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My wishlist to Dr Mahathir and Guan Eng


Finance Minister-designate Lim.

Finance Minister-designate Lim.

DEAR Dr Mahathir

IT is difficult to congratulate you for your self appointment as the next Education Minister. Not especially with Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali being unhappy that you have broken your promise not to take up an additional portfolio as you already have the heavy job of a Prime Minister. You have hardly slept the past week and the nation is worried about your health.

So with it with great relief that you have decided to pass the baton to Dr Maszlee Malik before the starting line. Neverthless, many are pleased that you have thought about it as the future of this country rests upon your wise decision and a firm hand.

As you have combined the two education ministries into one, you can now chart a seamless education for a child from standard one to university. Re your online software lessons, it will open up content possibilities different from the dreary textbooks. Digital technology will enable scaling in terms of different subjects, multiple age groups and in different languages. It will open up the young minds.

However please ban political themes in primary and secondary schools. Reintroduce Rukunegara and moral teachings. Mastering science, maths and English will enhance personal intellect.

Religious indoctrination should be put aside while teachers and lecturers should stay religion neutral. All academic disciplines in universities should be recalibrated to produce graduates with the right skills to be hungry and job ready.

I do have one wish. Please set up a Council of Eminent Historians. Yes they say History is written by Victors but this was because in those days, it was difficult to archive manuscripts. But our history is young, we have computers and gigabytes of storage memory. And the Council should review all the history books in schools and replace the fake facts with true facts

The future belongs to those who learn from the past and live brilliantly.

Top leaders: Prime Minister Dr Mahathir (left) and Finance Minister-designate Lim.
Top leaders: Prime Minister Dr Mahathir

Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Hopefully our recent bad chapter in history will never be repeated.

What’s done is done. Right actions in the future are the best apologies for bad actions in the past.

Anyway Tun, you will always be remembered in our history as the PM who came in from the past to save our future. And may God bless you with many more healthy years.

DEAR Lim Guan Eng

Congratulations for being appointed as the Finance Minister-designate. According to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in his homecoming speech on Wednesday, as a past Finance Minister, he found the job to be difficult and complex.

Maybe that is why you were picked for the job. When the country is having a major cash flow problem, it is time to pick a prudent Malaysian accountant to helm the Ministry.

That Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad picked you for this post, he must have had tremendous confidence in your ability and your integrity. You yourself have had meetings with the Ministry officials in the last few days and discovered that the problems in the Ministry especially the 1MDB debts are deeper and wider than expected.

But financial debt is not your only problem. In an article by Digital News Asia just two days ago, the former secretary-general Tan Sri Serigar Irwan was described as the pillar of the startup ecosystem in Malaysia. Besides being the Board Chairman of Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC), his contribution, support and commitment towards the startup ecosystem has not been matched by any senior civil servant.

Well this is all admirable as Malaysia moves into the digital technology space, one wonder why MaGIC (MoF Incorporated) is under the purview of Finance Ministry and not under the Science, Technology & Innovation Ministry? It is akin to Maybank CEO appointing his chief financial officer to be in charge of its Innovation Lab when a chief innovation officer has already been employed.

Similarly Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) another MoF incorporated company is under the purview of your Finance Ministry.

You will be pleased to know that MDEC was formerly known as Multimedia Development Corporation launched by your new boss Dr Mahathir back in 1996 under the purview of Science and Technology Ministry which was transferred to Communications and Multimedia Ministry and finally landed under Finance Ministry. Lucky you.

Should you decide to keep this two MoF incorporated companies under the purview of your Ministry, may I suggest you hire an additional secretary-general who is technologically qualified to oversee these two important subsidiaries.

I would strongly advise that your first secretary-general to be a highly qualified accountant to help you solve the massive financial problems and ensure that he is not distracted by all these digital jumbo mumbo from performing his task at hand.

When you next walk into your new office, perhaps you would like to verify an article by The Edge dated Jan 8th 2018 that another MoF company may have acquired a 51% stake in Mulia Property Development Sdn Bhd (for an undisclosed amount) which is developing The Exchange 106 skyscraper at the Tun Razak Exchange. You might need another assistant who is well versed in property development which I believe you will not find it difficult to find among our civil service team.

It would be advisable that you also check with your boss the financial commitments of all the big infrastructure projects that are under the purview of the PMO office like ECRL, Bandar Malaysia, TRX etc. All which leads to a great opportunity to cut costs at other Ministries since they are left with hardly any major projects to manage.

As recommended by your DAP colleague Liew Chin Tong, Malaysia does not need so many Ministries since PMO and the MOF have taken over so many functions on their behalf. In view of the budget constraint, you can merge some of the mini Ministries, either into a 2 in 1 or even 3 in 1 thus reducing redundancy.

If your Pakatan Harapan government can reduce the financial deficits despite zero rating GST, I am sure Harvard Business School will write one its best Management, Finance and Leadership case studies for its world class students.

Talking about GST, you caught the market by surprise by zero rating GST from June 1. While it is an admirable action taken in view of the coming Hari Raya celebrations, most of the SMEs are confused and feeling a bit lost. It will be good if you can bring back Datuk Ahmad Maslan to explain to us how zero rating the GST will bring down retail prices.

I have advised my trading companies to reduce the recommended selling price by 6% for ALL products or as close as possible due to the rounding up of the odd cents which means a savings of 5.8% to 5.99% reduction from the selling price.

However, some of our products will be charged a sales tax of 10% when you implement the 10% sales and service tax. At that time, I will advise my trading companies to raise the recommended selling prices on the affected products accordingly. Kindly advise your still unnamed Trade Minister colleague to restrain his officers from threatening us with profiteering as we are just following the government’s flip-flop policies.

I have a humble wish to make. With our neighbouring Asean countries forging ahead with investments in startup ecosystem and national digital initiatives, Malaysia must not fall behind in this race to the future. It would be advisable for this government to continue funding a sizable annual budget towards supporting an innovative and vibrant digital economy.

A well-run ecosystem will produce many digital entrepreneurs. What is required is to institute good governance, transparent policies and open tenders.

I would however like to extend my appreciation for your ‘nampak banyak teruk tetapi mesti buat jugak’ attitude. You will survive. Lucky us.

Tan Thiam Hock , column

   

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