In 2010, Najib Abdul Razak declared a public holiday, when the Malaysian team won the AFF Suzuki cup against Indonesia. It was a political move, to boost his ego and his popularity rating.
If Malaysia had won last week’s SEA Games finals, he would probably have declared a week long holiday.
Just imagine if we were to win the World Cup. Najib would immediately declare a month-long holiday.
Populism is propaganda. Najib’s move has nothing to do with patriotism. It is everything to do with politics. Many companies will suffer. Absent workers means orders for goods go unfulfilled. Those who turn up for work, must be paid ‘public holiday’ rates.
People are worried.
Najib is NOT pro-business. The economy has slowed down, and many workers are being laid-off, with minimal compensation or warning. People are struggling to feed their families, whilst business owners are struggling to retain their staff, and still remain open for business.
Today is a public holiday because last week, Najib announced that Monday 4 September, would be a public holiday to celebrate Malaysia’s success in the South East Asia (SEA) Games. The nation had already enjoyed two public holidays; Merdeka on 31 August and Hari Raya Haji on 1 September.
Business people are angry
With a chorus of business people voicing their frustrations, it is surprising not to hear any statements by trade associations, or the ministries of International or Domestic Trade.
One businessman said, “Having the right government policies help to promote business, but this latest populist measure is not helping the business world, or the Malaysian economy.”
Another man who owns a small to medium-sized enterprise (SME) said, “I have cut-back on non-essentials for my business, but this public holiday announcement really bites deep into my budget.
“We’d like to think we are a caring company. I have loyal staff and we look after them well. They are like gold dust. We pay them double wages on public holidays.
“We do a lot of dealings with overseas clients and as a family business, I do not have a large number of employess to fall back on, unlike a multi-national. We have to keep to deadlines. If the staff are off work, how can I meet that deadline? Did the PM think about productivity?
“If I pay my workers the public holiday rates, this means reduced profits. How can I invest for the future? Things are already hard.”
Chaotic to reschedule meetings and medicals
A person who was scheduled to attend a government department to discuss his application for re-zoning his business said, “Monday was the only day that was mutually convenient. It took me weeks to arrange this date, as the official was always away. This last minute announcement has messed-up my plans.”
It is not just business people who are affected. One woman said, “I took Monday off to settle some issues at a government hospital. I have to take another day off, from my annual leave to make fresh arrangements.
“By the way, what happens to all the appointments that will be postponed? Can you imagine the chaos arising from one simple holiday announcement?”
Is this the only way Najib knows how to reward the volunteers and athletes for a job well done? He is good at making the nation grind to a halt. It is bad enough that some civil servants are sleeping on the job, but to reduce productivity, like this, is disgraceful. Few industrialists will agree with this decision.
Some mothers who work in private companies, may be paid holiday rates for the public holiday, but they will have to arrange additional child care for their young children and this is not cheap.
Will schools have to make up for the lost day(s), with extra lessons, at the weekends, to cover the curriculum?
So, who benefits from this unplanned for public holiday?
Najib of course. It is a populist decision meant to boost his popularity and stoke his ego.
Who are the losers?
Businesses and the Malaysian taxpayer.