22 May, 2007

An early election.?

"Santa Claus Is Coming To Town", I Can Tell you Christmas election Is Near !

Malaysia’s one million civil servants will receive a salary hike of up to 35 per cent from July 1, their first pay raise in 15 years, the prime minister announced Monday.

Their cost of living allowance will also increase by 100 per cent in one of the most generous incentives in recent times, which Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said will cost the government the equivalent of $2.58 billion annually.

About a half-million retired government servants will also see a hike in their pensions.

The announcement came amid speculation Abdullah will call early general elections, which are not due until 2009. Political circles are rife with speculation that Abdullah will hold elections either late this year or in early 2008.

Financial sops for government officials and the public are typical in the run-up to elections.

Former Deputy Prime Minister and advisor to the opposition Keadilan party, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, said the announcement indicated the Government was preparing for an early election.

"Clearly the whole intention and purpose of announcing it in this period shows that it is around the corner," Anwar told reporters, flagging an end-2007 date for the poll.

"It will ease a lot of problems faced by the common folks, particularly with the rising petrol prices and price hikes impacting negatively the welfare of the people. That means that election is very close," he said.

Anwar is barred from formal politics until April 2008 over a corruption conviction, and analysts have said a poll could be called as early as the end of 2007 to exclude him.

The record salary hike for civil servants announced by the prime minister on Monday will contribute 0.5 per cent to Malaysia's economic growth this year and at least another half per cent in 2008, Second Finance Minister Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop said here Tuesday.

"Our initial calculation shows that for this year alone the effect on GDP will be up to 0.5 percentage point higher than what the growth rate would be without the salary increase. Next year it will be at least another half a percentage point," he said.

However, he said this will not necessarily mean that the economy will grow more than the projected six percent in 2007.

"We don't normally change forecast until September," he said.

He said the impact of the pay hike will be positive on the economy as it would benefit not only the 1.002 million civil servants but instead five million people after accounting for their dependents, he said.

"From past experience, government servants will spend every ringgit that is given out. This will lead to consumption-led growth and other spin-off effects which will lead to more business and to higher taxes," he told a specially-held briefing to wire agencies to explain the reasons for the 7.5-35 per cent salary increase announced by the Prime Minister on Monday.

Despite the additional spending power, he said inflation is expected to remain at the forecasted 2.5 per cent. He said that inflation only happens when there is capacity constraint and this is not happening now.

He also said that the government would not be borrowing from the market to fund the additional RM8 billion cost needed for the pay hike and a 100 per cent increase in Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) as it has sufficient funds.

This is because the Federal government's operating surplus for this year will surpass the forecasted RM21.8 billion which is more than sufficient to finance the pay hike, he said.

From Malaysiakini :

The substantial pay hike for government servants, the first of such increases since 1992, has underscored another major problem - our bloated civil service.

If the increase in pay is not accompanied by a corresponding increase in civil service productivity, the move will be a waste of public funds....more

Meanwhile, Prime minister on Tuesday accused Westerners of prejudice against the Islamic world and said Western support for Israel was the biggest reason fuelling Muslim hostility.

"Much of the prejudice against Islam in the West stems from a lack of understanding of the true nature of Islam as a religion professed by 1.4 billion people in the world," Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said.

"Westerners tend to view other peoples and other cultures only from the perspective of Western benchmarks and philosophy," he said as he received an honorary degree at Tokyo's Meiji University.

But Abdullah also denied that history was to blame for current tensions between Islamic and Western societies.

"Explanation is to be found in more recent times, which is the repeated use of force or other machinations by the powerful over the weak, to secure political, strategic or territorial gains," he said.

He said the most urgent problem was the Middle East and criticised Israel for its deadly air strikes, which the Jewish state launched last week on the Gaza Strip in response to rocket attacks on its territory.

The world "must accept the fact that a festering Palestinian problem, among all factors, is the single most important factor perpetuating the tension between the West in general and the Muslim world as a whole," he said.

"We must accept the fact that the plight of the Palestinians has come to epitomise everything that is unjust and unfair to the treatment of peoples," he said.

He said the Islamic world perceived Western nations as defending "Judeo-Christian tradition against the spread of radical militant Islam, thus legitimising all of Israel's actions no matter how brutal," he said.

"When you add to this the invasion of Afghanistan, the conquest of Iraq, the aggression against Lebanon, and the continuing occupation of the Golan Heights, the Muslim world sees a ... complicity," he said.

"The feeling of being humiliated," he said, "has transformed into hostility."

Abdullah is usually seen as more soft-spoken than his predecessor Mahathir Mohamad, who is known for his tirades against the West and Israel.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

The 25 % pay hike ones now has bigger salary than the 15 % pay hike ones. What sort of bloody good news is that ?

May 23, 2007 12:24 AM  

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