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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Najib’s Penchant for Flip-Flopping More Pronounced Now

By YB Zulkefly Ahmad

Najib penchant for flip-flopping has never been more pronounced.
I couldn’t but now agree to a friend’s suggestion that the 6th Malaysian PM must be most appropriately recognized as the ‘Father of All-Floppers’. A year after in the office of the PM, Najib has yet to deliver anything substantial. In my piece on Najib’s 1-year Tenure – ‘Trying to be all things to all people’, I’ve said that Najib may end up ‘satsifying no one’. For trying to appease everyone, Najib has turned to be a ‘flip-flopper’ that would have placed his immediate predecessor into oblivion.
To recap, Najib has flip-flopped on the GST – a value-added tax based on consumption that he vehemently argued would do good to the flagging government’s coffer. True, but critics have it that timing is the essence and not when the rakyat is strangulated in a middle-income trap and a higher performing economy based on productivity is no where in sight while the country continues to rely on low-skilled 3 millions foreign labour. He flip-flops and delays the eventual debate in the parliament blaming it on reasons that the public wasn’t consulted enough.
He flip-flops on the 2-tier mechanism on petrol subsidy and to date still fails to table a national blue-print on ‘subsidy’ that will clearly spell out the BN’s stand on the entire issue that will clear the air once and for all. He is hesitant and is still undecided. He dares not bite the bullet much as he wants to eat and keep his cake simultaneously.
Similarly he flip-flopped on the electric tariff issue, the toll hike and the highway concessionaires, the RPGT, the need of a proper crackdown on the foreign workers both  in the West and Easy Malaysia and the list is a long one.
Even on the long awaited New Economic Model, he is still doing a flip-flopping gait as not to be pinned down by critics especially the Pakatan MPs in the parliament. His ministers and deputy ministers are now saying that the NEM is not as yet a document of the government as it is only a proposal from the NEAC.
That seems to be a typical stance of Najib’s administration - smacks of indecision – an intrinsic fear to take ‘risk’ – a defining criterion of a visionary and transformational leader. This writer would have thought APCO should have amply advised the PM on this.
All these are bad omen for the country because the foreign investors are now saying that they have ‘to wait and see’ where the country is going to turn next!
In a latest report by AFP, perhaps after a ceaseless attack by critics and especially the Pakatan MPs, this writer included, Najib seems to relent again. He now frantically rationalises the Petronas’ action through this report which perhaps is only adding more salts (insult) to the injury. Najib is now back again on his flip-flop stance – “Malaysian PM denies Iran gasoline cut”.
The writer proposes that Najib’s administration avail themselves to read the many writings on the issue and decide a clear and unflinching stand. One of the writings would have to be Time to face the Israel question”.
By Agence France-Presse, Updated: 4/18/2010
Malaysian premier Najib Razak has denied reports that the country’s national oil company has cut gasoline supplies to Iran.
Petronas has been one of a few non-Chinese oil companies providing gasoline to Iran, the world’s fifth-largest crude oil exporter.
On Thursday, Najib was reported as saying that Petronas had decided to suspend gasoline supplies to Iran and as warning that Tehran was close to facing new international sanctions over its controversial nuclear programme.
“It is not correct. It was not a decision taken by Petronas per se. It involved a spot sale and there was no requirement anymore, so they don’t do it,” he was quoted as saying by state news agency Bernama on Saturday.
“It is a third party deal that was done in mid-March, not now,” he added.
The national oil company said in a statement Saturday that its subsidiary had last shipped gasoline to Iran in March, but did not elaborate.
“Petronas, through its subsidiary Petronas Trading Company (PETCO), sold spot volumes of gasoline from third party traders and suppliers to customers in Iran,” it said in the statement.
“The last shipment of gasoline into Iran was made in mid-March this year. PETCO’s decisions in these sales were based purely on commercial considerations,” it added.
Najib said on Thursday that additional sanctions on Iran over its nuclear programme were “going to be quite inevitable… unless there is some movement in the right direction by Iran.”
The United States and its allies believe Iran is covertly working on a nuclear weapon, which Tehran has denied, saying it is pursuing only civilian nuclear power.
A member of the OPEC cartel, Iran has seen investment in petroleum refineries shrink as a result of US sanctions and has thus resorted to importing about 40 percent of its gasoline needs.


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