Hopelessness and Helplessness

Many people are unhappy.

These people don’t care much about politics. They don’t care much about religious issues. They don’t care about the ‘agreement’ between Liow And Chua in the election of MCA (if posts can be agreed upon, why the need for election?). They don’t care about why no action is taken on the case of a deputy minister being hit by a third tier leader of the Big Brother. They have gone immune to these happenings in the Bolehland.

They are unhappy because they feel helpless and hopeless.

After the last General Election, I can feel a prevailing sense of helplessness and hopelessness especially among  those who live in the urban areas.

While they go about their daily activities, most things have become more and more expensive. It is no longer a case of tightening belts. It is now about survival.. This is especially true for those with young children.Many of the young parents with young children are finding it hard to make ends meet. A tin of infant formulae now is more than RM100. And that is considered essential item for a growing infant. A family income of 4000 is no longer enough to live in the cities.

This is no longer about not being able to afford a house. There is now despair that soon, many of them who are renting houses will not be able to afford to have a roof over their heads; they may not have enough to pay for the rentals.  Many of them who work and who used to eating lunch outside is now eating bread and water for their lunch.

They are feeling helpless because they see no light at the end of the tunnel. Even when most of them voted for change, there is no change for the better; there are changes but all these changes make things more and more expensive and there is now less and less money in the pockets.

They are feeling hopeless because apparently these changes are just the beginning. When GSt is implemented next year, things will become worse.

They see ministers and top civil servants travel and move in luxury while they have to cut back on everything.  But they cannot hope for any changes in the short terms since another GE will be 4 years away.

They look at opposition run states and there is not much to shout about too. So even if next election comes and they vote for change, will change be around? They have lost hope. A opposition CM has just bought a new Merz. What difference is he from other politicians? In another state, internal politics are so intense and there might be a change in MB..

Is there any solution to this? Sorry, I don’t not actually see any. Not with the current batch of ‘managers’. There is no more leadership around. The so-called leaders up there  have really lost touch with the common people and the needs of the rakyat.

My advice is only this: Live from day to day!

UP

up(Inflation is like inflated balloons. What will happened if the balloons burst…)

Came back recently from a trip to US, where I spent quite a long holiday there, visiting afew cities during my stay.

After coming back, I went to my favourite coffee shop in Paramount Garden for breakfast last Sunday. Wow, a plate of fried kway Teow has gone up 10% from RM 5 to RM5.50.

Went to one of my favourite cafe and a plate of nasi lemak has gone up a few dollars. Nasi Bojadi is now over 20 ringgits. WithRM 50, you can now buy so little even in  a hypermarket!!

what has happened?

Reading the newspapers, it seems like traders and hawkers are to be faulted since there are so many photos of enforcement officers visiting markets and checking on prices. Is it really due to profiteering by all these small traders?

Prices have generally gone up. I do not have any business but by running a clinic, I too know how much medicine costs have gone up. Paracetamol , the cheapest of all drugs, is now more than 3 times more costly than just 5 years ago. Running nose medication , especially those with vaso-constrictor drug pseudoephedrine, has gone up 8 times. The latter is because of an artificial shortage caused by the Ministry restricting the import. The reason given is there are people using pseudoephedrine to make other more sinister drugs that are commonly used by patrons of night clubs and so on.

Tranquilizers have gone up more than 10 times, and are unavailable most of the time. Again because of certain restriction by government authority to reduce its import. But there are many patients with psychosomatic symptoms that require such medication to tie than over. So these genuine patients have to folk out ten times more than the usual price to get their medication.

The last few years also see a general hike in all the drugs, be it generic or originals, but not to the extent of the drugs mentioned above. Instead of causing an artificial shortages, the government should target those who manufacture sinister drugs and those who misuse it in the night clubs and so on, instead of making the genuine patients pay for the huge increase.

Then, outside the medical fields, almost everything has gone up in prices. This is not so much due to profiteering , but due to increase in overhead.

After the 505 GE, price of petrol has gone up. This translate to an increase in transportation cost.

Electricity tariff has gone up.

Property prices and thus renta rate has gone up. Assessment in KL has gone up and this translate again to an increase in rental. Those with foreign workers have to pay RM110 more because of the i-kad. The weakening Ringgit has also caused imported goods to be more expensive.

All these resulted in an increase cost n doing business. Not so much profiteering.

So instead of asking enforcement to go down to markets to check prices, government  leaders should ask themselves, what have they done ?

Malaysia is a rich country. Why are we having deficits years after years? Why do we need such a big civil service workforce? Why do we need so many ministers? why the need to have lavish  functions whenever a minister needs to hold a meeting or so on?

Why are there so rampant corruptions and wastage? Just look at the Auditor-General’s annual reports.

If all these can be tackled, do we need to spend so much on subsidies?

All the photos of officers checking on prices are more for political reasons and rural consumption. BUt if the leaders really care, they should postpone GST, cut down on wastage, and lower electricity and toll charges.

Reducing subsidies do not really need to raise tariff or taxes. It can be done by more prudent spending and more belt tightening by the government.

Cousumer ‘Kangkung’ Index

Prime Ministers and presidents are wise people.

If they are not, they would not have survived and excelled  in the world of politics  that is more savage than the most primitive jungle. To rise to their positions, they must have endured obstacles and booby traps of all kinds. That of course requires utmost cleverness and wisdom.

As wise men, what they say and do are often wise words and deeds that we ordinary souls should just listen and follow.

So when our Prime Minister recently mentioned about the prices of kangkung going down, he should not be criticised.

Maybe what he meant is that the prices of kangkung can be used as a replacement for CPI.

So many ordinary folks have criticised that CPI is not really a good reflector of inflation. People laugh when told that CPI is only 2% or so. They laugh because the price of their roti canai or Wantan Mee have gone up faster than what the CPI depicts. So maybe CPI is not such a good indicator and should be replaced by a more accurate measure..

Maybe we should use the price of kangkung as a measure of the inflation rate. Call it Consumer Kangkung Index, CKI. Just like globally, people are using Big Mac as a comparison of living costs of different regions.

The price of kangkung is determined by many factors. You have to factor in the rentals of the vegetables sellers, the wholesalers and the farmers. You have to factor in the  transportation costs which are influenced by the petrol and toll prices. You have to factor in the fertiliser cost which requires electricity in their production.

On top of that,  most premises and machinery require water and electricity to run.  You have to factor in the minimal wages, because the farmers, the wholesales and even the vegetables sellers employ people to help run their businesses. Most probably they are foreign workers , since we Malaysians are said to be not keen to take up these jobs.

So, you see, the price of kangkung depends on so many factors, it is indeed a good measure of the inflation rate.

And prices of kangkung are said to have dropped. This coming from a wise person and this is indeed wise word.

This despite the increase in electricity tariffs, the increase in petrol prices, the increase in tolls charges, the increase in rentals caused by a sharp rise in property prices, not to mention the RM 110 per head of foreign workers for i-kad.

So it is indeed good news that despite the increase of so many factors that influence cost of livings, the price of kangkung has dropped.

Our government policy must be right. We ordinary folks may not know how, but the wise men up there , they must have a way to tackle inflation that we dont know. Perhaps it is due to the effects of BR1M.

We should not question the wise words of our leaders. We should just accept it that kangkung price has dropped and that shows that there is really no inflation.

The only thing that puzzles most of us  is that  despite the low kangkung price, we have no more money in our pocket to buy it for dinner!

Maybe we should listen to the wise words of Marie Antoinette, if we don’t have bread to eat, why not eat cakes?

Let the painting remain!

Sometimes, when children are frightened of ‘ghosts’, they will sleep with their blankets covering their heads.

Children’s minds  are very simple. If the eyes cannot see by covering with blankets, then in their little minds, the ghosts would not appear. But if there is really ghosts ( a controversial topic), they would still be there no matter how the children cover their heads.

Recently, a Lithuanian artist drew a beautiful wall painting in Johor Baru.wall painting

The painting actually depicts a scene that has always been in the minds of urbanites of Malaysia.  Ask any Malaysian who stay in the cities what worry them most, the answer would invariably be the crime situation and security of their family.

I would like to thank the artist for putting up the painting, which can serve as a reminder for urbanites to be more careful when they go out.

It can also serve as a reminder to the law enforcement that they cannot be resting on their laurels.

I think many people share my views.

There are however reports that the authority is viewing this painting negatively. There are reports that the authority concerned wanted to remove the painting.

I hope they will reconsider.

I hope they will not be as simple minded as the children mentioned above.

The crime situation would not improve by removing the painting. The robbers would not just disappear.  The crime situation can only be improved if the law enforcement is constantly reminded the need to protect the citizens from the threat as depicted in the painting.  It can only be improved by increasing vigilance of both the people and the police.

Malaysia is now 56 years old. I think we should all be matured  enough to look at ourselves satirically.

Sweeping all the dirt under the carpet will not solve any problems. It will only make the floor dirtier later.

A war between two ideologies

Updated version:

http://www.themalaymailonline.com/opinion/hsu-dar-ren/article/a-war-between-two-ideologies

September 21, 2013

SEPT 21 — The Chinese have a saying that “if a leader succeeds, he will be hailed as a hero, but if a leader fails, he would be called a bandit.”

Both the late Tunku Abdul Rahman and Chin Peng actually fought for the same cause, that was to gain independence for the people of Malaya after the Second World War.

The difference was that they subscribed to different ideologies, and at that time, there was in fact a greater war being fought between those two ideologies.

While the Tunku subscribed to Western style democracy, and was instrumental in winning local elections and negotiating successfully with the British to grant independence to the country, Chin Peng chose another way. But his choice should be viewed within the context of that time.

Chin Peng, in fact, was honoured with an OBE during the Second World War for leading the Malayan People’s Anti-Japanese army. This hero status was changed when his forces turned against the British to fight for the independence of Malaya. His OBE was withdrawn by the British authorities then.

Chin Peng’s fault was that he chose Communism as a vehicle for his struggle. Communism has proven to be a failed ideology, and most so-called communist states today are now adopting market economy.

I do not support Communism, nor do the majority of the people of Malaysia and the world at large. As an ideology, it has failed.

The threat then, however, was real. State after state fell to Communism at that time, and there was this domino theory that had most of the democratic nations worried.

In the end, it was their intrinsic ideological weakness in managing the economy that led to the demise of the whole Communist ideology. The two biggest Communist powers, China and Russia, have all turned to market economy and are practising a modified market economy.

But at that time, during the 50s and 60s, the Communists played up the sentiments of independence for the people against colonial powers, and many youngsters succumbed to this attraction, and joined the struggle not so much because of their belief or understanding in the ideology, but more for the struggle to push out the colonial powers.

As a result, all over South-east Asia, wars were being waged. In Korea, in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos Thailand and Malaysia, wars were being fought between the Communists (supported by the USSR and China) and the non-Communists (with the help of their Western allies). It was in fact an extension of the bigger war being fought between the Communist giants and the Western allies.

In wars, there are bound to be casualties and atrocities. While what the communists under Chin Peng did should not be condoned, it should be seen in the context of a war. Many innocents were killed. In fact, a prominent headmaster from my alma mater, Chung Ling HIgh School, was murdered by the Communists.

But in war, once there is a peace accord, both parties must look forwards and not backwards. As an example, once the Second World War ended, the US even helped to rebuild West Germany, and Japan.

Even China and Japan re-established ties and exchanged ambassadors. Malaysia, one of the countries occupied by Japan where thousands were killed and beheaded, also became friendly with post-war Japan.

Another example is the Cold War. All the fights in South-east Asia were actually an extension of the Cold War, a war between two major ideologies. Once the Cold War ended, the past was forgiven and bridges were quickly built between the former Communist states and the democratic world.

To bar Chin Peng’s return was understandable, even though it was against the spirit of the peace accord.

But once a person dies, there must be a closure to everything.

As a nation, while we should not forget about the past, we should not be obsessively vindictive too.

Furthermore, how are we going to enforce the ruling to prevent his ashes from coming into Malaysia?

So I would join in the chorus of appeal including those from Tan Sri Yuen Yuet Leng, a top police officer involved in the fight against Chin Peng and his people, to allow his ashes to come back to Malaysia.

Let us be magnanimous and forgiving as a nation and move forward.

- See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/opinion/hsu-dar-ren/article/a-war-between-two-ideologies#sthash.pxkdEirc.dpuf

The illegals

The ongoing exercise to weed out the illegal foreign workers is long overdue.

Despite being given more than 18 months to legalise their workers, many employers were dragging their feet and did not take advantage of the 6P scheme. Now that the government is taking action against these illegals, theses employers are asking for a stay and another chance. But a line has to be drawn somewhere, and I think the authority is right to crack down on the illegals.

Many of these are employed by locals. But many others have opened their own businesses and run stores and even shops. Many are involved in crime  taking advantage of the fact that officially, they do not exist.

Those doing business are competing directly with the locals, and make life tougher for local traders and businessmen.

Those involved in crime are making the crime situation going from bad to worse.

Many are carrying diseases and thus we now have a resurgence of tuberculosis and other infectious diseases.  The illegals did not need to go through any health screen, so they are the main culprits in the spread and resurgence of these illnesses.

For those who genuinely need foreign workers to help their businesses,they can always apply officially and go through the official channels.  It is precisely because of our lax enforcement that many employers are emboldened to employ the illegals. Why go through many red tapes to get a legal worker when you can just hire  off the street?

Having said all these, I do hope that any crack down action should be done humanely and properly and according to our laws and standing regulations.  They should be weeded out, but they are also human beings and should be treated in a humane manner.

Actions should also be taken against those who bring in these illegals and those who knowingly harbour these illegals. Otherwise, once these illegals are sent back, they will get the help of these local contacts and come back here again, maybe with a different identity.

And dont forget those officers who knowingly close their eyes due to you-know-why..

 

 

 

More pain less gain!

I strongly believe that the recent petrol hike is just the beginning of many more painful measures going to be introduced by the government.

GST is coming. That will add a few percentage points to goods and services, making things more costly.

From what i gather, healthcare transformation is on the way too. It is just a matter of time that doctors would not be able to dispense medicine. Patients would have to see a doctor, get a prescription and have it filled at a pharmacy. This means higher treatment charge, which will be paid via a national healthcare fund.

There is also rumour that 1Care (the name may be changed since 1Malaysia is no longer the trending slogan) will be introduced. Under that , doctors will be allocated to patients, and each person above certain income level will have to pay monthly or yearly premium into a national fund which will reimburse the doctors and selected pharmacies  for treatment charges. Any wonder that a big pharmacy chain is now on a acquisition drive to acquire stand-alone pharmacies in preparation of this .

All these measures will be used to reduce federal deficits and the savings will enable government to have more money to spend on projects– in the Malaysian context, maybe more leakage and wastage to make everyone with good connections happy.

Ordinary people will have to rationalise their spending habits, buy only the essentials, plan their trips, tighten the belts until it can no longer be tightened. In a nutshell, we have to be prepared to downgrade our lifestyle.

Will salary for ordinary people go up? It depends how many illegals are caught and deported. These illegals have filled many of the job vacancies, and as a result, salary level for locals have not gone up much, despite cost of living escalating higher and higher.

With more development projects, the rich is going to become richer, and land prices will probably go up and up, and  owning a home is going to be more and more difficult.

For the well connected, there will indeed be “Endless possibilities”. For the politicians, urbanites are no longer important as long as they can get support from the rural areas, as witnessed in the just concluded GE.

For the ordinary in urban and suburban areas, life  will be more painful. These are why I have written that harder times are ahead of us in my last article.

I guess we may have to just swallow more painkillers!

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