So you have had all the mainstream media working over-time spinning stories about Healthy Indicators of Economy, about Good Times Are Back, and about the Magic Trillion in trade volume.

Who do you think is the great Editor-in-Chief for Malaysia that other EICs like Hishamuddin Aun (NSTP), Khalid Mohamed (Utusan), Ho Kay Tat (The Sun & The Edge) and Michael Aera (The Star) have to kow tow to? (Watch this space!)

But first, you need to admit that there had been a series of big, big half-truths oozing from Putrajaya, with more to come your way this season — because KLCI will slide after the Chinese New Year.

Don’t believe? Listen to Reuters, the international news agency. Its KL-based correspondent Jalil Hamid had filed a story that was syndicated through the world’s major newspapers, which ultimately was indexed by Google search engine. The headline yelled at your face: Malaysian spin on economy sparks poll talk.

Buzzword of the day: Malaysian Spin!

Apparently, editors from the newspapers had been summoned for a briefing (read: ‘MUST USE’). And Reuters just rubbed it in an inch deeper:

More such stories are on the cards, said one editor, who attended a government briefing recently.

However, the serious question is asked a different way: Why did the people NOT believe in the Malaysian Spin?

Just go over to Malaysiakini. It has a modest spread of readers who have spent time to write “Letters to the Editor” that the mainstream Press won’t print.

On the spin on the ‘Magic Trillion’, a Malaysiakini reader says:

The fact that Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and his bandwagon are so quick to shanghai this RM1 trillion figure alone and that the press has bandied it about as if it’s the litmus test of the economy or the epitome of successful economic achievements is downright demeaning, degrading and utterly puerile chicanery. It is an absolute disgrace and an insult to our intelligence and misleading to the ordinary man on the street who does not understand such economic data.

What I find so objectionable is the frequent irresponsible manner in which the BN government tries to psyche the common people with half-baked truths and mistruths. And if our local colleges and universities have been teaching our graduates no more than to imbibe such meaningless data, then it’s a sad, sad time for Malaysia.

A proper economic analysis would have to include trade data (imports, exports and their breakdowns), banking data, inflation statistics like the consumer price index, industrial production data, employment data, home ownership, amongst others.

Even blogger Aisehman has made three entries in his blog, taking a dissenting view to the Malaysian Spin.

First, on the Magic Trillion claim. Aisehman says:

Let’s look at some of the numbers.

Exports totalled RM588.949bil. Half of that came from the electrical and electronics industry, which forms part of the manufacturing sector.

The electrical and electronics industry is dominated by multinational companies, who also have a significant presence in the rest of the manufacturing sector.

The problem is this: Much of the money made by the MNCs goes back to them.

And our efforts to get the local boys to move up the value-chain has yet to to show any significant progress.

You can see evidence of this in the fact that the manufacturing sector employs 28% of the labour force, which means that we’re doing labour-intensive, low value-add work, much of it for the MNCs, who rake in the big bucks.

In the greater scheme of things, you could say that Malaysia is just one of the hi-tech world’s sweatshops.

Aisehman also comments on Rafidah Aziz’s assertions that foreign investment in manufacturing hit RM20.2 billion last year. The blogger points out that, out of the RM20.2 billion quoted, RM10 billion was poured into the electrical and electronics industry.

The truth is that Malaysia, under Abdullah Badawi and his Dynasty, is “largely doing grunt work in a sector that accounts for a third of the domestic economy is of great concern”.

Next, on the spin that Kalimullah Hassan produced for The NST (Feb 14, 2007), which claims that Malaysia is back on the global investment map.

Kalimullah’s operatives say “a record RM46 billion was invested in 1,077 approved manufacturing projects last year by local and foreign investors, a 48 per cent jump from the RM31 billion invested in 2005.

Jump? Even blogger Aisehman, who hadn’t confessed himself as an economist, has an easy rebuttal:

Now let’s look at the numbers real close.

A huge chunk of that RM46 billion — to the tune of RM11.44 billion or about 25% of the total — came from the petroleum and petrochemicals industry. Compare that to 2005, when investments in the industry amounted to only RM735 million.

In fact, RM10.88 billion (about 95%) of the money pumped into the industry in 2006 was domestic investment, not foreign investment.

Here’s another fact: Nearly 80% of that RM10.88 billion came from just one project — a RM7.86 billion crude petroleum refinery in Kedah being built by SKS Development (Syed Mokhtar’s da man).

The rest is largely made up by another two plants — RM2.04 billion for the expansion of Petronas’ methanol plant in Labuan and a RM1.06bil butanediol plant by Panca Intan Sdn Bhd (who?).

These huge investments in the petroleum and petrochemical industry skew the picture, because if you take away these three plants, you end up with a figure of RM35 billion (as opposed to the celebrated RM45 billion) for total investments in 2006.

This is much closer to 2005’s RM30 billion worth of investments (if we exclude the RM735 million invested in the petrochemical and petroleum industry that year).

Still, the good news is we managed to pull in a total of RM20.23 billion worth of FDI in 2006, compared to RM14.69 billion in 2005 and RM17.09 billion in 2004.

The bulk of the foreign investment — RM8.60 billion or 42% — was in the MNC-dominated electrical and electronics industry. Together with domestic investments, the industry attracted about RM10 billion or 22% of total investments last year.

However, a comparison with 2005 numbers raises some concerns.

In 2005, domestic and foreign investors poured in RM13.8 billion into the electrical and electronics industry, which is about 38% more than last year.

As I blogged earlier, the industry accounts for a big chunk of our exports, and in that sense, it has a very large influence on our economy.

Take all this into account, and you will be able to see beyond the “RM46 billion vote of confidence”.

Look! Aisehman the unpaid blogger writes better than Rajan Moses!

Let’s take a look at the commentary in global business paper Wall Street Journal — no more Leslie Lopez spin, as this machai is out of Dow Jones’ payroll:

Malaysia’s exports grew less than expected in December as electronics and electrical shipments were almost flat because of moderating global demand.

Analysts say export growth in 2007 is unlikely to match growth last year, as electronics usually account for half of the country’s exports, and a weakening in the global high-technology-goods cycle will weigh on Malaysia’s trade performance.

“This year is going to be tough, looking at where we are in the electronics cycle. It’s a regionwide trend,” said Joseph Tan, a regional economist at Standard Chartered Bank.

Data issued Friday showed that exports grew 6.1% in December to 52.51 billion ringgit, less than the 8.7% rise analysts expected. In November, exports had risen 17.5%, mainly because of an increase in the number of working days compared with a year earlier.

Imports in December edged up 1.6% year on year to 40.66 billion ringgit, well below an expected rise of 10.7%. In November, imports had expanded 21.4%.

In view of the scenario, what hope does Abdullah have? Naturally, the 9th Malaysia Plan that makes him the sugar daddy for rent-seekers. Money talks. Blogger A Kadir Jasin has explained why the 9th Malaysia Plan had made the Great Snorer the most powerful Prime Minister in Malaysian history.

And this what Reuters Business had collected from the analysts, who are evidently cautious about the Man can deliver:

We are hoping that the slack in external demand is going to be taken up by the Plan’s projects,” said Mohamed Ariff, head of the independent Malaysian Institute of Economic Research.

“If the projects don’t kick in, it’s going to take its toll on the performance of the economy in terms of GDP growth. It will probably make a difference of one or two percentage points.”

The economy is officially forecast to grow 6.0 percent this year but analysts are expecting lower exports to limit growth to around 5.5 percent, about the same as they have forecast for 2006

Aisehman the blogger ends it all by saying this, for the time being:

In the face of all the “good news” the media has been trumpeting, we should remind ourselves that economic growth is expected to be lower this year, compared to 2006.

And 2006, according to the Government and the mainstream mouthpiece, was supposed to have been a spectacular year.

Now what the heck is it gonna be like this year, a year that most economists are forecasting lower economic growth?

Blame not the anonymous blogger. You should point gun at the Country’s Editor-in-Chief, to whom even the Chiefs at The NDT, Utusan, The Star, The Sun/The Edge has to prostotute and kow-tow.

So, who who is this Country’s Editor-in-Chief? Watch this space!

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