Here's a better way to use Tabung Harapan

Opinion  |  Phar Kim Beng
Published:  |  Modified:

COMMENT | At current trajectory, Tabung Harapan or Hope Fund should be able to cross the threshold of RM100 million by the end of June 2018 or possibly middle of July.

With a national debt of RM1.09 trillion, even if the fund crosses RM500 million in a year, which is half a billion ringgit, it is but a speck in the debt pile.

Indeed, since the funds are deposited into Maybank, which is a government-linked company (GLC), the interest rate would be nominal - good but not sufficiently impressive to produce any high yields too.

Not all RM100 million or RM500 million should be used at one go. The suggestion from one RHB economist to "retire" some of the old debts, which will be maturing soon, while commonsensical, has all the elements of being good on intention but short on strategic good sense.

Indeed, RHB Research Institute Sdn Bhd chief Asean economist Peck Boon Soon opined that the fund could possibly contribute to the 1MDB bond interest worth RM810.21 million due between September and November this year.

A more strategic approach is to beef up the civil society, especially the non-governmental organisations (NGOs), think tanks, even media organisations that formed the bedrock of a new Malaysia.

Tabung Harapan, for what it is worth, is to build hopes and end despair. A strong and powerful civil society, including polling firms, such as Invoke, Merdeka Centre and Ilham, with the right funding, can correctly make the politicians behave.

But a civil society functions more to build social capital, not to spend it, especially not when the money is coming from the...

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