Difficult times ahead

A friend forwarded an email to me. This is what was stated in the email:

In Cambodia they have satellite TV too. They only pay USD5.00 per month (or approx RM16.00 per month) for 100 channels. I was really surprised. Over here we pay over RM100.00 for a package with Astro and get less than 30 channels. How come?

Cambodia has much, much less infrastructure han ust. They need to spend more to provide satellite TV services and yet they are about six times cheaper. And considering that they get about four times as many channels, you can approximately ‘compound’ their ‘cost advantage’ and say that they get 24 times more “value for money” than us in terms of paying for satellite TV (6 times cheaper price x 4 times more channels = 24 times more “value for money”)

I pay for 130  plus a month for my Astro package. If what is written in the above email is true  – perhaps those who have lived there before can help to verify this point —  what i am paying  is 32 times less ‘value for money, using the calculations from the writer of the email above.  The problem is that we are NOT 32 times richer than the Cambodia. Dollar to dollar, we may be ten times richer but definitely not 32 . If such a country can offer such price to their people, why can’t we? We are a  country that is supposedly  IT orientated; a country with the so-called Multimedia Super Corridor.

Maybe , in the face of rising living cost, I need to cut down on my Astro subscription.. When I first subscribe, it was more for the benefits of my children, and now that our children have grown up , and now that you can download almost all the serials and movies over the internet, it is time really to re assess whether it is worth subscribing to Astro. Apart from the news channels, and national geography and History channels, nowadays we hardly see watch any serials over Astro, because they are showing only the old serials. For the latest HK serials , you need to pay extra (Astro on demand) , on top of the 130 plus a month.

It is really easy to download the latest serials from internet, and convert it to Mpeg 2 and there it is , you can plug you pen drive and watch the latest of American or HK or Korean or Japanese serials, maybe just a day later than what was shown over there.  The only problem is that the format downloaded can only be  played  on your computer but not on your TVs..You can solve the problem by  downloading some of the very good converting software from CNET free of charge ( i like to download from CNET because they run spyware and antiviral check on the software listed on their site)  .

The one I use is called Any Video Converter freeware, and you can convert files of any format into mpeg2 to play on your TVs, or to avi format and play through your DVD player. Or if you have the time, you can even burn it into DVD and create your own collections of self made DVDs. Try the freeware DVDvideo soft studio freeware for burning into a DVD (again you can download it from cnet).

The point i am trying to make is that we are paying too much for our pay-to-view TVs channels. If Cambodia can be so cheap, there is no reason why we cannot have more channels for the amount of money we pay monthly. Why should we pay so much more for so much less?

That is the problems of being a middle-income country. While the salary we get  is in the range of middle-income countries, the projects started by the people holding the monopolies are charging a fee near to the Developed nation’s standard( sometimes even higher). We pay like a developed nation for our broadband, we pay quite a hefty amount for mobile charges, we pay so much more for Pay-to-view TVs. We pay through our nose for our cars, which is so much cheaper in most of the first world countries.

Yesterday i read in the papers that the cabinet has agreed for a hike in electricity charges. Although I doubt whether it would be imposed before the next general election, one thing i am sure is that electricity bills will go up once the GE is over. Once an election is over, there is no need to worry about the votes anymore, and all sorts of price increase can be expected.

Any hike in electricity bills will have a multiplier effects on living costs, since everything else will go up following a hike of electricity charges. There will be another round of price increase, and another round of tightening our belts. On top of that, we can expect more cuts in subsidies. On top of those, there is the GST which will be imposed once the election is over.

Life will then be even more difficult. Food prices will be higher, transportation costs increased; the only thing that will not be raised is probably the salary, since most businesses will simply not be able to afford any more salary increase, following the increase in utility bills and everything tied to it.

Very soon, a person holding a 3000 salary job may not even be able  to live decently in the city. As one reader has mentioned, a breaking point maybe reached. I dread to think of such a day.


36 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. wassup
    Dec 10, 2010 @ 13:01:34

    Simple solution is to not subscribe to Astro. And if Dr Hsu felt your party cant do nuts for the betterment of the people, than you leave. And if you suspect things will inflate after the next GE than you should know where to ‘pangkah’. And if my dear Dr Hsu cannot make up this simple solution than what can I say?

    Like

  2. klm
    Dec 10, 2010 @ 13:18:21

    I read in the Malay Mail ” Mob attacks Prince Charles’ car during riot over tuition fee hike”. Nothing is sacred anymore in the UK. UK is at breaking point. Cut expenses and raise taxes and the country go up in flame. Do nothing and the govt go bankrupt. It is a terrible time to be living in the UK.

    Do we want this in Malaysia? If things are not balanced properly… I dread that day.

    Like

  3. Richard Loh
    Dec 10, 2010 @ 13:18:50

    I had cut the astro for nearly 8 years now..spending time on the computer. You can live without astro..that is for sure.

    We know that the country is in such a stage is because billions are lost through you know how and I can specifically said that our leaders are not up to the grade to run the country.

    The good and capable future leaders are suppressed from taking over, the mentality of one race rule will further destroy the country.

    Like

  4. CYC
    Dec 10, 2010 @ 14:23:36

    Welcome to the land of Utopia ! Its like Kim Jong Il constantly parading their citizens who live in joyous environment coupled with great achievements despite majority are starving. We need wikileaks very much indeed, Utopia or otherwise. Politicians promise u heaven or pure land, wikileaks gives u the unseen truth. U choose which is the better, uncertain eternity or momentary realisation.

    Like

  5. sammy
    Dec 10, 2010 @ 15:33:29

    Most LCD/Plasma tvs nowadays have a USB input that can read .avi, mp3/4 and mpg files. no need to susah2 convert.

    My makcik at the makan shops are raising food prices by a ringgit as gas has gone up and soon my teh tarik and roti canai will be RM3 or more!

    I still do not see how removing subsidies benefits us rakyat when ministers are still taking lawatan sambil belajar trips again, while they need to repair Parliament and upgrade the military to fight god knows who!

    Like

  6. klm
    Dec 10, 2010 @ 15:54:52

    The ancient Chinese strategist Wei Liao said:

    “The state of a [true] king enriches the people; the state of a hegemon enriches the officers. A state that merely survives enriches the high officials and a state that is about to perish enriches only its own granaries and storehouses.”

    This refer to the the decay of a state. This is what is happening, high officials are enriching themselves. Removing the subsidies and GST are the equivalent of enriching the sttae granaries and storehouses. The ancients had seen states rise, decayed and die. They had written about it. And today we are seeing what they wrote thousands of years ago.

    Like

  7. CYC
    Dec 10, 2010 @ 16:44:32

    Lao Tze’s advise on practical governance are plentiful in TaoDeJing. But our smarter than thou politicians prefer Thickblack theory as it shields their bloody face when telling lies. It doesn’t matter if they are apparently wearing the king’s new cloths though.

    A man with an empty stomach is an angry man. So, watch out and hold your breath. It will be more dramatic than 308. Never guess what will be the outcome as Tao will take its natural course.

    Like

  8. disgusted
    Dec 10, 2010 @ 17:23:09

    Sammy is right. Economists talk about virtue of removing subsidies. It’s only good if the government is benevolent. What is the point when we save like hell and the government spends it like no tomorrow business. I wonder why we need a government if a government just look after its own selfish vested interests. What the hell for? A government is for what? To skin us alive? To arrest us when we criticise? To put a screw on our rights and freedom? It is supposed to look after everybody’s interests and betterment. We elect them to put us through hell?

    Unless I am insane, there doesn’t seem logical?

    Like

  9. Dr Hsu
    Dec 10, 2010 @ 18:32:00

    sammy,
    I bought a sony EX LED TV a few months ago. At that time, sony has no 3 D yet. And the set can only play Mpeg2 not even mp4 and avi. So i need the converter. Maybe the latest 3d version can play avi, but for avi i nned to paly through my DVD player.

    Like

  10. amywyon
    Dec 10, 2010 @ 19:25:03

    I am so leaving.

    Like

  11. disgusted
    Dec 10, 2010 @ 22:17:03

    Richard, I wish I could do the same , cut off Astro. But I also consider family members who love to watch the Chinese channels. I agree with you, if I were a bachelor, I can throw the Astro into the thrash can. Incidentally, it is by no accident that ASTRO stands for “Always Screen The Repeats Only”.

    We are already being cheated by this monopoly, txs to the Old Horse. It was approved in Cabinet, this Ass-tro.

    Like

  12. John
    Dec 11, 2010 @ 00:39:29

    Doc may be you want to install a satellite disc which cost only RM500 and it can receive programs from China and other parts of the world and is FOC (though is illegal according to law) .

    I think is time for the gomen to allow the public to install big satellite discs to view free foreign programs.

    Like

  13. Awtarman
    Dec 11, 2010 @ 03:08:11

    I only subscribed to cartoon and learning channels for the past 3 years. it was only for my children, otherwise i had stopped the subscription long time ago. But I think RM 49 for basic subscription is not too much. The chinese channels are really slaughtering.
    I also cancelled Star newspaper subscription long time ago to protest for its political agenda.

    Easily I had saved RM 100 per month of my household expenditure from Astro and The Star. I invested the money in upgrading the internet bandwidth and installed more computers at home.

    Like

  14. anon
    Dec 11, 2010 @ 07:42:24

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C-SPAN – We should consider starting one such media outlet of our own.

    Like

  15. Dr Hsu
    Dec 11, 2010 @ 08:50:36

    John
    I thought it is illegal to install satellite dish with dish span more than a certain diameter.

    i agree with you that they should allow the public to install big satellite dics . I do not know the reason behind the ban of the dish, but with the internet, whatever ban will not be effective. people can in fact watch program over internet and youtube etc. It is more to protect the cronies and their monopolies.

    Like

  16. Dr Hsu
    Dec 11, 2010 @ 08:52:42

    anon
    You are right. Malaysia should have a C-span channel. But the audience may be quite limited, more for those who are politically conscious and the NGOs. But it would be the right move towards a more transparent genvernment.

    Like

  17. klm
    Dec 11, 2010 @ 10:18:35

    I think I found a way to put satellite dishes up (reasonable size type). Get some one to paint the Maxis logo on it. Then it will become hidden in daylight. One of the 36 stratagems.

    Like

  18. Dr Hsu
    Dec 11, 2010 @ 10:42:54

    apparently, you can even use the Astro dish to connect to certain decoder and start receiving certain other channels…

    Read this link: http://blog.thestar.com.my/permalink.asp?id=29828

    As for satellite Tvs dish, read the discussion over at Lowyat forum here: http://www.satsig.net/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.pl?board=ivsat-asia;action=display;num=1187549825

    Maybe we should all push our MPs to voice out in Parliament to allow people to install satellite dishes. Information is Gold in this world, why block information and let the cronies make money? As citizens , we have rights to access of information.

    If satellite dish is allowed, then we just have to foot a one-off installation charges.. On the long run, we will still save money…

    Like

  19. klm
    Dec 11, 2010 @ 11:16:32

    I had read about someone building a satellite dish out of concrete and camouflage it in his garden. Then connect the decoder to it. No one will ever know. All it need is a little bit of electronic engineering knowledge. With a bit of creativity and artistry, we can have free world tv. So don’t be constraint by the regulation.

    Like

  20. klm
    Dec 11, 2010 @ 11:29:07

    What If I replace my Astro dish with a Chinese Wok. Is it illegal? What If I use a Chinese wok and a Chinese decoder. Is that allowed?

    Like

  21. Albert Cheah
    Dec 11, 2010 @ 12:11:21

    Malaysia is loosing out rapidly with time in facing the globalized world competition.

    IT is an important infrastructure, just like rails, roads, ports, water supply, power supply, etc. 20 years ago we Malaysia were ahead having “relative” good infra and we had attracted good FDI, but now now as we are falling behind, not only the infra and human talent resources too.

    How competitive are we for the Internet, example?

    I visited a friend staying in one hotel right in KL city centre, Jalan Raja Laut, a few blocks away from DBKL or KL City Hall. Good news, it has Internet connection in the room. Bad news, the charge is RM1.05 ONE MINUTE !!

    So we are Malaysia Boleh lah ! For this, did you hear this remark: “Here it comes again – talk.”

    Like

  22. Dr Hsu
    Dec 11, 2010 @ 12:16:39

    Hi Albert,

    My recent trip to US. The hotels i stayed in SF, and NY provide free WIFI. Both are just tourist class hotels not the fancy type., ANd the connection is fast. In Malaysia,practically all hotels will charge for internet wifi service..I dont understand why? perhaps the service providers charge them too high a fee?

    Like

  23. anon
    Dec 12, 2010 @ 08:29:05

    A former colleague now based in Xiamen, came by for a business visit. While having a coffee break with him, he remarked that in China, reasonable cost high speed broadband access is the norm at home. People are regularly watching television programs through the internet. Surprisingly, he mentioned that within the “great firewall of” China, people are pretty free to say anything on the internet.

    In Malaysia, it seems that the situation is either, the ruling party is having an ostrich syndrome, really incompetent in managing the affair of the country, plain scared of the world outside of its fence or just plain ignorance. I can’t decipher which is which; it can be all, one of it or all of them.

    Like

  24. YAM
    Dec 12, 2010 @ 09:53:50

    That’s the problem when Astro is the only provider of statelite TV in Malaysia.

    What really sucks is that when you want to downgrade, Astro charge RM10. If you want to temporary disconnect for a few months, this will only effect after a month and only for less than 6 months. But when you upgrade, their system can do that within 24 hours. Sound ridiculous.

    Well, I just subscript to basic RM49. Cos the Astro programmes are all repeats and boring. I only watch the news channel in order to be abreast with rest of the world and not backwater/.

    Now with the HD receiver, I understand there is a monthly charge of RM20++ add to your existing bill. So only fools will sign up this new package.

    Or why don you all move to Sarawak though a bit backwater compared to the wild west, where satellte dishes is legalisd and you can watch satellite TV programmes FOC.

    Like

  25. with-or-without-u
    Dec 13, 2010 @ 00:07:58

    Do we really need astro? What is it for? For frying your brain?

    Like

  26. klm
    Dec 13, 2010 @ 13:51:44

    And oh the Malacca monorial. The train that went kaput. I was told the trains are alright, just the tiangs are too small.

    Like

  27. chanjoe1
    Dec 13, 2010 @ 14:09:09

    I was working in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam for 2 years and the price for the cable tv package is not more than RM30.00/month and I get to watch CNN, BBC, ESPN, Sp[orts, Chinese TV, HBO, etc etc…….I was not bored when I was there as I am glued to the cable tv when I am not working…….and best thing is, come rain or c=shine….no interruption in programmes……how’s dat?

    Like

  28. petestop
    Dec 13, 2010 @ 16:40:18

    Astro, who ?
    Have never subscribe to it, and never will.

    In US, it is all abuzz about “cutting the cord”, meaning unsubscribe to cable, satellite and whatsnot. Bcoz Internet is the upcoming delivery medium.

    In Malaysia however, we still getting a decade old 1Mbps broadband connection,
    although the Red Dot down south are already getting their 200Mbps connection.

    http://www.intelligencecentre.net/2010/10/16/services-launch-on-singaporean-ngnbn-but-questions-linger/

    Doc, you don’t have to spend time converting all the various format.
    Just buy a HD media player device, like Popcorn Hour A-210, Xtreamer, ACRyan, Dvico…. these devices can play *almost* all formats and upconverts to Full HD
    1080p and pretty soon, will be able to handle the 3D formats as well.

    Like

  29. petestop
    Dec 13, 2010 @ 19:26:08

    Can someone tell me why Toyota Prius here still cost RM139,900++
    when in the US, the highest configured option just cost USD22,800 (or RM71,435),
    especially when the tax on Hybrid cars suppose to be abolished
    for 2011, and per Toyota salesman claim, this is already 2011 price ??

    Someone is making 100% profit, and I doubt it is only Toyota.

    Like

  30. YAM
    Dec 14, 2010 @ 19:50:30

    In Australia, Proton is selling their cars between A$12,000 to A$14,000 to compete with the Japanese and Korean car manufacturers like Hyundai Getz, Suzuki Swift, Toyota Yaris, Nissan City. Toyota Yaris sedan (imported from Japan) equi. to Malaysia Vios is selling at A$22,000. In Malaysia the sale price is RM80,000++ and assembled in Thailand.

    Though cars are cheap in Australia, cost of insurance will set you back. Road tax (inc. compulsory third party) is A$700 to A$800 for a 1500cc sedan car. Comprehensive insurance is another A$1,000. This is about 10% of the car price.

    Compare to Malaysia, car insurance is RM1200 and road tax is RM200 which is 2% of the price of the car. Besides, car repair and service are cheap. A dented door cost RM500 to repair compared to A$1500 in Australia.

    So you just can’t compare nasi lemak (RM3) to meat pie (A$6) or kopi-O/teh-O (RM1.20) to capucino/latte (A$3.50).

    We have to be contented with what we have. At least our tropical weather are kind to us and UV are so low. Try the icy winter in Canada and Europe or the extreme UV summer in Australia. You just can’t escape the rubbish weather in those countries, spring, summer, autum, winter. In Malaysia, if you feel hot, on the aircond. Truly fantastic weather, ya?

    What do you think, Dr. Hsu?

    Like

  31. Dr Hsu
    Dec 15, 2010 @ 11:39:33

    YAM
    Malaysia is a good place to live, there is no doubt. If you have followed this blog , you would have read somewhere earlier that I had mentioned that while most of my Malaysian classmates decided to stay put in Singapore, I was one of the few who had decided to come back. I have job offers from Australia too which I have turned down.. So I can qualify as a loyal Malaysian and as such I feel that I am qualified to comment on certain aspects of life.

    As I have mentioned, Malaysia is a good place still, but Malaysia could have been a even better place, if there is better governance and less corruption. Malaysians’ life could have been better..

    If you want to talk about pricing of stuffs and compare living standard, then most Australians have more disposable income than Malaysians, and most of them have a higher living standard than here, there is no doubt, weather not withstanding.. There , even a truck driver can own a good car and a decent home, and can afford holidays and so on. A shopkeeper there works 36 hour week maximum under their law, but the relative income is higher than a shopkeeper in Malaysia who may have to work from 11am to 10 pm ( as in many shopping complex).

    The house price/annual income ration and car price/annual income ratio are very high in Malaysia, meaning that most of the young people who have just joined the job market find it hard to own a car as well as a home.. In the 80s, it was much easier even if the pay then was not as high as now.

    As for weather , it is really up to the individuals. while we like it hot here, some likes the changes of the seasons every few months.. Some like Eskimos love the polar region.. While we may not have as high UV radiation at any one time as the Australians’s summer, the same cannot be said of the cumulative UV radiation throughout the whole year. White Australians have high skin cancer rate more because of their outdoor lifestyle, not to mention that the lack of protective pigmentation of their skin.

    As for road tax, one of my friends has a 2600 cc car and paying more than 2000 Ringgits, and more than few thousands of insurance. When car prices are high, insurance premium which is proportional to the car prices goes up proportionally.. On top of that , our tolls are probably the only one that have mandatory raise every three 3 days. Many of us do not mind paying the tolls but we are against the lopsided agreement where every three years, reviews are mandatory and increase in tolls are mandatory.. When the government defers toll increment, we the taxpayers are actually paying the compensation to the toll companies, so indirectly we are still paying for the increment.

    what I am saying is that things could have been better, if there is less monopoly and leave things to market forces.

    I am sure that if cable Tvs are open to other companies, competitions will make the subsrciption more competitive. If the government can do away with the law banning the use of satellite dish below certain sizes, I am also quite sure that Astro subscription will come down.

    Like

  32. klm
    Dec 15, 2010 @ 12:30:15

    Dr. Hsu. your response to Yam reminded me of the saying ” One man’s meat is another man’s poison.” And talking of meat and poison. Old and not fresh meat can be very expensive. Le Meridien’s Prime Grill served the most expensive steak in town. You can choose beef aged up to 200 days. Some people are willing to pay a few hundred ringgit for rotten meat.

    The moral of the story is that there are people who want to stay in Malaysia. The condition and environment in Malaysia allow them to make big money. It just money to make more money here.

    Like

  33. Dr Hsu
    Dec 15, 2010 @ 12:59:45

    klm,
    In fact ,Some time back, I have a discussion with a former deputy minister in the airport on my way back from paying last respect to Dr Lim CE. He has children studying in Australia .

    He opined that it is easy to become very rich in Malaysia, so for those who intend to become rich, Malaysia would be a better place. But for salaried workers and professionals, they earn more relatively in Australia, and they enjoy a higher living standard than their counterparts in Malaysia.

    I think what he has said is quite true. But dont forget that salaried people and professionals are majority.

    Like

  34. farah
    Dec 15, 2010 @ 13:33:00

    Hi Dr Hsu,
    Love reading your blog🙂

    Like

  35. petestop
    Dec 15, 2010 @ 14:52:19

    That ex-Deputy Minister should qualify his statement
    with “it is easy to get rich in Malaysia, provide you have
    the right connections…”

    As for the rest of us salaryman and professionals,
    it is a constant struggle to beat inflation.

    Please ask the ex-Deputy Minister to tell it to my
    parents, both of whom are devoted govt teachers for
    their entire life, how they can get rich ??

    What we want is equitable distribution of wealth,
    that the middle class makes up the bulk of the nation,
    instead of huge gaps between the rich and the poor.

    Like

  36. TH
    Jan 07, 2011 @ 11:25:53

    Yes, everything (almost everything) is available in the internet world… but the fact remains that downloading is a form of piracy…

    Like

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