.7%. The percentage of Malaysian respondents in the academic survey is even greater than countries like China (1.7%), Germany (2.9%) and Japan (3.2%).

    The percentage of international academics and students make up 10% of the overall QS score and discerning universities which want to improve their QS ranking can increase these figures without necessarily increasing the quality of teaching, of academic research or of student quality. Indeed, one should not forget that the QS rankings[1] in 2004 ranked UM at 89th in the world because Chinese and Indian Malaysian students and lecturers were mistakenly classified as foreigners thereby artificially inflating UM’s International Faculty and Student scores.[2]

    Table 2: Components and Weightage of the QS, THE, Shanghai ARWU and US News Rankings

    Ranking Components Weightage Research & Citation Based Weightage
    QS Academic Reputation 40% 20%
    Employer Reputation 10%
    Faculty Student Ratio 20%
    Citations per Faculty 20%
    International Faculty 5%
    International Students 5%
    THE Teaching: the learning environment 30% 60%
    Research: volume, income and reputation 30%
    Citations: research influence 30%
    Industry income: innovation 2.5%
    International outlook: staff, students and research 7.5%
    Shanghai ARWU Alumni of an institution winning Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals 10% 70%
    Staff of an institution winning Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals 20%
    Highly cited researchers in 21 broad subject categories 20%
    Papers published in Nature and Science* 20%
    Papers indexed in Science Citation Index-expanded and Social Science Citation Index 20%
    Per capita academic performance of an institution 10%
    US News Global research reputation 12.5% 75.0%
    Regional research reputation 12.5%
    Publications 10.0%
    Books 2.5%
    Conferences 2.5%
    Normalized citation impact 10.0%
    Total citations 7.5%
    Number of publications that are among the 10 percent most cited 12.5%
    Percentage of total publications that are among the 10 percent most cited 10.0%
    International collaboration 10.0%
    Number of highly cited papers that are among the top 1 percent most cited in their respective field 5.0%
    Percentage of total publications that are among the top 1 percent most highly cited papers 5.0%

    The Ministry of Higher Education’s (MOHE) decision to benchmark Malaysian universities using the QS World University Rankings is thus short-sighted and faulty since the QS rankings do not give much emphasis on research output. MOHE is fooling itself and the Malaysian public if it continues to use the improvement of Malaysian universities in the QS rankings as a sign that our universities are improving, especially on the research front.

    This does not mean that we should rely on the other global university rankings which give more weightage to research output. The other ranking systems are also not without their own weaknesses. For example, the Shanghai ARWU rankings gives too much weightage to the science subjects and publications and also to universities with previous winners of Nobel prizes and Field medals. A Malaysian university can conceivably improve its Shanghai ARWU ranking by giving short term fellowships to a few Nobel prizes and Fields Medals winners but this may not improve the overall research output of that university.

    Rather than be obsessed with the ranking game, MOHE should instead work to improve the existing academic indicators and measures which have been developed locally by the Ministry and the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA) to assess the quality of local public and private universities such as the Malaysian Research Assessment Instrument (MyRA), the Rating System for Malaysian Higher Education Institutions (SETARA) and the Discipline-Based Rating System (D-SETARA). Currently, there is very little transparency or disclosure on how the data for these measures are being collected and even less discussion on how to improve these measures so that they can be used by the public to evaluate the quality of these institutions and for these institutions to benchmark themselves. For example, MySetara loses much of its value if the majority of our private and public universities are given five stars (out of a possible six). How do we differentiate between these universities in terms of the quality of research output or the standard of teaching, just to name two?

    The Penang Institute in Kuala Lumpur has published a report entitled “An unhealthy obsession with Global University Rankings?”[3] as a way to increase awareness on the strengths and weaknesses of each global university ranking system and to make the argument that MOHE should not be overly obsessed with Malaysia’s performance on these rankings but instead focus on improving the local measures of university quality developed by the MOHE and MQA. If we focus on improving our universities according to more suitable locally developed indicators, the output of our universities in terms of the quality of research, the quality of teaching and the quality of graduates will also improve. And if a by-product of this improvement is that our rankings rise in these global university rankings systems, then this can be seen as a bonus.

    [1] This was when these rankings were published jointly by QS and THE. They started publishing separate rankings in 2010.

    [2] http://rankingwatch.blogspot.my/2012/08/universiti-malaya-again-in-many.html#links

    [3] Authored by Lee Zi-Sheng, an intern with Penang Institute in KL and Dr. Ong Kian Ming, Head of Penang Institute in KL. A copy of this report will be uploaded to the Penang Institute in KL website: http://penanginstitute.org/v3/research/penang-institute-in-kuala-lumpur

  • 对Dr. Bruce Gale的《纳吉经济学有利于马来西亚经济》 有感而发


    Dr. Bruce Gale的《纳吉经济学有利于马来西亚经济》 有感而发

    当我读了Dr. Bruce Gale写了一本关于纳吉经济学的书籍,总体就是大力赞扬纳吉政府所推行的经济改革计划时,我承认感到很惊讶。我初次接触到Dr. Bruce Gale的名字是拜读了他的第一本著作,题为“马来西亚的政治与公共事业(1981年)”。我相信这本著作的出版是根据他在马来西亚国民大学所写的一篇博士论文。自此,根据我的了解,盖尔博士就已经陆续出版了不少书籍,并在新加坡从事政治风险的咨询工作。直到在上个长假周末读完整本书籍,我才不禁想要反驳这本书中的种种论据。这本书的页数并不长,仅有99页,其中涵盖了大部分你我都熟悉的财政预算案资料,国家经济转型计划下的各种项目和纳吉政府所推行的关键经济政策。花了约2小时读完成这本书后,我发现Dr. Bruce Gale在分析纳吉经济学时所出现的巨大歧见。

    Dr. Bruce Gale将纳吉经济学描述为无视短期政治成本,大力通过宏观经济和行政改革来提高国家经济的韧性。他认为尽管纳吉作出了政治上不受欢迎的决定来落实消费税,撤销津贴,展开结构性改革,以便让国家经济从长期来看可以较为稳定。这种论调并不新鲜。这些都是国际货币基金组织和世界银行所倡导的华盛顿共识里的基本原则。这些机构尤其是在经济危机期间,都会向发展中国家提出类似的建议,再从中希望这些国家能从它们获得经济上的援助。这种提倡紧缩经济政策的传统观念背后的问题是第一,它们忽略了政策对个人和家庭的影响,特别是针对那些收入较低的人民;其次,它们忘了分析藏在细节中的魔鬼

    (i) 请问什么是撤销津贴后的缓解措施?

    在纳吉经济学的分析里,Dr. Bruce Gale强调了撤销对白糖,石油和电费的津贴。但他忽略了撤销其他必需品的津贴如面粉和食用油及收费站对人民所造成的影响。他也没有深入讨论政府撤销津贴后到底实施了怎样的缓解措施。



    (ii) 预算外的开支大幅增加

    Dr. Bruce Gale也赞扬纳吉经济学因为他试图改善马来西亚的总体赤字状况,即减少预算赤字和政府债务占国内生产总值的百分比。但他却没有提及任何有关预算外开支及纳吉政府的有可能产生负债的上涨。

    由联邦政府全面保障,政府所拥有和政府所实际控制所有可能产生的负债或债务从2010年的969亿令吉增加到2016年的1,870亿令吉,涨幅近901亿令吉或93。相比之下,在同一时期,国家预算开支总额仅增长31.52010年的2.03亿令吉增加到2016年的2.67亿令吉涨幅近640亿令吉。如果Dr. Bruce Gale认为,落实消费税从长远来看是有必要的,以便改善马来西亚的财政状况,那他也应该稍微讨论这些有可能产生的负债的增加所造成的长期影响?一些规模较大有可能产生的负债包括,由联邦政府出资的轻快铁延伸路线,来临的轻快铁三号线,捷运1号线,2号线和3号线,东海岸铁路及高速铁路?

    这甚至还没包括联邦政府使用财政手段来维持政府债务占国内生产总值比率低于55%的水平。例如,财政部从2010年至2013年将预算里的发展开支的279亿令吉,转移到由财政部99%所拥有的Pembinaan PFI私人有限公司。[2] 这样的举动可以在短期内替政府减少了预算开支,但却会增加政府未来20年的长期利息支出。

    这也不包括另外由财政部所拥有的Pembinaan BLT私人有限公司所花费近100亿令吉来建造新的警察宿舍和设施。政府为此每年还要向这间公司偿还租金。[3]


    有鉴于Dr. Bruce Gale多么熟悉马来西亚公共服务部门,因此,我会恨惊讶他的分析竟然会排除这些不可避免地影响马来西亚政府财务状况的大现象,因为这些大量预算外的债务最终还是必须由联邦政府直接或间接地承担。

    (iii) 首相署的预算拨款急剧上升

    Dr. Bruce Gale在文中有提到,汽油津贴所占的国家预算的比例越来越高,是一种这种资源分配不当的现象,因此建议撤销汽油津贴的必要性。但是,他却完全忽视了另一个事实,即在纳吉执政期间,首相署所获得的预算拨款明显提高。首相署所获得的总预算拨款(运营和发展开支)从2010年的122亿令吉提高2016年的203亿令吉,涨幅高达66.5。回想起来,国家总预算在这段时间内仅提高了31.5%。换言之,首相署所获得的预算拨款的涨幅是总预算的两倍之多!尽管在野党年复一年都关注这项课题,为什么Dr. Bruce Gale却没有在分析中考虑此潜在的资源错配现象 ?

    (iv) 纳吉在经济自由化和提升竞争力上所作出的努力到底有多深化

    Dr. Bruce Gale在文中也有提到,纳吉在27个投资领域上决定废除必须给予马来人30%股权的要求,来佐证纳吉政府努力使经济自由化,哪怕这些政策可能在政治上不受欢迎,但有望对马来西亚经济竞争力产生长期的积极效果。但是,他忘了提到纳吉政府下缺乏透明度和开放的领域。


    (v) 过度依赖PEMANDU所提供的年度报告内容

    Dr. Bruce Gale从经济转型计划(ETP)和政府转型计划(GTP)的年度报告中大量引用了统计数据和例子,来作为纳吉在行政和经济改革方面取得成功的证据。举个例子,他采用了这些统计数字,如显示犯罪率大幅度下降的关键指标,并仅表面地列出刚动工的各种“试点项目”(EPP)所带来的账目价值。可是,他从来没有试图验证这些统计数据的准确性。

    我仍支持于2012年前曾与郑其昌合作撰写对经济转型计划(ETP)的批评里的论点,此文章后来也通过义腾研究中心(REFSA)集结成书来出版。事实上,我们提出的许多预测后来都被证明是正确的。这些批评包括,一些耗资高达数十亿的试点计划,如耗资100亿令吉的沙巴加拉布乃综合度假城,及位于彭亨北根耗资30亿的丹绒阿加斯原油及天然气和物流工业园并不具有任何经济促进意义,并终将成为新的白象项目。[5] 虽然,现阶段还不适合对ETP进行全面的检讨和评估,但我仍十分相信,Dr. Bruce Gale并没有在这方面进行透彻的尽职调查。即使所谓对ETP展开评估的“独立审查小组”也是由PEMANDU委任,因此我们有必要对该小组的真正独立立场保持一定的质疑。

    (vi) 忽视一马公司1MDB)和联土全球(FGV)事件的丑闻

    Dr. Bruce Gale实际上在写这本书之前是知道这两宗不容忽视的丑闻。第一个是1MDB全球丑闻,另一个是在土展局全球创投(FGV)的管理不当丑闻。在他的序言中,这两宗丑闻都不是该分析要研究的对象。他指出,“1MDB和FGV可被视为是企业战略,而非宏观经济改革”。可是,我不同意他的观点。

    Dr. Bruce Gale在赞好“纳吉经济学”的整个前提,建立在纳吉所作的决定将使我国长期处于经济将为健康的地位。可依目前来看,如果政府被迫未来继续支付1MDB的债务,恐怕我们难以实现这点。马来西亚政府也在未来5到10年内偿还1MDB所欠由伦敦和阿布扎比控制的国际石油投资公司(IPIC)的65亿美元。我们也不能忘记,马来西亚政府可以直接受益于拍卖现在的敦拉萨国际贸易金融中心(TRX)和大马城计划有价值的土地和赚取手续费,而不是以极便宜的价格来出售这两块土地给1MDB,以便他们可以转售土地来偿还自己的债务。我们不能忘记,政府退休公务员基金(KWAP)也被要求收购承担了1MDB近40亿令吉债务(几乎没有任何有价值的资产)的SRC国际公司。


    如果Dr. Bruce Gale想分析我们国家在政府转型计划(GTP)(包括减少贪腐等的国家关键成果领域)和提升全球竞争力所进行的行政改革,那么他便不能忽视在1MDB和FGV丑闻下为何缺乏类似的改革。

    (vii) 我们明天会更好吗

    Dr. Bruce Gale对“纳吉经济学”的定义是,纳吉的经济改革对马来西亚的长期未来会产生积极的影响。对此,我不敢苟同。

    在未来的5至10年的时间里,当我国的或有负债超过3000亿令吉和债务占了联邦预算的20%以上时,Dr. Bruce Gale是否还会大赞纳吉经济学吗?如果政府被迫将消费税提高到10%以上以便偿还纳吉执政期间所产生的债务呢?当然,这种情况可能不会发生,但这些可能性都在Dr. Bruce Gale对纳吉经济学的分析里完全只字不提。

    Dr. Bruce Gale给予纳吉的经济决策高度的评语,部分原因是因为他目前在诺丁汉大学从事经济学家的培训。事实上,他提出了“纳吉是在国家历史上第一位获得专业训练来领导政府的经济学家”。虽然本篇文章并非要探讨纳吉如何在从政或担任首相期间如何运用他在诺丁汉大学所学习到的经济学知识。但我衷心希望Dr. Bruce Gale可以运用多年的政治和经济学知识,来对纳吉经济学和为马来西亚带来的长期影响而撰写一个更有批判性和分析更全面的论文。


    [1] http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2010/05/27/idris-jala-msia-must-cut-subsidies-debt-by-2019-or-risk-bankruptcy/

    [2] http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/putrajaya-confirms-pembinaan-pfi-debt-pile-near-rm27b#HfILshAg8w3pwCIR.97

    [3] http://www.thestar.com.my/business/business-news/2011/01/13/pembinaan-blt-plans-rm10b-sukuk/

    [4] http://www.thestar.com.my/business/business-news/2016/06/11/malaysias-debt-burden-eases-as-loans-shifted-to-mortgage-agency/

    [5] http://www.refsa.org/focus-papers/a-critique-of-the-etp-part-3-iii-doubtful-epps-doubtful-achievements-and-due-diligence/

  • A critique of Dr. Bruce Gale’s “Economic Reform in Malaysia: The Contribution of Najibnomics”

    Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, Member of Parliament for Serdang, on the 6th of September 2017

    A critique of Dr. Bruce Gale’s “Economic Reform in Malaysia: The Contribution of Najibnomics”

    I must admit that I was somewhat taken aback to read that Dr. Bruce Gale had written a book on Najibnomics that was, on the whole, praiseworthy of the economic reforms which took place under the Najib administration. The first time I came across Dr. Gale’s name was via his first book “Politics and Public Enterprise in Malaysia (1981)” which I believe is based on his PhD thesis which he wrote as a student at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM). Since then, Dr. Gale has written a number of other books and is, as far as I know, based out of Singapore doing political risk consulting. I did not want to respond to the arguments made in the book until I had read the entire book, which I managed to do over the holiday weekend. It is not a long book, only 99 pages, much of it comprising of budget highlights, various initiatives under the Economic Transformation Program (ETP) and key economic policy initiatives under the Najib administration, much of which I was already familiar with. Suffice to say, after finishing the book in approximately 2 hours, I found major gaps in Dr. Gale’s analysis of Najibnomics which I will now highlight.

    Dr. Gale defines Najibnomics as “the practice of increasing the resilience of an economy by pressing ahead with macroeconomic and administrative reforms regardless of their short-term political cost”. He argues that Najib made the difficult decisions to introduce the GST, withdraw subsidies and introduce structural reforms even though he knew they were going to be politically unpopular so that the economy could be on a sounder footing in the longer term. This argument is not new. These are the basic tenets of the “Washington Consensus” model espoused by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank which was shoved down the throats of developing countries during times of economic crises in return for financial aid from these international lending institutions. The problem with this traditional argument in support of such ‘austerity’ policies is that firstly, they don’t examine the damage done to individuals and families, especially those with lower incomes, and secondly, they don’t analyse the devil in the details.

    (i) Withdrawal of subsidies but where are the mitigation measures now?

    In Najibnomics, Dr. Gale focused on the withdrawal of subsidies for three items – sugar, petroleum and the electricity tariff. He ignored the impact of the withdrawal of subsidies on other necessities such as flour and cooking oil as well as toll prices, just to name a few. And he failed to discuss the ‘mitigation’ measures that were supposed to cushion the blow of taking away these subsidies.

    I still recall way back in 2010, when Dato’ Idris Jala, who was then the Minister in charge of PEMANDU, made the case that the impact of the subsidies would be cushioned by targeted ‘mitigation’ measures. For example, in place of the petrol subsidy, each person with a motorcycle that is less than 250 CC would receive an annual subsidy of RM54 while each person with a small car (less than 1000 CC) would receive an annual subsidy of RM126. To cushion the impact of the increase in toll prices, he promised a 20% rebate for heavy toll road users (more than 80 transactions per month). To cushion the impact of the price rise in sugar, flour and cooking oil, poor families would receive a cash rebate of RM20 in the first year and an unspecified discount through the MyKasih card in the 2nd year. These mitigation measures disappeared in 2011 (or were never implemented) leaving consumers, especially the more vulnerable groups, financially worse off. Hospital treatment charges and university school fees were also raised as part of this subsidy ‘rationalisation’ plan.

    Source: Powerpoint Presentation by Dato’ Idris Jala on the 27th of May, 2010 at the Subsidy Rationalization Open Day[1]

    (ii) The significant increase in off-budget expenditure items

    Dr. Gale praised Najibnomics for improving Malaysia’s overall fiscal position i.e. reduction of the budget deficit and of government debt as a % of GDP. But he fails to even have a single mention of the rise in off-budget spending as well as the increase in contingent liabilities under the Najib administration.

    Contingent liabilities or debt by government owned and government controlled entities which are fully guaranteed by the federal government increased from RM96.9 billion in 2010 to RM187 billion in 2016, an increase of RM90.1 billion or 93%. In comparison, the total budget expenditure increased by only 31.5% during the same time period, from RM203 billion in 2010 to RM267 billion in 2016, representing an increase of RM64 billion. If Dr. Gale believes that the GST was necessary to improve Malaysia’s public finances in the long run, shouldn’t he have at least discussed the long-term impact of the rise in these contingent liabilities? Especially since some of the big ticket contingent liabilities such as the expenditure for the LRT extension and the upcoming LRT Line 3, the MRT Line 1, Line 2 and possibly Line 3, the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) and the High-Speed Rail (HSR), will have to be eventually financed directly by the federal government?

    This does not even include the financial gymnastics used by the federal government to artificially maintain the government debt to GDP ratio below the 55% level. For example, the Ministry of Finance shifted approximately RM27.9 billion in development expenditure from the budget to a 99% MOF Inc owned private company called Pembinaan PFI Sdn Bhd from 2010 to 2013.[2] This reduced the budget expenditure in the short run but would increase the long-term interest payments incurred by the government over the next 20 years.

    This does not include the RM10 billion spent by Pembinaan BLT Sdn Bhd, another 100% MOF owned private company, to build new police quarters and facilities which the government will have pay a yearly rental to.[3]

    This does not take into account the RM22 billion of housing loan debt incurred by civil servants which was shifted to the Public Sector Home Financing Board, another 100% MOF owned entity.[4]

    Given Dr. Gale’s familiarity with the public sector in Malaysia, it is utterly surprising that his analysis would exclude such big-ticket items that would inevitably affect the Malaysian government’s financial position moving forward, since a significant amount of the interest on this off-budget debt will have to be serviced by the federal government either directly or indirectly.

    (iii) The rapid rise in the budget allocation of the Prime Minister’s office

    Dr. Gale was quick to point out the increasing share of the budget being taken up by petrol subsidies and argued that this misallocation of resources had to be curtailed i.e. the petrol subsidy needed to be removed. But he totally ignored the fact that the allocation to the Prime Minister’s Department grew significantly under Najib’s watch. The total budget allocation (operating and development expenditure) allocated to the Prime Minister’s Department grew from RM12.2 billion in 2010 to RM 20.3 billion in 2016, an increase of 66.5%. Recall that during this time period, the overall budget only increased by 31.5%. In other words, the allocation to the Prime Minister’s Department grew more than twice as fast as the total budget expenditure! Why wasn’t this potential misallocation of resources investigated by Dr. Gale despite the spotlight which opposition politicians have shone on this expenditure year after year?

    (iv) How widespread was Najib’s efforts at economic liberalisation and increasing competitiveness?

    Dr. Gale is quick to point to policies such as Najib’s decision to scrap a 30% requirement for ethnic Malay ownership of investments in 27 areas as examples of economic liberalisation under the Najib administration that were potentially politically unpopular but would lead to long term positive outcomes and greater competitiveness in the Malaysian economy. But he failed to highlight the areas which Najib did not liberalize and failed to make more transparent.

    He left the structure of Public Private Partnerships (PPP) alone which allowed unfair concession agreements to continue and for new ones to be signed. He failed to renegotiate the lopsided toll concession agreements which partly contributed to additional government expenditure via compensation to the toll concessionaires in lieu of toll price increases and later, to toll price increases when the government eventually withdrew this subsidy. He allowed new toll concession contracts to be directly negotiated and signed without any public disclosure of the terms and conditions. The MRT Line 1 and Line 2 projects were awarded directly to the Gamuda-MMC consortium without an open tender and the most expensive infrastructure project in Malaysia to date, the RM55 billion East Coast Rail Line (ECRL), was awarded to a Chinese company without a public tender.

    (v) Over reliance on the annual reports produced by PEMANDU

    Dr. Gale quoted statistics and examples liberally and copiously from the Economic Transformation Program (ETP) and the Government Transformation Program (GTP) annual reports as evidence of Najib’s success in administrative and economic reform. He took these statistics such as the KPIs which showed a significant reduction in crime and the roll out of the various Entry Point Projects (EPPs) which were ‘shovel ready’ at face value. Never did it occur to him to attempt to verify the accuracy of these statistics and figures.

    I stand by the critiques of the Economic Transformation Program (ETP) which I co-wrote with Teh Chi Chang and published under the think tank REFSA in 2012. In fact, many of our predictions have been proven right. Our critique that some of the multi-billion Entry Point Projects (EPPs) such as the RM10 billion Karambunai Integrated Resort in Sabah and the RM3 billion Tanjong Agas Oil and Gas and Logistics Industrial Park in Pekan, Pahang did not make financial sense and would prove to be ‘dud’ projects have been right on the mark.[5] This is not the right place to do a complete re-evaluation of the ETP but suffice to say, Dr. Gale did not do his due diligence in this area. Even the checks from the so-called ‘Independent Review Panel’ on the ETP was a creation by PEMANDU which calls into question the extent to which the panel was truly independent.

    (vi) Overlooking the 1MDB and Felda Global Ventures (FGV) scandals

    Dr. Gale knew, even before he started writing this book, that he needed to deal with two elephants in the room, one larger than the other. The first was the 1MDB global scandal and the other was the mismanagement which occurred in Felda Global Ventures (FGV). In his Preface, he stated that both these scandals ‘are not the subject of this study’. He justified this by stating that ‘1MDB and FGV were conceived as corporate strategies, not macroeconomic reform programs’. I would disagree.

    Dr. Gale’s entire premise of Najibnomics was that the decisions taken by Najib have put the country on a sounder economic footing in the long term. But what if we are forced to continue to pay up for the debts of 1MDB moving forward? The US$6.5 billion which 1MDB owes to the London-based and Abu Dhabi controlled International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC) may have to be paid for by the Malaysian government over the next 5 to 10 years. We must also not forget that the Malaysian government could have directly benefitted from auctioning off the valuable real estate in what is now the Tun Razak Exchange (TRX) and Bandar Malaysia and collecting the proceeds rather than selling these two parcels of land on the cheap to 1MDB so that they could resell the land in order to cover up their own mountain of debt. We must not forget that the Government Pensioners Fund (KWAP) was asked to buy over SRC International which had incurred a debt of RM4 billion (and hardly any valuable assets) from 1MDB.

    The Malaysian government will also be liable for the losses and debts incurred by FGV. If FGV needs a bailout, the federal government has to step in either directly or indirectly via FELDA. This too will have a long-term effect on the financial position of the federal government.

    If Dr. Gale wants to point us towards administrative reforms under the GTP (which includes a National Key Result Area on reducing corruption) and towards global competitive rankings, then he cannot ignore how these reforms were ignored in the case of 1MDB and FGV.

    (vii) Are we better off in the long run?

    Dr. Gale’s definition of Najibnomics is that Najib’s economic legacy has been a positive one for Malaysia in the long-run. I beg to differ.

    In 5 to 10 years’ time, when our contingent liabilities have surpassed RM300 billion and when our debt servicing takes up more than 20% of our federal budget, will Dr. Gale still sing praises of Najibnomics? What if the government is forced to raise the GST to 10% or beyond in order to pay for the debts incurred during the Najib administration? Of course, this scenario may not come to pass but the possibility that it may occur has been completely ignored in Dr. Gale’s treatment of Najib’s economic legacy.

    Dr. Gale gives credit to Najib’s decision making process partly due to his training as an economist at the University of Nottingham. Indeed, he draws attention to the fact that “Najib is the first trained economist to head the government in the nation’s history”. This is not the place to question what aspects of economics Najib learned while he was studying at the University of Nottingham many moons ago or how he applied this knowledge during his career in politics and as Prime Minister. But I do wish that Dr. Gale had used his many years of training in writing about politics and economics to provide us with a more critical and comprehensive examination of Najibnomics and its long-term impact on Malaysia.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Member of Parliament for Serdang

    [1] http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2010/05/27/idris-jala-msia-must-cut-subsidies-debt-by-2019-or-risk-bankruptcy/

    [2] http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/putrajaya-confirms-pembinaan-pfi-debt-pile-near-rm27b#HfILshAg8w3pwCIR.97

    [3] http://www.thestar.com.my/business/business-news/2011/01/13/pembinaan-blt-plans-rm10b-sukuk/

    [4] http://www.thestar.com.my/business/business-news/2016/06/11/malaysias-debt-burden-eases-as-loans-shifted-to-mortgage-agency/

    [5] http://www.refsa.org/focus-papers/a-critique-of-the-etp-part-3-iii-doubtful-epps-doubtful-achievements-and-due-diligence/

  • 马来西亚能继续维持东运会的巅峰表现吗?






    政府也在2015年推出了“Kita Juara”(我们是冠军)的计划。被挑选的运动员会获得更大的资源和机会在国际舞台上参赛。除了东运会,这将是我们培养更多全球体育冠军的长期计划之一。





    公众的支持水平多少会影响这些体育协会改善自己财务状况的能力。例如,尽管马来西亚的休闲跑步运动随着日益渐多的马拉松比赛已经越来越受欢迎,但马来西亚田径联合会就连一个活跃更新的面子书专页也没有 ,更不用说拥有运作正常的官方网站。



    在针对37个有派遣运动员到东运会参赛的马来西亚体育协会的简单调查中,我们发现仅有21协会拥有自己的面子书专页(facebook page或group),而且有许多页面都是不活跃的。其中,我们必须赞赏马来西亚溜冰协会(ISAM)和马来西亚篮球协会(MABA)的努力,因为它们都会在面子书专页上积极与民众互动,并时常展示旗下运动员的成绩。反之,具有讽刺意味的是,尽管马来西亚皇家马球协会(RMPA)拥有在社交媒体十分活跃的部长球员,但其面子书专页的互动似乎并没有特别引人入胜的。

    虽然拥有一个活跃的面子书专页并不能保证其体育领域上的成绩,但这成了我们一个窥探这些体育协会如何与球迷和公众互动的指标。例如,如果企业家看到这些协会背后的公众参与度或粉丝支持程度不令人满意, 试问他们会多愿意提供赞助以示支持呢?因此,这些企业家往往会主动接触有相当公众号召力的个人运动员,而非赞助这些运动员所属的国家体育协会。





  • Memastikan prestasi Sukan SEA kita kekal mampan

    (Artikel ini juga boleh dibaca di ruang Institut Pulau Pinang di KL dalam Malaysian Insight, 2hb Sept 2017)

    Ketika saya menulis artikel ini, Malaysia telah pun mendahului rekod pungutan pingat Sukan SEA ke-29 dengan meraih 140 emas, 91 perak dan 84 gangsa. Jumlah pingat emas kita adalah 2 kali ganda jumlah pingat emas Thailand, yang berada di tempat kedua. Kita turut berjaya memecahkan rekod Sukan SEA 2001 di mana kita telah meraih sebanyak 111 pingat emas.

    Ini merupakan pencapaian yang menakjubkan dan usaha gigih atlet-atlet kita harus disanjung tinggi. Namun adakah pencapaian ini sesuatu yang mampan? Adakah atlet kita mampu melangkah lebih jauh dan bersaing di peringkat Asian dan, untuk sesetengah mereka, di peringkat antarabangsa juga?

    Kini, sukan telah menjadi sebuah industri berbanding sebelum tahun 1990an di mana ianya kelihatan lebih bersifat amatur (kurang mahir atau profesional). Di samping mengenal pasti bakat, bidang sukan kini melibatkan pelbagai aspek lain seperti pembiayaan, latihan dan bimbingan, nutrisi dan pertandingan, dan banyak lagi.

    Masyarakat sememangnya menaruh harapan kepada kerajaan, khasnya Kementerian Belia dan Sukan, untuk memacu pembangunan sukan negara ke arah yang sepatutnya. Bagi negara kecil seperti Malaysia, pembiayaan kerajaan bagi sukan adalah perlu terutamanya apabila ia melibatkan sokongan untuk atlet yang berpotensi besar.

    Dengan berbekalkan objektif tersebut, program Kita Juara telah dilancarkan pada 2015. Atlet-atlet terpilih diberi sumber dan lebih banyak peluang untuk bertanding di peringkat antarabangsa. Ini merupakan sebahagian dari proses jangka masa panjang untuk melahirkan juara dunia lebih dari sekadar untuk Sukan SEA.

    Namun, dana kerajaan adalah terhad. Malahan UK Sport, iaitu organisasi kerajaan UK yang bertujuan memandu pembangunan sukan, terpaksa membuat potongan besar terhadap perbelanjaan bagi sukan seperti badminton, memanah, lawan pedang dan angkat berat kerana kekurangan potensi untuk memenangi pingat pada Olimpik Tokyo 2020, walaupun organisasi ini menerima sejumlah £347 juta daripada hasil National Lottery.

    Di sinilah peranan penting perlu dimainkan oleh persatuan-persatuan sukan di peringkat persekutuan mahupun peringkat negeri. Kebanyakan orang tidak sedar akan kuasa besar yang dipegang persatuan-persatuan ini. Dalam hal tertentu, mereka lebih berkuasa daripada menteri. Contohnya, mereka ada kuasa untuk memilih atlet yang akan mewakili negara, serta memberi dana kepada atlet terpilih untuk ke pertandingan luar negara dan dilatih oleh jurulatih kebangsaan.  

    Presiden persatuan sukan biasanya merupakan ahli politik dan / atau ahli perniagaan. Presiden yang juga merupakan ahli perniagaan biasanya diharapkan untuk membiayai sebahagian kos operasi pengendalian persatuan, manakala ahli politik pula diharapkan untuk mengumpul dana yang perlu melalui hubungan mereka. Selepas Sukan SEA, persatuan-persatuan sukan ini masih perlu mencari dana untuk membiayai aktiviti-aktiviti dan membangunkan atlet-atlet mereka.

    Setiap sukan menerima tahap sokongan yang berbeza dari masyarakat. Selain dari persatuan bola sepak dan badminton yang sudah pun menerima sambutan meluas dari masyarakat, persatuan sukan lain boleh lebih melakukan pelbagai usaha untuk mempromosikan sukan masing-masing.

    Tahap sokongan orang ramai terhadap sukan sebenarnya mempengaruhi keupayaan persatuan sukan ini untuk menambah baik kedudukan kewangan mereka. Sebagai contoh, walaupun larian untuk rekreasi kini menjadi makin popular di Malaysia yang boleh dilihat melalui pertumbuhan pesat acara larian di seluruh negara, persatuan yang bertanggungjawab untuk bidang olahraga iaitu Persekutuan Olahraga Malaysia (MAF) tidak mempunyai laman Facebook yang dikemaskini, apatah lagi laman web yang berfungsi.

    Pasukan balapan kita mempamerkan prestasi yang lebih bagus dari jangkaan dengan memenangi 8 emas, 8 perak dan 9 gangsa, termasuklah pingat gangsa bersejarah dalam acara Marathon Lelaki dan rekod Sukan SEA dalam lontar peluru. Namun tiada satu daripada pencapaian ini didokumentasikan dalam laman Facebook MAF, di mana kemaskini terbaru adalah dari tahun 2014. Laman web MAF yang sedia ada merupakan sebuah blog mengenai makanan dan pelancongan.

    Begitu juga dengan Persatuan Renang Amatur Malaysia (ASUM) yang tiada laman Facebook, malahan laman webnya tidak mempamerkan pencapaian perenang kita dalam Sukan SEA.

    Dalam satu soal selidik ringkas terhadap 37 persatuan sukan yang menghantar atlet ke Sukan SEA, hanya terdapat 21 laman Facebook yang wujud (sama ada berbentuk page atau group) dan tidak semua daripada laman ini berstatus aktif. Pujian perlu diberikan kepada Persatuan Luncur Ais Malaysia (ISAM) dan Persatuan Bola Keranjang Malaysia (MABA) kerana aktif di Facebook dan memaparkan pencapaian atlet mereka. Ironiknya, walaupun Persatuan Polo DiRaja Malaysia (RMPA) mempunyai seorang pemain yang aktif dalam media sosial, namun laman Facebook persatuan tersebut seperti kurang menyerlah.

    Walaupun laman Facebook yang aktif tidak menjanjikan kejayaan sukan, namun ia merupakan petunjuk sejauh mana hubungan antara persatuan sukan tersebut dengan peminat-peminat mereka serta masyarakat. Bagaimana sebuah badan korporat mahu menaja sukan tersebut jika dilihat amat sedikit peminat dan hubungan yang dibina dengan orang awam? Dalam hal ini, adalah lebih berbaloi jika penaja korporat ini menghubungi atlet individu yang sudah pun menjadi tokoh awam berbanding menaja persatuan sukan yang dianggotai atlet tersebut. 

    Kekurangan aktiviti media sosial bermakna bahawa persatuan-persatuan ini kurang berusaha untuk mengembangkan kelompok penyokong melalui cara menyebarkan maklumat mengenai pertandingan tempatan dan menyoroti profil atlet-atlet. Sekali lagi, berbalik kepada sukan olahraga yang lebih saya kenali, dilihat bahawa agak kurang publisiti dilakukan untuk Olahraga Terbuka Malaysia yang berlangsung sebelum Sukan SEA walaupun ia merupakan pertandingan utama bagi kategori balapan di negara ini.

    Nampaknya, lebih banyak maklumat yang dihebahkan di sosial media berkenaan acara larian yang disertai ramai, berbanding Malaysian Open bagi acara balapan. Walau pun acara balapan tidak sepopular sukan teras lain seperti badminton dan bola di Malaysia, hakikat bahawa persatuan yang bertanggungjawab dalam mempromosikan sukan itu nampaknya tidak melakukan tugasnya hanya akan menambah cabaran kepada atlet kita. Semakin kurang dana dan sokongan untuk persatuan, maka semakin kurang sumber untuk menggaji jurulatih-jurulatih yang bagus dan menghantar atlet-atlet yang berpotensi untuk berlatih dan menyertai pertandingan di luar negara.

    Selepas gembar gembur Sukan SEA, apabila sukan bukan teras tidak lagi menerima tumpuan ramai, dapatkah atlet-atlet kita mengambil langkah seterusnya untuk bertanding dalam Sukan Asia 2018 di Jakarta? Mampukah persatuan sukan menjadi lebih aktif dalam mempromosikan sukan dan mendapat lebih banyak perhatian dari masyarakat?

    Mari kita tunggu dan lihat. Pada masa yang sama, saya akan turut serta menjadi sebahagian rakyat yang bersorak di Stadium Nasional Bukit Jalil semasa majlis penutupan Sukan SEA demi meraikan pencapaian Malaysia!

    Dr Ong Kian Ming adalah Ahli Parlimen Serdang, Selangor dan juga Pengurus Besar Institut Pulau Pinang di Kuala Lumpur. Beliau memegang ijazah PhD dalam bidang Sains Politik dari Duke University, MPhil dalam Ekonomi dari University of Cambridge dan BSc dalam Ekonomi dari London School of Economics.


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