The Malaysian Way

Electricity tariff has been raised by an average of 7%. Not everyone will be affected.

On the plus side, those who use less than RM77 a month will probably not be affected. However, those who are in this category please do not be too happy;  they will be affected indirectly.

Those who use more than RM77 a month will be affected directly.

Who are those using more than RM77? Majority of these will be middle class households in cities and towns.

If you have a fridge, 2 air-conditioners, a washing machine, do some ironing and use lights at night, you will probably be in this category. Most of us staying in KL or other towns will probably be in this category. It is no more a luxury to have air-conditioners , as our weather has become hotter compared to the 60s and 70s. Fridge and washing machines have become necessities too due to the modern lifestyle.

If you run   a small business, you will probably be affected too.

When businesses are affected, cost of doing business will go up, and this rise in overhead will be translated into higher prices of goods and services.

When that happens, even the poor and those who use less than RM77 will be affected.

For those who have millions and millions, a 7% rise in electricity and a few percent rise in prices will be small matter to them.

It is the middle class, those who earn a few thousand dollars a month, who will feel the effect of this rise in electricity tariff.

Perhaps we have no choice since oil and gas prices have soared. But as I have mentioned in an article recently, if we can plug the leakages and wastages, we will probably have more reserve to spare and we would not have to raise the tariff so much.

While many of us are scratching our heads to find ways to minimise expenses and tighten our belts further, the IPPs will be laughing their way to the banks, earning profits that is way beyond normal business practices.

Malaysians are practically dishing out money from their pockets to pay these IPPs. I would probably be less bitter– and I think many of you will feel the same– if not for the fact that I am tightening my belt to enable these companies to laugh all the way to the bank.

This is the Malaysian Way of doing business. No wonder so many would like to be near to the very top leaders, to become the so-called cronies!

I will probably be lighting candles tonight!


recommended  reading:

When belts cannot be tightened anymore


Are we at war?

Looking at the pictures of the youth gathering, and the shouting lead by PM to ” defend Putrajaya”, I can’t help but ask myself this: Is Malaysia under attack from any external threat? are we fighting a war against any invasion?

The answer is of course No.

Then why mobilise the youth as if a war is coming.

This thing happens only in third world countries where people are more gullible.

In most democratic countries, changing of government in elections are common.

Why treat the opposition parties as someone who is your enemies? Why are people so partisan? Parties are set up because of differing ideologies; they have differing ideas on how to run the country; or certain of their policies are different. One may be more liberal, others may be more conservative  like those in UK, or USA.

In elections, parties should sell on their ideologies and manifestos, not on scandals or giving out misinformation. They should never treat their oponents as if the opponents are external threat to the country. They must know that both have roles to play; the ruling as well the opposition. They are not external enemies like the Japanese in the Second Word War.

Sell your ideas and the your track record of governing and let people decide. There is absolutely no need to classify your counterparts in the opposition as if they are external threats.

Winning or losing government positions are not the end of the world; unless of course there is a corrupt culture to protect!!

When will all these manipulators stop manipulating?


Contrast with this:

At the darkest hour during World War 2, when the Nazis overran France in just a couple of weeks, and British Epeditionary Force (BEF) were  encircled leading to the miraculour retreat at Dunkirk,  one man came forward and urged the country ”  We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender”.

This man was Sir Winston Churchill. When everything seemed lost, he had unwavering faith in the British people, and his speeches ralliedd the British to fight a war against all odds and in the end defeated Germany’s mighty airforce in the Battle of britain.

That was a Statesman extraordinary. After the war, when the British people chose to dump him for another Prime Minister, he just retired.

He never called  his people to defend 10 Downing Street against the Labour party in the 1945 election, in which he lost the Premiership to Clement Attlee of the Labour party.

What a contrast !

Temptations and misdeeds!

I will post s few events in the past to warn those younger people who aspire high offices that the world is no longer like in the past. These few events should serve as constant warning to them to tread very carefully. There is a Eastern Proverb that ” One mis-step may lead to a thousand year’s regret”.  It is indeed true.

These events were:

1. on 21 May 1998 Suharto announced his resignation from the presidency. His recently appointed Vice President Habibie assumed the presidency in accordance with the constitution.

In May 2000, he was placed under house arrest and official investigation into alleged corruption was started.

In 2002, his son, Tommy, was sentenced to 15 years in Jail.

2. Former Presidents Chun Doo hwan and Roh Tae-woo of south Korea.

Both were convicted in August 1996 of treason, mutiny and corruption; Chun was sentenced to death, later commuted to life imprisonment, while Roh’s 22½-year jail sentence was reduced to 17 years on appeal. Both were released from prison in December 1997, pardoned by then-President Kim Young-sam. (wikipedia)

3. Former President Chen Shui Bian of Taiwan.

On September 11, 2009, Chen received a life sentence and was fined NT$200 million (US$6.13 million) for embezzlement, bribery and money laundering involving a total of US$15 million (NT$490 million) in funds while in office from 2000 to 2008. On 11 June 2010, the High Court decided to reduce the former president Chen’s life sentence to 20 years (wiki).

4. Husni Mubarak was overthrown this year. He is now being investigated for corruption and abuse of power, as well as premedidated murder of protestors.

These are just a few of shocking news for the power that be– including those who are top leaders or just ministers– to digest.

When they are elected to hold high office, it was already an honour extraordinary. Why should anyone who has been elected and tasked with the power to rule commit corruption and abuse of power?

Once anyone mis-steps and takes a bribe or committed a misdeed against the law (succumb to temptation, so to speak), he will need to abuse his power to cover up this mis-deed. Just like using one lie to cover another, he will abuse power to cover one misdeed with another. Very soon, a misdeed is no longer a misdeed in his eyes since he is so used to doing it. Those around him would have follow his pattern, since once the upper beam is crooked, the house can no longer be build properly, so to speak.

It is precisely these misdeeds that those who have committed them feel that they cannot let go, unless they pass the power to someone who can be trusted, or better still someone who have also committed misdeed. That way, boats would not be rocked and the captain can be trusted keep the sails in the same direction.

This is also precisely why many people with conscience or high ideals go into politics and become abusers of power later. Because politics is like a jar of soya sauce;  any white cloth that goes into it would become black, unless you wrap a plastic  sheet around the white cloth first to ensure the ideals would not  be corrupted!

Is election near?

Fuel price will remain. That is the good news.

It is also an indication that General Election may be very near. Given the shape of government coffers, it cannot really sustain further subsidies of fuel for long.

It is also an indication that the power that be is doing everything to try to maintain power.. ANything to win votes, or rather it would not do anything that will result in losing votes.

It is therefore an indication that they are not so sure of winning after all, even though many of their leaders have repeatedly said that Malay votes have returned to them.

One thing i am very sure: the moment GE is over and if they retain power, Barang will Naik, including fuel and electricity tariff.


“Anger” against Gerakan Boss?

I am reposting this article in Free Malaysia Today about Parti Gerakan. As a former member , i do not want to comment but suffice to say that this proposed EGM, if members can muster it, may have come too late!

Anger grows against ‘selfish’ Gerakan boss

Humayun Kabir | May 24, 2011

TAIPING: There is growing resentment among Gerakan members towards their president Koh Tsu Koon and an emergency general meeting may be called to remove him.

Former party youth vice-chief S Paranjothy said several party leaders told him that Koh must be axed to save the sinking Gerakan.

The Taman Ehsan branch chief claimed that the president was more interested in safeguarding his own political position in the federal government and had ignored the problems in the party.

Paranjothi recalled how former party chief Dr Lim Keng Yaik had advised Koh to concentrate on building the party at the state level in Penang.

“But Koh was too ambitious and went for the Batu Kawan parliamentary seat to shine at the federal level. He lost the seat to DAP’s P Ramasamy in the 2008 general election,” he said.

Paranjothy also accused Koh of failing to live up to expectations during his tenure as chief minister of Penang and warned that if not reformed, Gerakan would become irrelevant in Malaysian politics.

‘Yes man and self-centred’

He listed the president’s shortcomings as:

> He is a “yes-man” who does not want to offend other Barisan Nasional component parties because he wants to be in the good books of other leaders.

> He supports and promotes the 1Malaysia concept but does not practice this concept in his own party.

> He never supports the views and issues raised by Youth and Wanita leaders.

> Till today, he has not disclosed any strategies to win back Penang from Pakatan Rakyat in the coming polls.

> He sidelined capable senior party members and allowed those from other political parties to be parachuted into top-level posts.

> He does not want to get involved in finding solutions for the internal turmoil in Gerakan state chapters such as Johor, Selangor, Negri Sembilan, Penang and Malacca.

> In his desperate attempt to be a federal minister, Koh did not play his role as party chief to choose the leader to replace him as chief minister (before the 2008 polls), and left the decision to the prime minister. This angered a lot of party members.

> He accepted a ministerial post through the back door instead of offering it to more experienced and senior leaders like former Simpang Renggam MP Kerk Choo Ting and former Batu MP Ng Lip Yong who were denied seats in the 2008 general election.

> He greedily holds on to many political posts given to the party, without sharing them with other leaders.

“He is power crazy for promoting himself at the expense of the party and failing to realise that without Gerakan, he is a nobody,” said Paranjothy.

“Furthermore, he is not fit to be the president of a multi-ethnic party like Gerakan and is merely using the party to promote himself,” he said, adding that Koh’s “self-centred” attitude had demoralised the grassroots.

Paranjothy said that the rebel camp had identified the leader to replace Koh, but would not name the person now for fear of reprisal.

An aide to Koh declined to comment, adding that it was not Koh’s style to address party issues in the open.

When belts cannot be tightened anymore!

I chatted with an old patient of mine after a consultation yesterday. He was probably suffering from a side effect of stress and not enough rest. I enquired about his job and he told me that he is working 2 jobs now, a daytime office job and part time taxi driving at night. He had to do this to make ends meet.

So i told him what any doctor would tell his patient under these circumstances– to rest more.

Then he started to pour his woes to me that he has already been tightening his belt so much over the past few years, that he dreads to think of ways to tighten it some more, since living cost is creeping up and food prices are going to shoot up. He told me that there would come a point that the belt cannot be tightened anymore, and that point is fast being reached.

With so much news on the need to cut subsidies in the newspaper ( it was even equated to opium), the government is in fact building up a case of cutting subsidies further. It is just a matter of time that subsidies on petrol will be cut further. When that happens, petrol pump prices as well as electricity tariff will go up.

I have mentioned before that subsidies are actually bad to economy in the long run. It will also create a subsidy mentality among the people. But removing subsidies in a stagnant economy will result in a lot of problems for the poor. Subsidy removal must be done very gradually, and that too, should be done when economy is expanding and real income rising.

I can’t help but recall a round table conference which I had attended  in Feb 2010 on subsidy and the economy. In fact, I have blogged on this conference a day after.

I will paraphrase what i wrote then:

I attended a round table talk on subsidy yesterday. Although most speakers spoke about the need to do away with the cost of living subsidy, like the subsidy for sugar, petrol and so on, what a young man said about being cynical impressed me most.

 This young man began by saying that even though all the speakers spoke about the need to do away with subsidy, he was against the idea because being a cynical person, he doubted whether the money saved from abolishing the subsidy (direct and indirect subsidy comes to about 80 billionRM a year), will go to development and helping the poor. He said that being cynical, he thinks that this huge amount of money will go to someone else’s pockets and if so, why should he give up his right to subsidy?

His reason is based on one point only, and that is the whole system is rotten. I thought about it and I think he has a very valid point.

With the rotten system and everyone out to make a fast buck, whatever mechanism of doing away with the subsidy and using the amount saved to channel to development and helping the poor would just not work . Remember that time when the pump price of petrol went up to 2.70 from 1.92? The government promised to use the savings to channel into public transport and make it more efficient. Did we see any money going into the intended sector? A big No of course.

I can’t help but think that if the money saved from abolishing subsidy (the 80 billions) goes into private pockets and results in a few more PKFZ, even though I am all for abolishing subsidy gradually ( with safety nets in place such as cash coupons and cash cards to be given to the poor) , I would want to change my mind and go along with the thinking of this young man.

After all, if you have lived in Malaysia for the past 20 years, you can’t help but become cynical.

This young man raised  a very valid point.

We should start to withdraw subsidies slowly AFTER we ensure that the leakages and wastages are plugged first. After all the amount that has been siphoned out of the system is quite high, if we go by the reports of foreign media and investment reports.

The government must have the will to tackle corruption and cronyism, not just paying lip services, and expect people to tight belts which cannot be tightened anymore.

If subsidy withdrawal results in people unable to make ends meet, then expect social problems and crime rate to go up. If we do not clean up corruption first, expect corruption to go even more  rampant and severe, since civil servants too will be hard hit by subsidy removal and they, being in a position to dictate things, will not doubt be tempted to find other sources of income under the table.

From 2004 till now, we have wasted 7 years to tackle corruption, which is perceived to be even worse now. We do not have another 7 years, given the conditions of world economy and the middle income trap that we find ourselves in.

But do we have the will?

An anomaly that defies logic

Chinese media have reported that there is an anomaly in the award of JPA scholarship this year.

For the non-Bumi, the good news is that there is  an increase in the number of scholarship awarded as part of the announcement by PM that all top students would be given JPA scholarship to further their studies. This is indeed good as many of the students would not be able to afford to continue their studies without these scholarship.

The bad news is in the award of the scholarship, someone is creating an anomaly that cannot be explained.

Many of the 10As were awarded scholarship to study in local universities in fields that are not their choice, while the 8As and 7As got to study overseas in well known universities in fields of their choice.

Why is it so? I cannot understand the logic, unless someone think that local universities are better than overseas reputable institutions, and the same ‘someone’ think that those who score all As do not deserve to study in fields of their choice.

To move the country forward , we need to have best brains. To have best brains, we need to give opportunities to top students to be tutored under the best teachers in fields of their choice, because studying in a field of a person’s own choice would be a powerful motivation factor to excel and be an expert in that particular field.

Perhaps someone in the PSD think that this is the way to stop brain drain. Let the best brains stay behind , so that they have no chance to go abroad and they would have no choice but to remain.

If that is the reason, it is really pathetic. To become best brains, you need not only good results, you need good teachers.

Those who are 7As and 8As, by studying overseas, will no doubt become best brains too, if they are tutored under good teacher in good overseas universities. But then, by letting 10As staying behind, and letting 7 and 8As go abroad, we are creating a system that will discourage future students from doing well. If this is the trend, then the brightest students will no longer study as hard as now, since it would be pointless to get all As; it is in fact better to get 7As or 8As.

Now that  this has come about, I really don’t know how the authority is going to solve this.

The only solution that i see is that we need to award more overseas scholarships to the 10As and let them study overseas in the fields of their choice.  The authority cannot take back the scholarship awarded to those 7As and 8As, who have already been given scholarships to study overseas; it would be unfair.

As usual, the component parties would not be able to do much, and the Youth chief of MCA already said that this needs the decision of the PM, who is currently overseas.

The component parties at best can only play the role of firemen, dousing small “fires” here and there created by the civil service; they have really no say in the formulation of a good “fire” policy, and that is what Malaysia needs.

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