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RM1 trillion figure insult to our intelligence

I refer to the malaysiakini report 2006 trade highest in nation's history . I may be no Jomo or Friedman or Greenspan. But I know a little of economics to tell you what RM1 trillion is not. RM1 trillion is not to be divided amongst our 26 million strong population which would put RM40,000 (or US$11,400) in our pockets - each!

Exports totalled RM588.95 billion. Imports totalled RM480.49 billion. At the cost of oversimplification, assuming that all imports are used up in the value of the exports, then the net gain to Malaysia is a mere RM108.46 million * (or US$31 million, a mere pittance!) [clarification below] . To give you an idea of how big this is, just imagine Microsoft's net income for fiscal year 2006 - US$12.6 billion.

Okay, I agree all this is a gross oversimplification, even devoid of real meaning without more data. But who started this game first to try and project the 'feel good' factor before the next general elections when in fact, the 'feel good' factor is simply now non-existent?

Bernama reported that Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry deputy chairman Chua Tia Guan as saying that the 2006 trade performance figures showed gains especially for those large industries in the import and export businesses.

'It's a different story for the SMEs (small and medium enterprises). Most of them are indifferent to the record trade volume," Chua said. 'Instead, they are worried about the low purchasing power in the retail market,' he said.

The fact that Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and his bandwagon are so quick to shanghai this RM1 trillion figure alone and that the press has bandied it about as if it's the litmus test of the economy or the epitome of successful economic achievements is downright demeaning, degrading and utterly puerile chicanery. It is an absolute disgrace and an insult to our intelligence and misleading to the ordinary man on the street who does not understand such economic data.

What I find so objectionable is the frequent irresponsible manner in which the BN government tries to psyche the common people with half-baked truths and mistruths. And if our local colleges and universities have been teaching our graduates no more than to imbibe such meaningless data, then it's a sad, sad time for Malaysia.

I find the grievous fault lies in the shocking sparseness of real technocrats, reliable and knowledgeable professors and scholars with critical and independent faculties. Good scholars have been chased away or silenced so that unscrupulous politicians can manipulate the masses via the media with utter impunity.

I find it terribly insulting when the government treats us, common people, as if we can be led by our nose rings, like bulls to the drinking hole and fed dried grass.

A proper economic analysis would have to include trade data (imports, exports and their breakdowns), banking data, inflation statistics like the consumer price index, industrial production data, employment data, home ownership, amongst others.

Just saying we hit the one trillion mark is simply an unintelligible chimera and it sets our pulse rushing when in fact our economic limbs are so weak.

* Clarify what RM1 trillion trade figure means

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