Columnist

Hafiz Noor Shams

Hafiz Noor Shams sometimes swears a little at maddruid.com .

Soon, Reformasi will fade

MAY 31 — The wisdom of our age has it that young adults are more likely than not to vote against Barisan Nasional. A survey carried out by the... READ MORE

Undemocratic Kuala Lumpur

APRIL 24 ― Life in Kuala Lumpur in the past few weeks has been a constant reminder of our flawed democracy. If you are in the city, look all... READ MORE

The taxpayer’s deplorable options

APRIL 5 — I do consider the payment of income tax as a responsibility I must fulfil. As a member of society, I have some responsibilities toward... READ MORE

The last refuge of the scoundrel

MARCH 6 ― The United States was entrenched deeply in two major wars throughout most of the first decade of the 21st century. Just after the... READ MORE

From race and religion to Psy

FEB 28 — For better or worse, quantity is important in a democratic contest. It is about gaining the majority. It is about popularity. With that as... READ MORE

Politics shouldn’t be taboo in financial world

JAN 24 ― Malaysian private economists mostly find themselves in domestic banks. They typically provide macroeconomic outlook and commentaries on... READ MORE

The future importance of Bahasa Malaysia

JAN 16 ― I have two related conversations to share. The first happened in a cab in Sydney and the other happened over lunch in Jakarta. Combined,... READ MORE

To boycott Israel, we first need ties

NOV 28 ― The Israeli-Palestinian conflict can be an emotional matter to many Malaysians. While there are diverse opinions on the conflict, the... READ MORE

AES, privacy and the perverse incentive

NOV 8 — The implementation of the Automatic Enforcement System (AES) is proving to be so controversial that even federal backbenchers are joining... READ MORE

That contrast between private and public space

OCT 11 — Walking out of a nice little restaurant in Kuala Lumpur is very much like traversing between two worlds... in fact, the whole experience... READ MORE

Don’t auction it. Abolish it

SEPT 21 — Let me begin by stating that I support a significant cut in in duties and taxes on cars.  There are at least two reasons for that. One,... READ MORE

Better commercialisation than communism

AUG 20 — Cambodia has a dark modern history and I always knew that. That knowledge did not bother me much previously because I did not really... READ MORE

Declining crime rate may not be enough

AUG 3 — The statistics show that total crime in general has been declining since 2009, according to PEMANDU. Yet many members of the public... READ MORE

The bitterness of a financial conservative

JULY 26 — I handle my finances conservatively. I spend very little for someone my age and my profile. In fact, I impose a sort of limit on my... READ MORE

Election now leads to less populism

JUNE 11 — We live in a time of widespread economic crisis. Europe is in recession. For some European countries like Greece, it is effectively the... READ MORE

PTPTN debt a cost of affirmative action

MAY 7 — Social mobility is crucial to the maintenance of a healthy liberal society. Inflexibility will have elites entrenched within the state... READ MORE

Why we need change

APRIL 15 — A trend that is true on an individual level does not necessarily translate into a similar trend on a societal scale.  The most famous of... READ MORE

Improve real wages by liberalising the auto industry

MARCH 23 — The articulation of concern for stagnating wages is well-rehearsed among Malaysians who are just entering the labour force as well as... READ MORE

Subsidising wages and business incompetence

MARCH 18 — In any kind of policy debate, there are always two elementary opposing opinions at work. One side subscribes to the ability of the state... READ MORE

Is that a water pistol in your pocket?

FEB 27 — The anti-Lynas camp organised a public forum at Parliament some time ago last year. There was a panel of several men and women... READ MORE

Limits to the wisdom of the crowd

FEB 26 — Liberal Malaysians in general are happy to emphasise the wisdom of the crowd. In a context where the government holds a condescending... READ MORE

When the middle path is a waste of time

JAN 30 — Amid opposing positions, political centrists have the tendency to stake the middle ground. It is a compromise that appears sensible on the... READ MORE

Schooled in illiteracy

JAN 13 — Ninety-three per cent. The literacy rate in Malaysia in 2009 was 93 per cent, so says the United Nations Development Programme in its... READ MORE

A world without Iraq

DEC 18 — I was almost late for my morning history class. I ran as far as I could while trying to keep my balance on ice and snow. By the time I... READ MORE

Why the rush?

DEC 2 — I had listened to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s Malaysia Day address with scepticism. Part of the scepticism came after noticing... READ MORE

Pemandu needs an expiry date

NOV 7 — A friend asked me once what I thought of Pemandu. He expected me to praise it since he knew where my economic bias lies. Here was Pemandu... READ MORE

Homeownership isn’t the only way

OCT 24 — It is not a crime to dream of a place to call one’s own. It is hard to beat having a roof none can take away in the worst of times. If... READ MORE

Hypocrisy hampers deficit reduction agenda

OCT 10 — If one throws a dart randomly at those pieces of paper pinned on the wall, there is a good chance the dart will land on a handout... READ MORE

When it comes, they will run

OCT 6 — The return of Hong Kong to the People’s Republic of China was imminent. After years of a hands-free approach taken by the colonial... READ MORE

Two cheers to San Miguel

SEPT 18 — The sale of Esso Malaysia by ExxonMobil to San Miguel of the Philippines is a done deal. But it was not completed before economic... READ MORE

Being honest about crime

AUG 21 — There are always victims in an economic recession. It can push individuals into desperation and force them potentially to do something... READ MORE

Between fictitious and true unity

AUG 5 — There is a strong emphasis on unity in Malaysia. It is easy to rationalise why this is so. The country has been diverse from the very... READ MORE

Bersih and the wider trust deficit problem

JULY 16 — Somewhere in Streatham, south of London earlier this year, I found myself slouching lazily on a couch watching the BBC with a friend and... READ MORE

Vague principles, contradictory policies

JULY 6 — Some ideas are vague for a reason. In Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, the majority is afraid of commitment and responsibilities. It is simply... READ MORE

Nudge, nudge, wink, wink… say no more

JUNE 27 — It is the practice of some labour unions to produce one or several publications annually to inform their members of various activities... READ MORE

Umno turning into the old PAS

JUNE 14 — If one had opined that PAS was more of a centrist than Umno 10 years ago, nobody would have believed it. It would have been an outrageous... READ MORE

Reducing the political cost of liberalisation

JUNE 2 — A price-control mechanism has its economic cost, on top of that associated with the current subsidy regime in place in Malaysia. There are... READ MORE

Subsidy reduction is not the only thing

MAY 23 — Subsidy reduction will allow market forces to allocate resources more efficiently. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak was reported... READ MORE

Competition Act a farce

MAY 4 — Competition puts a downward pressure on prices. It is one of the forces behind innovation. It enhances welfare. Therefore, initiatives... READ MORE

DAP’s tilt at inclusiveness

APRIL 15 — There is a common denominator to any kind of respectable democratic system. The side with the most votes generally wins. There lies the... READ MORE

Officer Dredd, the Blue Ocean Man

APRIL 6 — It is comforting that the Najib administration is showing some concerns about the size of government expenditure. They are doing... READ MORE

What’s important, and what’s not

MARCH 31 — I am tired of politics revolving around personality. With it comes excessive feudal culture and ugly mudslinging all too frequently. One... READ MORE

Free trade in rice good for Malaysia

MARCH 24 — The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) recently warned food prices are at record levels in both nominal and real terms since the... READ MORE

Just one ticket, please

MARCH 2 — I have been to a number of cities with superb rail networks before but I hardly took any notice of them. I simply took the convenience... READ MORE

So what do we want from our schools?

FEB 16 — Prejudice against any group depends on generalisation for it to take root successfully in one’s mind. Although I have to admit that... READ MORE

The absent ballot

JAN 26 — There is speculation that there will be a general election in the near future. Political parties across the board are shifting gears, as... READ MORE

Living without fear

JAN 12 — I feared being alone as a child. One could say I was spoiled. I remember bugging my parents every time I needed to go the bathroom or the... READ MORE

Favouring the fat over the fit

DEC 28 — The prime minister has said it so many times. His administration wants to turn Malaysia into a high-income country.  One of several... READ MORE

The tap water must flow

DEC 15 — The tussle for control of water distribution in Selangor attracts strong opinions and allegations. The Pakatan Rakyat Selangor state... READ MORE

Using the name of God in vain

DEC 13 — As long as there are those who believe in supernatural explanations to rationalise the completely natural world and as long as there are... READ MORE

Centrists lose with a viable ‘third force’

NOV 24 — There is talk of a third force in Malaysia. Lawyer/activist Haris Ibrahim has stated that the third force is a bunch of independents ready... READ MORE

It requires an answer

NOV 18 — At a recent public lecture in Sydney, Australia, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said he avoids answering which he aspires to: a secular state or... READ MORE

More open immigration as a source of growth

OCT 1 — Foreigners from poorer countries working in unglamorous low-skilled industries in Malaysia have it tough. Stereotyped, some Malaysians... READ MORE

Discuss, debate… not threaten

AUG 27 — Opinions abound and they are bound to hit some sensitive nerve. When it hits, there goes another police report. There goes another demand... READ MORE

Why do we have poster wars?

AUG 16 — In Waterloo, which is about 20 minutes to the south of the central business district of Sydney, a man in his mid-30s approached me. He... READ MORE

Hitting the brakes on subsidy liberalisation

AUG 4 — I am generally in favour of subsidy cuts in Malaysia. Yet, I hesitate to support the recent liberalisation. The economic rationale for... READ MORE

Fluid Australian politics

JULY 26 — It happens once every three years. That is how often the Australian Federal election has to be held. That is probably why Australian... READ MORE

The road to hell…

JULY 18 — It begins with a good intention. Everybody deserves to consume fantastical juice. After all, everything is made out of it. It would be a... READ MORE

Wanted: Political capital and will to solve problems

JUNE 14 — There is mutual frustration between those in government and those who identify themselves as ordinary citizens in Malaysia. The... READ MORE

Taking undue credit from the recovery

MAY 24 — When the economy first began to tumble down in 2008, those within the government were eager to point out that weakened external demand... READ MORE

The tragedy of economic populism

MAY 11 — The Greece story is a result of intertwining plots. One major cause is economic populism. It is a reminder that populist measures tend to... READ MORE

Either empower it or be done with it

APRIL 30 — In an ideal world, the Dewan Negara would serve to strengthen division of power in Malaysia. It is supposed to represent the interest of... READ MORE

Embrace a more holistic view on development

APRIL 12 — There is much stress on economic freedom these days. This is clear by the fact that the New Economic Model is advocating less... READ MORE

It begins with a conversation

APRIL 1 — It was a day in May some five years ago that I hopped on an airplane alone from Detroit to San Francisco. I rarely go anyway alone.... READ MORE

Opposition to reforms

MARCH 25 — Malaysia requires multiple reforms. Development in recent years proves that moving away from the status quo is incredibly hard,... READ MORE

Make way for local elections

MARCH 9 — What a wonderful piece of news. That aptly describes my reaction upon learning the request of the Penang state government to the... READ MORE

Home is where liberty is

MARCH 2 — A dear friend was in Sydney recently. For old times’ sake, he called me up and asked if I was free for the day. I said yes. How... READ MORE

No to the policy of One Price

FEB 22 — Prices of the same tradable items in different places tend to converge in a perfectly efficient market. Theoretically, motivated by... READ MORE

We need practice and a little bit of courage

FEB 11 — Words may contribute to violent behaviours. This potential makes various individuals apprehensive of the ideal of freedom and in this... READ MORE

Forget subsidies, just give me cash

JAN 19 — In spite of opposition that saw the streets of Kuala Lumpur filled with pro-fuel subsidy groups during the Abdullah administration,... READ MORE

Barking up the wrong tree

JAN 14 — How many times have we heard the statement that if so and so did not exist, certain problems would go away? Specifically, one side would... READ MORE

Racism and moral authority

JAN 9 — In an ideal world, moral authority is unnecessary for a person to hold a position, to raise a point, to criticiSe it, to object to an... READ MORE

Stimulus may bite back in 2010

JAN 1 — Economics has been labelled as some sort of a discipline that predicts the future. The application of various models and efforts at... READ MORE

Dude, where’s my diskette drive?

DEC 24 — The dawn of the 21st century disappoints the part of me growing up reading works of science fiction. Here we are living in a much too... READ MORE

GLCs are not quite part of the private sector

DEC 17 — Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah recently made a speech that received a lot of attention. Early in it, he shared... READ MORE

Chin Peng, sympathy, injustice and sanctity of contract

DEC 8 — The day I had a lunch appointment with a friend at the central business district in Sydney was one of those pleasant summer days. With... READ MORE

We must not agree to disagree

NOV 30 — Is it not great to witness the culture of freedom spreading in Malaysia, no matter how painfully slow progress has been so far? To... READ MORE

A return to basics

NOV 17 — One simply cannot underestimate the power of education in shaping society. It has an awesome capability in influencing a person’s... READ MORE

Flawed institutions may be holding Malaysia back

NOV 10 — Growth of six per cent of gross domestic product per year for the next eleven years. That, according to the prime minister, is the rate... READ MORE

A liberal separation between state and religion

NOV 3 – An optimist may take the view that politics is unifying. A realist will understand that politics is divisive. It is possible that this... READ MORE

The government continues to expand under the 2010 budget

OCT 27 — As the libertarian I am, I can only sigh reading the 2010 federal budget speech delivered by the Finance Minister. I begin from a point... READ MORE

One data point

OCT 12 — I am unsure if I am recalling this accurately but in the back of my mind, amid cobwebs of vague memories, I somehow remember reading an... READ MORE

In praise of trivial choices

OCT 5 — It is easy to dismiss the triviality, for instance, of choosing a pair of high heels out of hundreds as excesses of modern life defined... READ MORE

A chance to demonstrate Malaysian goodwill

OCT 2 — The very silly spat between Malaysia and Indonesia is a huge disappointment for regionalists who dream of repeating the European... READ MORE

Accusation of Malayan imperialism does not humour me

SEPT 17 — Those who value liberty place responsibility on a pedestal. Without responsibility, an entity is undeserving of liberty and deserves... READ MORE

Anti-trust laws can defeat protectionism

SEPT 7 – Opponents of economic liberalisation fear, among many other things, the possibility of giant foreign companies dominating the local... READ MORE

Busting the myth of the monolithic community

SEPT 1  – What happened last Friday in Shah Alam – when a group of people protesting against construction of a Hindu temple chose to do it by... READ MORE

Focus on Islamic credential is both exclusive and plastic politics

AUG 24 — A contest between PAS and Umno within conservative Malay settings is more likely than not a race to the bottom. It inevitably... READ MORE

Is Pakatan Rakyat ready to rule?

AUG 19 — I actually posed the title question on The Star’s Citizen blog for some feedback from anonymous sources. I had also requested that the... READ MORE

It’s the price and supply control, sweetie

AUG 18 — Ask a layperson what he or she thinks of the definition of economics. If they do not say it is the art of making money, many of them... READ MORE

A generation of activist idealists

AUG 11 - A trauma can make or break a person. It can make or break a generation, too. In an inconspicuous house in Bangsar, a group of individuals... READ MORE

The era of paternalism is not over

AUG 3 — The era of government knows best is over, or so said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak in the early part of his young administration.... READ MORE

A liberal democratic Domino Theory

JULY 27 — Indonesia can be an important factor in the creation of a liberal democratic Malaysia. Its sheer size, its proximity to Malaysia and... READ MORE

Ghost unseen in a cold Sydney

JULY 20 — While I am excited to see the constellations above my head change yet again, I had some consternation about living in Australia for an... READ MORE

Gender-based quota is counter-productive to societal betterment

JULY 9 — We live in a world full of inequality in terms of rights and opportunities. For those who care, it is only natural for them to address... READ MORE

A step forward with thousands to go

JULY 3 — Liberalisation is on the move. Yet, the move hardly deserves to be called a liberalisation effort. Notwithstanding how truly free the... READ MORE

PAS-Umno unity must remain dead if PAS is to live

JUNE 24 — The proposal to form a so-called unity government between PAS and Umno finally finds its rightful place — in a dustbin. Nothing... READ MORE

Regretfully, fiscal deficit is a non-issue

JUNE 15 — The consistent fiscal deficit the federal government currently experiences is an issue far removed from everyday life. For many, it is... READ MORE

Move on

JUNE 3 — Members of the older generations generally adopt a paternalistic attitude towards the younger generations when discussing the history of... READ MORE

Fiscal stimuli did not factor in Q1

MAY 26 – Whatever the results may be for the gross domestic product growth rate for the first quarter of the year, let us be clear about one... READ MORE