The capitalist economic system inherited from the colonial masters has not changed much after independence, but only a change in ownership from the Europeans to
Malaysian elites. Since Mahathir privatized most of our public assets in the Eighties, we need to re-nationalize these assets especially land, water, energy, which belong to the Malaysian people instead of local and foreign capitalists. This will not be that difficult to do as at present many of these assets are under the ownership and/or control of various government funds and Government-Linked companies (GLCs). A pro-people government will be able open these GLCs to democratic control of the people and direct them to implement good labour and environmental policies. It is time that Petronas’ revenues are invested in a Sovereign Wealth Fund as a pension fund for the future generations and the oil-producing states instead of being squandered by unscrupulous leaders without accountability. We want strong public sector health, education, housing, transport services including highways which have been privatized to crony capitalists at the expense of the public good. Our small & medium enterprises, farmers and fisherfolk need adequate support in order to develop our local food and industrial production.
The Rich Get Richer, Hopes for the Poor Get Dimmer!
In Malaysia, the top 0.2% have more than US$1 million annual income while the bottom 60% have less than US$10,000;the top 10 per cent of property buyers purchased more than 40 per cent of the total value of property purchases while the top 10 per cent of shareholders in Amanah Saham Bumiputra control 77 per cent of this largest trust fund in Malaysia. EPF has just revealed that only 22 per cent of the 6.7 million Employees Provident Fund (EPF) active contributors aged 54 years have sufficient savings of RM196,800 or more to sustain them during retirement. The other 78 per cent of the contributors aged 54 unfortunately do not have the basic amount for their retirement years. Furthermore, 65 per cent of those aged 54 have less than RM50,000 in their savings. In other words, income inequality is getting worse and there is no proper welfare system for Malaysians, the majority of whom do not earn enough to have a retirement, never mind the others who lose their jobs or are retrenched.
Redistribute Wealth Fairly
The increasingly serious gap in income inequality needs to be addressed through progressive taxation on the high-income earners, their wealth and property and effective tax laws to ensure there are no tax loopholes for the super-rich. Transfer pricing that enables the largest corporations to stash their profits in tax free havens like the Cayman Islands has to be curtailed by proper legislation. Capital allowances and tax holidays for foreign firms must be reviewed while a tax should be imposed on all international financial transactions and hedge funds. Correspondingly, we do not want regressive taxes such as GST which further burden the poor. Attaining these goals will require the cooperation and coordination of other Third World countries to neutralize these strategies of the large MNCs.
The Crisis of Global Capitalism
Global capitalism is in crisis. Capitalist countries have been defaulting on their debts, yet multi-national companies have grown so big that their annual turnover exceeds the GDP of some countries. Multinationals do not consider the interests of any national state, only the growth and profitability of their global corporation. This has created a global order where 1% of the richest people own more wealth than the remaining 99% combined. This mal-distribution has strangled the growth of aggregate demand and this in turn has led to a host of economic problems including low growth, high unemployment and a tendency to go into sustained recessions.
The “recovery” from the recent economic crisis has ensured that these big institutions, especially banks and the richest 1% have become even wealthier while the majority of workers have had to tighten their belts because of austerity measures prescribed by World Bank and the IMF. In Malaysia, the top 50 richest people in Malaysia have a combined estimated net-worth of more than USD 62.6 billion or RM250 billion, or a quarter of our national income of just over RM1 trillion. It is time for the people to redistribute the national wealth and to have real democratic control over our lives…
Say No to Neo-Liberal Capitalism
The liberalization of trade and cross border investments that is propagated by the global capitalists and practiced by the federal and state governments is the main cause of the severe inequalities in income and wealth distribution in the world today. In addition, current economic practices are ruining our natural resources and the livelihood of the lower income groups. Free Trade Agreements further allow these MNCs to control our national economy. We should instead rekindle the “Bandung Spirit” among the countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America to stem the scramble for Foreign Direct Investment and Markets among Third World countries that is in the interests of the MNCs. Capitalist corporations have treated the environment as a free resource and we are left with filthy air, water, and other forms of pollution. Since 2008, the PH-run Selangor and Penang states have likewise followed this same model of economic development in allowing private developers to buy up public assets to the neglect of the peoples’ interests.
1. A Progressive Economic Policy
1.1. Reclaim our public assets from privatization, halt any further privatization of public assets and democratize the GLCs;
1.2. Resist efforts by transnational corporate capitalism to undermine our national sovereignty through Free Trade Agreements;
1.3. Regulate financial transactions and speculation to ensure they do not endanger our national economy;
1.4. Nationalize public utilities such as water and energy;
1.5. Invest Petronas’ oil profits, taxes of oil and gas companies and license payments in a Sovereign Wealth Fund as a pension fund for the future generations;
1.6. Strengthen public sector health, education, housing and transport services including highways;
1.7. Implement a master plan for all federal and state land to ensure judicious use for the public purpose, any minimal sale to the private sector must be at appropriate prices;
1.8. Apportion more revenue from oil and gas resources to the oil and gas-producing states and ensure Petronas’ oil and gas production and investment records are transparent and accountable to parliament and the public;
1.9. A just system of managing the wealth of society in an economy where technology increases and the wider implementation of automation and robotics can lead to under-employment and unemployment, with options including a shortened working week, and/or a system of guaranteed basic income.