Reminders To PH

12 - 2018 - 19 - pesanan-02

After 61 years, Malaysia finally managed a successful democratic change. Whether or not the democratic change meets our expectation, no one should take the credit away from the Malaysian people.

The dust takes a bit longer to settle. In the early months of the PH administration, whenever I raised an issue that seemed to puncture the euphoria, I got attacked viciously. I thought it was only natural because of the euphoria, sooner or later the dust would eventually settle, and we could get on with bringing change to the country.

Unfortunately, the euphoria seems to derail the focus of the PH administration a bit. The deflation – from the euphoria to disillusionment – can be severe, if not appropriately managed. There are signs that the euphoria has gone somewhat sour.

Plunging approval rating

I continue to follow the pulse on the ground through surveys and analytical profiling, a discipline I maintain from the campaign towards GE14.

Judging from online comments at major news portals, it is obvious that the country is highly polarised. Each community lives in our own bubble. We are not aware the undercurrent that is fast developing in the other community, because we hardly interact with each other.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but someone must bell the cat.

The approval rating of the Federal Government since PH took over in May 2018 has been plunging, rather rapidly.
In June 2018, when asked to rate Tun Mahathir’s performance as the Prime Minister, 72% Malaysians approved his performance. The Chinese rated him highest at 87% approval, followed by the Indians at 84%. Even the Malay respondents gave him a high 66% approval rating (given that PH did poorly with Malay voters during GE14).

In a similar survey conducted two weeks ago, Tun Mahathir’s approval rating as the Prime Minister has plunged to 53%. There is a consistent ~20% drop across all races – Malays (from 66% to 45%), Chinese (from 87% to 65%) and Indians (from 84% to 64%).

In some states, the newly elected Menteri Besar, whom some of the sampled respondents could not name correctly, got a higher approval rating than the Prime Minister.

The Malay votes deficit

I notice of the most often repeated justifications for the plunging approval rating was PH’s failure to win a sizeable chunk of the Malay votes in GE14.

Proponents of this theory went on to theorise that to defend the PH administration; the Prime Minister must be given a free hand to do what is necessary to strengthen PH’s Malay votes.

This includes the efforts to bring in ex-UMNO MPs to shore up BERSATU’s number in Parliament. The Prime Minister seems to argue today that the ex-UMNO MPs will bring the rural Malay support with them. This is good for PH in the battle for Malay’s hearts and minds.

The percentage of Malay voters who voted for PH vary from state to state and party to party.

Nationally, PH achieved less than 30% of the share of Malay votes. Broken down by parties, PKR achieved a 31% share of Malay votes (calculated against the seats it contested), followed by AMANAH at 26% and BERSATU at 21%.

The share of Malay votes that PH obtained also vary by states and can be broken down roughly into four categories:

1. The share of Malay votes exceeded 40% (Selangor, Wilayah Persekutuan and Penang)
2. The share of Malay votes between 30% to 40% (Johor, Melaka, Negeri Sembilan and Kedah)
3. The share of Malay votes between 20% to 30% (Perak, Pahang and Perlis)
4. The share of Malay votes less than 20% (Kelantan and Terengganu)

Out of the 97 seats that PH won in Semenanjung, only 42 are in the states where PH’s share of Malay votes exceeded 40%.

Fifty-five seats are in danger of going to other parties in the next general election if there is a significant shift among Malay voters.

PH won on an economic platform

You may ask me by now – what’s with these numbers? What’s the relevance of approval ratings and the share of Malay votes in GE14?

It is true that we did not win enough Malay votes in GE14.

But we still won the majority in Parliament because enough swing Malay voters in the marginal seats across the country voted for PH. They voted for PH primarily due to our economic promises to make their life better, not because PH has somewhat convinced them that we are more “Malay” than UMNO or PAS.

I have argued all along that the racial and religious dimensions will always exist in our society. There are still ethnic and religious considerations among the Malays, the Chinese, the Indians (maybe less in Sabah and Sarawak).

As political parties, what we can do is to articulate middle grounds and focus on policies, so that the public discourse revolves around voters’ livelihood. I repeated during the GE14 that PH could only win if we convinced enough Malays that a change of government could lower down prices, create more jobs and increase wages.

We can never become more Malays than UMNO or more politically Islamic than PAS. Race and religion are UMNO’s and PAS’ strength; the economic platform is our platform.

True enough, the results of GE14 validated this.

In spite of all the efforts to show BERSATU carried the Malay torch within PH (highest seats were given to BERSATU, BERSATU was given prominence in state PH chairmanship despite its relatively new presence), that gestures did not bring significant Malay votes to PH. BERSATU got the lowest share of Malay votes among all the PH parties.

Thankfully PH still managed to win enough parliamentary seats because there were enough Malay economic voters who were ready to give it a chance, which explains the rapidly plunging approval rating for the Federal Government.

Losing economic focus

It is not that I do not understand the financial predicament that the Federal Government found itself in, having inherited the economic mess from Najib Razak’s administration. It is precisely because the public appreciates the degree of financial ruin that they took chances with PH in GE14.

But our key constituents are economic voters across the races. From the first post-GE14 survey until this month’s poll, reducing higher cost of living and fulfilling election promises tops the key concern of the voters across the board.

After a while, the public is losing patience with what is seen as mere excuses on the part of the PH administration. We can’t fulfil all the promises immediately within the 100 days (trust me, the public does not even expect that), yet at the very least the PH administration must be seen to be solely focused on laying the groundwork to fulfil them (election promises) at some point in the future.

It is understandably a work-in-progress, but we do need to see some progress. After a while, it is no longer enough to charge former government leaders with cases of corruption, because so long as there is no marked improvement (concerning economic livelihood) on the ground, the restlessness will continue.

In some areas, things did get worse after we took over.

Late payments of living allowances to Felda settlers is a regular feature of our administration. Not only we are not able to write off their debts that were questionably piled on them by the previous administration; we could not help making things better for them when the commodity prices plunged.

While reducing prices will take a while, any sudden removal of aids previously provided by the government, when implemented without a more effective substitute program, helps the opposition builds a negative narrative against the Federal Government.

We will take some time to restructure PTPTN, but why resort to the opposite of our election pledge, when we have not heard anything about any efforts to refinance PTPTN bonds to lower the financing cost? Can we not use the Prime Minister’s good standing with the Japanese to re-finance these bonds? The annual saving of 2-3% of interest on bonds worth of RM40 billion, easily translates to RM1 billion.

The public does not expect a miracle; they expect efforts. They need to see our focus is fixated on making their lives better.

Instead, more often than not, we give excuses why we could not deliver.

Distractions

Unfortunately, we also have been serving the public with one political drama after another. We are all guilty of that, but the public looks up to the Cabinet for a steady direction in this turbulent time.

We can’t afford too much distraction because we need to deliver economically. We were elected mainly because of our economic promises.

But if there is one thing that the PH administration can be most proud of in the last seven months, it is our penchant for unnecessary distractions.

I can’t for the life of me understand why our cabinet ministers went on to focus on ratifying ICERD, without weighing in the sentiments on the ground.

We could achieve more if we focus on making sure the multiracial Malaysians get a fair treatment in every sphere of their life, regardless of race and religion. We don’t need to make noisy political statements to honour non-Malay top achievers who deserve scholarships, as much as we don’t it to make a fuss when we extend assistance to deserving Malay graduates to increase their job marketability.

The distraction handed on a silver platter the opposition’s best cause to rally Malay voters against PH, especially when more and more swing voters (as shown by the plunging approval rating) feel that PH is dishonest with its election pledges.

A week before the rally, a friend asked me: do you think they will get 5,000 people because UMNO no longer has money to ship these people?

I told him:

Don’t give them a cause.

Electoral reform, anti-corruption and better livelihood were among the main causes that galvanised PH supporters to join BERSIH rallies. We came down because we believed in the cause.

The moment you give the racially oriented segments of our society a cause, people who are galvanised by the cause do not need free buses or pocket money to join more anti-PH rallies. They participate because they genuinely believe that either PH is bad for the Malays, or because they feel cheated that their life got worse since PH took over.

True enough, the number of people who joined anti-ICERD rally this month should give us a point or two to ponder.

Focus on delivery

In that same context, I wish to caution the PH leadership that the public is disgusted with the recent wave of UMNO MPs switching side.

To swing voters, it is yet another evidence that the PH administration is more focused on internal power dynamics, rather than focusing on delivering on our election promises. We also dilute our reform credentials in the eyes of PH hardcore supporters.

To those who argue that the orchestrated mass migration of UMNO MPs is necessary for strengthening PH’s grip on Malay voters, there is no indication this is happening. In fact, it provokes angrier sentiment against PH among the UMNO-PAS supporters.

Instead of winning them over with economic narratives and delivery, we are pushing them further and further away (much in the same way the engineered defection that toppled the Perak government did not endear the PH supporters to BN then).

My biggest concern is this: the recent exodus of UMNO MPs, instead of weakening UMNO, strengthens PAS as the biggest Malay party (now that UMNO has been weakened). If more and more Malay fence-sitters become disillusioned with PH’s lackadaisical economic delivery, they will readily swing to PAS in the next general election.

The only way that is achievable and responsible for forging a united and moderate Malaysia is to focus on our economic platform.

PH must go back to our election pledges.

We need to demonstrate seriousness in making life better for the ordinary Malaysians, not to be dragged by endless cloak-and-dagger political manoeuvres of the old Malaysia.

I urge the PH leadership to take stock of the developments and urgently re-focus our efforts.

And it must begin with the PH Presidential Council sending a clear signal that we will stop the cloak-and-dagger orchestration of more UMNO MPs crossing over.

Rafizi Ramli

Perletakan Jawatan Saudari Nurul Izzah Anwar

Saya menerima panggilan yang tidak putus-putus dari kalangan pendokong KEADILAN, wartawan dan orang ramai mengenai berita perletakan jawatan Saudari Nurul Izzah dari jawatan kepimpinan.

Berikut adalah pandangan saya:

1. Saudari Nurul ada berkongsi pandangan dengan saya secara berterusan, terutamanya yang bersabit komitmen reformasi kepada rakyat. Beliau sangat komited dengan idealisme reformasi dan sudah tentu ada beberapa perkembangan yang perlu diperhalusi dari semasa ke semasa.

2. Beliau bukan mengundurkan diri dari politik. Beliau kekal memainkan peranan penting di Parlimen dan persada politik tanahair. Beliau hanya mengundurkan diri dari jawatan kanan parti.

3. Saya ingin mengambil sudut positif dari keputusan tersebut. Saya membacanya sebagai satu tindakan berprinsip untuk membolehkan beliau kekal bersuara secara objektif membawa isu-isu rakyat yang selari dengan idealisme reformasi.

4. Saya berharap beliau mempertimbangkan keputusan itu. Beliau tahu saya merasakan beliau boleh mempertahankan idealisme reformasi dengan kedudukan kanan beliau di dalam kepimpinan KEADILAN.

5. Saya juga menghormati keputusan beliau. Kami sudah melalui masa muda membina KEADILAN, sejak kali pertama kami sepentas dari tahun 1999 lagi (di London), maka saya juga faham pandangan beliau. Oleh itu, saya akan menyokong segala keputusan yang dibuat oleh Saudari Izzah kerana saya percaya itu datang dari hasrat beliau untuk memainkan peranan dengan lebih berkesan.

6. Saya berharap anggota KEADILAN menerima keputusan Saudari Izzah itu dengan memberi sepenuh galakan dan sokongan. Ia juga menjadi bukti bahawa idealisme reformasi tetap segar di dalam KEADILAN.

7. Jawatan kanan di dalam parti hanyalah satu jalan untuk menyumbang. Saudari Izzah telah dan akan buktikan bahawa idealisme perjuangan itu lebih penting dari jawatan, pangkat atau kuasa. Maka, keputusan beliau pada hari ini, walaupun mengejutkan, adalah sesuatu yang wajar kita teladani mesejnya.

Rafizi Ramli

 

Letter To Khairy

12 - 14 - Letter To KKJ

Saudara Khairy

I am sure you receive a lot of messages today. I choose to send a public message like this because we have a responsibility to be open and transparent on issues that matter most to the public.

While the news (of groups of UMNO MPs leaving the party) has been around for a while, it still came as a shock. I understand how demoralising it would have been to you and your colleagues in UMNO because we went through a similar ordeal when it happened to KEADILAN in 2010.

I will be accused of being a sell-out, just because I sound empathetic.

The truth is: no one who loves his party (and what the party stands for) can stomach MPs (who were elected on the party’s ticket) leaving the party in such a manner. The reason for leaving was not policy differences or anything to do with principles; they went for convenience. Life as opposition MPs feels so hard, having been government MPs for so long.

I pen this letter (with all its flamboyance that comes with it) because I feel the need to express some sort of solidarity, that it is in the best interest of the nation for good and honest people to remain in UMNO.

Since 1998, I did not fight for a mere change of government. I wanted to see a robust 2-party system:

A government that is fair to a competent opposition, and an opposition that is competent to act as a check-and-balance that it deserves to be in government.

Malaysia needs a competent opposition bench that can articulate issues (on behalf of the rakyat), an opposition that is made up of honest, wise and sincere people.

A government that is too strong because the opposition is too weak will eventually become corrupt. We have gone through the experience for 61 years.

UMNO’s defeat (no matter how painful it was to its leaders and supporters) gives it a second chance to embrace reforms. I pray that UMNO accepts the defeat with humility and understands why people rejected it so that UMNO can go back to the drawing board to rebuild a party that will truly serve the rakyat.

I disagree with any action, decision or attempts to annihilate the opposition (whichever party it may be). I may disagree with the opposition’s opinion, action or positions in many issues, but I appreciate the value of an effective opposition in a democratic society.

The next few days, weeks and months may appear to be bleak for you and your colleagues who are pushing for genuine reforms in UMNO.
But, if you work steadfastly to serve the public with integrity, the so-called exodus of the (former) UMNO MPs will only strengthen UMNO.

Provided: those who remain must be God-fearing leaders who reject corruption totally and work towards an inclusive Malaysia that builds (not that divides). UMNO will thrive if those who stay become progressive advocates who speak the truth on behalf of the public.

You are one of the leading lights of the progressive voice in the country. Many young people remain hopeful you will play a pivotal role to promote a new political culture that can unite us in spite of all our differences.

For that reason, I hope you will remain in UMNO and helps UMNO to become an effective opposition.

I will be cursed with profanities by friends and enemies alike, for saying this. But that is why we are who we are because we cherish the freedom to call a spade a spade.

I pray that all will eventually be well for you.

Rafizi Ramli

Surat Kepada Khairy

12 - 14 - Surat_kepada_khairy-01

Saudara Khairy

Saya pasti Saudara menerima banyak mesej hari ini. Saya memilih untuk menghantar mesej yang terbuka kerana kita ada tanggungjawab untuk bercakap secara terus-terang.

Walaupun berita ahli-ahli parlimen UMNO keluar parti beramai-ramai ini sudah berlegar buat seketika, ia tetap mengejutkan. Saya faham kesannya kepada Saudara dan rakan-rakan saudara di dalam UMNO, kerana kami sendiri pernah melalui ketika ia berlaku kepada KEADILAN dalam tahun 2010 dahulu.

Sudah tentu ada yang menuduh saya menjadi penyokong UMNO sekarang, hanya kerana saya menyebut “saya faham kesannya kepada Saudara”.

Tidak ada pemimpin yang sayangkan partinya dan perjuangan yang diangkat oleh partinya, yang tidak terkesan apabila wakil rakyat (yang menang atas tiket partinya) keluar parti. Bukan atas alasan prinsip atau berbeza pandangan mengenai dasar yang pokok, tetapi kerana menjadi pembangkang (setelah sekian lama menjadi kerajaan) tidak semudah semasa menjadi kerajaan dahulu.

Tujuan saya menulis surat kepada Saudara ialah untuk meyakinkan Saudara untuk kekal berada di dalam UMNO, kerana saya percaya rakyat dan negara memerlukan barisan pembangkang yang cekap, cerdik, jujur, amanah dan ikhlas.

Sebuah kerajaan yang terlalu kuat kerana pembangkangnya lemah, akan terdorong ke arah pelbagai salah guna kuasa. Kita sudah melaluinya selama 61 tahun.

Kekalahan UMNO (walaupun perit kepada pemimpin dan penyokong UMNO) memberi peluang kepada UMNO untuk melalui pembaharuan. Saya berdoa UMNO menginsafi segala masalah yang lalu yang menyebabkan ia ditolak rakyat dan kembali untuk berkhidmat kepada rakyat dengan sejujurnya.

Saya tidak bersetuju dengan sebarang tindakan untuk meranapkan mana-mana parti pembangkang. Saya mungkin tidak bersetuju atau tidak sehaluan dengan tindakan atau pendapat parti-parti pembangkang, tetapi saya menghargai peri pentingnya parti pembangkang yang berkesan untuk memastikan kebajikan rakyat sentiasa terjaga.

Beberapa hari, minggu dan bulan yang mendatang mungkin mendung buat Saudara dan sahabat-sahabat yang ikhlas ingin membantu rakyat atas platform UMNO.

Tetapi percayalah, jika Saudara berpegang kepada niat untuk berkhidmat dan membela rakyat, pemergian mereka yang meninggalkan UMNO ini akan menguatkan UMNO.

Dengan syarat pimpinan-pimpinan UMNO yang kekal mesti takut kepada Allah, menolak rasuah, menyeru ke arah persaudaraan rakyat pelbagai kaum yang membina, berjiwa progresif yang menggalakkan (bukan menidakkan), berkata benar dan benar-benar menjiwai rakyat.

Saudara menjadi harapan ramai orang muda yang mahu melihat politik Malaysia yang lebih baik dan mendamaikan di masa hadapan.

Untuk itu, Saudara perlu kekal di dalam UMNO dan terus bersuara agar UMNO menjadi parti pembangkang yang berkesan.

Saya akan dimaki kawan dan lawan kerana berpandangan begini. Tetapi itu peranan orang yang berjiwa bebas seperti kita, supaya ada orang yang terus bersuara walaupun pahit.

Saya mengucapkan selamat maju jaya kepada Saudara.

Rafizi Ramli

Harga RM2.20 RON95 Wajar Disemak Semula

Sejak 9 Mei 2018, Kerajaan Persekutuan yang ditadbir oleh Pakatan Harapan telah menetapkan harga RON95 pada RM2.20 seliter untuk menstabilkan harga minyak dan mengurangkan kesan turun naik harga minyak kepada kenaikan harga barang (seperti yang berlaku sebelum itu).

Ia bertepatan dengan manifesto Pakatan Harapan untuk menstabilkan harga minyak dan memperkenalkan subsidi bersasar kepada golongan 40% terbawah (B40).

Oleh kerana harga minyak mentah naik melambung, terutamanya antara bulan Ogos 2018 ke Oktober 2018, Kerajaan Persekutuan terpaksa menanggung jumlah subsidi yang tinggi untuk mengekalkan harga RON95 pada RM2.20 seliter.

Saya sertakan Lampiran Kiraan untuk menunjukkan kiraan RON95 berdasarkan formula, menggunakan angka rasmi berikut:

– Harga MOPS95 (harga pasaran RON95 yang telah ditapis seperti yang didagangkan di Singapura) seperti yang diterbitkan setiap minggu oleh Australian Institute of Petroleum
– Harga purata Brent adalah seperti yang diterbitkan Bloomberg
– Kadar tukaran matawang adalah seperti yang diterbitkan Bank Negara Malaysia

 

HargaMinyakDec2018

RON95 – July 19th to Dec 11th 2018

Kiraan mengikut formula menunjukkan bagaimana harga RON95 mengikut formula mengikuti dengan dekat pergerakan harga minyak mentah Brent yang naik melambung melebihi USD80 se-tong menjelang Oktober 2018.

Kalau tidak kerana dasar pentadbiran Pakatan Harapan yang memperkenalkan kembali subsidi untuk menstabilkan harga RON95 pada RM2.20, harga mengikut formula mencecah RM2.70 seliter di dalam bulan Oktober 2018 (seperti yang ditunjukkan graf berikut).

RON95 Price Chart versus Formula

Jika tidak kerana pertukaran pentadbiran di Putrajaya, penyokong UMNO dan PAS yang paling ralit mendesak harga RON95 diturunkan kepada RM1.50 (sebagai modal politik murahan) dengan senang hati terpaksa membayar RM2.70 seliter (jika Dato’ Seri Najib Tun Razak masih menjadi Perdana Menteri).

Subsidi Cecah RM3.4 Bilion
Kerajaan membelanjakan tanggungan subsidi mingguan di antara RM70 juta hingga RM220 juta seminggu untuk mengekalkan harga RON95 pada RM2.20, dalam keadaan harga minyak mentah dunia naik melambung.

Kiraan saya menunjukkan menjelang akhir November 2018, Kerajaan Persekutuan telah membelanjakan RM3.4 bilion subsidi yang membolehkan harga RON95 dikekalkan pada RM2.20 (lihat graf di bawah).

RON95 Subsidy

Harga Formula Bawah RM2.20
Walau bagaimana pun, sejak beberapa minggu lalu, harga minyak mentah Brent telah jatuh mendadak ekoran dari lambakan minyak mentah dari Amerika Syarikat.

Mengikut kiraan saya (berdasarkan angka-angka rasmi yang diterbitkan yang dirujuk seperti di atas), harga RON95 mengikut formula yang digunakan kerajaan telah jatuh di bawah paras RM2.20 seliter sejak 3 minggu yang lepas, iaitu apabila harga minyak mentah Brent jatuh di bawah paras USD67 se-tong.

Mengambil kira keadaan pasaran minyak mentah dunia yang dijangkakan akan kekal sekitar USD60an se-tong (walaupun selepas OPEC mengurangkan pengeluaran), ini bermakna harga RON95 mengikut formula berkemungkinan akan terus kekal di bawah RM2.20 seliter.

Semak Kembali Harga RON95
Pada dasarnya, apabila harga RON95 mengikut formula (yang menggambarkan harga pasaran minyak mentah) adalah lebih rendah dari harga yang ditetapkan kerajaan, rakyat akan membayar cukai ke atas pembelian RON95.

Walaupun Kerajaan Persekutuan telah membelanjakan sehingga RM3.4 bilion dalam bentuk subsidi semasa harga minyak mentah melonjak tinggi dahulu untuk mengekalkan harga, pada dasarnya harga yang ditetapkan mestilah sama atau kurang dari harga formula untuk mengelakkan rakyat dari membayar cukai di atas pembelian RON95.

Oleh yang demikian, saya menyeru supaya Kerajaan Persekutuan menyemak kembali harga RON95 yang ditetapkan dalam keadaan harga minyak mentah yang kekal sekitar USD60an se-tong.

Adalah lebih wajar jika harga RON95 diturunkan 10 sen supaya harga yang ditetapkan itu menggambarkan harga semasa minyak mentah dunia.

 

Rafizi Ramli
11 Disember 2018

 

I run INVOKE Malaysia, a data analytics firm based in KL. Former MP for Pandan