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Daim Rumours: Keep Him In Check: Jomo
By Susan Loone
19/6/2001 5:38 pm Tue
[Khabar angin yang dilayang mengenai Daim antara lain bertujuan
untuk menggertak beliau dan anak-didiknya agar tidak menentang Mahathir.
Banyak rancangan Daim terpaksa diubah atau dikaji semula jika tidak BN
akan semakin malang di hari muka dan Mahathir akan dibelasah teruk dalam
perhimpunan agung Umno. Fokus anti Daim sekarang ini akan menempiaskan
semua tohmahan kepada beliau sahaja agar terselamat Mahathir - padahal
Mahathir yang melantik dan mengizinkannya bertindak sekian lama.
Menurut Jomo, Menteri Kewangan yang baru dijangka seorang yang pro Mahathir
juga. Tidak kira siapa pun menjawatnya, negara akan tetap cemar dengan
budaya politik korupsi kroni selagi tiada kajian 'check and balance' dan
ketelusan urusniaga. Apa yang berlaku kepada akhbar hari ini menunjukkan
kerajaan tidak bersedia untuk membuka pintu seluas-luasnya kepada teguran
Monday June 18
Rumours about Daim may serve to keep him in check: Jomo
4:35pm, Mon: Rumours about Daim Zainuddin's arrest and raids on
offices of those closely associated with him may serve to intimidate
the former finance minister and his cronies to ensure they do not
put up any resistance against Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad,
said an economics professor today.
Universiti Malaya's Prof Jomo KS however added that such
threats might not bring about the intended effect.
'While many would claim that there was little previous indication
that they would (fight back), but it may also have the effect of
driving them further 'underground', and forcing them into alliances
previously not contemplated,' he said.
'Daim would probably claim: 'Not fair. We did all this together, and
now, I, alone, am being blamed for all of them',' he added.
Daim officially resigned as finance minister on June 1 after a
two-month leave. He has relinquished his positions as special
functions minister and Umno treasurer. Since then, there has been
intense rumours of his imminent arrest.
Last week, Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi denied that the
former finance minister was under police investigation.
According to Jomo, recent policy decisions associated with Daim
have already come under review.
'All policy revisions and reversals will be seen as repudiations of
Daim, allowing the regime to disassociate itself from some of the
most embarrassing decisions such as the MAS (Malaysia Airlines
System), Time dotCom and LRT (Light Rail Transit) bailouts,' said
the economics lecturer, who has a BA from Yale University, and an
MPA and PhD from Harvard.
Jomo, who has written over 30 books and edited over 40 more,
said recent developments raise important questions about who is
accountable for economic policy and the role of the cabinet.
'Has the National Economic Advisory Council displaced the
cabinet, or had it also become auxiliary to Mahathir, the 'First Lord
of the Treasury', the prime minister? Or to Daim, who was, after all,
reputedly the nation's economic tsar?' he queried.
According to some economic analysts, Daim's replacement would
hardly bring about any changes in Malaysia's economic policy.
One said, 'The next (finance) minister is going to be another
Mahathir loyalist. Malaysia is still going to be a pro-market
economy, with little concern for distributional considerations, or for
the needs of labour.'
Recently, in a press conference, Mahathir commented that the new
finance minister must be 'clean', an uncontroversial figure and may
or may not be a politician.
'This was a real slap in the face for Daim, as the PM insinuated
what critics had long claimed. Of course, it also implied that the PM
had condoned all this before,' said Jomo.
'You can hardly find anyone 'clean' on the government benches.
Cynics will claim that the only clean ones left there just haven't had
a chance yet,' he added.
'You can hardly find anyone 'clean' on the government benches. Cynics will claim that the only clean ones left there just haven't had a chance yet,' he added.
Checks and balances
Jomo, who has lectured at Harvard, Yale, Cornell and three
Malaysian universities, said that there was a need for a
thoroughgoing reform of governance.
'Those who have been in power too long tend to abuse power,
especially when checks and balances are weak, and neither history
nor culture has established strong healthy precedents and norms,'
The position of the finance minister in this country has become
unnecessarily powerful and liable to abuse as the minister approves
the more lucrative contracts and in an increasingly non-transparent
environment, where even tender processes, for example, are hidden
as official secrets, said Jomo.
'It doesn't help to have a businessman with a network of proteges
in thisposition as this will give rise to cronyism.
'But it can be just as bad with an ambitious politician patronising
money politics to rise, or a pharaonic 'developmentalist' with an
edifice complex. There is no substitute for strong checks and
balances, for greater transparency and public accountability,' he
Jomo said it was almost irrelevant whether the next finance minister
was a politician or non-politician except for the fact that it is hard
to think of any qualified parliamentarian.
'In any case, what is important are policies - and the
implementation, consequences and effectiveness of those policies,'
'At the moment, we have lots of rhetoric. We have the Third
Outline Perspective Plan and the Eighth Malaysia Plan. We want to
see these plans benefit the nation, especially those disadvantaged
thus far, and not the personal interests of rich and powerful
cronies, the hangers-on, with more know-who than know-how,'
Jomo said the country needed economic policies for balanced and
sustainable development; policies that emphasise human
development, for greater social equity and genuine national unity.
'The only way forward is to have government policies oriented
towards national unity and social needs,' he said.
'The PM and the BN do not have to look very far. For example,
just take a look at the Barisan Alternatif manifesto,' he added.
Jomo said the BA manifesto emphasises matters such as ensuring
greater accountability through guaranteed transparency, ensuring
sustained, balanced and equitable development, cleaning up the
system, ensuring more equitable tax and expenditure policies, and
improving health, education and housing provisions.
Jomo insisted that the US economic slowdown will effect Malaysia
despite assurances by cabinet ministers who continue to say that
the country is coping well with the impact.
'If there is no impact, why did Mahathir introduce the RM3 billion
counter-cyclical package in March to stimulate the economy' Was it
just to give more jobs to the boys? It looks like Mahathir is more
concerned about the economy than they are. His ministers
obviously do not either understand or agree with him. It seems
Mahathir is more isolated than I thought,' he added.
Unemployment is predicted to rise, with the recent spate of
retrenchments, as the country depends heavily on the electronics
industry which seems badly affected by US conditions.
The information technology industry has not really taken off despite
all the hype after the much-publicised Multimedia Super Corridor
(MSC) project was launched compared to countries such as
Singapore or even India.
Jomo said Malaysia clearly has two big economic problems: one is an
overly open economy - due to the earlier Mahathir policy heritage
and contrary to his recent anti-globalisation rhetoric - and the
other is abuses,corruption, cronyism and nepotism. He said these
two problems need to be tackled simultaneously.
'To understand the economy, we have to look at both problems.
We cannot only talk about cronyism when there is the problem of
the open economy due to ill-considered globalisation,' he said.
'Secondly, the people who rule the country run it primarily in their
self-interest. They give relatively little attention to the public
interest except just before elections.
'They usually do not think about the long-term development of the
country, and on the rare occasions when they do, they can hardly
get it right, as with the MSC, which has little to show in terms of
significant achievements despite all the resources directed there at
the expense of other sectors,' he added.
Jomo said the only way people can do anything is by changing
governance to one that is more transparent and accountable.
'Institutions must be reformed. More attention must given to the
national and public interest, to sustainable, equitable and balanced
long-term development challenges,' he added.
Last modified:Monday June 18, 4:45 pm