Case for PR’s 100 Day Plan


(Warning: Long post ahead)

(PR is making it case to the general public that it can make a positive difference if it becomes the Government but we need a more convincing case. Image source: http://wargamarhaen.blogspot.com)

Interesting topic for the beginning of the year…

Well, it is in our best interest (no matter which side of the politics we may be) to know what the opposition intends to do if they come in power – although the chances of that happening in recent months is almost nil, no thanks to the Oppositions shooting themselves in their foot numerous times in the last 4 years (but who knows what can happen in the next few years).

Last year (although it seems too late), the Opposition came out with it’s “Change now, Save Malaysia” proposition and listed a list of items that the Opposition will do in the first 100 days if it is voted into power.

During Sunday’s convention here, Pakatan distributed its “Change now, save Malaysia” pamphlets detailing the CPF agenda to adopt “pro-rakyat” administrative principles if it becomes the federal government.

Among the policies are to free national institutions from political interference and corruption; ensure fair economic distribution of wealth; empower the people; strengthen the educational institution and return autonomy to Sabah and Sarawak.

The “100-Days Pakatan Rakyat” programme, which would be implemented during the first three months of Pakatan being in power, includes abolishing the Internal Security Act, reducing subsidies for the private sector, giving a RM500 monthly increment for teachers and increasing oil royalties by 20% for Sabah, Sarawak, Terengganu and Kelantan.

(Source)

And it did not take long for BN to rubbish PR’s 100 days incentives:-

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has lambasted the Pakatan Rakyat’s 100-day reform plan, unveiled last month, describing it as populist and irresponsible.

He said the plan was unrealistic because it did not state the source of funds to finance the undertaking.

“In fact, it won’t take that long; in just two years, according to our estimates, our country will become like Greece if the plan is implemented without regard to the country’s means to implement it,” he said at the monthly gathering of the Prime Minister’s Department, here, Monday.

(Source)

Never mind if Najib stayed cleared of other part of PR’s proposition like reform of the main national government institutions and abolishment of ISA and only focused on the proposed expenditure of the PR’s proposition and at the same time, plays the fear of the country going bankrupt like the country of Greece (hmm, now where did I hear that?).

Najib said “the plan was unrealistic because it did not state the source of funds to finance the undertaking”. In other words, this may imply that PR may be making plans for the expenditure BEFORE finalizing the source of income to fund the said expenditures. Something that well spinned in the mainstream media but let’s give the benefit of the doubt – after all, PR have yet to prove themselves and many still doubt their ability to able to run the country better than BN.

BN’s Yearly Budget

So, before we even come to PR’s 100 day plan proper and in detail, let’s look at BN side of view. After all, they have been presenting national budget and balancing between national expenditure and income on a yearly basis.

In 2010, Najib in presenting the 2010 Budget themed “1Malaysia, Together We Prosper” amounting to RM191.5 billion with RM138.3 billion or 72.2 per cent for operating expenditure and RM53.2 billion or 27.8 per cent for development expenditure. Of course, Najib infused the budget presentation with mega projects including the insane 100 story tower which then lead to many thinking that public funds is going to be used for the construction or in most cases, bailout.

And we are only talking about budgets. What about the actual expenditures? Tony Pua of PR made this observation:-

We had in fact applauded the Government’s decision to reduce operating expenditure by a significant 13.7% from RM160.2 billion in 2009 to a budgeted RM138.3 billion.

However, in the Budget announcement today, it has been announced that the Government’s operating expenditure is expected to hit RM152.2 billion, or a massive RM13.9 billion (10.1%) over budget.

This clearly demonstrates the government’s inability to impose financial discipline on its expenditure to ensure that the country’s financial objectives are met. It is also not the first year the Government has overspent its budget. In fact, the Government has consistently overspent its budget by at least 5% as far back as 2000, with the worst year being in 2008 when the budget was exceeded by 17.2%.

Now if you think about it, the Government when presenting the yearly budget would have matched the expected income to be collected against the budgeted expenditure. Certainly it cannot be a deficit budget – no enough cash to cover the expenses, so how to make up for the difference? More debts?

Mismatch of Budget & Actual

Presentation of a sound budget is one thing but the actual expenditure is another. If the Government had spent more than what was budgeted, then where is the source of funds to finance the additional expenses? How did Najib justify the source of income when the expenses went overboard as compared to the yearly budget and mind you, the Government has been overspending for the last 10 years?

But why the increased expenditure in the first place? Is it because the Government had under estimated the actual cost of operating and therefore under estimate the amount in their yearly budgets (for the last 10 years)? Or is it because there has been mismanagement of public funds and poor management of resources? Or a combination of both?

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) is still studying the Auditor-General’s Report 2009 and does not dismiss the possibility of opening more investigation papers based on the report

A newspaper report had quoted the Auditor-General’s Report as mentioning that the Defence Ministry had spent RM300,000 on buying luxury items for the VVIP room, including RM95,880 on wallpaper, by using an allocation from the First Economic Stimulus Package.

(Source)

And it only gets more absurd:-

Who in their right mind would pay RM42,320 for a laptop?

Kolej Kemahiran Tinggi Mara Balik Pulau in Penang not only paid the price but bought two units of the same brand – Acer Aspire-5052ANWXMI, at a whopping price of RM84,640, said the Auditor-General’s Report.

In addition, the college purchased 450 units of computer CAD with network card at RM3.45mil for 12 labs. Each 19-inch monitor costs RM8,500 while a 17-inch monitor costs RM7,500.

(Source)

And

“The ministry signed a contract for the supply of 2.7 million metres of cloth worth RM27.54 million from December 2006 to November 2009.

“They spent RM7.01 million for the service of sewing 240,000 sets of uniforms for the period of April 2007 till March 2010,” said Ambrin.

He added that 2.7 million metres of cloth could produce 600,000 sets of uniforms but since only 240,000 were required, Rela has an excess of RM16.52 million worth of unused cloth.

(Source)

So, whilst BN may rubbish PR’s propositions as unrealistic, what about the leakages and mismanagement of the current financial affair by BN themselves? Let’s come back to PR’s 100 days proposition.

PR’s Propositions

PR in their “Change now, Save Malaysia” proposition summarized the followings to be done within the first 100 days after it comes into power:-

1. Reform the main national institutions of government, such as the Election Commission, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, the Attorney General’s Chambers and the Malaysian Royal Police Force to introduce transparency and restore accountability of government.

2. Abolish the Internal Security Act.

3. Direct Khazanah Berhad, the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) and all other government bodies that own highway concessions to complete the transference of such highway assets to the government with the purpose of abolishing tolls.

4. Change the structure of national subsidies by reducing corporate sector subsidies (such as the gas subsidies of RM19 billion to independent power producers) and transferring these savings toward subsidies for the rakyat.

5. Recognise the roles and contributions of public servants by re-evaluating the salary structures; starting with an increase in teachers’ allowances by RM500 per teacher per month as a recognition of the importance of their role as educators in nation building.

6. Restoring all private water concessions to the government, making water a public asset of the rakyat.

7. Deploy free Wi-Fi internet services to all Malaysians in the urban and semi-urban areas.

8. Dissolve Felda Plantations to redistribute its estate lands to the second and third generation of Felda settlers.

9. Increase oil royalties to Sabah, Sarawak, Terengganu and Kelantan to 20%.

10. Set up a Royal Commission to comprehensively resolve the problems of illegal immigration and citizenship in Sabah.

And mindful, the above is a proposed act within 100 days after PR forms the next Government (of course, discounting the days wasted on internal fighting as to who get which portfolio in the new Government which may be long and tiring).

Some of the above proposal may or may not be realistic at that point of time whilst others may not easy to be achieved within the first 100 days (it is going to take major and drastic actions on part of the new Government to even start to reform the Election Commission, the MACC, the AG’s Chambers and the Malaysian Royal Police Force).

PR published the “Orange Book” in December 2010 which further explains their Common Policy Platform and the 100 days initiatives and in the book, listed some rather interesting statistics of the country under BN, namely:-

  • 12 years in a row of budget deficits for Malaysia
  • 10 years in a row, that Malaysia has failed to achieve its economic growth targets
  • Malaysia fell 26 spots in the institutional integrity ranking in the Global Competitiveness Report conducted by the World Economic Forum from 2007 to 2009.
  • 34% of Malaysian workers (about 4 million people) are paid less than RM700 a month, which is below the poverty line.
  • 62% of the RM39 billion paid in subsidies and compensation each year are given to corporations (IPPs, highway concessions etc), and not to the rakyat
  • RM4 billion allocated for food subsidies (sugar, wheat, rice), which UMNO / BN is trying to revoke. RM19 billion worth of gas subsidies are given to independent power producers and RM4 billion is given to highway concessionaires each year
  • RM19 billion worth of gas subsidies are given to independent power producers each year, compared to RM 11 billion worth of petrol subsides for the rakyat – now at risk of being revoked for the rakyat, but not for the corporations – rakyat to suffer, while these corporations will continue to enjoy special big profits.

That is however not to say that BN led Government have not recognized the same problems that PR has listed down rather “eagerly” in the Orange Book and I am pretty sure that mitigation actions have been put in place to improve / reform / etc but the fact that there has been a continued mismanagement of the petroleum money and the huge compensation / subsidies paid for IPP and toll concessionaires has not been acceptable to most of us.

Is it true that the PR propositions are unrealistic due to no evidence of income as claimed by Najib? The Orange Book does not specifically mention the source of income for the 100 days initiatives but we can see where PR is coming from.

PR in December 2010 clarified:-

Oleh itu, Pakatan Rakyat berhasrat untuk memperkenalkan imbuhan khas pendidik sebanyak RM500 kepada semua pegawai dan guru yang bertanggungjawab di dalam sistem pendidikan kita.

Ini akan menelan belanja RM3.2 bilion setahun. Jumlah ini adalah kecil jika dibandingkan dengan pembaziran-pembaziran lain yang kini berleluasa di bawah UMNO/Barisan Nasional.

Kos perbelanjaan semua lawatan Perdana Menteri ke luar negara setakat ini sebanyak RM8.7 juta boleh menanggung imbuhan bagi 1,450 orang guru. Bayaran kepada APCO sebanyak RM77 juta bagi tahun 2009 boleh menampung imbuhan bagi 12,800 orang guru iaitu keseluruhan tenaga kerja yang membangunkan profesionalisme keguruan. Pembaziran UMNO/Barisan Nasional sebanyak RM131 juta bagi menampung perbelanjaan perunding dan kos operasi PEMANDU bagi tahun 2010 boleh membayar imbuhan bagi 21,833 lagi orang guru, iaitu hampir keseluruhan tenaga kerja kementerian.

Ini belum lagi pembaziran-pembaziran mega seperti subsidi gas sebanyak RM19 bilion kepada sektor korporat dan kroni, kos menyelamatkan kroni yang melibatkan Empangan Bakun sebanyak RM6 bilion dan ketirisan akibat rasuah yang dianggarkan mencecah RM28 bilion setiap tahun.

(Source)

Loosely translated – PR proposed RM500 as an additional allowance for teachers and the total money to be spent on this is expected to be RM3.2 billion. PR expects to pay for this from the savings from other unnecessary expenses like RM8.7 million from PM’s foreign visits expense, RM77 million from APCO consultancy fees, RM131 million from PEMANDU expenditures, RM19 billion from gas subsidy, RM6 billion from Bakun bailout and RM28 billion from corruption leakages.

So, I think we should not be too quick to call PR’s 100 days propositions as unrealistic as there are merits to the facts presented by them. It may be a populist measure or an unrealistic financial measure as Najib claims it to be but the fact is PR has presented the case to the general public. It now needs to explain further so that information is clear, complete and remains viable.

The only problem with this is that they should have done this much earlier – perhaps immediately after the general election in 2008 and keep up with a similar execution of the plan at State level and have a well run working model to be used as a basis for greater things. This way, their methods would have been proven and any shortcoming could have rectified before it is applied at national level.

Read Also

Orange Book in English

Orange Book in Bahasa Malaysia

Najib and his Budget

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Subsidy Gone But…


We seriously need a divine’s help on this…

(How the Government’s financial management is going to affect us, the people, in the long run. Image source: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/)

A long, long time ago, when the petrol price was increased, one “work-with-me” PM vowed to use the RM4 billion saved on petrol subsidies on the development of public transportation.

Of course, nothing happened to the improvement of public transportation and when called upon to be accountable to the subsidies saved, only excuses after excuses were given – in the end, RM4 billion simply went “missing”. Considering the amount of money spent by the Government, RM4 billion might be a small amount to some but there is no clear line of sight on whether the money had gone back to the people (the refund of RM625 aside).

Now there are calls for reduction of Government’s subsidies once again.

Reduction of Subsidies

Considering the fact of the global financial trend and the diminishing pool of national oil reserves, at end of the day, subsidies has to go. That is the fact and we need to face this sooner or later.  Subsidies are bad and here’s why. The call for reduction of subsidy is right and timely.

Idris Jala has made the right case for reduction of subsidies when he said:-

Subsidies only result in market distortion and they drain the government of much needed funds that could be better used for more strategic and pressing development projects for the rakyat.

The time for subsidy rationalisation is now.

We do not want to end up like Greece with a total debt of EUR300 billion. Our deficit rose to record high of RM47 billion last year.

If the government continues at the rate of 12 per cent per annum, Malaysia could go bankrupt in 2019 with total debts amounting to RM1,158 billion.

(Source: TheStar)

Why waste money to keep price of things artificially low when the same amount of money can be used for development and generation of economy of the nation? With the Government having more cash at the disposal, they can use it to ensure a better economic environment for business and people. This in turn may translate to higher business profit and taxable income for the individuals.

More cash reserve also means better investment opportunities by Government investment arm. It also means better buffer to engage the poor and provide financial assistance to them. It also means we have more money to pay off our debts whilst we continue with the strengthening our economy.

Perhaps a greater push for alternative energy to reduce the dependant on fossil fuel?

Managing Subsidies Saved

But here is where we start to worry…

When we look at the very jokers who is going to manage the money saved from the subsidies, it is no wonder why many are asking the question – why now (and not when we have plenty of oil lying around in our shores) and why the people (why no change of lifestyle by the Government)?

(Looks good on paper but given the past track record, can the people behind pilot seat make it count? Image source: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/)

To common Malaysians like you and me, the call to reduce the Government subsidies by the billions really sounds like this – more from the people’s pocket and more into the corrupt’s and greed’s pockets.

And the same echoed in Malaysiakini:-

Fiscal austerity is required only when you have a clean management of country’s wealth, otherwise all the rakyat’s belt-tightening will go into the pockets of greedy politicians and businessmen

Asking the rakyat to sacrifice and support the cutting of subsidies, and here they are throwing away the nation’s money. How often do we read this type of news, but no one is sent to jail for misappropriation.

Good question – how many people who been caught for wasting public funds whilst still in Government office have been found guilty and severally punished? What about the million of ringgit which was wasted on an advertisement to congratulate a politician’s wife? What about the joker who wasted thousands of ringgit for a car plate number? Why they are not stripped naked and given the lashes for treating public funds as their own personal funds.

Subsidies on Toll

Out of the many subsidies paid out by the Government, one stands like a sore thumb – subsidies on the toll charges. Unlike increase of petrol price which we cannot do much once we become the net oil importer, the same cannot be said of the increase in toll charges. What global event that causes the increase in toll charges?

The answer is NONE!

(No justification whatsoever for increase of toll charges but the Government’s hands seems to be tied on this)

The only reason we are playing through our noses is because a long time when we needed highways to manage the  ever growing traffic problems, some civil servants and policy makers did not do their duty (that is “to do all they can to protect public’s interest”) properly. Toll concessionaire’s agreement became lopsided agreement and accountability became a secret. So, why the public need to pay more for highway tolls when all is needed is for the Government to review and redraw the contract obligations.

Will the Government have enough courage to say “fuck off” to the toll concessionaires when they come over asking for an increase of toll and demand for re-negotiations? Or they will just silently agree to it and let the people continue to suffer for it?

Policies on Economy

Najib, infamous for his call to people to change their lifestyle is yet to be proven as a leader who goes all out to manage the little resources that the country has and improve on the financial standing. No doubt, there has been plenty of talk on the topic but what about real action?

(NEM strives for better quality of life for the people with higher income and sustained national growth. But the very framework of NEM has been under fire by short sighted people)

Something called NEM was cooked up but already there are objections to it. There is a think tank behind the Government (good for the PM) but no firm policies have been made (meaning think-tank’s recommendations may end up in the dustbin or in danger of major modifications due to political pressure).

No major overhaul of the corruption fighting mechanism have been made – there seems to be an overwhelming tendency to go after the oppositions and where applicable, “small fishes”. Those who suppose to be accountable is still sitting comfortably in their chairs and pointing fingers at others.

What about the policies that promotes cost cutting measure, not only at the public sector but also cutting across Government linked companies? What happen to the KPI at GLC level? Just how much of the cost cutting measures have been implemented and enforced? The very fact that the Auditor General’s yearly report has not shown any good indication of cost cutting measures in place and blatant waste of public funds has been curtailed shows that Government has not been really serious to maximise the resources and source of income.

Cost of Goods

When the petrol prices went up, the price of a glass of teh-tarik at the local mamak restaurant went up substantially. When the price of petrol went down, the price of the teh-tarik did not go down. The owner of the restaurant made plenty of profit by increasing all prices of the food items.

(Want to measure how Government’s decision to increase fuel price and toll affects our daily expenses? Just check out the “latest” price of teh tarik at your local mamak restaurant)

The price of teh-tarik is just an example but an obvious sample where price of petrol affects daily consumer goods in a big way. The price of sugar, flour and cooking oil is expected to increase and there is no indication that there will be close monitoring of other items’ price. If the price of 3 basic items is going up, rest assured, others will follow suit.

With the planned reduction of subsidies, price of petrol, toll and others will also increase. With the increase of petrol and toll, we can only expect transportation cost to increase and when this happens, goods delivered will cost more too.

What the Government plans to do about this? How they are going to manage when price of goods sky-rockets? Are they going to do what they have done in the past – simply complain about it but do nothing?

Poor Implementation & Enforcement

MCA President, a couple of days ago said:-

Weaknesses in the implementation of Government policies have resulted in the disgruntled Chinese community wrongly assuming the Barisan Nasional is not doing anything for them

What Chua Soi Lek has said is not something new – it is something everyone already had known for a long time now. Chua Soi Lek only talked about weaknesses in implementation but there is more to it than just this.

We all agree that there is weakness in implementation of policies but it does not happen only in Malaysia. So, we are not really alone in this but what we want is “less talking and more action”.  Have we find out where are the weaknesses and quickly plug the weaknesses so that implementation is done without delays or unfairly? Has this been done in line with the expected reduction of subsidies?

To keep talking about weaknesses without talking about plugging in the weaknesses is nothing short of plain ignorance. Same goes for the quality of enforcement in Malaysia where sometimes more bite for enforcement is tainted with political pressure.

Final Say

But let’s say that God was kind on Malaysians and decide to wipe out corrupted, racists and good-for-nothing politicians and Government civil servants from the face of the earth and replace them with true nationalist, professional and idealistic people. What happens next?

We will go for the reduction of subsidies willingly – it is necessary after all. What ever the Government managed to save from these subsidies, then should be re-channeled to the people in form of tax relief, rebates, reduction of debt and certainly increase in taxable income. That is the right way to do, not the current way of pushing the buck back to the people whilst the politicians and the rich hold back and shake leg and whilst strict measures to handle the people’s burden due to increase of expenses is not been formulated and implemented.

We are against reduction of subsidies, not because we want the subsidies to be kept going (for ever and ever) – it is not good for the nation in the long run. We are against the reduction of subsidies because we know the subsidies saved will not be properly managed.

Formula 1 for 1 Malaysia


After Samy Vellu and Khir Toyo, it is time for Najib to put his hands on public funds…

(It is not cheap to run a Formula 1 team. Image source: http://topnews.in)

With this report from theStar, the multi billion PKFZ scandal may end up looking like peanuts:-

The 1Malaysia F1 Team, a joint venture between the Government and private sector, will participate in the F1 race beginning next year.

“This is the Malaysian team. The car was designed at the SIC, manufactured at the SIC, tested at the SIC and the car is Malaysian-made. Even the pit-stop team consists of Malaysians,” he said.

He said the 1Malaysia Team would identify a suitable Malaysian driver, adding that the project could lift the country’s image in the international arena

Just one question for Najib – “Malaysian economy already recover kah?”

Interestingly no one seems to be talking about the amount of tax-payers’ money that will be wasted on this expensive PR endeavour.

And some bastards came up with a sorry excuse to waste of tax-payers’ money – the unbelievable “To lift the country’s image in the international arena”.

Participating as co-sponsor (like how Petronas did) is one thing but to build a F1 car grounds up and to run a F1 team is another. Proton is still limping and here they are getting one foot stuck into another Najib’s grand projects.

EPF (the agency who is holding our retirement funds) have substantial shareholding in Air Asia and Proton, not mentioning Government’s involvement at SIC. What happens if the team finds itself in a financial problem – will the question of bailouts be cropping up?

If Malaysia truly wants to lift the country’s image in the international arena, here is one idea that the Government CAN do without the need to waste money and something that the international community AND many Malaysians (who been screwed many times over) will appreciate on a grander scale:-

STOP WASTING HARD EARNED PUBLIC FUNDS ON WASTEFUL FUCKING PROJECTS

Get the details at Paul Tan (and make sure you read the readers’ comments)

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With 30 cents up, it’s time to do a budget


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Is this sound very familiar to you?

You received your salary on the dot and based on a rough calculation (some use only their 10 fingers), deducting estimated expenses for the month (it was food, beer and transportation for me), you gather that there is a surplus of almost RM1,000 (I know RM1,000 is bloody lot for some. This is just an example ok?). However, come middle of the month and you are at the ATM machine withdrawing cash, you soon realise that there is less than RM50 in the account. You start to panic. It is not enough to sustain you for the next 15 days.

You sheepishly walk away from the ATM machine, thinking what had happened? Did the bank have wrongly debited your saving account? No, you think again. Did you overspend your income? You think again and you realised that is it – you spend more than what you can earn.

Every one of us has gone through this phase at one point of our life before. Some do it on monthly basis, forever being short of cash by middle of the month sigh (some within the first week of pay day – I know because I have friends who do that). At this point, many of us are desperate for cash and start to borrow money from friends and family.

There was a time when I was working in a bank, I too find myself short of cash by middle of the month. I know my salary is more enough to sustain me until the next salary date but by the middle of the month, I seriously do not know where all that money has go too. There were too many “surprises” for me at the ATM machines. Like others, I complaint that my income is just not enough for my expenses. That was a lame and cheap excuse indeed.
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One day I sat down and thought to myself…I was working in a bank and surprisingly unable to manage my money. That was pathetic man! If a banker cannot managed his own money, then how he is going to manage other people’s money. It’s like a legal clerk not knowing how to prepare a legal document, a supermarket cashier not knowing the best deal in supermarket, etc…you get my drift.

So I started to a budget and keep track of all my income and expenses (ok, I got this idea from MSN Money) and immediately I saw where I was bleeding cash. There seemed like I was spending more for magazines, drinks and more importantly, giving other people unnecessary treats (no wonder a lot of girls wanted to go out lunch with me).

Anyway, by the time my budget tracking was up and running, I noticed that my surplus cash (the surplus used to be a deficit) began to increase. Soon, I had enough to actually deposit it as long term saving. How did I do it? First of all, I did not use any “canggih” software like Microsoft Money. All I used was a simple Ms Excel with 2 sheets – one for consolidated figures and another for daily figures.

My budget Excel has these components:-

1. Daily expenses – basically I put up these columns: date, type of expenses, amount and grand total

2. Monthly budget – I actually budget out for the next 4 – 5 months ahead so that I can plan out contingency in case there is a major expenses coming up in couple of months (like renewal of car insurance)

3. The comparison between budget and actual income & expenses – I have the daily expenses and I have the monthly budget – I compare them (it is easy to do – simply use the Ms Excel formulas) and see where I have overspend.
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This is how my crude Excel sheets after 5 years in use. Google up “how to do budget” and you will get almost 404 million links on that.

In the first month I started to use a budget to keep track, I was surprised on how many ways I was overspending. So, I started to tighten my expenditures and the overspending amount started to go down bit by bit. By the time I got married, I had enough in my savings for the wedding expenses. Even with a kid (if you are a parent, you will know what I mean – having kids means higher expenses), it is still manageable.

So, with the 30 cents up, it only means one thing – it is time to relook and rework the budget. I am sure that it is still manageable.
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(Filed under Del.icio.us Tag: Money)
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20 Ringgit – enough for Dating?


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(Online dating is cheaper and less stressful too. Cartoon source: http://www.glasbergen.com)

For those who were listening to THR last Saturday, hosted by the witty DJ, Ram would know what I mean. Ram posed this scenario to the listeners and asked for their funny & creative replies:-

You have been very busy at work and have not gone out with your girlfriend for some time now. Your girlfriend calls you up suddenly in middle of the month and insists on going out on a date today. The problem is you only have RM20 in your wallet and the fuel meter in your car / motorbike shows “E” (that E for empty). What will you do?

It’s a mind boggling question, a situation that I myself have been in several times when I was starting on my work and dating my wife-to-be several years ago. Surprisingly there were several calls from the listeners with some “good” answers. Translated from Tamil into English, it sounds something like this:-

Listener 1 – Fuel up for RM10 (if using the car) or RM2 (is using motorbike) and the balance, buy plenty of junk food (chips, “asam-asam”, etc). Spend some quiet moment at some park or waterfall (Sounds real cheap but then again with RM20 in the pocket, who’s complaining?)

Listener 2 – Just say that you are sick and schedule the date to another day (preferably sometime after your pay day)

The best reply so far…

Listener 3 – Before meeting the girlfriend, give a miss-call to your buddies. When you meet your girl, first “lay” out impressive activities for the day – sightseeing to Genting, watching the latest movies, have lunch at fast food restaurant, etc. That to ensure you are serious about the date. At that time, your friend will return your call – act up as if there was an emergency and that you have no choice but to cancel the date. Reschedule to another day when you have the money (cover balik lah).

Listener 3’s idea was great but was a bit difficult to follow unless you are good actor and the return call from your friends comes in at the right moment (my friends normally don’t return miss-calls).

I would say that I was lucky to have a girlfriend (my future wife then) who understood my financial and time constraint (ok, most of the time). I would simply pick a day when I actually have the money to date. Ego plays a crucial part in managing expenses for dating – no way am I going to ask my girl to chip in. I know it is the new millennium and this things does not exist anymore right? Wrong – being a guy who want to impress the girl, what ever ideals there is, it is out of the window.

That was before marriage. Now, we just share our expenses most of the time – sometimes my wife would “belanja” me instead. It’s just that we have different priorities these days.

By the way, RM20 is not much these days. So think about the question again. How would you handle it with just RM20 in your pocket?

(Filed under Del.icio.us Tag: Money)
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RM100 isn’t much today


An interesting topic in The Star today and I must agree there that RM100 is indeed not much today but is it?

Now let’s see that again based on my daily expenses

A) When I was studying Law part time and working full time (almost 10 years ago)

Transportation: RM2.00 bus fare to and fro my house to KL (then I walk from the bus station to my work place, almost 5 kilometers away and walk again to the college – no wonder I was slim and very healthy then)

Food total: RM3.50 based on RM1.00 (“nasi lemak biasa” or 3 kari-puffs, either one for almost everyday! If I already “muak”, maybe will be opt for “mee goreng”), RM2.50 (standard nasi campur – no chicken or fish, just 2 types of “sayur”, “sambal” and plenty of “kuah”)

There was no entertainment cost, no magazines to be purchased, no other miscellaneous cost, bills and etc. I can’t afford to have one with my starting salary of just RM630 (half of which goes to my college fees and the balance into my saving for year end exam fees)

That’s totals to RM5.50 per day. So, with RM100, it can last me for 18 days!

B) Daily expenses (2004)

Things have changed. One thing is that my income has increased a lot since my income days of RM630 per month. So, as they say “you earn more, you spend more”. Another, the prices has gone up causing us to pay more for the same portion of items.

Transportation: RM6.00 (Based on an average RM30 petrol per week – Monday to Friday and if the traffic jam is not so bad)

Food total: RM12.00 based on RM3.50 (standard “mee goreng” with “teh ais“), RM5.50 (standard “nasi campur” with at least chicken or fish), RM3.00 (tea-time meal – “roti canai” with “teh tarik“)

Parking: RM5.50 (Based on monthly charges of RM170.00)

House weekly sundry expenses: RM4.00 (Based on a weekly trip to Pasar Borong – RM30.00)

The above does not include water & Astro bills of RM100.00, periodic trips to Tesco – RM100.00 (average per trip), expenses for my son – RM100.00 (average per month), and etc. Based on the above (and excluding my other expenses), I am spending RM27.50 per day. So, with RM100, it can only last me for 4 days!

C) Current Daily expenses (2005)

Time to tighten the belt!

Transportation: RM8.00 (Based on an average RM40 petrol per week – Monday to Friday and if the traffic jam is not so bad)

Food total: RM5.00 based on RM2.00 (either “nasi lemak” or “mee goreng” or sometime have nothing for breakfast), RM3.00 (standard nasi campur with no chicken or fish)

Parking: RM5.50 (Based on monthly charges of RM170.00 – no change there)

House weekly sundry expenses: RM1.50 (Based on a weekly trip to Pasar Borong – RM10.00)

The above does not include water & Astro bills of RM100.00, controlled trips to Tesco – RM80.00 (average per trip), expenses for my son – RM70.00 (average per month), and etc

Based on the above (and excluding my other expenses), I managed to reduce daily spending to RM20.00 per day. Yes, it is not much but it is a reduction nonetheless. So, with RM100, it can now last me for 5 days.

I have cut down a lot of non-essential expenses (for example my tea-time meals) and surprisingly still have balances to put in my savings account. I am continuing to review my expenses and hope to cut more especially on sundry expenses (hmm…maybe need to blog one this someday).

So, with the high prices today, there is not much RM100 can do but if we tighten our belt and spend wisely, we can indeed stretch RM100 for longer days.

(Cartoon source: www.hadifarahani.com/Medilus_list/Funds.html)