Wiper Scare & Kapchai Ban


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wipers-signs-of-wear

(Things to keep an eye for – failing wipers. Image source: http://www.kempenfeltauto.com)

It has been raining cats and dogs lately…

It was raining heavily when I went to work one fine morning – I predicted an increased traffic jam due to the rain and a couple of morons speeding and changing lane without any indicators during the heavy rain. I switched on the wipers and immediately I noticed something not right. It was squeaking and as the wipers goes up and down, it started to bend considerably. Damn, something indeed was not right. And half way as I was nearing my kid’s school, one of the wiper bent and dislocated. I now left with only one working wiper and it also started to bend. I know that wipers was due for a replacement but I did not expect it to be too soon and too obvious. It was still raining but I could not use the wipers – so I slowed down and drive with extra caution. It was too late to drive back home as I was nearer office by then and I managed to reach it without any incidents.

Lunch time, I had only 1 mission – to get the wipers replaced. I headed to a workshop near to office and picked silicon blade wipers. It was not cheap though but at least the wipers were new. The mechanic was fast to replace them but he took the wrong size as when I tried the wipers on, both wipers got entangled and got stuck. He quickly replaced the wiper to a lower size and it looked well (it did not get entangled this time around).

That evening, it started to rain again but this time, I was very confident – I had brand new wipers. I happily switched it on but then noticed, it was not wiping effectively – as if the blades was not touching the windscreen in some places. There was a loud squeaking noise as well. I was pissed off and was cursing the workshop for selling a defective wipers. I intended to reach home first and then head to the nearest hypermarket to buy new wipers (I was ready to go to workshop next day to make noise and get my money back). And as I was driving back in the heavy rain, only using the wipers when I had no other choice, I noticed that some kind of strip hanging from the tip of the wiper. Was the silicon coming apart? I could not see for sure.

I reached home and in the rain, I checked the wipers and soon felt relived – the mechanic who replaced the wipers had forgotten to strip away the protective plastic from the silicon blades and that was what making the squeaking noise and unlevel wiping. Once the plastic strip was removed, I had a very effective and silent wipers. Phew!

Anyway, that ended rather nicely – it has not been a cheap month for me when it came to fixing my car to the best level of driving. I have a phobia whenever I hear some funny noise from the car these days, especially after the accident last year.

(One reason to ban kapchais in this country. Image source: http://meuzangelo.blogspot.com)

Recently there was a very interesting piece of development when it comes to pesky motorcyclists in this country:-

The government is considering banning underbone motorcycles, known locally as the “kap chai”, from entering Kuala Lumpur as part of its effort to reduce carbon emission.

Federal Territories Minister Tengku Adnan Mansor was quoted by The Star as saying that the government may prohibit these motorcycles and other commuters from driving into the capital city once public transportation reaches a more reasonable price.

“During the day, the population (in the city) increases to between five and seven million because workers commute to work,” he said at the launch of the Kibar Bendera Wilayah Persekutuan campaign on Sunday (Jan 15).

“Many cities do not allow ‘kap chai’ to come in. But studies have shown that a lot of people still need them because they are poor and can’t afford [other modes of transport] as their salaries are low.

“Once cheaper public transport is available, we will be looking at the possibility of not allowing ‘kap chai’ motorcycles into the city,” he added

(Source)

And of course, there was immediate opposition to that idea:-

The government’s proposal to ban underbone motorcycles in Kuala Lumpur could burden low-income earners who are already under pressure from rising living costs, employers’ and workers’ groups warned.

Criticising the idea as “ridiculous”, associations like The Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) and the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) said the proposal would push traveling costs up for the bottom 40 per cent of income earners, most of whom rely on small capacity bikes to commute to work.

They said fuel costs for the bike, popularly called “kap chais”, are much cheaper than current public transportation fees, which can go up to RM10 a day. In contrast, someone who uses a “kap chai” will only need to pay RM7 for a full tank of fuel, which can give the bike at least five days worth of travelling.

(Source)

And it seems that there was a major impact on the businesses as well:-

Putrajaya’s proposal to bar the kapcai (small motorcycles) from entering Kuala Lumpur will cause a significant decline in the sale of motorcycles in the country.

“The ban will have negative effects on the motorcycle industry, which sees more than 500,000 motorcycles registered each year,” said PKR communications director Fahmi Fadzil in a statement today.

Fahmi called the proposal “nonsensical and irresponsible”, coming as it did in a time of economic decline.

(Source)

Before I put down my take on the proposed ban (the idea have been shelved anyway), let me emphasize that I was a biker once and I rode a “kapchai” bike too. I rode second handed Honda Cub (one of the best bike around) and the iconic Yamaha RXZ before I decided to buy a new bike. Main reason for that is because I used to ride pillion on my brother’s bike but he gets so tense up when I ask him to slow down and follow the rules. It was time for me to get my own bike and ride like a big biker. I rode a small bike but I had tear-proof jacket, leather gloves and a good, branded helmet. I opted for a Malaysian made Modenas because firstly it was cheap and secondly the bike shop was just next to the house which makes service easy but due to some problem with the Modenas dealer (he was half bankrupt and my deposit got stuck), I changed my option to a Yamaha Y110SS which was stylish, very dependable (even though it was on 2 stroke) and fast (I preferred Yamaha 125ZR but it was too expensive and was “hot” with bike thieves). And the reason for me using kapchai was because that was one of the cheapest mode of transportation that I could afford without taking the bus (petrol last me almost a week) and riding a kapchai in KL was the best way to avoid the crazy traffic jam in the city. So I do understand the situation from a biker’s point of view.

But over the years, seeing the number of deaths on the road and being menace to other road users, I do think that kapchai’s should be banned.

It should be banned not because of the nonsense excuse of controlling the emission (car, truck and bus emissions are even worse) but because of the number of traffic rule offences incurred by these kapchai riders. Too many bikes on the road are of poor condition too. Never passes a day without me seeing a bike without lights at the front and back – endangering themselves and their pillion riders. The worse of the worse are those sending their kids to school in the morning without any helmet or having more than one pillion rider including babies. And breaking the law is the signature of most (I say most) kapchai riders – you name it, they do it – riding without helmet, riding against the traffic, changing lanes without any signals, running traffic lights, illegal racing and doing stunts on public roads (aka as Mat Rempits). Kapchai is also the preferred mode of transportation of snatch thieves as it is easy for them to make a getaway.

And it should not be banned on in the city but rather banned nationwide – in the cities, towns, small towns, residential areas, etc. You may ask what happens to the motorbike manufacturers and distributors? Push for sale for bigger capacity bikes – yes, it will be more expensive but in the end, there will be enough demands to meet up the loss. 250cc bikes which was out of reach during my time is actually cheaper nowadays. You can get a KTM Duke 250 for less than RM20,000 or a Benelli TNT 250 for less than RM15,000. And with bigger bikes, push for proper safety gears to be worn by riders & pillion riders (jacket, gloves, boots, etc). Not cheap I agree but we need to move from a small bike nation to a bigger bike nation mentality eventually.

Interestingly the same notion was made in a letter to The Sun:-

REPORTS of opposition to the proposal to ban small motorcycles from Kuala Lumpur are off-target. On the contrary, such a ban will be welcomed by those who live and work in the city. Let me explain.

First, nobody feels safe when motorcyclists are around except the motorcyclists themselves. Even drivers of four-wheel vehicles are harassed and forced to brake suddenly to avoid hitting them.

Second, traffic rules seemingly do not apply to motorcyclists. They ignore traffic lights, no-entry signs and other rules, perhaps because they can evade the law so easily.

Third, many pedestrians are menaced by motorcyclists who ride on the walkways. I have not seen a motorcyclist booked for this offence.

Fourth, snatch thieves love the motorcycle as it best suits their modus operandi.

Fifth, pollution. Random comments are made that all vehicles pollute and motorcycles are not the worst culprits. That needs to be proven. One needs to look not only at the vehicle size but also their numbers, and the noise.

Surprisingly, I have seen no reports on urban pollution in Malaysia. As a rapidly urbanising society, Malaysians need to know how healthy the air is.

To understand the situation at street level those involved should take public transport for a day. Personal experience would be a far more impactful experience than third-party stories.

There are other reasons that argue against small motorcycles on city streets, including comparative costs. While petrol consumption may be low, there are repair and parking costs, which would make the bus cheaper.

(Source)

Do I need to say more – who knows once we start to ban the small kapchais, the incidents of Mat Rempit and snatch thieves may just go down. Just a wishful thought – who knows, right?

Land of Dumb & Dumber


dumb

(Never mind the movie, it seems like there are way too many of dumb people in this country. Image source: The Net)

It was rather “funny” to hear the old man to say this:-

“Malaysians are stupid. They don’t know how to manage aviation,” Dr Mahathir was quoted by news portal Malaysiakini as saying in comments over Christoph Mueller’s appointment as chief executive officer-designate of Malaysia Airlines Bhd (MAS NewCo).

Those responsible for the losses of the ailing national carrier were now trying to make things right, he said.

(Source)

Does that mean we are smarter in all other areas? If you think we do, you still have a long way to go.

Now read this – it’s a long read but enough to make any true blue Malaysian’s blood boil with rage:-

In 2008, a boisterous young man by the name of Jho Low Taek, a Penang-born Wharton grad with a taste for Cristal champagne and Broadway blondes, approached Malaysia’s Terengganu state government with a proposal to use the state’s authority to sell RM10 billion (US$2.87 billion) in bonds to start a state-backed investment fund.

That proposal has led to what Tony Pua, a Democratic Action Party lawmaker, has called “the mother of the mother of the mother of all scandals in the history of Malaysia.”

That might be one mother too many, but Pua is not alone, with critics of what is now called 1Malaysia Development Berhad, or 1MDB, coming from outside the opposition as well. It is certain that the proposed Terengganu Investment Authority has metastasized into a mess that can properly be called huge and has put Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s tattered reputation on the line yet again. Much of the story has been detailed in two Malaysian publications, The Edge and the online news portal Malaysiakini’s business unit, Kinibiz.

Najib, the head of the 1MDB advisory board, has faced a barrage of questions from opposition lawmakers in Parliament for weeks and an attack on his own flank from former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and his allies, including former Finance Minister Daim Zainuddin, over what can only be regarded as an astonishing level of mismanagement.

The question was why Malaysia needed another government-backed investment fund in the first place, especially one dreamed up by a young friend of the PM’s family. It has Khazanah Nasional Bhd., the 23-year-old investment holding arm that manages Malaysia’s assets and makes strategic investments, and the Employee Provident Fund, which also invests employee pension funds. Both are creatures of the Ministry of Finance.

The Terengganu Sultan, Mizan Zainal Abidin, had misgivings over the plan by Jho Low, as he calls himself, so the 27-year-old Low went to the parents of a friend he had made among Malaysia’s privileged elite in the UK. While anti-colonial rhetoric still spews at home, Malaysia’s wealthy have always known where to send their scions. Jho Low was at the exclusive 450-year-old Harrow, with his friend Riza Aziz at nearby 150-year-old Haileybury, which trained English youth for service in India. Riza’s mother is Rosmah Mansor, Najib’s second wife.

Thus the proposed Terengganu Investment Authority metamorphosed into 1Malaysia Development Bhd., also under the Ministry of Finance. Today 1MDB has accumulated debt of RM36.25 billion (US$10.4 billion) that is only covered by repeated accounting upgrading of the value of property handed to it at a knock-down price by the government to get it started – a 196-hectare former air force base near the center of Kuala Lumpur.

In recent months, the government, in an attempt to build up the fund so it can be listed, has strong-armed at least three no-bid contracts for 1MDB to build coal-fired and solar power plants. One of those power plants, in Port Dickson near Malacca, was awarded to 1MDB despite a lower bid from a joint venture of YTL International Bhd and SIPP, partly owned by the Sultan of Johor, who is said to have been enraged by the loss and is demanding privately that SIPP be given its own no-bid contract for another plant.

Although its dealings are opaque, sources in Kuala Lumpur believe it was Jho Low, previously regarded as a savvy investor despite his tender years, who drove 1MDB into disaster. Although the chairman of the Board of Directors is Lodin Wok Kamaruddin, who holds the high-ranking honorific of tan sri, he is regarded as a figurehead and many of 1MDB’s major decisions have Low’s fingerprints on them

Low, who has accompanied Rosmah on forays to New York to meet celebrities including Lionel Ritchie and Paris Hilton, landing in the pages of the New York Post, involved 1MDB in backing his failed 2011 bid to buy three prestigious London hotels – Claridge’s, the Connaught and The Berkeley, according to documents filed in the Chancery Division of the UK’s Royal Courts of Justice.

A Los Angeles law firm accused the government of Malaysia, without mentioning 1MDB, of racketeering in funding the phenomenally successful movie The Wolf of Wall Street, an Oscar-nominated picture starring Leonardo DeCaprio and co-produced by Riza Aziz, Rosmah’s son. How that might have been done is unclear. The lawyers for a Los Angeles plaintiff who sued over the rights to the movie refused to elaborate, citing lawyer-client privilege. But in the case of the Claridge’s campaign, 1MDB issued guarantee letters saying the fund would stand behind the purchase. Presumably that meant Malaysia’s sovereign fund would cover any losses accrued if the sale failed.

The fund loaned RM7.2 billion to finance oil exploration for another chum out of that rarefied London ex-colonial society – Tarek Essam Ahmad Obaid, a London playboy said to be a grandson of the Saudi Sheikh Obaid, one of the kingdom’s most senior grandees. Tarek met Jho Low a few months before the deal for the loan was consummated, according to Clare Rewcastle Brown, a former BBC reporter who has followed the 1MDB affair closely. Tarek is the founder and chief executive of PetroSaudi International, Ltd. Despite its pretentious website there is little information on PetroSaudi, which was only incorporated three years before the entry of 1MDB. The money, to be loaned at 8.75 percent, has disappeared.

What 1MDB has not done is make enough money to cover its huge debt, although determining anything is difficult because no up-to-date accounts have been filed.

“I was the finance head for oil companies before I entered politics,” Rafizi Ramli, strategic director and secretary-general of the opposition Parti Keadilan Rakyat, told Asia Sentinel. “Nobody I knew had ever come across PetroSaudi before. We tried to check what it was. It was incorporated in the British Virgin Islands. While it is normal for financial investors to enter into ventures, how could a government commit such a huge sum of money with a greenhorn company with no known track record, incorporated in a haven for dodgy money, in an industry where capital risk is so huge?”

When the bid to explore for oil collapsed, the money appears to have been invested in speculative yen forex deals, insiders told Rafizi. Forex trading is not for amateurs. By early 2012, it began to appear that the money had altogether disappeared, according to Tony Pua. 1MDB was having trouble filing its financial reports, a signal that something was wrong. When 1MDB said the funds had been moved into a fund in the Cayman Islands, its managers refused to say who was managing the money.

Today, Pua said, the entire operation appears to be built on debt, although with audited financial reports delayed it is impossible to say for sure. Its managers are seeking to cover the losses through additional borrowings and money raisings, including a US$4.75 billion one engineered by Goldman Sachs, the international investment bank, that cost 1MDB 10 percent of the offering, a phenomenal amount for “commissions, fees and expenses” according to the prospectus. By comparison, Tenaga Nasional, the state-owned energy utility, paid a 2 percent fee on a US$300 million money raising. SMBC Aviation Capital, which leases jets to Malaysian Airlines, paid 0.5 percent on a US$1 billion capital raising. The fees paid to Goldman worked out at US$1.54 billion, Pua said.

The fund today is betting its future on becoming the country’s biggest power producer and a global energy player. It acquired a string of overpriced independent power producers from the Genting gambling interests and Ananda Khrishnan, the country’s richest businessman and an UMNO crony, for RM11 billion to generate cash flow, at what were astounding valuations. Indeed, within six months, the fund’s auditors wrote off RM1.2 billion of the valuation because they were so overpriced.

“Because they were desperate to borrow to cover the acquisitions, they had to pay higher interest rates,” Pua said. “And because they were desperate, they paid Goldman crazy fees to arrange the loans.”

On top of the enormous interest burden from the debt, it turns out that the cash flow from the IPPs is so small that it was barely enough to cover the interest, let alone pay back the RM15 billion principal.

With the hole from the initial failed loan to PetroSaudi, and the vast debt from the IPP purchases, 1MDB is now trying to list to raise US$10 billion from the market. But in order to write a credible prospectus for the listing, it requires strong financials. 1MDB’s financials do not come anywhere near credible enough to assure potential investors of future cash flow.

The government has stepped in to extend the contracts for the IPPs, which were supposed to end after their contract periods ended. That is still not enough. The government then tendered a contract to build the coal-fired plant in Port Dickson. Critics charge the contract was unnecessary, that Tenaga Nasional, the state-owned utility, had the experience and capital to build the plant itself. The tender turned out to be a fiasco, with the YTL-SIPP consortium coming in with a lower bid, only to be disqualified on what many critics have said was a technicality.

Since then, the government has awarded three contracts to 1MDB, the other two without the potential embarrassment of a tender process. But critics point out that 1MDB has never built anything and is mainly relying on the expertise of Tenaga Nasional. The bid for a 50 megawatt solar power plant project in Kedah in the north of the country is to be the largest solar plant in Malaysia despite the fact there is no guaranteed offtake, that prices for solar, even though they have fallen sharply, still exceed that of conventional plants, and that Malaysians are going to end up paying more for their electricity.

All of these moves are an attempt to rescue 1MDB and give it the potential to demonstrate income to investors. So on the advice of a 27-year-old neophyte and friend of the prime minister’s family, the country has created a state-backed investment fund, got itself involved in a series of businesses it knew nothing about, put the country’s sovereign backing behind a private hotel bid and a Hollywood movie, run up a vast amount of debt, and now is seeking to bail itself out via preferential contracts to build electrical plants with expertise so far it doesn’t have. The critics expect that this is going to cost Malaysia’s taxpayers and ratepayers a considerable amount of money.

(Source)

When we first heard that 1MDB had “parked” RM7 billion of our money in the Cayman Islands, that made many of us to question the reasons why a Government linked company have to invest in dubious ways. And when reports of losses started to trickle in, it seemed like our fears came true.

And now, it seemed that it has only gone downhill. So it is a wonder why major investigations have not been launched into 1MDB’s affairs and if mismanagement, scams and gross negligence  indeed exist, why we are not going after these guys and revoking their passport and bring them down to be answerable for their dubious ways of doing business and for the huge losses?

Instead we foolishly spending considerable time, money and resources to go after this joker:-

Alvin-Tan-featured

(The country’s no 1 enemy, so according to some stupid in this country. Image source: Cilisos)

Now you see why Dr M is calling Malaysians stupid?

When We Look the Other Way…


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(The CCTV grab above, which shows a toddler being led by a man out of Kota Raya Komplex, could possibly be the last moment Siti Soffea Emelda was seen alive. The image was taken by police from the shopping centre located in Puduraya on the day Soffea was abducted by the man and hours later found dead with her head severed on the bank of Klang River. Image source: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/)

When I am abroad on work assignment, things are pretty much of a routine – wake up early in the morning, take a couple slices of bread to fill the stomach for the morning rush (until it is time for lunch), take the cab to work place and work until night, came back to the apartment dead tired with just enough energy to take shower, a bit of food as dinner and perhaps putting the dirty clothes into the washing machine and go to sleep. I hardy have time to blog even when the Big Boss celebrated his birthday couple days ago and I only managed to wish him through the phone.

Then I read this and I was speechless and got very, very angry:-

A CCTV footage purportedly showing two-year-old Siti Soffea Emelda Abdullah being abducted at the Kota Raya shopping complex has gone viral.

In the video, the suspect was seen trying to lure her away. The CCTV footage in the complex later showed the man walking away with Siti Soffea. The man was said to have abducted and beheaded the toddler with a ceramic tile on Thursday before jumping into the river in an attempt to escape.

Police found the body of the man in the Klang River near Jalan Tun Sambanthan, bringing a closure to the case. The body was found floating in the river near Bandar Sunway here on Saturday. A police source said that witnesses of the incident had already identified the suspect through photos and police are studying the CCTV footage.
Police believed the suspect, who was in his late 30s, was released from prison recently and had previous criminal records, mostly drug-related.

The source said the man had worked as a parking attendant near the Kota Raya shopping complex in Kuala Lumpur where the girl was abducted. Siti Soffea was with her mother Siti Salmy Suib, 32, who left the toddler with her friends as she needed to use the toilet on the fourth floor of the complex at about 3pm on Thursday. When she came back about five minutes later, Siti Soffea was not with her friends.

They searched the building but could not find her. Siti Salmy only learnt of what had happened to her daughter when police tracked her down and alerted her later that night.

(Source)

A young kid abducted in day broad light and no one took notice of it until it was way too late. I do not know how filthy this society had come to be – from being the usual “tak apa” attitude to murderous monsters who prey on little innocent children. When this will even stop? In this case, the mother alone cannot be faulted for losing her kid. What happened to her friends who were entrusted to keep an eye on the kid when the mother had to use the bathroom? High on drugs? What happened to the security guard who saw the young girl forcibly pulled by the stranger but opted to do nothing? It is not part of his job scope? Has human life had become that cheap for everyone when they could have done something and opted to do nothing?

As a father to 2 young kids, I am very angry with this whole tragedy. We have been losing kids (some like the Sathiskumar who went missing into thin air or William Yau who got down from the car and later found to be dead) on a regular basis. And no matter who we try to lay our blame on others – the parents (there are super sized morons who do not deserve to have any kids), the suspects (a big surprise on how the long arm of the law does not do much to keep them away from society), the society (who usually chooses to look the other way until it is too late – the famed tak apa attitude) and even the Government (who have plenty of time talking cock when it comes to dirty politics but have not demonstrated a sense of some intelligence in protecting the society), at the end of the day, it is the young innocent children that get the raw deal.

Let’s admit that everyone of us is guilty in one way or another to this tragedy (forget about the Home Minster coming to the rescue – the past few interviews and statements made by him simply reinforces the notion that we all have been dumb enough to continue to allow certain morons to hold public office and these morons have no shame whatsoever demonstrating their lack of good judgement & intelligence on what matters more when it comes to good governance). As a Home Minister, he should stay at home and save a lot of trouble and embarrassment to the country.

What I am afraid of is that we have too many of these tragedies of having missing and dead children and one day, we may find ourselves waking up and deciding that missing or dead children is a norm in this country. Can we stop this nonsense right here, right now  before that happens?

Speed Demons on Highway 2


(There is always a limit to everything we do and a limit to speeding is there for obvious reasons. Slow down and you will live longer. Some idiots would never learn no matter what happens when one speeds over the speed limit on the highway)

Driving on Malaysian highways often promises a good story for this blog and it is the case for this week and one that deal with speed demons on highways. About 9 years ago, I had a close encounter with a speed demon and a recent trip north saw  another close encounter with another speed demon.

But first read this first:-

At least 37 people were killed when a bus in a mountainous area of Malaysia plunged into a ravine on Wednesday, the country’s Bernama news agency said, citing rescue officials. There also were 16 people injured, and they were sent to hospitals, the report said.

There were 53 people on board. Among the dead were Bangladeshi, Thai and Chinese nationals. The bus driver also died. The bus was descending from Genting Highlands when it fell into a 200-feet-deep ravine, Bernama reported. The incident occurred near the capital, Kuala Lumpur.

(Source)

Back in August last year, the country saw one of the worst accident relating to express buses. Before that, back in 2011, there was another horrible accident involving express/tour buses where 28 people perished. And beginning this year when it comes to express buses, it was not good news either:-

Three people died and at least 14 injured when an express bus they were travelling in crashed at KM107.2 of the North-South Expressway, from Pagoh to Yong Peng today. The bus driver was believed to have lost control of the vehicle, causing it to crash into a railing and landing at the side of the highway at about 2pm.

The Star Online reported that the bus was travelling from Kuala Lumpur to Johor with 17 passengers, including a number of foreigners. Two men and a 10-year-old boy were killed while seven passengers suffered serious injuries.

(Source)

Last weekend, we had to do a quick trip up North and it was sort of a last minute decision.

My mother in law was not well and my wife despite postponing the call to go and visit her somehow knew that time was up to visit her mother. So instead of going during CNY when one can expect sheer madness on highways, we decided to go one week earlier and come back the very next day. The highway was almost empty and we actually had empty tables at the famed R&R. There was the usual big bike convoys dominating the fast lane and having little care for the 110 km/h speed limit. The same went to Singapore registered cars – they were driving on the fast lane like they were on a private race track. The same also went to those with luxury car where the RM300 ticket for speeding would hardly made any dent on their pockets.

It was not the first time I encounter them but I seriously think that some of the idiots who uses the highway should be barred from using vehicles for life. I mean if they are bloody ignorant of the law, then at least they should have some common sense. They would either drive above the speed limit like their back is on fire (or hog the fast lane) and when confronted with another faster vehicle, they would dash into the slower lane without sense of space or the courtesy to put on the indicators to warn the slower traffic on the left. Some would cut in too close for comfort, completely ignoring the fact that there is another vehicle on the slow lane.

Then towards Ipoh, we saw something that left us speechless. There was a car overtook us on the fast lane and I know it was driven above the speed limit (I was already driving at 110 km/h then). Following just behind that speeding car is a police car but that too is driven above the speed limit. Well, I am fine with that but what irked me was that the police did nothing to pull over the speeding car and give the driver a speeding ticket. Perhaps the policeman had a bad stomach ache and rushing to the nearest toilet. Perhaps. But then again, it sends the wrong message and if the enforcement agencies keeps one eyes closed, you can be assured that there would not be the end of fiery deaths on the highway.

The stay with the in-laws was pretty short (it usually do, ha ha) but enough for me to take a good break for the trip back. My wife had fulfilled her part of the obligation and that was good enough, at least for now. The next day as usual we decided to leave early to KL. My sister in law and her 2 year old daughter followed us back and since there was plenty of space in my car, we were more than happy to accommodate them. I hardly drove more than 90 km/h and kept to the 110 km/h speed limit at certain part of the highway. And with a good selection of songs in my flash drive, it was a relaxing ride back.

aeroline_speeding2

(It took mere minutes for these 2 buses – there is another in front of this bus – to disappear from my sight despite we were traveling at about 110 km/h)

Some kilometers before Behrang (about 11.20 am on Sunday), I noticed something on my rear mirrors – not one but two speeding high deck express buses (High deck just like the high deck bus where 28 people died back in 2011). Knowing on how they usually fly through on the fast lane (and sometimes on the slow lane, adding the risks to other road users), I maintained on the middle lane and I was already cruising at 100 – 110 km/h. The first bus (Aeroline) bus flies through on the slow lane and quickly cut into the middle lane, a few paces in front of me. The second bus came right behind my car in the middle lane and started to flash his headlights (if we has stopped, I would bashed his head for coming up so close, endangering me and my family and flashing his headlights like a big dirty bully). He was trying to bully me to move over from the middle lane but since it was not safe to move over, I continued to drive on the middle lane, hoping that the idiot would move over on the fast lane. After all, he was faster than me – both buses was flying at about 140 km/h!

I got my son to snap some photos to be passed over to JPJ (hopefully they will blacklist these drivers) whilst I concentrated on driving. And I was quite angry too. Not only the idiots were endangering me and other road users with their deadly driving, they were also endangering the passengers. But the, when I went to Aeroline’s website, I read the biggest joke from the company titled “Safety”:-

AEROLINE coaches are built on high quality imported Scania (Sweden)chassis. AEROLINE operates its very own dedicated maintenance facility that is manned by experienced mechanics to maintain the coaches to our own standards, by using only quality parts.

Furthermore, each AEROLINE captain is hand picked and undergo regular training and monitoring. With the aid of GPS tracking system, our command centre is able to monitor the operation of each bus in real time, thus ensuring every journey a safe one.

(Source)

Ya right, perhaps who ever wrote that “safety” statement should hand pick himself to take up a trip in their Aeroline buses where driving at more than 140 km/h and weaving in & out dangerously on a high deck buses meant nothing for these drivers. One wrong move weaving in and out of traffic or one tire blow out or encounter with one inexperienced driver and you will have another 20 – 30 passenger on the ditch and dead. No matter what the politicians, the bus company owners & management and the public may say after a tragedy, it will not bring back the dead. But unfortunately Aeroline is not the only bus company that I noticed speeding above the speed limit (but that does not mean they are not guilty of sheer recklessness). Another bus (from another bus company) just behind these Aeroline buses was also speeding at 140 km/h and was also weaving in and out of traffic. Within minutes, all these buses had disappeared from our sight as far as we can see up front.

And one main reason for this is because there is a serious lapse of enforcement. It is a fact that we fare badly when it comes to enforcement and it is not due to the laziness of the enforcement agencies. Sometimes the need for a stricter enforcement is curtailed, not by shortcomings of the enforcement agencies but rather due to the short sighted & (very, very) dumb politicians who flip-flops enforcement related policies on weak reasons and shout for all the wrong reasons.

This is where we have to relook into the implementation of the Automated Enforcement System (AES) on a larger scale. This is where also, rather unfortunately, the Pakatan fellows failed us miserably – yes, initially there seemed to be some “questions” in awarding the AES implementation to the private companies but that was not the main concern here. It was clear that the Pakatan politicians were barking on the wrong tree and had been asking all the wrong questions. The main concern is to ensure a strict adherence to the traffic rules and AES would have provided that unbiased, all weather, 24 x 7 automated enforcement that the other enforcement agencies may not been to able to provide effectively.

And now, nation wide AES implementation seemed to be on hold and that is allowing more idiots to break the traffic laws on a greater scale. They know that they cannot be caught (forget the yearly Ops Sikap – one, it is done during major holidays when the highways are packed thus reducing the opportunity to fly like you were on a race track and two, these drivers know that the police is out there in a greater force to nab these offenders) . That is why on other “non festival” days bus drivers like the above Aerobus drivers do not hesitate for a second to drive dangerously on the highways and endangering others on the road. Some unlucky ones end up killing their passengers and the whole vicious cycles starts again.

And there is another aspect of strict enforcement, ahem, since Najib been going around saying that the Government does not enough money for subsidies and what not. The more drivers nabbed for violation of traffic rules (and trust me, you will get a truckload of them without a sweat), the more fines can be collected and these money can be re-used for critical Government expenses (flying the fat lady overseas in private jets however does not count).

Just imagine that in the first 1 week of the AES in operation, it captured 63,558 offenses (an average of one offense every two-and-a-half minutes). Even if you use a modest RM50 fine per offense (speeding ticket will cost RM300), the Government can easily collect RM300,000 per week. Imagine how much they can collect on monthly basis. That is a lot of money that can be used again to beef up enforcement (more AES cameras) and make the roads safer again. Insurance claims has not been cheap as well – “net claims paid out for bodily injury and property damage due to road accidents in the first nine months of 2013 have risen to RM4.1 billion, compared to RM3.68 billion in the same period in 2012”.

We may have one of the best highways in the region (we still do) but we also have the 3rd world mentality when it comes to using them in the right way and in a safe way. You can be rest assured that you going to have more buses speeding above the speed limit and more deaths from unsafe speeding vehicles if attitude and enforcement does not change.

Please keep this mind as you balik kampung this Chinese New Year. Enjoy the holidays and have a plenty of rest.

Election Time Water Spates


UPDATE 2: Now it looks like the Federal Government using the same issue to bait for more votes. Najib said that Selangor’s water crisis can be solved but only when the people choose a government that can solve the water and trash problems. He went on to say that “it cannot be that the federal government cannot solve the problems. We can do it”. So, what’s stopping them from granting the necessary approval to the Selangor State Government to resolve the issue? Another case of you help me, I help you? I just hope the voters are not stupid as they wants us to be.

UPDATE 1: I-told-you-so. From Malaysiakini – The federal government has made an initial decision not to allow the Selangor government to take over the operations of state water concessionaire Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor (Syabas). The special cabinet committee on the Selangor water issue agreed at its meeting that there are “substantial and procedural” matters that have not been met to allow Selangor to takeover Syabas. However, Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said the final decision would be made after the attorney-general deliberates on the matter. Seriously, one should not wait for the AG’s decision as well, the outcome seems to be rather obvious.

Back to the original post

(If you ask me personally, it seems to be another political power play by the BN Government in trying to wrestle back the State of Selangor – they have been at it since they lost it in the last general elections. So is this latest case of water crisis in the state another trick in place to create more trouble in the state and for the Pakatan Rakyat’s leadership? You tell me. Image source: Zunar / Malaysiakini)

Read this first:-

Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor Sdn Bhd (SYABAS) has become a threat to our national security by threatening 7 million consumers in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya with water rationing where there is no shortage of water.

When SYABAS insisted on low water levels, visits by the Selangor State Executive Committee members Ronnie Liu and Xavier Jeyakumar to the various damns across the state yesterday proved that the dams are full and there is no shortage of raw water. Now SYABAS has officially admitted yesterday that there is no shortage of raw water, but instead shifted the goal post to claim that there is now shortage of treated water.

This is essentially an admission that the SYABAS treatment plants are either operating inefficiently or there are not enough treatment plant capacity at existing water reservoirs.

(Source)

And this:-

A cabinet committee headed by Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has been set up to help resolve the Selangor water crisis.

It will look into the ‘serious’ conflict between the federal government, Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor Sdn Bhd (SYABAS) and the Selangor state government, said Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Seri Peter Chin today. The two contentious issues are water rationing proposal by SYABAS, and Mentri Besar Abdul Khalid Ibrahim’s announcement that the state will take over SYABAS’ management – claiming that the latter had failed to discharge its duties in line with the concession agreement.

“The committee will look into issues such as water supply in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya,” Chin said no representative from the state government was invited to sit in the committee agreed upon during Wednesday’s cabinet meeting.

(Source)

If you have been reading the newspapers, internet and the blogs (from both sides of the divide) for the past few months, there seems to be some kind of a “guerilla warfare” against the 2 main opposition ran states of Penang and Selangor (the states of Kedah and Kelantan has a bit harder to touch). It is not a big surprise though – it has been so since BN lost big time in 2008.

In Penang for example, there seems to a major hoo-haa on the hillside development (previously it was on the issue of Malay traders and low cost housing) and in Selangor, it is on the State Government’s so-called botched Talam debt rescue plan of which both DAP’s Tony Pua and MCA’s Chua Tee are having a go at each other (interestingly there is only silence from the so-called crusaders of public funds on the millions to be spent on 2 fucking pandas!) and the claims of shortage of water in the Klang Valley blamed on the State Government not approving the new Langat 2 treatment plant (previously it was on the sand mining, garbage collection and PTPTN fiasco).

Out the many attacks on the PR’s led State Government, the on-going spate on the water issue is more critical and is more relevant to us all. After all, life is going to be very tough if you don’t have enough water for your daily needs – especially for those with small children and elderly relatives. Just imagine having a zero drop of water in your taps but on the outside it is raining cats and dogs. Just imagine having overflowing water at the dams but not enough water flowing out from the water treatment plants.

The Selangor State Government had formally submitted their proposal to take over the operations of SYABAS to the Federal Government and it seems that the Federal Government had formed a committee of some kind to response to the proposal. But I don’t think the proposal (or any proposals for that matter) from the State Government on taking over SYABAS will ever succeed at the Federal level (this is not the first time the State Government have to deal with the Federal Government on the same issue – read “Federal Govt Sabotages Selangor“). And why should they?

Just look at the list of politicians heading the committee and you may question their impartiality on the requests (one is actively involved in the Take Back Selangor mission by citing the water issue as well). After all, the more trouble that the State Government is having, the more BN politicians will be able to paint the State Government as more inefficient, self-centred and corrupt. More so with the general elections coming up in the next months, you can expect more dirty politics to be lined up at both ends and I don’t think I am alone on this line of thought.

From Malaysiakini:-

Ferdtan: Like the passage “my cup runneth over”, we have more than enough for our needs. Why did water concessionaire Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor (SYABAS) cause panic among Selangorians by suggesting that the water levels at the dams are low and they may resort to water rationing? The fear is further heightened by the coming Ramadan whereby difficulties would be suffered by the Muslims preparing food and cakes for themselves, and for sale during the festive season. Now it has been pointed out to be a blatant lie. The dams are full. Can a police report be made against SYABAS for spreading unfounded rumours causing panic among the people? This is an act of political sabotage. They must be censured and when Pakatan Rakyat takes over Putrajaya, SYABAS will be remembered.

Chipmunk: The mastermind behind this propaganda is none other than Umno. As usual, they instill fear into the rakyat and try to sabotage Selangor after having lost the state. Remember that Prime Minister Najib Razak said “Defend Putrajaya at all costs”, and this is one of their ways. The Selangor government should sue the pants off SYABAS for taking the rakyat for a ride. This is very unethical of SYABAS. But then again, Umno never had ‘ethics’ to begin with. Let’s see what the next act of sabotage Umno will come up with?

Kazakh: SYABAS is an Umno crony company, we all know that. They are now all out to destabilise the Pakatan state government by any means and we know the mainstream media papers are only reporting one side of the story. But we are not stupid, we support the state government’s move to take over the water management with immediate effect.

Mohan Gandhi: It is clear SYABAS is working with Umno-BN to manufacture a water shortage. With all dams at maximum capacity, why can’t SYABAS treat the water progressively over time? The main issue is the siphoning of the inflated project cost from the proposed Langat 2 treatment plant. All that is needed is better planning from the existing water treatment plants. You mean after all these years, Rozali cannot figure that out.

Odin: Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Peter Chin Kah Fui, I don’t have Einstein’s brains, but I don’t even have to think to tell that some of you in the BN stand to make a few hundred million each in easy money from the Langat project. The Selangor state government won’t play ball, and so you are making things difficult. The actual victims of your vengefulness will be the ordinary people – people who have to spend hours daily on the road to and from their workplaces, who have to struggle to cope with the ever-increasing cost of living. But to you all, they are nothing more than collateral damage. ‘People first, performance now’ did you all say? Rubbish! It’s ‘Me first, money now’.

(Source)

Interesting comments no doubt but let try to leave the dirty politics from the current water spate between SYABAS and the State Government for a second and let’s ask some pertinent but obvious questions – we may just have a real crisis at hand and we should not be missing the forest for the trees.

  • Do we really have a problem of the water supply not being enough to meet the demands of the day?
  • If the current supply is not enough to cover the current demand, do we have enough raw water to start with?
  • If we have enough raw water to start with, then do we have enough treated water to be distributed? And if no, what we are doing to ensure we have enough raw water for the treatment plants?
  • If we have enough treated water to be distributed, why raise the water issue then? If no, are the current water treatment plants being managed and running efficiently?
  • If current water treatment plants being managed and running efficiently, then there is a strong reason for us to relook into expanding the number of water treatment plants that we have by opting for the new Langat 2 water treatment plant. If no, then what are the shortcomings and what can be done to ensure that the current water treatment plants are managed and running efficiently?

MTUC and Coalition Against Water Privatisation posed similar questions to SYABAS:-

  • Outflow of raw water from dams and pumping stations into treatment plants from January 1, 2012-July 15, 2012;
  • Meter readings of the outflow of treated water into respective treatment plants for the same period;
  • Meter reading of the outflow of treated water to consumers distribution system (via Syabas)
  • Certified log books & calibrated meters
  • Electricity bills from January 1, 2012- July 15, 2012
  • Chemical usage for the same period
  • PuncakNiaga payment bills to Syabas for water sold for the same period.

Also read here and here for interesting comments on BN politicians’ response on the water crisis

At end of the day, SYABAS may have a strong case and valid concerns and the Selangor State Government may be trying to hide these real concerns in light of the up-coming general elections. We do hear them in the news but we want to see stronger facts and figures from SYABAS before we can agree with them. Selangor State Government’s contention that the claims are not realistic makes sense too – if it is that easy to resolve the so-called water crisis by building a new water treatment plant, then why the strong resistance from the State Government from day 1?

The state government, through the Selangor Water Management Authority (LUAS), controls the state’s seven dams, and water levels were between 92% and 100% as of July 2. “We only control the raw water in the state and there is more than enough, which means Syabas should be answering why it does not have enough treatment plants to provide clean water to the people, and why there is talk of water rationing today,” he said.

Jayakumar further claimed it was irresponsible of Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Seri Peter Chin and Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Minister Datuk Noh Omar to suggest that the state allow Langat 2 to be built first and discuss water tariff hikes later. “Why waste RM8.65 billion of public funds, and allow a potential water tariff hike of up to 70% when the seven dams in Selangor are full and overflowing,” he said, calling on Syabas to inform the state of the actual situation on the ground.

(Source)

All we ask is for both parties to come to their senses and do things right – we are all ok for rations if situation is indeed critical but have we come to that stage? We may be undergoing some dry spell once in a while in a year but we do live in a country blessed with a good bound of rain. If we have enough raw water, what need to be worked on is on how efficient we can process that raw water to clean fresh water. The fact that almost every household have some kind of water filters in their house speaks a lot of the quality of water we getting these days (just imagine if the filter in my house turns brown on the same day).

SYABAS claims that the demand for treated water exceeds the current supply. If so, we should also relook into how best we can manage the utilisation of water and seek for alternatives – if there is wastage of water, we need to enforce the measures against such wastages. And can the authorities enforce and subsidizes eco-friendly rainwater harvesting system (which can minimise the usage on treated water for non-essential usages like water for the toilets and gardens) for all homes in the State? Are the current entities dealing with water treatment & supply ready to do this? If it is not, they need to be prepared to be taken over by someone else who can provide better and more efficient service and cleaner water. Right to clean water is a basic thing when it comes to the rights of every citizen in this country.

The last we need is for someone to politicize it at the expense of this right and any real water crisis clouded by dirty politics, greed and perhaps mismanagement of resources.

Ops Sikap: Authorities Should Be Blamed Too 2


Update: I guess it is unfair to point the fingers at the police alone although they do handle the bulk of the enforcement since there are other agencies involved namely JPJ who handle licensing & training and JKJR who handle the overall coordination and road safety related activities

Back to the original post

Oh dear, is it another “brilliant” conclusion that I see on the horizon?

(What we need more stringent enforcement instead of just enforcement – it is high time the police get tough with hardcore traffic law abusers. Image source: http://lagunamerbok.blogspot.com)

Read this first

I guess it does not take an extensive post mortem to come to this conclusion:-

An increase in the number of vehicles on roads throughout the country has been identified as the main reason for the failure of Ops Sikap 24 to reduce accidents and fatalities during the festive season from Aug 23 to Sept 6.

Kuala Lumpur Traffic Chief ACP Rusli Mohd Noor said apart from the attitude or behaviour of motorists, an increase in the volume of traffic had contributed to an increase in the number of accidents and fatalities

(Source)

What a revelation!

So, can we say that Ops Sikap will be highly successful if everyone keep their vehicle at home and start walking back to their home town?

The increase in the volume of traffic no doubt would contribute to the increase of accidents and fatalities – that is called the law of probability – the more cars you have on the road, chances of accident would be higher. That is not rocket science by any measure. With increase of population and ease of purchasing new vehicles in the coming years, the volume of traffic is likely to keep increasing. Is this means Ops Sikap in the coming years will fail too? Based on the conclusion that the police have brilliantly deducted on the reasons for the high fatality, that seems to be the case (unless a miracle happens – those idiots on the road change their attitude overnight)

Thus, the reason – “increase in the volume of traffic” does not hold water as to why there was more fatality this year. Just take a look at what the newspapers reported last week:-

An express bus travelling at 130km/h, a container lorry at 125km/h, a Mercedes Benz at 220km/h, a BMW at 240km/h, a Honda Accord at 190km/h and a Perodua Myvi at 180km/h. These were the astonishing speed of vehicles captured by the traffic police’s speed detection cameras on Malaysian expressways recently. No wonder the death toll in each Ops Sikap keeps increasing and show no signs of coming down.

(Source)

It is obvious that Ops Sikap failed not because there are more vehicles on the road. It failed because there was a lack of enforcement. When it comes to safety on the road, it starts with the right attitude and behavior but when that fails, then tough enforcement of the law must swiftly come in. And this is where it failed in the recent Ops Sikap 24.

Instead of blaming volume of traffic and attitude, this is what the authorities should do. The authorities should launch a major operation that runs not during holidays but throughout all year long and on highways, federal roads and all streets to enforce the law on all forms of abuse of traffic rules. For those stubborn criminals on the road, they should take one step by banning these idiots on the roads from being able to use any vehicles on the road. And they should do with without any favor or fear and then you will start to see the reduction of fatality on the road. And yes, bring back the need to slap the stubborn and regular law breakers with a higher fine (remember the idea of increasing the fine to RM1,000 which was dropped after some criminal-loving politicians made noise?).

So, do you still want to say that it is not right to point fingers at the authorities for the failure of Ops Sikap 24? The abuse of traffic rules happens because those drivers know that they can get away with it and even if they are caught, the punishment at the end of the day seems trivial. It is high time this changes.

Will we finally see a difference in Ops Sikap 25?

Craziest Thing 2011 – Part 2


Read first:-

We have reached Kota Bahru way ahead of our targeted time – we reached at 11.36 am instead of the targeted 2.00 pm. We were happy but I guess we were lucky too – there was less heavy traffic in the morning and we could have done better if we had prior experience through the old road.

(“Membangun bersama Islam” – Growth through Islam – was the slogan of the day as we entered the state of Kelantan. PAS still holding to the seat of the State Government despite the slow creep of modernization to the State)

First thing first, we had to buy something for our colleague at the hospital. Being new in town, we decided not to wonder around and instead looked for the nearest supermarket. We saw one, it looked big enough to be called as a supermarket. We went in, not really sure what to buy for a friend in the hospital, battling cancer. We decided to buy some fruits – there was not much choice left. A1 commented that the onions were cheaper here than in the hypermarket near his house. There were less people in the supermarket, probably Sunday being a working day in Kota Bahru.

We headed back to the hospital but spent almost 20 minutes looking for a parking spot. Such a big modern hospital but no enough parking bays – some even double parked whilst the rest took the easy route of parking along the main road. A large portion of the paid car park lots was being used up by taxi drivers. We were about to give up when we saw a car pulling out from the parking lot. We rushed and managed to park just in time before 3 other cars headed the same way. The hospital administrators should seriously consider building multiple story car park at the empty spot at the back.

(Hard to miss icon of the town – the Sultan Ismail Petra Arch. Unfortunately we were chasing time, so we did not stop at this place for photo shooting but silently we promised ourselves that we will stop by the next we are in town again)

A1 was wearing short pants and as we walked towards the ward, A1 got concerned. He did not see anyone else wearing short pants and he was getting a strange looks from some of the people in the hospital. The state of Kelantan was governed by PAS who rule the state in more Islamic way than the rest of the states in Malaysia. Perhaps it was impolite to wear short pants in public but A1 decided to ignore the cold strange looks. He had no other choice – that was the only pants he had. We were a bit early for visitor’s visiting time but after the guards took one look at us – it was clear we were not locals (perhaps A1’s short pants made some difference), they simply let us in without much questions.

We met our colleague in the ward and after sometime, realized that time was now 1 pm. We were hungry and we also knew that we could not stay long in Kota Bahru if we intend to return home the same day. We wanted to eat nasi dagang but as we drove along the town, we could not find the right place to stop and eat. We were late too. We then found one place but there was no nasi dagang on the menu but they had nasi kukus. We decided to go for it – the sound from the stomach was just getting louder. Food was cheap and tasty (I respect the chef for the spicy dishes) despite the restaurant was small and had no one else but us.

(For a first timer, it was quite difficult to locate this place – road sign is not clear and we had to ask a traffic policeman for directions. Despite a favorite place, parking was difficult too)

There was one more place to stop by before we headed back – 454 km back to Kuala Lumpur. We wanted to leave KB by 2.30 pm so that we can reach early enough for some sleep for work the next day. We had to stop for shopping for some Kelantan seafood chips at the famed Siti Khatijah Market. Despite having GPS onboard, we got lost. We wondered around and stopped a traffic policeman who on a bike at a junction. Parking once again was a problem near the famed market but we found one in time.

When we walked into the market – it looked deserted with most of the shops closed. We thought we were late and almost counted our bad luck when we asked someone and we were asked to go to the first floor. We rushed up and saw shop after shop selling crackers and the local foodstuff. We bought plenty of seafood stuff for home and then we rushed back to the car – our mission was half way done and we need to make the trip back.

The clouds now looked heavy now. So far we have been having good weather from the start – a bit of rain in KL but a great sunshine towards KB.