Wednesday, December 13, 2006

BLOOMBERG Interviews ABDULLAH; General Elections Can Wait: PRIORITY – Fights Graft & Ensure Stability; HAPPY with Achievements So Far, But Lopsided GA

Interviews ABDULLAH at his home in Putrajaya

When "the pot of rice" is smashed, other bowls are quickly offered to him. So there is no worry fo Khairy. When Abdullah mentioned about the "Gaps" everywhere in the lopsided developments, these gaps are serious and look at the extreme end, they represented also the "leakages" that go with all the development projects. If these can be plugged or reduce to the minimum, then they would be more cost effective and successful.

Abdullah Says Malaysian Polls Can Wait, Targets Graft(Update 1)

Updated : 12-12-2006 Media : Bloomberg; Story By : Stephanie Phang and Angus Whitley (Adds size of party, population in the 11th paragraph.)

Dec. 12 (Bloomberg) -- Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said he probably won't hold an election before 2008, giving himself more time to battle corruption and bolster political stability before testing his support. ``Next year is too early,'' Abdullah, 67, said in an interview at his home in Putrajaya, south of Kuala Lumpur. ``I have to prove that a lot of things can be done and have been done and we have succeeded.'' Abdullah, who must seek a fresh mandate by early 2009, said it's ``not easy'' to stamp out graft, which he called ``cancerous.''

Too few criminals end up in court even as the government investigates a ``very high'' number of cases, he said. Abdullah may lose support at the next election, former premier Mahathir Mohamad said in October. Analysts say fuel price increases have eaten into incomes, pushing many into corruption. Before a poll, the premier may also have to mend relations in his ethnic coalition, where pro-Malay speeches by some leaders have stoked tensions with Chinese counterparts. ``How can he go to elections?'' said Shamsul Amri Baharuddin, director of the Institute of the Malay World and Civilization at the University of Malaysia.

``Basic economic issues could be decisive for urban voters who are really suffering. That has made a lot of people more corrupt.'' Not Happening Abdullah said he's bolstered his team of investigators and warned officials of the dangers of taking bribes.

Malaysia fell to 44th in the 2006 Corruption Perceptions Index from 39th last year, Transparency International said last month. ``We are doing as much as we can,'' Abdullah said in the Dec. 8 interview. ``If the perception goes on the basis of how many people we drag to court and gain a conviction, of course it doesn't seem to be happening.'' An independent inquiry ordered by Abdullah last year found ``corruption in the royal police force that permeates all levels of the organization.'' Abdullah came to power in October 2003 and led the Barisan Nasional coalition to a landslide election victory in March 2004. He's banking that his five-year 200 billion-ringgit ($56 billion) plan to improve education and health care, and build roads, ports and houses across the country will fuel economic expansion. To deliver growth, Abdullah said he needs a sound racial and political platform. Yet ex-Prime Minister Mahathir, who picked Abdullah as his successor, in October accused him of achieving nothing since taking over, and last month's meeting of Abdullah's party, the United Malays National Organisation, strained ties within Barisan Nasional.

UMNO, as the 60-year-old party is known, has more than 3 million members and is the biggest political group in Barisan Nasional. Malaysia's population is about 27 million. Hishammuddin Hussein, head of UMNO's youth wing, said in his assembly speech the position of the ethnic Malay majority shouldn't be challenged and brandished a keris, a traditional Malay dagger. The Malaysian Chinese Association, part of Barisan Nasional, said the act created ``uneasiness'' among other races. ``I'm equally concerned'' about race relations, Abdullah said in the interview. ``I know the consequences of race problems and racial tensions, on the economy, on the social development, even on our future.'' Clashes between Malays, who make up about 60 percent of the population, and ethnic Chinese in 1969 left hundreds dead on the streets of Kuala Lumpur. Two years later, the government introduced the New Economic Policy to give ethnic Malays privileged access to housing, education, jobs and company shares.

`Positive Sentiment'
Malaysia risks a return to racial unrest if the affirmative action policies are scrapped, Mahathir said in an Oct. 9 interview. Mahathir ruled Malaysia from 1981 to 2003.
Critics of the program say it drags on productivity and impedes competition. Under Abdullah, economic growth in Southeast Asia's third-biggest economy accelerated to 7.2 percent in 2004, then slowed to 5.2 percent in 2005. Still, Abdullah's policies are good enough for many investors. The Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange Composite Index has jumped 23 percent this year, outpacing 14 out of 18 key indexes worldwide tracked by Bloomberg. ``We have more in Malaysia than we've had for quite a few years,'' said

Anders Damgaard, who helps oversee $500 million of assets, including $35 million in Malaysian securities, at Sydinvest Asset Management in Aabenraa, Denmark. ``There seems to be a positive sentiment towards Malaysia.'' The government has said expansion this year may beat its 5.8 percent forecast. Abdullah said growth in 2007 will be ``not too far away'' from the 6 percent target.

`Wild Card'
That's ambitious, say some analysts. The economy grew 5.8 percent in the three months to Sept. 30, the worst performance in three quarters. Slowing growth in the U.S., Malaysia's biggest trading partner, may next year damp demand for computer chips and other Asian-made goods. ``The wild card is how the export sector will perform,'' said Lee Heng Guie, chief economist at CIMB Securities Sdn. in Kuala Lumpur, who expects the economy to grow 5.6 percent in 2007. Abdullah ``is building the foundation for stronger growth'' beyond 2010, he said. Malaysia aims to be a developed nation by 2020. Asked if he'll run for a second term, Abdullah said, ``We'll see. Why not?''

No Rate Cut
Abdullah must dissolve Parliament by May 17, 2009, in preparation for an election, or it will happen automatically on that date, according to the election commission. After Parliament is dissolved, an election must be held within 60 days. Living costs have increased in Malaysia after the government raised fuel prices in February, the fifth time since May 2004, and state-controlled Tenaga Nasional Bhd. was allowed to raise power prices in June by 12 percent, its first rate increase in nine years. Still, the prime minister ruled out cutting interest rates to encourage growth. ``No, no, no,'' he said. ``We are not planning on that at the moment.'' He said he won't cut gasoline prices either because crude oil costs haven't fallen far enough. Malaysia's central bank has kept its key interest rate unchanged at 3.5 percent since April. Crude oil, at $61.30 a barrel, has fallen 22 percent from the record $78.40 on July 14.
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Asian Currencies: Rupiah, Ringgit Make Weekly Advance on Growth
By Yumi Teso and Jake Lee
Dec. 8 (Bloomberg) -- Indonesia's rupiah climbed every day this week on prospects lower interest rates will revive growth and boost overseas investment into the nation. The currency made its longest winning streak in a year after Bank Indonesia yesterday cut borrowing costs and said ``economic activity is expected to gather momentum.'' Stocks at a record high have attracted overseas investors, pushing the rupiah up 8.4 percent this year, the third-best performer amongst the 15 most actively traded currencies in Asia Pacific. ``Funds have been flowing into the region on the back of the good economic conditions,'' said Dai Sato, manager of the Singapore treasury department at Mizuho Corporate Bank Ltd. ``Indonesia's rate cut is at this moment considered a positive factor because it favors stocks. Anything good for stocks is supportive of the currency.'' The rupiah climbed 0.9 percent this week to 9,075 per dollar. It may advance to around 9,000 by the end of this year, Sato said. Investors based outside of Indonesia bought $389.4 million more of the nation's equities than they sold this quarter, according to stock exchange data.

The Malaysian ringgit also jumped 1.3 percent to 3.5468 in the five-day period. It touched 3.5365 on Dec. 6, the highest since the central bank scrapped its link to the dollar on July 21, 2005.

Ringgit's Edge
Malaysia now uses a managed-float system that values the ringgit against an undisclosed basket of currencies. The ringgit climbed 1.8 percent this month, making it the best performer among the Asian currencies. Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said appreciation in the currency against the U.S. dollar is orderly, the Edge Daily reported on its Web site. ``We're quite positive on Asian currencies but we think the Malaysian ringgit has the edge,'' said Nizam Idris, a currency strategist at UBS AG in Singapore. ``The central bank seems amenable to more currency strength. Exports are still looking pretty decent.'' The ringgit may climb to 3.53 in three months, he said. South Korea's won today dropped from a nine-year high on speculation the central bank sold the currency to stop its gains from eroding the competitiveness of exporters.

Won `Overshooting'
The Bank of Korea is closely watching the foreign-exchange market, head of the central bank's operations team, Oh Jae Kwon said in an interview, adding the currency is ``overshooting.'' He declined to comment on speculation the bank sold today. A stronger won erodes the value of overseas shipments, which account for about 40 percent of Asia's third-largest economy.

``The won has appreciated to the level where the authorities are concerned that exports and the economy will deteriorate,'' said Hideki Hayashi, a foreign-exchange strategist in Tokyo at Shinko Securities Co. ``Concern the central bank will sell encouraged some people to dump the currency today.''

The won dropped 0.7 percent to 920.20 against the dollar, the largest slide in two months, according to Seoul Money Brokerage Services Ltd, paring gains for the week to 0.9 percent. Exports have been the main driver of 14 consecutive quarters of growth. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. on Dec. 1 raised its forecast for the nation's economic growth in 2006 to 5.2 percent from an earlier prediction of 4.9 percent.

The Thai baht appreciated to the highest since December 1998, gaining 0.9 percent this week after Bank of Thailand Governor Tarisa Watanagase said yesterday it may rise further. It was at 35.57 per dollar. ``Currency inflows are continuing to buoy the baht but the pace of gains is slower,'' Tarisa said. Elsewhere in Asia, the Taiwan dollar was little changed this week at NT$32.390, according to Taipei Forex Inc. The Philippine peso traded at 49.63 from 49.52 on Dec. 1, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.The Singapore dollar made a third weekly increase, rising 0.4 percent to S$1.5401.
To contact the reporters on this story: Jake Lee in Hong Kong at ; Yumi Teso in Hong Kong at .
Last Updated: December 8, 2006 04:34 EST


Abdullah Says He Has Reason To Be Happy With His Achievement

By D.Arul Rajoo December 12, 2006 11:34 AM
BANGKOK, Dec 12 (Bernama) -- Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said he had reason to be happy with his achievement since becoming the prime minister three years ago but wanted to do more to narrow certain lopsidedness in development in both human and physical infrastructure in Malaysia. "Well, taking into consideration the time factor, also the problems that I have faced and the deficit that I had to reduce, what I have achieved today in the third year as prime minister, I have reason to be happy," he said.
Abdullah, who took over from Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad on Oct 31, 2003, said this in an interview with Bangkok Post Editor-In-Chief, Pichai Chuensuksawadi at his residence in Putrajaya. He said it was not an easy passage as he had tabled the Ninth Malaysia Plan and the National Mission on March 31, 2006 and only at the end of May that the lower and upper houses endorsed the plan.
"It took time to plan the Ninth Plan. It is not something I could think of off the top of my head. I had to think very, very hard. This plan must be able to take us to Vision 2020, especially the National Mission. I must aim for 2020.
We must view the three five-year plans that provide continuity, one after another, for this period of 15 years is the National Mission," he said. Abdullah said more need to be done in the human capital development although the process would be difficult.

"Human capital to me, in terms of people, they must be mentally, physically and spiritually morally strong. I believe in that. There are many people who are clever people but who are cheats. Who are rogues. Who abuse power. Who are corrupt. I don't want that. If you are clever, you must be a good man," he said. Besides different types of training including for those students who had finished their schooling in order to be ready for the workplace, Abdullah said the curriculum from primary to tertiary education would also be looked into.

Another thing that Abdullah said he was trying to do was to reduce the development gaps as there were certain areas like in the north, Kelantan and Terengganu which were not doing well unlike most progressive Klang Valley. "There is a certain lopsidedness in development in both human and physical infrastructure. This includes the opportunities. I always believe in quality opportunity," he said. Citing education as an example, Abdullah said the same quality education must be provided to children in both rural and urban areas with adequate books and trained teachers. "If you are talking about internet penetration, you must include them. I cannot achieve our 2020 vision if we have this lopsided development. We have ethnic gaps, regional gaps, occupational gaps. People in industrial areas are getting better income, and those in agriculture are not. There are so many gaps," he said.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Self prise is no prise .

7:41 PM  
Anonymous Билеты Формула 1 Валенсия said...

For my part one and all have to go through this.

4:20 PM  

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