FROM 8 to 14 Nov, the Chinese media highlighted the MCA’s new line-up in the central committee; the government’s move to relax bumiputera quota in public-listed companies; and the dilemma of high inflation despite lower petrol prices.
MCA president Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat announced the appointments for the party’s central committee on 11 Nov.
In Kwong Wah e-Newspaper on 13 Nov, Er Hock Chiye’s article titled Ong Tee Keat’s prescription observed that the MCA’s strength lies in its local networks and grassroots bases nationwide.
“The only one who builds up his power base with image branding and not grassroots support is Ong,” Er wrote.
He noted that if Ong replaces the local leaders with his own supporters, the MCA might be cut off from its resourceful local networks.
“Ong’s attempt to occupy (MCA deputy president Datuk Seri) Chua Soi Lek’s and (former secretary-general Datuk Seri) Ong Ka Chuan’s local power bases might eventually shut down the MCA’s strong local support bases,” he said.
In Sin Chew Daily‘s exclusive interview with Chua on 13 Nov, Chua said he has never mentioned if he wanted to be a cabinet minister. Even so, he said he has his own channel to find out whether his name is nominated for a cabinet post.
“Many might say it is Umno who does not want me. But I have my way of finding out. If the party (MCA) has not submitted my name and uses Umno’s name to block me, it means the leader [might have] lied,” he said.
He noted that if an MCA leader could lie to him, it means he or she could lie to the Chinese Malaysian community as well.
“If we have an MCA leader like that, Chinese Malaysians will not have any confidence in the MCA.”
Chua said he will play his role as the No 2 in the party, but he will not blindly follow the top leader.
However, when commenting on Ong’s appointment decisions, he said, “He (Ong) is No 1, I am No 2. He thought he did not have to discuss with me [on various issues]. That is his prerogative [as president]. I would not ask him either.”
Bumiputera quota requirement
Nanyang.com’s editorial on 13 Nov said the announcement by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak to relax the bumiputera quota requirement will speed up the listing process of companies.
The editorial, titled New measure encourages companies to be listed on share market, said although this is a small change, it is an important step towards an open policy.
“It not only saves time for those in the process of listing, but it also increases the participation of the general bumiputera public at the point of initial public offering. This is in line with the interests of long-term economic development,” said the article.
Malaysia’s affirmative action, introduced under the New Economic Policy to ensure fair allocation of income, includes the 30% bumiputera equity quota for public-listed companies.
With the latest announcement, local companies seeking listing must still comply with the 30% requirement by offering shares to bumiputera institutions approved by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry. If the institutions do not take up the 30%, the companies are now allowed to offer the shares for subscription to the general bumiputera public. If the allocation is still not subscribed by bumiputera investors after that, the companies are deemed to have fulfilled the 30% requirement.
The editorial said with the strong growth in Singapore’s share market and neighbouring countries, Malaysia has to relax its requirements of shareholdings for public-listed companies. The move is believed to enhance Malaysia’s economic competitiveness, it added.
The editorial noted that despite measures to attract foreign investments, the government should gradually relax some bumiputera policies, including the requirement for non-bumiputera listed companies to declare information on the staff’s ethnicity in their annual reports. “The requirement has long made many of them feel uneasy,” it said.
It said it is better for the government to find an effective strategy to upgrade bumiputera competitiveness and help them to expand to the international market.
“Overdependence on outdated measures that go against international trends will mar the investment mood of foreign and local companies. In the end, Malaysia would become less attractive and competitive compared with regional countries in inviting foreign capital,” it said.
Sin Chew Daily‘s editorial on 14 Nov noted that the prices of food and sundry goods have not dropped significantly despite recent developments that should have led to reduced prices.
The price reduction campaign kicked off by some hypermarkets has not helped much in reducing the pressure of inflation, said the article titled Low petrol price a win-win for businesspeople and consumers.
“Hypermarkets are not popular nationwide, and only selected items have price reduction,” it said.
It noted that there is no move to lower the electricity tariff that was raised after the hike in petrol price.
Furthermore, the government has not disclosed any progress following its announcement that it would review highway concessions, which might reduce toll rates, said the article.
“All these are part of the operating costs for the business sector. Businesses are of the strong view that the government should not pass the buck to them,” said the editorial.
Liew Ching Wen’s article in Oriental Daily on 12 Nov said the hypermarket price reduction campaign is merely a show.
“The extension of business hours for hypermarkets may sound good for consumers, but it may close down many grocery stores at the end of the day,” he said.
The article said the cost of production does not only include petrol. Petrol is just part of the cost of transportation, and “when the prices of all other raw materials have not been reduced, businesses have solid reason not to slash prices,” Liew wrote.
Liew pointed out that the long-standing price control practice has suppressed the prices of many goods and services for a long time. He said the petrol price hike in June 2008 was not the sole reason for higher inflation; businesses also used the hike as a reason to raise prices for other goods.