05 November 2022

All the president’s men...

When BN announced its list of 160 candidates for the 15th general election, Ahmad Zahid did not include Kepong, Tanjung Karang, Jempol, Kuala Pilah, Tumpat and Kuala Nerus.Was it because he had no confidence in winning these seats that he just gave up fielding his people there? Of course not. For instance, BN stands a big chance of recapturing Kuala Pilah, but what is BN up to? Only the BN chairman knows best!

After the release of the list, there are five groups of people who must have mixed feelings for the arrangements. First, those fielded in “safe zones” to defend their seats must try to suppress their emotions and not to let their inner joys show. Umno president Ahmad Zahid and his deputy president Mohamad Hasan are typical examples, having picked the easiest seats for themselves.

Second, those who are lauded by party as “pioneers” to open up new frontiers but are actually sent to tough battlegrounds where their chances are not more than 50%, Khairy Jamaluddin who uneasily moves his battlefield to Sungai Buloh being a classical example.

Third, those dropped from the candidates’ list and will therefore not participate in the coming election, including at least seven incumbent ministers and deputy ministers. These people are understandably very frustrated, but Ahmad Zahid is obstinately unapologetic. And to rub salt into their wounds, he even warns them not to pull the party’s leg and be party “traitors” just because they don’t get fielded in the election, arguing that “Umno has given them chances.”

Fourth, those given the opportunity to contest but are destined to lose, very likely their deposits, too. This group of candidates include MCA’s Chong Yew Chuan in Cheras, Lee Kah Hing in Seputeh, and Tan Gim Tuan in Damansara. In the last election, DAP won by a landslide in these three constituencies with over 89% of votes, plus another 15 seats where DAP won more than 80% of votes. These seats will be contested mostly by MCA’s candidates. Basically their chances are zero!

Fifth, the “abandoned ally” MIC which only gets ten seats this time, many of these are for the sake of participation only with no chance whatsoever of winning. The irate party president Vigneswaran Sanasee had not choice but to boycott BN’s candidate announcement party just to save himself some face in front of his fellow Indian Malaysians. However, after thinking over it for the whole night, he decided to, willingly or unwillingly, accept BN’s arrangement.

It was earlier rumored that Ahmad Zahid might not stand in the election for the sake of the party, but it was later proven that the “lust for power” inside him was way too strong to overcome.The same goes with Tun M, Anwar and the Lims of DAP. By the way, Ahmad Zahid is just another man of flesh and blood! He should be excused for the greed, shouldn’t he?

From the arrangements made by Ahmad Zahid, we can see very clearly that he has zero tolerance for the embarrassment of not being able to be prime minister despite the fact he is the most powerful man in the most powerful party in this country.

If he wants to reach the top, he must clean up his house, and he did this by taking out seven pro-Ismail cabinet ministers from the nomination list, and sending Khairy Jamaluddin to Sungai Buloh where BN only managed 21.4% of the votes four years ago, vis-à-vis PKR’s 55.97%. He only has his own luck to blame if he doesn’t make it there!

And since the mobilization plan was drawn up by Zahid himself, if BN were to win the coming election, the president will have all his loyal people by his side. Whether BN wins or lose on November 19, Ismail Sabri has to kiss his PM office goodbye anyway.

The 15th general election was supposed to be favorable to the BN, but because of the president’s imprudent moves, including uprooting people close to Ismail Sabri and leaving MIC with only ten seats to contest. He was also not the favorite candidate for respondents taking part in the survey run by three research institutions in the country.

Will Ahmad Zahid’s ill attitude affect BN’s chances in this election? Perhaps not for die-hard Umno fans but this definitely cannot be said for non-Malay constituencies that require the support of swing votes. MCA that has originally set its eyes on five to seven seats this time may become a victim of Zahid’s arrogance due to loss of swing votes. - mysinchew

All appears not so well in BN with lynchpin Umno plagued by internal strife. Questions are increasingly being asked whether caretaker PM Ismail Sabri will be made poster boy in GE15.Nomination day is tmrw followed by 14 days of campaigning . Polling Nov19. - MelGoh

“Things have changed, we are not sure how it’s going to affect the party.” says caretaker prime minister Ismail Sabri when met outside Bera mosque after Friday prayers. He hopes that big names that were dropped from contesting in  #GE15 would put the party first. BN needs to win. - MelGoh

05/11/2022 - Hari penamaan calon...

Today is the nomination of candidates for the 15th General Election (GE15) and the Bugaya state seat by-election. It is eagerly awaited following the emergence of new political coalitions that are likely to cause at least three to four-cornered fights in most of the 222 parliamentary seats across the country.

The period for the submission of nomination papers is between 9am and 10am at 222 nomination centres located at, among other places, district offices, community halls and school halls. The Election Commission set Nov 19 for polling and Nov 15 for early voting.The campaign period is set for 14 days,starting tomorrow after the announcement of candidates contesting in the polls until 11.59pm on Nov 18.

Why prices of everything will skyrocket 
if UMNO wins the general election...

Next month’s polls will be the second time the general election is being held during the monsoon season. The last time it was held in November was in 1999. At that time, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad deliberately called an early election to coincide with the rainy season to discourage Malays, angered by the sacking of deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim, from going to the polls.

This time, Wannabe Prime Minister Zahid Hamidi forced lame duck PM Ismail Sabri to call an early election during the monsoon season to discourage Malays, Chinese, Indians and everyone – except UMNO, MCA and MIC hardcore supporters – from going to the polls. While Mahathir won the 1999 General Election, the same dirty tactic might backfire in the face of both Zahid & Sabri.

In 1999, Mahathir was saved by Chinese voters spooked by the prospect of a repeat of May 13, 1969 racial riots. For the first time, the United Malays National Organization (UMNO) had to rely on its main coalition partners, the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) and the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC), to retain the two-thirds majority in the Parliament.

The 1999 national election saw UMNO gained less than half (50%) of Malay votes – its traditional vote bank. It was Mahathir’s last election. He dramatically dropped a political bombshell halfway into his closing speech during the 2002 UMNO general assembly – announcing that he was immediately resigning all his party and government positions, ending 21 years in office.

Now, not only 90% of Chinese votes are gone, the Malay votes are split into many ways – UMNO, Bersatu, PAS, PKR, Pejuang and whatnot. In fact, UMNO-led Barisan Nasional coalition captured only 33.77% popular votes in the last 2018 General Election, compared to 56.53% votes won under Mahathir leadership in 1999. So, who is Zahid to arrogantly say UMNO can win big this time?

For the first time, UMNO, under the leadership of Zahid (and turtle-egg Sabri) has hastily called a snap election at a time when the country was struggling with a shortage of chicken egg. Why is this even an issue? That’s because four main categories of essential foods in Malaysia are chicken, beef and egg; fish and seafood; vegetables and fruits. This is the first time UMNO goes to the polls without fixing the bread and butter issue.

Chicken Price Skyrockets

Of all the 4 categories of essential foods, chicken egg is the simplest problem to solve. Yet, the problem has been dragging for months since early of the year. Chicken and eggs, the primary source of protein in the country, plunged into “food crisis” partly by the Ukraine War. Ukraine is a major exporter of corn and grains that are key components of chicken feed.

The food crisis was so serious that Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced that Malaysia – beginning June 1 – will ban exports of 3.6 million chickens a month to neighbouring Singapore until domestic prices and production stabilizes. The government also abolished import permits for chicken and other foods to boost food supply and curb prices amid public anger.

But the shortage and skyrocketing price of chicken were more complicated than Ukraine War. Cartels – linked to corrupt UMNO politicians and monopoly disguised under “Ketuanan Melayu”, the ideology of Malay supremacy espoused by UMNO over 60 years – are controlling the price and supply of chicken. Sabri government, despite knowing the existence of such cartels, pretended to investigate.

The chicken export ban was lifted from October 11, not because the structural problem has been fixed, but largely because the poultry industry warned that it could suffer losses if the lifting of the export ban is delayed – losing out to competitors such as Indonesia. Of course, the corrupt and incompetent government has conveniently forgotten about cartels till today.

The un-elected backdoor government thought by banning chicken exports, it would create oversupply and eventually the price of chicken will go down. It has no idea that the cost of breeding chickens does not change, made worse by plunging local currency – Ringgit. The ceiling price for chicken, set at RM9.40 per kg in June, frequently ignored by sellers as enforcement authorities closed one eye.

While it appeared the shortage of chicken (not the price though) has been temporarily solved, the same cannot be said about chicken eggs. Despite subsidies for chicken breeders and chicken egg producers have been extended from October until December this year, at a rate of RM0.80 per kilogramme (kg) for chickens and RM0.08 per egg, the shortage of eggs continues.

Chicken Eggs Shortage

The retail ceiling prices of chicken eggs are set at RM0.45 (Grade-A), RM0.43 (Grade-B) and RM0.41 (Grade-C) each in Peninsular Malaysia, with the government subsidizing 3 sen per egg. However, as early as July, the livestock farmers’ federation asked the government to provide a subsidy of 8 sen per chicken egg. In October, the government finally agreed to the request.

Still, the shortage of chicken eggs persists. While the ceiling price was RM0.41 (Grade-C), the average cost of producing an egg climbed to RM0.51 sen. Meaning the egg producers were making 10 sen loss per egg even before started selling. Instead of making a loss (the chicken still needs feeding), the chickens were slaughtered before even the birds reach maturity.

Some chicken egg producers have switched to producing more profitable Omega-grade or “kampung eggs”, which are not subject to price controls. Therefore, only premium eggs are available most of the time at supermarkets. Even then, shelves stocking eggs at sundry shops are often empty as even premium eggs were snapped up due to serious shortage of normal eggs.

Yesterday (Nov 1), the government was forced to increase the subsidy of chicken eggs to 10 sen from 8 sen per egg. This will cost extra RM20 million in subsidy. Special Task Force on Jihad against Inflation chairman Annuar Musa said – “With the increase in subsidies, it is estimated that subsidies for chickens and eggs in October to December will amount to about RM600 million”.

The burning question is why the government did not pro-actively increase the additional 2 sen subsidy per egg before dissolving the Parliament on Oct 10? After all, it’s only an extra RM20 million in subsidy. It’s foolish to leave the shortage of eggs unsolved, providing ammunition for the opposition to attack the government. The short and long answer – national coffers run out of money.

According to Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul, Malaysia’s subsidy bill is expected to hit RM80 billion this year – the highest in history. True, additional revenues from Petronas dividends, royalties and petroleum-related products, as well as oil palm-related products could help subsidize the bill. But it’s also true that leakages in public expenditure are even bigger problems.

Ismail Sabri and Zahid Hamidi 

The solution is to allow the market forces determine the prices of chicken and eggs. The only reason the government rejects the floating of the prices of eggs is because of the upcoming 15th General Election. If UMNO wins and forms the new government after polling day on Nov 19, not only the prices of chicken and eggs will skyrocket, the prices of other goods and services will hit the roof too.

When the government imposed the ban on chicken export in June, the currency exchange rate was RM4.40 to one U.S. dollar. Today, it’s RM4.74 to the greenback. Essentially, the government is fighting a losing battle in subsidizing chicken eggs. If egg prices are floated, they will surge by at least 12 sen, meaning the prices would hit RM0.57 (Grade-A), RM0.55 (Grade-B) and RM0.53 (Grade-C).

Like it or not, an UMNO-Barisan Nasional government will cut subsidies immediately after winning the election. There will be definitely increase in petrol price, electricity rate, property tax, assessment rate and whatnot. Only by reducing the burden of subsidies can “new projects” get funding to enrich corrupt UMNO politicians. They are hungry for projects since the defeat in the 2018 General Election.

In truth, inflation would have exploded if not for the government’s instruction to artificially suppress the inflation by slowly increasing the prices of goods in multiple stages. If you talk to business owners or suppliers, they will tell you that the backdoor government imposed price controls to avoid a sharp spike in prices in order to make inflation rate looks low.

The main problem is the weak Ringgit, which keeps sliding against the U.S. dollar, making imported feed raw material become more expensive. Even with the latest increase in subsidy, the shortage of chicken eggs will not disappear overnight. The number of farms in the country has declined from more than 1,000 in earlier years to just 300, and now only 170 farms are still operating.

Egg production is not like a factory producing iPhone. A chicken starts laying eggs only after four to five months of rearing. Because chickens had been slaughtered, farmers need to buy chicks. But if they think Ringgit will continue to weaken and the business is still not profitable, there’s no reason to rush. According to Selangor Livestock Farmers’ Association, the shortage of eggs could take up to 18 months to ease.- FT


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