Posted on June 11, 2012


English: The Sultan of Perak, Sultan Azlan Sha...

English: The Sultan of Perak, Sultan Azlan Shah and the Raja Muda, Raja Nazrin Shah at an investiture ceremony (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Rather interesting! All the while I have the impression that in a truly independent country with  a structural system the popular thinking is that the PRESS has been wisely mentioned as the fourth estate after the EXECUTIVE, the LEGISLATURE and the JUDICIARY. However, His highness Raja Nazrin Shah “mentioned otherwise, placing the MONARCHY. For more read His Highness below as quoted by Blogger Outsyed the Box of 11 june 2012. What I can say is the Press Theory on good governance  looks obsolete. Mass Communications sudents and practitioners will have to be satisfied with the new press theory and place the PRESS has been moved one step downward to fifth place. Or you yourself can rearrange the Press theory anywhere you like. As it stands today And the PRESS is now the fifth estate! 

Outsyed the box 11 jun 2012 Of Boundaries And Relevance

 This morning I attended a lecture hosted by the Razak School of Government (RSOG). This is the annual Razak Lecture Series that is held by the RSOG, whose CEO is Dr Hamidin Abdul Hamid – a down to earth guy with both feet on the ground. (See picture).

 Today’s guest speaker was His Highness Raja Dr Nazrin Shah, the Crown Prince of Perak. I am trying to Blog this while it is still fresh in my mind. Raja Nazrin mentioned some useful statistics about governance and governing from around the world.

 I feel that we really have to benchmark ourselves against the best in the world. We simply cannot compare ourselves to Third World countries anymore. We have to gauge and monitor ourselves against the best practises in the world for anything and everything.

 The other thing that I noted (and perhaps woke people up as well) was when Raja Nazrin stated that the Monarchy still had a role to play in the nation, the fourth part of the State after the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary. Considering that the speaker himself was an heir to the throne of Perak, this statement of relevance sounded more cavernous inside the large hall. The Monarchy is protected by Law and comment about the Monarchy also has boundaries. (Raja Nazrin touched about “boundaries” as well, relating it to issues of governance). But whither the ‘bound’ without the boundaries?

 The writing of our Federal Constitution – as a precursor to our Independence – made constitutional monarchs out of our Rulers. That by itself circumscribed boundaries upon the role of the Monarchs. At the Federal level, the Monarch is obliged to act upon the advise of the Prime Minister, who must have the support of the majority of the People’s Assembly (Dewan Rakyat). Then in the 80s two major amendments to the Federal Constitution (which I shall call the Mahathir Amendment and the Ghafar Baba Amendment respectively) set further boundaries upon the Monarchs.

 The Mahathir Amendment freed the Dewan Rakyat to enact Laws with or without the agreement of the Monarch. The Ghafar Baba Amendment made the Monarchs equal before the Law. They were no more sacrosanct in the eyes of the written Law. Undoubtedly the monarchs are still primus inter pares in certain aspects but this is due more to convention which then influences the politics which then influences the Government of the day. Hence in my view the boundaries protected by convention are more relevant to the Monarchy than the boundaries curtailed by Law. The dicey part is the Laws are clearly written down but it is difficult to gauge to what extent conventions have changed or eroded over time.

 So much for that. At lunch we shared a table with this man – the Honorable James Chan, the Mayor of Kucing City South Council. A lighthearted but serious person who speaks at length about keeping Kucing clean. The fact is Kucing has been the cleanest city in Malaysia for sometime, perhaps rivalled now by Melaka. Both Melaka and Kucing are wonderful cities to visit. Kuala Lumpur used to be super clean during the time of Dr Mahathir.  

 I also met a very friendly lady at the lecture who was extremely polite, able and willing to speak clearly, intelligent and an economic analyst as well. At first I thought this was a very unusual Malaysian woman. Well she was not Malaysian. Anyway from speaking to her, I understood our 3% unemployment rate from a new perspective. It is true that our economy is now practically at zero unemployment. It is actually 3% but a 3% unemployment rate is practically zero. In the United States, even when the economy is at full swing, there will still be a minimum unemployment rate of about 5%, almost like a residual unemployment rate.

In Malaysia, we have a 3% unemployment rate even with the millions of Indons, Banglas, Nepalis, Indians, Filipinos, Kazakhs, Mongolians, Uzbeks, Mat Sallehs working in the country. If all or some of these people were sent home, we would have serious labour problems. The lady said that the MNCs would suffer serious shortages (and reconsider their investments in the country) if the foreign labour left the country. So folks, we are hostage to imported labour. Yet there is unemployment among bumiputra graduates (a floating figure of about 70,000 annually). There is also unemployment among the Mat Rempit class, a street racing fraternity that runs into the tens of thousands as well. These are among the 3% unemployed.

 Well I also want to point out something else. In the past, when we had such low rates of unemployment, the economic growth was also more robust. More than the 4% to 5% that we have today. So lets figure out why there is such low unemployment (3%) but no 8% – 9% growth. I think the value added is stagnating in the economy. We are employing more people but the productivity is less. This has happened in the advanced countries as well. Even at low unemployment levels, the US has had 2% to 3% growth only. That was years ago. I think that was was why they lost a lot of jobs to China. And which is why they are facing economic challenges as well.

 If you have low unemployment but low economic growth, logically then your people are fully employed producing lower value added products. Just as importantly we need higher value added, higher technology jobs. Here is Nobel Laureatte Joseph Stiglitz about the US economy.


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