MP for Kluang • Political Education Director, Democratic Action Party

The Black Swan

Nassim Taleb’s bestseller “The Black Swan” talks about a world shaped by highly improbable events. He argues that most of what that we take for granted after the event was considered impossible before the event.

We know swans are white and that acquired common sense often stops us from realising that there are black swans too. We are not given to being counter-intuitive.

As we reflect upon world politics towards the end of 2011, we see that the landscape now has changed beyond recognition when compared to how it was in the beginning of the year. And those changes are permanent, irreversible and will continue to redefine the world in the years to come.

No one expected an Arab Spring to happen. Likewise, the electoral swing to the opposition in Singapore, the riots on the streets of London, the Anna Hazare anti-corruption campaign in India, the Camila Vallejo school fees protest that shocked the Chilean establishment and now the Occupy Wall Street movement were not anticipated at the beginning of the year.

In the years to come, the world will remember 2011 as it does 1968 and 1989. The year 1968 saw the climax of the anti-Vietnam War protest which sparked worldwide anti-establishment movements. In 1989, the collapse of the communist bloc was perhaps the most unexpected spectacle of the century.

As in 1968 and 1989, the existing world political and economic orders are crumbling in 2011, but as yet, no new balance has been found.

While we can’t tell whether a black swan will soon visit Malaysia or not, the country is exhibiting huge and glaring economic, political and demographic contradictions.

Economically, 60 per cent of the population earns a household income of less than RM3,000 per month. The bottom 40 per cent live on a household income of less than RM1,500 per month, with the supposedly favoured Bumiputeras constituting as much as two-thirds of this category.

It is no doubt true that low-income groups can survive in silence if and when the economic pie is steadily growing. But when inflation suddenly kicks in just when growth slows, then the uneasy equilibrium cannot be maintained.

In a rural setting, as long as the weather permits, many live on a semi-subsistent existence by growing food and rearing livestock. But urban dwellers from low -and middle-income families have nowhere to go when times are bad.

This is a serious challenge in a country where growth is slowing and state capacity is weak. The urban proportion of the population in Malaysia was estimated by the World Bank at 70.36 per cent in 2008, up from 35 per cent in 1980.

This eats into the credibility of the ruling parties. For urban dwellers, who now have access to Facebook and other social media, sources of information are multiple and not easily controlled by the government. And daily encounters with establishment cronies flaunting their wealth further erode Umno’s claim to being Malay champions.

Umno continues to survive electorally thanks to blatant gerrymandering and massive mal-apportionment of constituencies. Sixty-five per cent of the seats are in rural areas. For instance, the seat of Kapar now reports a voting population of 122,011 (Q1, 2011; 104,185 in the 2008 general election) while Umno seats have an average of 49,429 voters (in the 2008 general election).

Through manipulating the electoral system, Umno has amplified the significance of its “fixed deposit” voter groups, including Umno members, civil servants, police, military personnel, Felda settlers and Bumiputeras from Sabah and Sarawak.

In essence, Umno is a narrowly-based vested interest party. In the 2008 general election, 10.6 million were registered to vote, of whom close to 2.45 million did not bother to turn up to vote. Barisan Nasional received 51.4 per cent of the popular votes while the opposition as a whole garnered 48.6 per cent of the votes.

According to the Election Commission, as of August 2011 Malaysia has 15.98 million citizens above the age of 21 but, as of June 2011, those who have registered are only 12.27 million. Twenty-three per cent or some 3.7 million have as yet not claimed their right to vote.

The black swan may come in the form of the two million first-time voters in the next general election — 130,000 (estimated), 276,621(Election Commission figure) and 851,260 (Election Commission figure) were registered in 2008, 2009 and 2010 respectively. Another 900,000 new voters are estimated to be registered in 2011.

Admittedly, the number of problematic registrations among the new voters, such as the ongoing foreign-worker-turned-citizen-turned-voter scam, may be substantial and if they are concentrated in Pakatan marginal seats, the balance may tip in Barisan Nasional’s favour. The PAS’s experience in Terengganu in 2004 is a case in point.

Nevertheless, genuine voters will probably still far outweigh phantom voters.

Typically new voters are urban-based and young, with slightly more being Malays than non-Malays. Fifty per cent of Malaysia’s population are below 25 years of age while nearly 70 per cent are below 40. This is characteristically an Arab Spring-type demography.

It is clear that Budget 2012 did not address the economic gap and provides no plan for those below 40 years of age. Politically, the proposed tweaking of security laws lags far behind an ever-rising expectation for a more democratic society.

These economic, political and demographic contradictions hold the potential of springing a black swan on Malaysia.

This post is also available in: Chinese (Simplified)

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    Liew Chin Tong
    Facebook IconNovember 21, 2014 at 11:33 pm

    Disclose fuel price mechanism now

    The DAP cautiously welcomes the potential reduction of RON95 and diesel pump prices and calls on the Barisan Nasional Government to disclose the new managed float system immediately.

    First, the DAP cautiously welcomes the potential savings for consumers as the global crude oil price has already fallen below the current pump price of RM2.30 for RON95 and RM2.20 for diesel. As repeatedly highlighted by DAP and Pakatan Rakyat since 31st October 2014, Malaysians are indeed already paying a “fuel tax” without one being imposed.

    Second, the Government must disclose the formula for the managed float, which industrial players call “dirty float”, for greater transparency.

    Third, the Government must also draw up a plan of what it would do in the event that the petrol price rises again to ease the burden of the people.

    Fourth, in the long run, the Government must invest a lot more to create an efficient and affordable public transportation system so that the Malaysian public will rely less on private vehicles, hence end our dependence on petroleum.

    In hindsight, the criticism against the recent October 2014 petrol hike by the Opposition is proven right that the Government was raising pump prices at a time when global crude oil prices were falling. After the ensuing panic arising from the chain effect of the price hike, the government is now forced to make a u-turn.

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    Liew Chin Tong
    Facebook IconNovember 21, 2014 at 5:41 pm

    Liew Chin Tong shared DAP Johor's status update.

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    DAP Johor

    Kuda berenang di Empangan Sembrong petunjuk air minuman tercemar

    Empangan Sembrong merupakan bekalan air utama untuk penduduk Kluang, namun pencemarannya di persekelilingan agak teruk malah ada kuda berenang di dalam takungan air tersebut.

    ADUN Mengkibol Tan Hong Pin berkata, kuda tersebut dijumpai di Empangan Sembrong sekitar bulan Mac dan April di mana Kluang mengalami catuan air berpanjangan.

    Selain daripada kuda, persekitaran empangan ditakluk oleh ladang kelapa sawit di mana pencemaran baja kimia dan racun perosak didapati dalam air empangan, ujaran beliau pada sidang media di persidangan Dewan Negeri Johor pada Rabu (19 Nov).

    Hong Pin juga menyeru bahawa kerajaan negeri dapat member perhatian terhadap urusan bekalan air di Johor untuk keselamatan rakyat.

    Tan Hong Pin 陈泓宾

    Liew Chin Tong
    Facebook IconNovember 21, 2014 at 5:38 pm

    Liew Chin Tong shared a link.

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    Nilai semula dasar pertahanan negara, Perang Dingin sudah tamat |

    Berita Nilai semula dasar pertahanan negara, Perang Dingin sudah tamat 21 November 2014 KUALA LUMPUR, 20 NOV: Sudah tiba masanya untuk negara meninggalkan ‘acuan’ Perang Dingin abad lalu, dan mula merangka Dasar Pertahanan Negara yang lebih sesuai dengan realiti baru yang mempunyai cabaran dan risik…

    Liew Chin Tong
    Facebook IconNovember 21, 2014 at 3:44 pm


    States hospitals, especially in the northern region, are in urgent need of an upgrade, urgent need for change of management, urgent need for improvement in training programmes and flexibilities.

    Wards are overcrowded, working environment is unfriendly, doctors’ on-call rooms are like store rooms, sanitary system is bad, delivery suites are like a market, outpatient department/clinics are crowded like sardine cans, radiological machines are working overtime resulting in frequent breakdown, why? Because there is only one machine to serve all mankind.In addition, some states hospitals, especially in the northern region, are in urgent need of an upgrade, urgent need for change of management, urgent need for improvement in training programmes and flexibilities.

    Wards are overcrowded, working environment is unfriendly, doctors’ on-call rooms are like store rooms, sanitary system is bad, delivery suites are like a market, outpatient department/clinics are crowded like sardine cans, radiological machines are working overtime resulting in frequent breakdown, why? Because there is only one machine to serve all mankind.

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    Need for more critical care facilities in some states

    “You can’t start the next chapter if you keep re- reading the last one.” As a practicing medical officer in a district hospital, I wish to highlight to the Health Ministry some problems that we have been facing almost daily, especially with regard to critical care support.

    Liew Chin Tong
    Facebook IconNovember 20, 2014 at 9:40 pm

    Liew Chin Tong shared DAP Johor's status update.

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    DAP Johor

    ‘Kertas Fokus’ 5 (Isu Pembangunan Lestari)

    Sebagai Respon Kepada Bajet Johor 2015

    20 November 2014

    Membangunkan ekonomi Johor secara lestari denagn serentaknya memelihara alam sekitar Johor khasnya hutan simpanan kekal, mempertahankan sumber ekonomi tradisi termasuk pertanian dan perikanan bagi keperluan generasi-generasi yang akan datang, memulihara sumber-sumber air dan sungai di Negeri Johor, memelihara Budaya dan warisan Johor, mempelapori teknologi sumber tenaga lestari, memajukan sektor ekonomi berilmu;


    1. Memperketatkan penguatkuasaan terhadap pembalakan haram di hutan simpanan kekal yang sedia ada serta membekukan sebarang pembalakan di kawasan-kawasan sumber-sumber air, tadahan air dan penebatan banjir;

    2. Mewartakan kesemua 9126 hektar (bukannya 6740.439 hektar yang masih dalam proses pewartaan) hutan bakau Sungai Pulai sebagai tapak RAMSAR serta merta dari status hutan simpanan kekal sebab hutan bakau Sungai Pulai dijangka dapat menyara hasil perikanan sejumlah RM 1.7 billion setahun menurut pengiraan UNDP;

    3. Mewartakan serta merta 13,561 hektar hutan paya laut dan dataran lumpur di sepanjang pesisiran Pantai Selat Melaka dan Taman Negara Pulau Kukup yang telah diluluskan pada 2005 sebagai Hutan Simpanan Kekal untuk tujuan penguatkuasaan yang lebih ketat untuk mengelakkan hakisan pantai laut, pencerobohan tanah, penebangan huatan bakau secara haram dan pencemaran serta memelihara industri perikanan lestari bagi kepentingan generasi-generasi akan datang;

    4. Mewartakan serta merta status Taman Negara Pulau Kukup dan Taman Negara Tanjung Piai sebagai tapak RAMSAR serta memperuntukkan perbelanjaaan yang memadai untuk memulihara kedua-dua Taman Negara sebagai tapak pelancongan dan penyumbang industri perikanan;

    5. Menubuhkan task force pada peringkat Kerajaan Negeri dan PBT untuk menangani permaslahan pencemaran sungai-sungai di Negeri Johor khasnya pembuangan sisa pepejal dan sisa industry.

    Pakatan Rakyat Johor tidak menolak sebarang bentuk pembangunan untuk Negeri Johor termasuk Forest City. Namun pembangunan tersebut hendaklah memenuhi beberapa syarat termasuk:

    1. Mengambil kira Dasar Perumahan Rakyat Johor yang diperkenalkan pada tahun 2013 iaitu 40% daripada unit pembangunan adalah merupakan rumah kos rendah dan mampu milik;

    2. Tidak mejejaskan kualiti alam sekitar;

    3. Tidak menjejaskan kepentingan termasuk sumber pendapatan mana-mana rakyat yang menerima kesan langsung atau tidak langsung daripada projek yang dijalankan.

    Pakatan Rakyat Johor bersedia berkerja sama dengan pihak pemerintah untuk menubuhkan suatu Jawatankuasa Terpilih Alam Sekitar untuk menyemak dan mangkaji DEIA Forest City oleh ahli-ahli dewan yang mulia ini.


    1. Menguruskan penggunaan tanah secara lebih berhemah dan lestari khasnya memajakkan tanah terbiar kepada pihak berpengalaman untuk tujuan pemuliharaan dan peningkatan hasil pertanian;

    2. Mewujudkan master plan di mana tanah bagi tujuan pertanian perlu dipertahankan dan keseimbangan penggunaan tanah di antara pembangunan perumahan, industri, komersil, rekreasi dan pertanian perlu dilestarikan;

    3. Mempertahankan hutan-hutan bakau sebagai sumber perikanan serta mengurangkan impak negative Projek Minyak dan Gas Pengerang, Stesyen Tenaga Tanjung Bin kepada alam sekitar dan industry perikanan;

    4. Mewujudkan Tabung Relief Kontigensi Pertanian, Penternakan dan Perikanan untuk membantu petani, nelayan dan penternak haiwan seaktu krisis (contonhnya epidemik Newcastle Disease, Hand-Foot-Mouth Disease);

    5. Mempertingkatkan pengeluaran hasil tani (kelapa sawit, getah, koko, kopi, nenas kaleng, nenas segar, buah-buahan,sayur-sayuran, kelapa dan tanaman kontan lain), penternakan dan perikanan tanpa menjejaskan alam sekitar malahan melalui pengurusan penggunaan tanah yang lebih berhemah, pemuliharaan alam sekitar dan penyelidikan teknologi lebih canggih.

    6. Memulihara sumber-sumber air dan sungai di Negeri Johor

    7. Mewartakan kawasan-kawasan tadahan air seceapt mungkin ke Tahap Keselamatan 1 untuk mengelakkan pencerobohan secara lebih berkesan;

    8. Memberhentikan perlombongan pasir dan batu bata haram yang berleluasa secara lebih berkesan untuk mengelakkan pencemaran sungai-sungai.


    1. Melibatkan YWJ, PBT-PBT, Jabatan Perancangan Bandar dan Desa, Kerajaan Negeri dan Kerajaan Persekutuan dalam usaha mengenal pastikan tapak-tapak berwarisan serta mempercepatkan proses pewartaan tapak warisan;

    2. Menghargai warisan semua kaum termasuk masakan dan kesenian pelbagai kaum, masjid, kuil hindu, tokong Cina, gereja Kristian dan bangunan yang bersejarah di Negeri Johor dengan berpendekatan yang inklusif;

    3. Mempergiatkan warisan sebagai sumber ekonomi melalui pelancongan, pendidikan, penyelidikan dan industri kraf tangan;


    1. Mempelapori teknologi menjana tenaga dengan sisa-sisa perumahan, pertanian termasuk kelapa sawit dll secara lebih proaktif.

    2. Mempelapori teknologi tenaga solar secara skala lebih proaktif;

    3. Memajukan sektor ekonomi berilmu;

    4. Mengurangkan pergantungan kepada industri intensif buruh dengan mengalihkan perkembangan ekonomi ke arah ekonomi berilmu khasnya bidang kewangan dan perbankan, ICT, sector perkhidmatan;

    5. Mengawal pergantungan kepada pekerja asing dan melaksanakan dasar imigresen yang lebih transparen dan terbuka.

    Disediakan oleh,


    (Ketua Pembangkang Dewan Negeri Johor)


    Disahkan oleh Pakatan Rakyat Johor,

    HJ AMINOLHUDA HASSAN (Pesuruhjaya PAS Johor)

    LIEW CHIN TONG (Pengerusi DAP Johor)