UMNO-NOMICS: The Dark Side of the Budget by Teh Chi-Chang

Book Review by Sandra Rajoo

What do we know about government spending? What are ‘contingent liabilities’? Are wastage, corruption and mismanagement eating up our financial resources? Ultimately, does the Budget provide for a good quality of life – a high standard of living at a reasonable cost – for all Malaysians? These are but a few of the pertinent and fundamental issues underlying the Budget which need explaining. UMNO-NOMICS  is a book that strips the federal Budget down to the nitty-gritty, presenting its stark reality minus the mind-boggling jargon and embellishments.

Author Teh Chi-Chang writes unequivocally and judiciously, giving us hard facts which are backed by research and analysis. Adding large doses of biting satire and wit is cartoonist Johnny Ong who breaks down the multifarious topics into rib-tickling illustrations. His succinct cartoons wickedly depict the unsavoury implications of uncontrolled spending and the repercussions of damaging policies.

Inevitably, comparisons of Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat fiscal and economic policies and practices are made. Whose are prudent and more inclusive and whose are reckless and benefit a select few? Teh’s objective is to keep us up to date with the current situation, hence empower us to make informed choices.

Chief Executive of the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS), Wan Saiful Wan Jan, in his foreword, says concisely, “Pakatan supporters must read this book so that they have more cogent arguments for their allegiance beyond ‘because Umno is wrong’. And those who support Umno or BN must read it to understand why the other side is so upset with them.”

Teh’s engaging writing style ‘speaks’ to the reader. Direct and explicit, he articulates the many complex issues coherently. Together with Johnny’s clever cartoons, an otherwise difficult subject is made easily digestible and comprehensible. An easy and enjoyable read best sums up this insightful book.

Ipoh-born Teh Chi-Chang holds the Chartered Financial Analyst® designation and degrees from the Universities of Warwick and Cambridge. He is currently the Executive Director of independent think-tank REFSA (Research for Social Advancement). He had spent 16 years in the corporate sector, including as a director of investment research and has headed Malaysia country-research teams. UMNO-NOMICS is the sequel to his 2009 best-seller The Budget: How the Government is Spending OUR Money. UMNO-NOMICS sells at RM35, inclusive of delivery, and is available at, or email: to place your order. You can also purchase the book for RM29.50 at Rashi Mini Market (newsagent), No. 37 Jalan Perajurit, Ipoh Garden East, Ipoh.

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