Malaysiakini Yoursay

Yoursay: Guan Eng can’t pat himself on the back just yet

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YOURSAY | ‘But few can hold a candle to you in your dedication to mending the economy.’

Guan Eng shares regrets on his first year as finance minister

GalaxyM: After 61 years of mismanagement by the corrupt and incompetent previous government, it’s no wonder Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng has had a challenging first year trying to fix the mammoth financial mess.

And yet, it is still damned if you do, damned if you don’t for him.

Anonymous 1538808416: Lim lists among his achievements the successful replacement of GST (Goods and Services Tax) with SST (Sales and Services Tax) "without bankrupting the country."

This is nothing to shout about because the prices of goods are not coming down. Moreover, GST refunds are compulsory, and you must do it anyway, by hook or by crook.

As for foreign direct investment (FDI) going up by 48 percent last year, Lim should not claim credit because Pakatan Harapan only became the government in the second half of the year.

These answers by Lim reveal his own weaknesses, as identified in the article: not being able to move beyond 1MDB, being perceived as an aggressive “fighting cock,” as well as being unapologetic and proud.

The people will judge the minister’s performance through the ballot box, not what he thinks he has achieved. This ‘syok sendiri’ (self-gratifying) syndrome is a virus from the previous administration.

Clever Voter: For whatever reason, there are people out there who will hurl brickbats at Lim no matter what.

Granted, the economy has not been as bullish as before. But the role of the finance minister is to turn around the messy accounts that weren’t managed appropriately.

Lim has already spent a year plugging the holes. One must not forget he is a minister, party leader and a MP for his constituency. He is torn between pleasing his supporters and the social agenda of the Harapan government.

It's not been easy. He has been criticised by the more liberal-minded for being BN-like, and at the same, for being ‘too Chinese’ and not doing enough to please the ever hungry bumiputera base.

Lim, like the rest of his Harapan colleagues, faces a country that is not willing to tighten its belt, wants freebies, demands services without paying for it, and so on. It's a tall order.

He should focus on redressing the books – but it looks like he may end up increasing the debt. Even his proposed policy of subsidies to help employers soak up job seekers hasn't gone done well.

Change is tough, but the last thing we want is a return to old ways of free spending. We must stimulate the economy to start creating wealth and entrepreneurship.

The country needs more than five percent growth to feed the huge bureaucracy and state dependents. The last thing he should do is to pursue populist policies that continue to keep us in denial.

Patathewoonie: Lim, don’t lament that there are no easy ways out. Remove and replace all the corrupt and unproductive civil servants.

Control land and fuel prices, and the prices of goods will fall. Stop the tender process for land. The highest bidder will kill the public. Yes, the government can pocket a lot of taxes but rakyat can't afford costly housing. We are a fuel-producing country, we should use Petronas to control fuel prices.

And one more thing, don't stop fighting corruption. All money will be channelled into projects that turn into wealth for the nation. The more money we have, the faster we can curb inflation.

Imagine, China has a 1.4 billion population. If China can do it, I don't see any reason why others can't achieve it. It is all about determination.

Anticonmen: But Lim must stop the sale of government land cheap to crony companies, as witnessed in the past.

Railway, race course, Bandar Malaysia, PKFZ (Port Klang Free Zone) land was sold for cheap. All of this should have been sold at market value as they belong to us taxpayers. Billions have been lost. We the citizens were robbed.

Looking On: Lim, you have shed blood, sweat and tears since day one as finance minister. Few can hold a candle to you in your dedication to mending the economy.

And along the broken road, spanners and brickbats are hurled by hardcore opposition foes to make the journey even more daunting.

Take heart, however – there are those who are with you, as we understand the depth of the hole dug by the thieves is a herculean task to mend. Keep up the good work!

Tony in HK: FDI approval (RM80 billion) has increased by 48 percent, but actual FDI received from investors dropped in 2018 – from RM40.4 billion in 2017 to RM32.7 billion last year – not increased, as claimed by Lim.

ICAC: @Tony in HK, The first half of 2018 was managed by crooks. And there was a political transition period. That's why the figures were not so encouraging.

Now, we can look forward to the future.

XED: To those who criticise Harapan, just imagine what would have happened if BN had won in the general election last year. More of former premier Najib Abdul Razak, more of his wife Rosmah Mansor, more horror, more incompetence and less freedom.

The media is more independent and trustworthy now. Many top people in the administration and government-linked companies have resigned or been dismissed. There is clearly less corruption.

Who would have imagined that so many big names of a year ago are now giving business to criminal defence lawyers? There is a greater fear of the law amongst the crooks who remain in the public administration and in the private sector.

But there has not been much improvement in such areas as housing, education and inter-religious relations.

Much more needs to be done to fight crime. Police officers should spend more time on the ground instead of posing in large numbers for photographs when some announcement regarding fighting crime is made. Why the need for big public ceremonies when senior police officers retire, get appointed or go on transfer?

It is good that the people of Sabah and Sarawak are asserting themselves after many years of exploitation and bullying by Malay supremacists.

But why the reluctance to hold local government elections anywhere in the country?

Much work is involved in undoing many years of crime, corruption, incompetence, mismanagement and exploitation.

The above is a selection of comments posted by Malaysiakini subscribers. Only paying subscribers can post comments. Over the past one year, Malaysiakinians have posted over 100,000 comments. Join the Malaysiakini community and help set the news agenda. Subscribe now.

These comments are compiled to reflect the views of Malaysiakini subscribers on matters of public interest. Malaysiakini does not intend to represent these views as fact.

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