Scrapping Pension To Avoid Bankruptcy – Paying The Price For 60 Years Of Corruption & Racist Policies

Pin It

Feb 14 2024
Linked In

Malaysia is in financial deep shit, but most of its 33 million populations especially the largest ethnic group – Malay – doesn’t realize it. The fact that 80% of the Malay voters chose Perikatan Nasional, a coalition comprising Malay nationalist Bersatu and PAS Islamist parties that subscribe to radicalization and extremism, speaks volumes about the ignorance of the country’s problems.


Look no further than the depreciation of Malaysian Ringgit against not only the U.S. dollar, but also against neighbouring Singapore and even the Philippines and Thailand currencies in the region. The local currency is trading dangerously at RM4.78 against the greenback, and hit a fresh historical low of 3.5518 against the Singapore dollar about a week ago.


It doesn’t matter whether MIDF Research incorrectly projected that the Ringgit will reach RM4.00 against the U.S. dollar by end 2023. It also doesn’t matter whether the central bank – Bank Negara Malaysia – insisted that the weakness in the local currency “does not reflect economic fundamentals”. And it certainly doesn’t matter whether PM Anwar Ibrahim blames external factors or not.

Malaysia Ringgit - Toilet Paper

The more half-past-six analysts and authorities give lame excuses in denial, the more foreign investors will avoid the country like a plague. It’s both amazing and laughable they still think that investors were stupid. Even if Anwar has the political will to reform the ailing country, which he does not, it was too late as the country is plunged into a mountain of RM1.5 trillion national debts.


When the ruling party Barisan Nasional was finally ousted from power in the May 2018 General Election after having ruled for 61 years since independence in 1957, the national coffers were already running dry due to massive corruption. Ironically, Mahathir Mohamad, the “Father of Corruption” who had ruled for 22 years (1981-2003) discovered that Malaysia had raked RM1 trillion when he became premier again in 2018.


But Mahathir would rather hand over the power to his trusted lieutenant Muhyiddin Yassin than to Anwar Ibrahim as promised, leading to the clueless and incompetent backdoor government of Muhyiddin (and subsequently “turtle egg” Ismail Sabri) plundering even more national treasures. By the time Anwar was installed as the 10th Prime Minister, the national debts had ballooned to RM1.5 trillion from RM1 trillion.

Muhyiddin Yassin - London Money Laundering

The sudden jump in debt was largely due to the corruption and money laundering in the RM600 billion Covid scandal during Muhyiddin’s short 17-month regime, where the country was locked down under the pretext of fighting Covid and the Parliament was shut down to prevent expenditure from being scrutinized. It was a dark age of incompetence, corruption, policy flip-flops, Coronavirus mishandling and economic mismanagement.


Even though ex-Prime Minister Najib Razak had been toppled and jailed, the crook has done so much damage that not only the country had accumulated RM1 trillion in debt, but his 1MDB scandal saw US$4.5 billion stolen and the Malaysian government has to assume US$7.8 billion (RM37 billion) in outstanding debts – including 30-year bonds due in 2039.


Yet, in what appeared to be elites protecting crooks, the previous King Sultan Abdullah of Pahang had awarded Najib with a 50% discount of his original 12-year jail term and slashed his fine of RM210 million by 75%. The despicable royal pardon, which PM Anwar cowardly and shamelessly defended as fair, has spooked investors, leading to the Ringgit dumping.

Najib Razak in Prison

If you think Malaysia isn’t on the right track to bankruptcy, think again. Adding fuel to the bankruptcy factors is the pension scheme, which is a sensitive issue where the majority of the country’s 1.7 million civil servants are Malay. While 71% of pensioners currently are Malay, 13% are Chinese and 7.8% Indians. The fact that Anwar government is even discussing it is the clearest proof that the country is in a dire state.


The country has one of the most bloated civil services in the world – one out of every 19 Malaysians is a civil servant. That’s 3 times more than Singapore in terms of the civil servants ratio to the population. Crucially, pension payouts have spiked in the last 15 years and are projected to grow. Pension payments amounted to RM11.5 billion in 2010, but nearly tripled to RM31 billion last year.


In 2040, the government would have to spend a jaw-dropping RM120 billion on pension alone. In the Budget 2024, the government spending on emoluments – wages for civil servants – would be a staggering RM95.64 billion, representing 24.29% of total budget of RM394 billion. It is the largest expenses. The combined expenditure of wages and pension would be a whopping RM128 billion – 32.5% of the total budget.

Malaysia Pensioner

Infamous for inefficiency, incompetence, unproductive and arrogance, the huge pool of government servants contribute to another problem. In 2010, Cuepacs president Omar Osman revealed that a total of 418,200 or 41% of the total number of civil servants in the country was suspected of being involved in corruption. Yet, the government continues to reward them with cash to appease the vote bank.


Yes, the whole purpose of the hiring civil servants, even though they were not needed, was to guarantee the survival of the previous Barisan Nasional ruling government. The civil service workforce has increased from 1.24 million in 2010 to current 1.7 million, leading to 590,000 retirees in 2010, before jumping to 853,000 in 2020 and is projected to skyrocket to 936,000 this year.


From the beginning, the ethnic Malays have been brainwashed and tricked that only the United Malays National Organization (UMNO), of which Mahathir had ruled one-third of the 60 years since the independence, could protect them from “non-existence” threat of non-Malays. It was part of “Ketuanan Melayu”, an ideology of Malay supremacy espoused by UMNO to cling to power.

Najib Razak with Mahathir Mohamad - Happily Waving and Smiling

Of course, it was nothing but a scam to enrich Malay elites like Mahathir, Najib, Muhyiddin, Sabri and their cronies and families. The same racist and discrimination policy that gave birth to NEP (New Economic Policy) and Vision 2020, which were never meant to be achieved, was also responsible for brain drain in the form of hundreds of thousands of technical skills went through a large scale migration to other countries.


To prove that the Malay nationalist party was the protector of the Malays, the government had to employ unemployable Malay graduates, who were produced at industrial scale by rigging the education system. For example, at least 90,000 of the 373,974 candidates who sat for the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examination in 2022 – equivalent to “O” Level – had failed the Mathematics paper.


According to some teachers who used to mark SPM exam papers, the passing score could be as low as 20%, especially for subjects like Mathematics and Science in order to make students of certain ethnic happy. Even then, some 30,000 candidates who were registered did not sit for the SPM. It’s not surprising that the system produces unemployable graduates, and graduates with poor command in English.

Malaysia - Bloated Civil Service

To paint a picture of Malay dominance in civil service, and to discourage non-Malay from the sector, the government prioritizes Malays in terms of recognition and promotion. The racial discrimination has become so bad that the Chinese community made up less than 2% of the government service employees today. It’s not entirely true that Chinese despise civil servants due to lower salary.


True, the civil service’s pay was considered low compared to the private sector. However, government employees enjoy pension, which entitles spouses and children under the age of 21 to benefits should a civil servant on the scheme die while in service. In actuality, civil servants currently have a choice between the pension scheme and the EPF (Employers Provident Fund ).


Introduced in 1951, the EPF compulsory retirement savings scheme for private sector workers requires employees to contribute 11% of their salaries to their EPF accounts. Employers, on the other hand, contribute the equivalent of 13% of the salaries of employees earning RM5,000 and below, and 12% if wages are above RM5,000. Workers may fully withdraw from the EPF from the age of 55.

EPF KWSP - Retirement Savings Scheme - Building

For obvious reason, the pension option is more attractive and lucrative, especially when the life expectancy of Malaysians has increased from an average of 71.2 years in 1991 to 74.8 years in 2023. Unlike the private sector, civil servants do not need to chip in to the pension fund as the government contributes 5% while statutory bodies, local authorities and agencies contribute 17.5% to KWAP monthly.


The KWAP (Retirement Fund Inc.) is the same pension fund which ex-PM Najib and his partner-in-crime Jho Low had stolen from when Najib abused his power as finance minister to instruct KWAP to loan RM4 billion to SRC International Sdn Bhd (a subsidiary of 1MDB). After the loan was disbursed in 2011 and 2012, the money was siphoned out to Switzerland instead.


To add salt to injury, the KWAP has been badly managed. Its gross investment income in 2021 was merely RM6.33 billion – insufficient to pay the total pensions and gratuities that year which amounted to RM29.1 billion. Meaning taxpayers, including those working in the private sector, were subsidizing the pensioners. And some extremist would-be Malay pensioners have the cheek to mock Chinese taxpayers as second-class citizens.

1MDB Scandal - Money Trail From SRC Into Ex-PM Najib Razak Accounts - April 30, 2019

There’s a catch though. Civil servants need to serve at least 10 years to qualify for the pension, upon which they would get a pension of 20% of their last-drawn salary. The lowest monthly pension amount for at least 25 years’ service is RM1,000, while the highest amount is 60% of last-drawn salary for civil servants who have served for 30 years. The best part is the pension scheme also provides a gratuity payment.


The government is trapped in a Catch-22 situation as the old game to buy Malay votes through discrimination government jobs has come back to haunt it. It can’t abolish the pension schemes without increasing salaries substantially to entice civil servants to choose EPF as their retirement fund. However, by doing so, the government will be burning a bigger hole in the RM1.5 trillion debts as it needs to borrow more to finance its budget.


On the other hand, if it does not start trimming the bloated civil service, the explosive combined expenditure of pension and wages will continue to climb till the government eventually goes bust. It didn’t help that the salary schemes of civil servants have been revised on several occasions to pacify the critical Malay voters as inflation and cost of living hit the roof.

Malaysia General Election - Malay Voters

The government can start by halting new recruitment. However, the community that has been indoctrinated with the belief that the civil service was their birthright would find it tough to seek employment in the competitive private sector after decades of pampering them with a deplorable education system, leaving them to require a lifelong crutches to get by.


Regardless whether the government will choose to borrow more or to impose higher taxes to fund the pension scheme, a time bomb which it built in the first place, investors were not optimistic that the government could defuse the problem. After all, Anwar Ibrahim admits that since the time when he was the deputy prime minister in the 1990s, the government has chosen to kick the can down the road over the issue of pensions.


Other Articles That May Interest You …

Pin It

FinanceTwitter SignOff
If you enjoyed this post, what shall you do next? Consider:

Like FinanceTwitter Tweet FinanceTwitter Subscribe Newsletter   Leave Comment Share With Others


This article simplifies complex issues into overly broad generalizations, particularly in its critique of Malaysia’s political landscape and economic challenges. By attributing the nation’s economic difficulties solely to the preferences of the Malay population and their political choices, it overlooks the intricate web of factors that influence economic performance, including global market trends and external economic pressures.

Focusing on the depreciation of the Ringgit without considering these broader economic forces presents a skewed picture. Economic health is influenced by a wide range of variables, not just domestic policy decisions or political affiliations. Moreover, the article’s discussion on Malaysia’s civil service and pension liabilities raises valid concerns about financial sustainability but does so in a manner that could be perceived as dismissive of the legitimate needs these systems address.

Political discourse, especially on sensitive topics like governance and fiscal policy, benefits from a balanced and nuanced approach. Critiques should aim to foster understanding and encourage constructive solutions, rather than casting blame on specific groups or individuals without acknowledging the complex realities they navigate.

In sum, a more nuanced analysis is needed—one that acknowledges the multifaceted nature of Malaysia’s economic and political challenges and fosters a constructive dialogue aimed at finding sustainable solutions. Simplistic narratives serve only to polarize, rather than contribute to the nuanced understanding required for effective problem-solving.

Leave a Reply


(required)(will not be published)