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"Our budget is financed by oil. Oil is like lottery. You win a lottery, what do you do? You have a big feast, you finish your money. No more. There is no multiplier effect from your sweepstakes winnings.

"The statistics show we have 20 more years to go, with our oil reserves (which) finance about 30-40 percent of our budget. It is a huge percentage.

"So shouldn't we be a bit more ambitious and spend even more on education? What's another three, four billion ringgit on education? The impact on the economy and other sectors will be minimal. But the long-term (benefits) of education are a lot."

So said economic analyst Tony Pua, who studied politics, philosophy and economics at Oxford University, in the first of a three-part interview on the country's future economic woes.

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