Graphics from The Malaysian Insider.

So AAB and NTR swap portfolios to become the new Defense and Finance minister respectively.

Don’t these blokes have better things to do. Or is this act an open admission that they have failed in their respective ministries previously?

For example, Budget 2009 contained a proposal for a government operating expenditure amounting to RM154 billion which is the highest ever in Malaysian history. In Budget 2008, it was RM129 billion, the previous historical high. And yet, we have the Auditor-General’s annual reports disclosing leakages and misappropriation of taxpayers’ monies to contend with. Plus, if we are to opine that some of the allocations may not reach the liberated states of Kelantan, Selangor, Perak, Kedah and Penang, why is there still an increase of almost 20 percent?

At the time of its presentation (end August), the budget was dependent on oil prices hovering at US$125 or above to generate a projected income of RM176 billion to complement the expenditures. Oil is now down to US$92 per barrel which also means that we are facing a larger than expected deficit within this fiscal year. And CPO prices are also down in tandem with oil which invariably create losses on two major export income.

I suspect that when Budget debate begins on 13th October ’08 in parliament, there might be a motion of no confidence on the PM which will require a re-tabling. If the revised budget is also rejected by the MPs, AAB have but one option i.e. to call for a snap general election to secure a fresh mandate. By which time, NTR being the new Finance minister can be conveniently made a scapegoat for any UMNO/BN gaffes.

Budget readings here, here and here.

Or perhaps, AAB fancies himself being paraded around in glittering military colors complete with a loaded Glock revolver strapped to his waist. And I thought he’s shot himself in the foot, far too many times oredi.

Transition on track? Yeah, right! And the monkey’s uncle was the mediator.

Update: 2230HR 18/09/08.

The following article was posted at Rocky’s Bru today which I’m re-producing it here in full:

Pak Lah’s economic reckoning
18 Sept, 2008


Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim announced this week that he has enough parliamentary support to unseat the current government, led by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. If he does, Abdullah’s lacklustre economic management will be largely to blame.

The prime minister has not introduced any substantive reforms during his nearly five years in office, preferring to rely instead on opening up the government purse. Under the Ninth Malaysia Plan announced in 2005, he expanded public-sector spending to RM200 billion annually from RM160 billion. In his Midterm Plan Review this year, he increased this outlay to RM240 billion. The national debt now stands at RM285 billion, up from RM192 billion in 2004. The official fiscal deficit has risen to 4.8% of GDP this year, from 3.2% last year. Revenue is being spent faster than it is coming in.

It’s hard to argue that these outlays have served the broad public interest. Much of the funding has been channelled to elites in the majority Malay community, under the country’s pro-Malay affirmation action programme. That has created discontent with many Malay who don’t see the full benefits of the programme, and among the minority Chinese and Indians, who are excluded from it altogether.

Abdullah’s stewardship has had a real impact on the economy. Capital flight has risen sharply; Malaysian investment abroad now exceeds inward foreign investment. The Kuala Lumpur stock exchange has lost almost one-fifth of its value this year to date. Malaysia’s currency, the ringgit, saw its biggest one-month loss last month since the end of the dollar peg in 2005. Although GDP growth has averaged a robust 5% annual growth under Abdullah, that record is now under threat. Inflation reached a record 8.5% this summer. Job creation has reached record lows, as unemployment, particularly among young majority Malays, remains high. Ironically, only the opposition-led state governments are attracting new foreign investment β€” and without the federal government’s help, no less.

Abdullah’s 2004 attempts to promote growth and investment β€” such as through the promotion of the biotechnology and agricultural industries β€” have failed. He also fumbled discussions with the United States on a free trade agreement, which have now stalled. What Malaysia really needs is education reform and the liberalisation of its labour markets to improve its economic competitiveness.

The political opposition, in the form of Anwar and his Pakatan Rakyat coalition, have seized on these issues. They have promised to root out corruption and to implement a new economic policy to address the concerns of all ethnic communities in Malaysia. Their platform aims to move beyond populist spending to introduce structural reforms in government procurement programmes and in the management of government-linked companies.

When Abdullah assumed office in 2004, he inherited an economy in need of structural reform. Malaysians have had to pay for his poor stewardship through higher prices, stagnating wages and growing private sector debt. Soon, Abdullah may have to pay the political price for that record.