Thursday, 17 June 2010

The New Parliament Building

Note: This was not published in The Star due to the fact that the IT department thought it was a dubious email and quarantined it!

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Throughout history we have examples of how the excesses of rulers help propel a revolution. Marie Antoinette was perhaps not quite the callous spoilt queen who supposedly uttered those famous words “let them eat cake” when told that the starving people of France had no bread. But it is undeniable that the extravagance of the court in Versailles played a major role in the over turning of the French monarchy and the success of the Revolution.
A bit closer in place and time, we need only look across the South China Sea to observe that the corruption of the Marcos regime was quite wonderfully symbolised by the thousands upon thousands of shoes owned by Imelda. The bleeding of the people of the Philippines by the dictator in Manila was represented by the row upon row of dainty slippers and pumps. In a country where so many were too poor to afford shoes, the imagery was powerful indeed.
And so it is here. The recent plans to build a new Parliament building at the cost of hundreds of millions of ringgit, along with the similarly priced new palace for the King, will quite naturally stick in the craw of the ordinary Malaysian.
Especially in the light of all the sounds made regarding subsidies. The people have been spoilt it appears. We have had it too easy with the cheap petrol and basic food stuff. And it is because of us that the country is going bankrupt. So the subsidies will be taken away, and we have to jolly well tighten our belts and economise.
How can anyone announce with a straight face multi million ringgit projects for new buildings (when there already exists buildings for said purpose) and at the same time bemoan our impending economic collapse. It looks a lot like them making fun of the people.
Yet, I am sure that no matter what you might think of them, the government can't possibly be so clueless. And I can already see the arguments that will be made. It is the same argument made by Mahathir when he had power (and not seeking publicity in poorly attended rallies in Terengganu).
In order to make money, you have to spend money and large government spending is a method with which to give a boost to the economy. The money for our Parliament building and palace will go to contractors and this will start a cascade of spending that will involve a whole host of industries.
Putting aside the obvious question of just who exactly are going to get the contracts, and are they truly the best companies to be awarded this work; one has to question the validity of this argument. It is true that government spending helps the economy and it is largely because of such spending that the growth in this country has appeared to be quite healthy in the past few years. However, it has to be remembered that this shine of health is only skin deep.
This kind of spending is a short term fix and for sustainable growth there has to be investment from the private sector, both internally and internationally. Ideally any public sector spending will encourage private sector investment. I can't see how a new parliament and palace is going to do that. Without private investment eventually you will simply be in a situation where there is no longer any growth and absolutely no money in the nation's coffers to artificially encourage growth.
From what I understand, foreign investment is at an all time low and much money is being taken out of this country to be invested elsewhere. Issues such as corruption, the rule of law, smooth bureaucracy, safe cities, working infrastructure and competent workforce are tough problems that have to be tackled before there can be confidence in this country by those with the money at home and abroad. Surely these are the issues that need to be addressed with certainty and courage and we ought not be looking to the quick fix of building yet even more buildings which are unnecessary and in the current climate look like cruel taunts.

17 comments:

Elanor said...

Azmi, pardon my lack of keenness in detecting sarcasm - but is the IT dept thing for real?

Krishna said...

Prof,You will soon be not given any space in the Star for your columns. Rosmah has already declared you anti-establishment.

I am happy to see your Blog. You can write without any censor. May it prosper and you can always depend on me to give my comments.

Elanor's Assistant said...

Hello Elanor, hello Krishna. I don't normally post a reply but your comments have me intrigued.

Elanor, that was what I was told and I don't think they were being untruthful.

Krishna, are you pulling my leg man?

cheers
azmi

Shawn Tan said...

Hey, what's this private conversation about an IT dept?

Don Zahir said...

So they do have money to spend afterall, yeah, they are going to spend it on these projects, which would most likely end up in the hands of crony-companies or negotiated without tender like what normally happens. A few days earlier they warned of impending bankruptcy should we stay the present fiscal course.
We are run by poeple who are clueless, lacks conviction, and without courage!

joeawk said...

If the writer is insinuating a revcolution of sort, I am for it. What when the power that be arrogantly c ontinue to bleed the coffers of the country.

What has thye palace got to do with tom, Dick and harry. So does the new parliament? RM800+800, that is RM1.6 billion.

We care about the many millions of Malaysians, we don't care about the parliamentarians, especially those in UMNO who are crooks.

Stop wasting our money.

Richiee said...

Honestly, I cannot see the rationale of having a new parliament building. The size of the country has not increased and as such no need for additional MPs unless the BN is thinking of realigning the electoral boundries to keep themselves in power.

The only reason I can see for the government to propose a new parliament building costing RM800m is for them to enrich their own pockets in the last days.

art harun said...

You know who to call as and when sedition police come a visiting.

Not me. Obviously.

LOL!

AliG said...

Say what you like, UMNO can continue to do business as usual. Telling the nation that we can go broke is a sign of disloyalty to the country, at least this is how some 3rd class 4th grade politicians think.
we have politicians who are not fit to be politician. They never talk about real nation building issues. They talk about about their birth rights and about their trophy wife and getting married/divorce and now they think they deserve a new building. They tell you to save so that they can spend the way there are used to. "When will they ever learn...when will they eeeever learn.....?

Voice of the Oppressed, Suppressed said...

UMNO thinks it owns the country and it can do whatever it likes - even murder.
It owns the Judiciary, the police, the MACC, the AG chaambers, the civil service, the media, the EC and even our religious rights.

It is not answerable to any 'pendatangs' or non-UMNO Malays.

All that matters is the accumulation of overseas bank accounts and properties.

I am sure the total wealth of all UMNO leaders, past and present, would be larger than the country's wealth.
The country can go down the drain as long the leaders and their families wallow in the cess pool of ill-gotten wealth which they will bring to hell when they die.
They have no conscience, no scruples and no fear of God.

峻龍 said...

凡走過必留下痕跡!不留言對不起你!.................................................................

tikorama said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
hurricanemax said...

bolehland needs another parliament like we need a hole in the head!

Betcha some1 is making lot$a money outta it...we deserve the gomen we put in power. Cest lavie.

sarip dol said...

Mat lu punya rambut buruklah mat,lu species tongkang ka?kahkahkah

上心上心 said...

珍惜當下..活在當下..祝大家都平平安安健健康康! .................................................................

陳隆 said...

Pay somebody back in his own coin.................................................................

致念致念 said...

Quality is better than quantity.................................................................