Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Winning Speech Forum

Today I attended the MIM KL Toastmasters International Speech & Table Topics contests – three of the 4 speeches I heard – from Geoff Andrew, Lee Sai Keong & Alia Nadhirah – were certainly better than the speeches that won the accolades at the D’ Utama Advanced contest yesterday. But the latter did better in the Table Topics contest, methinks.

And then it was the “Division W’s The Winning Speech Forum” where DTMs Loghandran, Dr. Arul, LeAnn Tang, Dominic Joseph, Ramdas Nayar & Geoff Andrew gave really insightful input into TI’s winning speeches, and which serve as good pointers for would-be contestants in the International Speech contests. I truly enjoyed this workshop and congratulations to Division W Governor DTM Soh Fong Wai for initiating this.

Back in November, when the question of Dubai's solvency came to a head, it was ultimately bailed out by its rich older brother, Abu Dhabi. Now, the European Union is alarmed, if not worried about PIGS – Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain – all boast public debt above or headed for 100% of GDP. Though the PIGS acronym was apparently coined by British bankers, Britain, Ireland and Iceland also smell distinctly of bacon!

The problem isn't confined to Europe. Japan and the United States, by most reckonings the world's largest economies, also face pressing questions about their sovereign debt levels. To be sure, the US and Japan can sustain such deficits more comfortably than small countries like Greece or Portugal where the government's ability to curb public-sector spending is rightly suspect. Yet even in economic giants, bad policy could cause investors to move out of debt they have long considered a safe haven. The moment is approaching when the artificial line separating the wealthy from emerging markets will lose much of its relevance.

But while today’s news is focusing on developed economies – let’s not forget about Malaysia’s predicament where things are not what they seem to be. A simple test – ask any Malaysian if he or she agrees or disagrees that the cost of living here has been rocketing upwards, putting immense pressure on many families?

Najib Razak is cleverly betting on his Government Transformation Programme (GTP) and the recovering economy to win his Barisan Nasional (BN) enough votes to win the next general elections. The PM has carefully based the GTP on key bread and butter issues faced by the public, but does he really understand the economic issues confronting us?

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