The article I wrote 2 days ago about the 100 storey building announced in Budget 2011 was published in Malaysian Insider yesterday (Tallest does not mean the best) and attracted many comments. At the time i wrote it, it was not clear yet where the money would come from, but after i have posted it, it was clear that PNB would be the one building/funding it, and the PM has come out with a statement that he has nothing to do with the proposal.
Many people think that since it was not the government that will fund the project, then it would be not so bad.. I beg to differ.
PNB is owned by the government. PNB has said that they would fund the building from its accumulated profits and not funds under its management. But since PNB is government owned, whatever profits that PNB earns or accumulates belong to the government.
Government belongs to the people, since the government is elected by the people. Civil servants are just employees to help elected people to carry out what was planned and what was legislated in the Parliament, which consists of people’s representatives. Managers in Government owned companies are likewise people’s employees, entrusted to manage properly people’s money.
So rightly, any profits of PNB ( and any other government-owned compaines) belongs to the people.
When these companies fail, like in the case of the former Bank Bumi, it was the government that came to the rescue by using Petronas money which again belongs to the people .
So for a project of 5 billions, even if it was not directly coming from the Treasury, it is still people’s money, the Rakyat’s money. For such a big project which will not lift us to a high income country, people do have a say in whether such project should go on or not.
It is like a big conglomerate. A big investment from one of its subsidiaries is still an investment of that conglomerate, and will affect the future prospect of that conglomerate.
So people of Malaysia have the right to say their piece, whether it is for or against the project. We can disagree on whether such project should go on, but we must be prepared to defend the right of each of us to epress our opinion whether such a project should be allowed.. That is the right to the freedom of expression.