IT’s been politics at full throttle for Malaysia since early last year, which is set to continue until the end of 2009.
And that’s not a good thing, for there is something looming on the horizon (some say it’s already here) – the global financial crisis.
And this will directly affect every one of us a lot more than who becomes the prime minister, the Umno deputy president or what other material there is about nowon- leave Selangor exco Elizabeth Wong.
This is the warning given by prominent socio-political blogger Datuk Ariff Sabri Abdul Aziz, who is better known by his nom de plume of Sakmongkol AK47 ( http://sakmongkol.blogspot.com ).
In an interview with Cyberspot last Wednesday, Ariff said the national obsession with politics has had the effect of diverting resources away from the need to be fully focused on dealing with the global financial crisis that started in the United States.
And Ariff, who is a former Pahang state assemblyman and has a masters degree in economics, blames the government and also opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim for this lack of concentration.
“The government has been too secretive and has been slow in acknowledging the economic fallout from the US. And this threat of taking over the federal government through crossover of MPs – how can the national leaders fully concentrate when this is repeated again and again?” he said.
Ariff said it is fortunate that those with experience and expertise in matters concerning the economy – and who are aware of the unique strengths and weaknesses of Malaysia – have taken to writing their opinions and recommendations to be perused and discussed on the Internet.
Foremost among them is former Finance Minister Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah – a close member of the Kelantan royal family and, as described by Ariff, “the best Prime Minister we never had”.
Tengku Razaleigh has had a presence in Cyberspace for a number of years through his website. However, it was only quite recently – in September last year – that he started a blog ( http://razaleigh.com ), probably inspired to an extent by the overwhelming success in the blogosphere of his former political rival Tun Mahathir Mohamad ( http://chedet.co.cc ).
He may be a late starter when it comes to blogs but Tengku Razaleigh is Internet savvy enough to be aware of the multimedia functions available to enhance his site. In his latest post titled “1993”, there are also You-Tube videos accompanying his writing about the constitutional amendments of 1993 and the current situation in Perak.
Tengku Razaleigh’s writings on economic matters are of no less importance due to his vast experience.
Credentials are something this blogger doesn’t lack: besides having been Finance Minister, he was also a former Chairman of the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and Islamic Development Bank.
A lesser known economics blogger is lawyer CT Choo. There may be other local bloggers who also write on similar matters but there is a distinct competitive advantage in Choo’s De Minimis site ( http://ctchoolaw.blogspot.com ) – his clarity and level-headedness.
(De Minimis is Latin for ‘minimal things’. It is also an abbreviated form of the maxim and legal doctrine de minimis non curat lex – “the law cares not for small things”. In a lawsuit, a court applies the de minimis doctrine to avoid the resolution of trivial matters that are not worthy of judicial scrutiny.)
The writer may be a specialist in both law and economics but he appears to understand that most bloghoppers aren’t. Far from burdening readers with impressive-but-unfathomable graphs and charts, and peppering them with technical jargon, Choo’s writings move in the opposite direction. And this is a welcomed relief for those seeking to understand issues concerning the economy but who lack the basics of this field.
After the change of government in Perak, national attention will start to focus on the Umno general assembly next month. And then it will be the Bukit Gantang and Bukit Selambau by-elections, with the possibility of one in Bukit Lanjan too. Then there is Anwar Ibrahim, with the possibility of another “September 16” always lingering in the subconscious.
What now for Malaysia's economy? Finance Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak will announce a second economic stimulus package on March 10. Hopefully, his economic advisors are savvy enough to take into consideration the suggestions and recommendations made by prominent economics bloggers – for everyone's sake.
● Former journalist and now free-lance writer NJ Ahmad wonders how the Theory of Marginal Utility features in Malaysian politics.
STILL operating below the radar of most blog-surfing Malaysians, is the economist behind Economic Policy: The Side View (epolicy.blogspot.com). He certainly has what the majority of blogs do not: insightful posts with substance.
As written in his profile: "No uncertainty now; we're in recession. The world economy is shifting from west to east, right to left."
As an introduction, what follows is his latest post:
How does one maintain confidence in the face of disaster?
If there is a tsunami, or a massive outback bush fire, or a financial meltdown or an incapacitation of the economy or a massive heart attack, the correct posture should not be one that suggests it is not a serious matter.
The correct posture should be to find out exactly what is wrong - to get as much data and information as possible, analyse them and then try to come up with a logical conclusion and a course of action.
Not only should more data and information be analysed for the authorities, but such data and information should be made public so that the public has an idea of the situation and respond accordingly in their own way.
I wonder whether what happened to Pompeii was because of the policy on managing confidence, so that the public did not panic and lived as if today would be like yesterday.