By Dr Mahathir Mohamad
1. I seldom watch the TV but during my holidays, when I had nothing to do I was forced to watch BBC News.
2. The world is certainly going through terrible times. Greece is bankrupt and Spain, Portugal and Italy are doing badly in their finances. Britain is also going through a depressed economy with scandals plaguing their most respected banks.
3. Everywhere in Europe there are demonstrations by unemployed people. A lot of blame is directed at the capitalist system and the income gap between rich and poor. The latest trend is to “occupy” the main centers of capitalistic activities such as Wall Street in New York and HSBC bank in Hong Kong. This also happened in Australia.
4. America claims it has turned around and its economy is doing well. I do not believe this is the truth. There is a great deal of unemployment and real business is not coming back. Certainly we don’t see American products in the market. Much of the money is created by their Central banks (Federal Reserve Banks) which are privately owned. When they lose money they decide to regain it through “quantitative easing” i.e to print money. More correctly they only wrote cheques or transfer the money electronically into the books of the commercial banks and other institutions. Or they use this quantitative easing to bail out companies and banks.
5. It is obvious that Europe and America are not going to be able to restore their financial and economic health any time soon.
6. The rest of the world is affected in one way or another by the collapse of the economies of Europe and America. Even China is feeling the effect. Europe and America are big markets for the products of the world.
7. Electricity supply was also cut in many parts of America, Europe and Asia leaving millions in darkness and stopping work in industrial plants.
8. In the Arab countries the people have risen against the Government. There is civil war in Syria. The Rohingyas in Myanmar are being attacked and killed. The people in Iraq and Afghanistan are being killed by suicide bombers. In America a gunman sprayed bullets on a cinema audience killing 9 people and many others. In Norway a gunman went on a shooting spree in a youth camp killing 70 people.
9. Then there are the natural disasters. Floods swept through parts of Kyushu Islands in Japan recently leaving more than a score of people dead. Not long ago a tsunami and a massive earthquake hit Fukushima in northern Japan. This was followed by damage to a nuclear power plant exposing a great part of the area to radiation. Then there followed a severe flood.
10. Elsewhere in the world volcanic eruptions, earthquakes devastated towns and cities. Floods hit New York City and Bangkok and many parts of China again destroying buildings and cutting off water and electricity supplies. Whirlwinds hit the US repeatedly. In Africa people are starving to death.
11. Winter came early, was very severe and lasted longer, disrupting work and killing old people. And heat waves raised temperatures to above 40ºC, again killing the old and the weak. Global warming has resulted in the ice in the Arctic and Antarctic melting, threatening to raise sea levels and inundate low lying land. Some island nations may disappear into the sea.
12. In the face of all these disasters Malaysians can consider themselves fortunate. We do have mild floods, slightly raised temperatures and haze, but they are nothing compared to the disasters affecting so many parts of the world.
13. Crime rate has increased somewhat.
14. Even financially and economically we are not too badly off. The cost of living has gone up a little but people are not starving the way the Africans and some Asians are starving. A generous Government is ever ready to extend help.
15. Business is good even though we think it can be better. Our exports are high and still growing. Unemployment rate is low. Economic growth is still possible. At 4 – 5% it may not be as good as in Indonesia and the Philippines but it is far better than Europe or America or the countries of West Asia and North Africa.
16. Admittedly the cost of living has gone up. For the poor this is a burden. Of course on this issue, comparing ourself with most of the rest of the world where inflation is even higher will not be acceptable. But the fact is that in many countries not only is the inflation higher but there are food shortages also. In addition they have to accept reduced income amidst widespread unemployment we are living in troubled times. Like it or not we will feel the effects and we have to endure.
17. There will be people who would like us to ignore the fact that we are much better off than most people in the world. They would like to exploit every little misfortune that we may experience. They would even promise that they can bring about sudden prosperity, give free education, and all kinds of goodies. But observe the contradictions.
18. They promise the oil-producing states to increase the royalty from 5% to 20%. Obviously this will result in the Federal Government losing 15% of revenue from oil; and that is a big sum. The states gets their royalty based on gross income.
19. They will do away with road tolls, increase subsidies on fuel and reduce rates and taxes.
20. Their proposals will reduce Government revenue and at the same time increase Government expenditure. This is exactly what the Greek Government did, and the whole country went bankrupt.
21. Promises are deep. Barrack Obama promise “change”. Four years into his term, not a single change has been made.
22. To be in power for 56 years is a long time. But look at the progress. No other developing country has made such progress.
23. Change is not always for the better. Change can make things worse.
Beware of Greeks bearing gifts.
Beware of politicians who make promises.