Much ado about nothing...

I rushed out of office at 1145am yesterday to Bangsar Village 2 for a lunch appointment at the 'Delicious'. Azlan (not his real name), had already arrived for our 12noon appointment. I had to circle Bangsar a few times but could not get a parking. The recent increase in petrol price did not deter or reduced the traffic congestion. For the first 2 weeks pursuant to the petrol price announcement, there was an ease in the trafficcongestion but now it is almost back to normal. I seldom allow my car to be parked by the car jockey knowing for sure, through past experiences how irresponsible the jockey can be.

I did not want Azlan to wait and unwillingly left my car to the jockey and rushed into the restaurant to see him seated in his elegant banker dressing. He was having his appetizer when I arrived. Azlan, is a banker for more than half his life. He helped me during the last recession. We met today to update each other after more than a year of ‘minding own business’. We both had been busy with work and there is so much to talk especially on current state of our country’s affair.

I greeted Azlan and immediately ordered my favourite Spaghetti Aglio algio and Azlan had the salmon. We lit a cigarette while waiting for our food and poised our first topic of conversation. “What is becoming of Malaysia?”, said the veteran Banker. We have the most prominent ex-banker Tan Sri Amirsham being made a Senator to advice the Prime Minister and the biggest tycoon banker Datuk Nazir Tun Razak supposedly advicing his brother the Deputy Prime Minister but our country is being driven straight into a depression. With 2 of Malaysia best banker advising the No 1 and No 2, we should have the necessary brain to steer us out of the current economic condition.

And so we think….. in the last recession, the currency turmoil further dampens the country's economic downturn but the fix-capital control policy steered us out of the recession instead of Anwar’s conventional fiscal policy instrument, the interest rate. Most of the commodity, petrol and essential items prices had been adjusted to market condition. Our currency, determined by the market forces are also affected but the only fiscal instrument that has not been adjusted or regulated accordingly is the interest rate.

My own cousin, Arman (not his real name) who is a Manager at an establish car distributor said that ALL the management staff had returned the company car (that was extended to them as management perk) in return for a cash allowance. The Managers, with a Volvo as their company car, are only given RM500 as petrol allowance which was barely enough before the petrol price increase. Now, the petrol usage had burst the fix petrol allowance unless they use a smaller car instead of the Volvo. My colleague said, his RM350 monthly grocery shopping at tesco now cost him RM500 for the same items. There is also the electiricty and water rates that had been revised upwards on the same disposable income. The Central Bank Governor's remark that inflation is only 6% is just a grandmother bedtime story.

“I expect the interest rate to go up very soon unless we have an extreme measure to counter the conventional fiscal instrument”, I said to Azlan revealing the hidden agenda of the lunch appointment. I need to know what the banker think of the economy to prepare my company for future planning. Hiding behind his gold spectacle, Azlan smiled and revealed that the interest rate will go up on the 24 July 2008!!! The first phase! The interest rate will continue to increase throughout the year, said Azlan holding his cutleries whilst the waiter served his salmon. Azlan added that all the neighbouring countries had revised their interest rate upwards.

In the 1998 recession, the interest rate was revised upward too, in phases before the whole loan portfolios were frozen. Can we expect similar instances soon? I stared my spaghetti without any appetite. We should expect the worse but hope and pray for the best.

At the moment, it is not only Malaysia economy that is being affected. The whole world is also struggling with the shortages in commodity and the petrol price increase. But none of the world issues were publicised and exposed by our media. It is also possible that the espionage by Abdullah Badawi or Najib were purposely done to distract the attention away from the real problem especially our poorly managed economy. It is hard to digest the government can be so incompetent especially with Tan Sri Amirsham and Datuk Nazir Tun Razak behind the scene. But without a far sighted Prime Minister, even with the whole Harvard, Oxford and Cambridge University deans, lecturers or graduates teamed together as a think tank, the government will not be able to implement any good policies. It is also possible, Anwar Ibrahim escalating the domestic issues over and above worldwide problem to portray Barisan Nasional being so weak for him to capitalise and profiteer.

Obviously, the Prime Minister has the most qualified advisors over and above the oxford graduate SIL especially with the proven successful banker such Tan Sri Amirsham as a senator and tycoon Datuk Nazir Razak being the brother to the Deputy Prime Minister. With the best advisors behind the Prime Minister, the lack of positive implementation in favourable policies can only be caused by the one and only….. the PM himself.

The majority of the innocent civilian who favourably voted for Barisan National will have to digest and swallow the unfavorable policies like how i had to swallow my favourite spaghetti and had to finished it even without any appetite. We have to survive one way or the other. The best way forward is to be prepared for the worst in anticipation of political instability, high inflation and depression.