Received via WhatsApp…p ft
by Mariam Mokhtar
Desperate finance minister’s use of emotional blackmail
The use of emotive language by Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz in urging MPs to approve Budget 2021 in Parliament only shows that he is desperate.
Malaysians are neither blind nor daft. If a fiscal plan looks bad, they will speak up.
MPs are elected to act in the best interests of the people. Why should they give their blanket approval and hand Zafrul a blank cheque, just because they were urged by the King to support the budget? Many Malaysians would rather want their MPs to not be bullied by the finance minister.
Zafrul’s emotionally charged language, “the budget that can help the country” and “there is no reason for it not to be approved or rejected” are value-added words that are meant to make you feel and act in a certain way.
He then projected and transferred the blame onto anyone who might reject his budget. He said: “If it’s (the budget) rejected, in terms of the economy, we will not be able to fund the government’s commitments, including disbursing aid to the people.”
In other words, if the frontliners and civil servants fail to be paid, and if projects for the needy fall short of funding, it is not his fault, but the fault of the MPs who did not approve his budget.
This tactic of pinning the blame on others is an ego-defence mechanism. It is also a subtle method of justifying an ill-thought-out budget by using the “it wasn’t me” ploy.
Emotional blackmail is a potent Malay tool, and in my conversations with many Malays about the 4Rs (race, religion, royalty and rasuah [corruption]), emotions feature strongly in their psyche. However, emotive words will not help Zafrul resolve his towering budget deficit.
Zafrul’s press conference, during which he urged the Dewan Rakyat to approve his budget, revealed more about him and Perikatan Nasional (PN) than he could have realised.
The PN administration has been a source of discontent and many Umno-Baru politicians have also turned against Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.
Ordinary Malaysians have observed an increasingly arrogant and insecure Umno-Baru/PAS/PN leadership, which blames the DAP, or non-Malays, for their own failures. Instead of engaging with other Malaysians, many Malay leaders encourage Malay conservatism to grow stronger by the day.
Like his leader, Muhyiddin, it appears that Zafrul is out of touch with most ordinary Malaysians. So, can it get any worse for Zafrul?
Businesses are increasingly disillusioned with Zafrul because of his aloofness. He has forgotten that small businesses are the backbone of the nation’s economy.
Alienating many Chinese-owned businesses, which employ thousands of Malays, will backfire on him. If the businesses are forced into bankruptcy and close, where will the Malay employees go for financial help?
Opposition MPs lack confidence in the finance minister and Zafrul’s lacklustre leadership of the Finance Ministry is another cause for concern.
Why does Jasa need RM85.5 million for spreading propaganda? Why are the nation’s health concerns not properly addressed? Why does the Department of Islamic Development (Jakim) need a boost of RM4 billion?
Malaysians have no faith in Zafrul’s qualities as finance minister, and he has failed to inspire the rakyat.
Malaysia is drowning in debt. Any housewife could tell him (and his boss) that a ministry does not need several deputies as well as a minister (like the Health Ministry and its two deputy ministers) or special envoys to China, the Middle-east and India. Ambassadors and high commissioners already execute this area of diplomacy.
What special benefits did these special envoys gain for Malaysia during the coronavirus pandemic? Zafrul could make massive savings by telling Muhyiddin to revamp the bloated federal cabinet and restructure the equally bloated civil service. The same goes for trimming the remuneration of the government-linked company (GLC) heads.
Economists and financial experts have made mincemeat of Zafrul’s Budget 2021.
The ordinary man on the street can see that the Malaysian budget generously rewards billions of ringgits to certain groups of people: read Malay/Muslim. Where is the inclusivity?
The pro-Malay interests budget, which neglects minority communities, will also deter foreign investors.
Budget 2021 reminds us of the Malay businessperson who receives a cash injection for his small business and instead of using the money for research and development, employees, expansion, diversifying or modernising its technology, he uses the money to buy a teak desk, a gold Rolex, “sebiji kereta sport” (a sports car) and gaudy suits, so he can attract another sweet young thing and make her his third or fourth wife.
All the polygamous wives of one man are supposed to be treated equally.
The Budget 2021 is like the Malay polygamist who favours his youngest wife and ignores the rest. Is that Islamic?
When the polygamist gets old and doubly incontinent, he will return to his first wife to nurse him. In the Ali-Baba economy, the Malay will turn to his Chinese partner for help. Some of the project allocations in Budget 2021 appear dubious.
This budget is all kitsch and no substance.
Zafrul’s use of emotional blackmail shows that he lacks confidence in his own work.
Reject PN’s Budget 2021!