Another Petrol Price Hike…


2011-04-20-chronicle-cartoon

(What we see whenever the Government increase the price and ask the taxpayers to change their lifestyle – a burden that we are  willing to share provided the Government does the same. Image source: http://patriotpost.us)

I have been quite busy with work this week and the recent news from tanah air did not sound that good too. From the massive water disruption in the Klang Valley on Merdeka Day (have they burned those who polluted the river and the council officers who closed one eye on the factory activities at the stake?) to the petrol hike from the BN Government and to my son have a bad cough for the last few days.

I read with interest on the various reactions on the Facebook and that included one that got angry when the petrol station “ran out” of petrol. And that reminded me of the 2 posts that I wrote sometime ago on the petrol hike:-

In short, subsidies of any nature have to go and so do any give away of public money to causes that do not generate real economy such as BRIM, smartphone rebates, etc. Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. Instead of giving people the cash which does not really elevate them from the line poverty in the long run, it is better to create more opportunities with employment opportunities, cheaper housing schema and increase the minimum wages to an extent where people can manage the ever increasing expensive.

It is also important to have more accountability and prudence in managing the money saved from these subsidies. Najib is saying that the Government will save RM1.1 billion this year and about RM3.3 billion annually. All fine and good with the money saved but seriously, it does nothing to improve our confidence of the Government in managing the money saved.

The Prime Minister can only convince the public of his sincerity and necessity of raising RON 95 petrol prices by 20 cents to save annual subsidy costs of RM 3.3 billion by also implementing open competitive tenders and fighting corruption which would save RM 51 billion annually.

Without accompanying measures that demonstrates the Federal government’s commitment against corruption, the public would easily see through such fake sincerity and counterfeit necessity to cut costs.

Why should the people, especially lower-income groups, bear the pain of paying RM3.3 billion annually in increased petrol prices if no action is taken against those political bandits who steal the nation of RM 51 billion annually?

(Source)

It’s obvious that in general sense, there is a feeling that the Government is not doing enough to curtail corruption and mismanagement of public fund. Why not stop the bigger leakage of public funds misuse instead of the easy way out by cutting down on the fuel subsidies?

There is already trouble brewing on the millions being paid to Najib’s consultants – some claimed to be inexperienced and continue to be overpaid. What about the millions that was pledged before the last general elections? Still remember the rather blatant  “I help you, you help me” election bribe? Najib could have been mistaken for the Santa Claus and Christmas did come early for some people. It was something I knew will come back to bite us after the election when Najib have to make good of his pre-election promises but does not have the dough to do so.

Seasoned analyst of Malaysian politics Bridget Welsh today said that BN chairman Najib Razak had so far spent a whopping RM58 billion or RM4,363 per voter to shore up support at the coming polls.

Welsh an associate professor of political science at the Singapore Management University, said the figure was reached after studying over 4,000 news reports since 2009 – the year Najib replaced Abdullah Badawi as prime minister – as well as the three budgets including supplemental budgets under Najib between 2010-2013.

“I conservatively estimate that his administration has spent a total of RM57.7 billion from after he took over as PM to just before the dissolution of parliament on election-related incentives,” said Welsh, writing in Malaysiakini.

She said some RM46.7 billion was spent on development targeted pledges and RM11.0 billion on ‘1Malaysia’ programmes.

“The two main components of this largess are politically targeted distributions and 1Malaysia spending. These measures are inherently political as not only are they framed as political tools, they are being openly been touted as a reason to support the BN at the voting booth,” she said.

(Source)

After all, the basis of spending is pretty simply – the income must be enough to cover the expenses. If the current income does not cover the expenses, either increase the income (one way would be by borrowing from someone else which is a bad thing) or reduce the expenses (still remember Najib’s famed advice to the common man – change your lifestyle?). So whilst reducing the petrol subsidies is one good way to reduce the expenses, replacing it with another wasteful one is not. And speaking about reducing wasteful expenses, how about this idea for a change?

All Cabinet members including Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak should now pay for their own fuel since the government claimed underserving parties were enjoying the benefits of a blanket subsidy that it reduced today, said PKR’s Rafizi Ramli.

The PKR strategy director also questioned why Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak chose not to do away with hefty subsidies given to private companies such as independent power producers, which is estimated to be around RM13 billion, and instead “took the easy way out” by slashing public fuel subsidies.

“The fuel price hike burdens most of the average people and it is used as an excuse by Datuk Seri Najib Razak to hide his own weaknesses in managing the country’s economy,” Rafizi told reporters, and pointed to the country’s recent credit rating downgrade by global agency Fitch Ratings and the ringgit’s lowered value against the US dollar.

(Source)

That is a very sound advice indeed. Will the Government change its lifestyle too? We may not save the billions by doing that but it will show the sincerity and the commitment of the Government in ensuring that whatever money that the Government manages to collect is spent with greater prudence, accountability and transparency. We do not need overpaid consultants (Ministers and GLC management included), expensive overseas trips for politicians and their wives (kids and their servants tagging along), overrated mega projects that does not bring good returns and only benefits a small group of people and other nonsense like BRIM, etc.

If this is done and if coupled with a long term plan to increase the buying power of the consumers (and not just giving away taxpayers money), another petrol hike would not be treated with such hostility.

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It’s About Time, Right?


(Gosh, to be frank, lately I could not find the right time for the blog – we all have been too busy with work and with several deadlines looming over our heads, time seems to be running short)

(The protest that kicked Hosni Mubarak of Egypt from the helms of power. Other countries are facing similar protests too. Image source)

You have been reading about the trouble brewing in the Middle East – we really don’t care who will rule over who, because at the end of the day, it is all about the People’s Power but this is the part we are really interested on:-

The Government will maintain the current fuel price for RON95 at RM1.90 and diesel at RM1.80 despite the escalating global oil price, Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said.

It will instead discuss with the Finance Ministry about alternatives to cushion the increase, he said.

“The Government will retain current prices and look at other options or alternatives even if the Government’s load increases.

(Source)

And

As tensions escalate in the Arab world, oil prices have gone up, sparking global fears that the costs will be passed down to the people.

Fears over higher crude oil prices, hovering around US$101 yesterday as political unrest in North Africa and the Middle East heightened, have sent stock markets tumbling around the world.

(Source)

The bad news is that the worse is not yet over – Libya’s Col Gaddafi is set to provide a strong resistance and Saudi is yet to experience the same resistance that is troubling the other counties.

But let’s leave Middle East for a second, shall we?

One thing is sure – we are going to face crisis in the future and we are going to see the increase of the price of crude oil moreover when the supply is insufficient to meet the global demands and Malaysia run out of the high quality oil. The question that we will be facing then would be – how prepared we have been when this happens.

Are we looking into the alternative energy source in a more serious and concerted frame of mind? Will we see more incentives for highly fuel efficient or hybrid vehicles on the road? Unfortunately at the moment, there is no national regulation that dictates minimum fuel efficiency of the cars on the road. In recent years, there have been some incentives on hybrid cars by the Government but it is still not enough to see a wider use.

There is a greater use of NGV as compared to 5 years ago but the sale of NGV in this still controlled by Petronas and it is not offered in all of their petrol stations. Same goes to bio-fuel stations around the country.

It is also assuring that Proton is working on electric cars but on the overall, electricity is also generated mainly on coal and oil instead of alternative source of energy like solar and wind, so it is still bad for the environment. Heavy usage of electric cars means longer and heavier recycling load on the national grid. So, what about solar panels that can be installed by residents and who can contribute back to the national grid.

Improvement of public transportation has always been in the Government’s books but change does not come overnight. In June 2010, the Government proposed MRT for the city of KL and it is expected to take about 6 years for the project to be completed. (we have yet to come to the issue of cost yet).  The impact of the MRT on the traffic congestion and our dependent on the fossil fuel is yet to be determined.

We need to think of the alternatives right now, not when we are stuck in a fuel crisis when things go wrong in the Middle East.

Read Also

Recycling News

Alternate Energy in Malaysia

Noises from South


I guess once you become a Singaporean, you always will be a Singaporean…

(Why make noise on RON95 when it is still cheaper for you to buy RON97? Image source: http://rmreview.com.my)

Just read some of the unbelievable, kiasu loaded statements from the Singaporeans on the recent decision to ban “subsidised with MALAYSIAN tax-payers’ money” RON 95 petrol:-

Singaporean civil servant Tok Eng Seng, 38, said the frequent changes in the petrol ruling were confusing.

“We spend a lot of money here and we should be allowed to fill up with whichever type of petrol we want,” he added.

Ya, you spend a lot of money in JB but you still get a lot of things cheaper (namely foodstuff and sundry items) than in Singapore. That does not mean we need to give you our money too. In other words, just because there is a chance, you want a free screw too?

Another Singaporean, property agent Eric Tan, 43, said the lower price of fuel was the only attraction that led to many Singaporeans coming to the state.

“I believe sales of products in Johor Baru will go down once the ruling is enforced,” he said, adding that the move was bad for Malaysia’s tourism.

Sale may go down – it often do whenever prices goes up but once everyone is used to the new price scale, sale should pick again. The fact that the Sing Dollar is still stronger than the Ringgit and our Government is unlikely to increase prices of goods that drastically so soon (to ensure their own survival, of course); Singaporeans will still find items in Malaysia cheap enough to cross over the Causeway.

Art, photography and design executive Alex Soh, 37, also felt that many Singaporeans would not come to Johor if the price of petrol was increased.

“Cheaper petrol is one of the major attractions,” he added.

Well, Singaporeans have a choice, don’t they? They can always buy petrol at the petrol stations in Singapore and save us the trouble. Other than cheap petrol, Malaysia has many other things that is attractive to foreigners – because I don’t recall “cheap petrol” in Tourism Board’s Visit Malaysia advertisements (if you get my drift).

Derrick Cheng, 53, said many Singaporeans were unclear about the issue.

“I heard people saying that the price of petrol would go up while others say that we (Singaporeans) can still buy the lower grade of petrol but are only allowed to purchase 20 litres,” he said.

“It is unfair to charge separate rates for foreigners because it doesn’t comply with the free trade system that is supposed to be practised by the Malaysian Government,” he added.

Another idiot who just did not get the underlining message – there is separates rates because the petrol in Malaysia are not sold at actual market price (just be patient, we will get to that level eventually). Petrol in Malaysia is highly subsidised with Malaysian tax-payers’ money. It is not like Malaysians are paying for the petrol at market price now and we decided to increase it above the market price for foreigners at our whims and fancy.

Salesman Ken Tan, 28, said there were traffic jams at the Causeway and because of that, many Singaporeans expected cheaper petrol when they return to their country.

(Source)

Perhaps with less Singaporeans coming over to JB (as predicted by one Alex Soh), traffic may be less at the Causeway.

If you ask me, I don’t see the problem – why should we, Malaysian tax-payers should be subsidising Singaporeans with cheaper petrol? It is not that we have banned sale of petrol to foreigners – Singaporeans can still get petrol in Malaysia but at un-subsidised rate.

Further the price of RON97 in Malaysia is still cheaper than the same RON97 sold in Singapore – almost 57% cheaper! And I doubt that for that price difference, Singaporeans still want to go for RON95 unless you are dirt cheap.

So, what is the big problem here?

The RM0.05 Increase


(Sight of things to come but we wonder where the framework for proper management of public funds is? We want to see evidence of proper controls and enforcement to go hand to hand with reduction of subsidies. Otherwise, we will be back on square one – the corrupt & rich making money at the expense of the poor. Image source: The Malaysia Insider)

Another sneaky increase from BN led Government but this is something we already anticipated since the day the Government opened its mouth on subsidies and the country going bankrupt.

Sugar is now 25 sen more per kilo (new price is RM1.70 sen per kg) while RON 95 petrol and diesel is up by 5 sen per litre (new price for RON 95 is now RM1.85 per litre and diesel is RM1.75 per litre).

Liqued petroleum gas (LPG) is also up by 10 sen. The new price is RM1.85 per kg.

(Source)

And of course, to ‘sweeten’ the price hike, we get this over-used, over-killed, over-abused statement:-

He added that fuel and sugar prices were still the lowest in the region.

I am all out for reduction of subsidies – it is the right to do – let everyone pay the actual amount. But then again, it does not mean the Government (or rather corrupt politicians and civil servants) can pocket the money saved from subsidies into their own pockets. RM750 million is expected to be saved from this latest price hike but how much of it will be given back to the public?

Any attempt to divert the money saved from subsidies back to the public would also mean we need to plug the leakages that we been having in the system. Have we done that? Are we still looking at corruption, mismanagement of public funds, mismanagement of economy and wrongful allocation of public funds for personal gains?

At the speed we are doing things and the failure to go against those who have misused public funds in the past, it is likely we will still be with multiple leakages for now and in near future. This is why there have been voices of oppositions to the price hikes. It never been on the issue of why we need to reduce the subsidies but rather what we have done with the subsidies saved.

Anwar Ibrahim of Pakatan Rakyat was quoted:-

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim today criticised the Najib administration’s rationale for the latest subsidy cuts, pointing out that the savings of RM750 million was a pittance compared to the billions spent for other “careless” expenditures.

The Pakatan Rakyat de facto leader accused the Barisan Nasional (BN) government of spending billions to bail out troubled government-linked companies and to foot exorbitant bills from foreign consultancies employed to help improve the prime minister’s international image

(Source)

Mahfuz Omar of Pakatan Rakyat asked:-

“The government wants the rakyat to change their lifestyles…but it is not willing to change its style of managing the economy.

“The government is wasteful when it conducts direct negotiations (for its business operations) which is expensive. It could easily adopt an open tender system.

“It doesn’t seem to understand that every disbursement is public money,”

(Source)

Tony Pua of Pakatan Rakyat said:-

The question to the government is, given the financial constraints that the government is facing, why isn’t the government targeting the fat cats which are lynching off the tax-payers’ hard-earned monies first, before attacking the livelihood of ordinary Malaysians? (note: he missed another fat cat – the highway robbers toll concessionaires)

(Source)

Whilst we are concerned with the reduction of subsidies for the people, we get to hear disturbing news like this:-

Anwar, who is also the Parliamentary opposition leader, further pointed out that just yesterday, the House was informed that the PM’s Department’s operational expenditure had reached over RM3.8 billion last year and had been allocated a budget of RM3.9 billion for this year.

“This includes expenses for secretariats for former prime ministers and for Permata, which is handled by the prime minister’s wife,” he said, referring to Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor.

We have yet to get a proper answer for the almost RM1 million advertisement for some politician’s wife and here we have another increase to the Government’s expenses – courtesy of cut down of public subsidies? Where is the “change your lifestyle” at the Government’s end?

And another laughable matter that was reported along with the price hike is the impact on other consumer goods. It is no secret that a price hike in fuel and basic consumer goods is usually taken advantage by certain quarters to increase the price of their goods (and services) substantially. It is time to make the “killing” whenever the price of basic items goes up.

It is understandable if they want to pass on the increase of raw materials to the end consumers but the margin of increase should be reasonable. Instead we have people who not only pass the increase in raw material price to the consumers at many times fold but decides to make substantial profit at the same time. And you need not look far – just hop over and check what the latest price of roti canai and teh tarik (it can be anything from nasi lemak, thosai, wanton mee, etc) is. Does the Government have enough resources (sigh, more expenses to the Government) to make spot checks and enforce the right price?

Tony Pua of Pakatan Rakyat asked the same:-

It is hence shocking to hear the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak, supported by the Performance & Management Delivery Unit (Pemandu) claim in their subsidy rationalisation fact sheet that the price increases will have “minimal impact” on households in Malaysia.

In the fact sheet, it’s “demonstrated” that the new teh tarik price taking into the impact of subsidy reduction of fuel and upward price adjustment would be around RM1.0155, or an increase of less than 2 sen.

The impact on other popular items such as roti canai was stated as being 0.24 sen per piece, 0.6 sen for rice, 6.3 sen for meat per kg and 1.05 sen for mee goreng.

Pemandu under the chairmanship of the Minister in Prime Minister’s Department Senator Tan Sri Koh Tsu Koon must be living in a parallel universe for having the audacity to publish such numbers which are at best applicable only in a fictitious and theoretical universe, and at worse, showing the complete lack of understanding of real world market dynamics on the price of goods and services.

I challenge Tan Sri Koh Tsu Koon to find me a mamak stall in Malaysia which will increase the price of teh tarik by a mere 1.55 sen or the price of roti canai by a minute 0.24 sen in the entire country to prove the “minimal impact” of the latest round of 5-in-1 price increase.

(Source)

Tony Pua (short of calling Koh Tsu Koon an idiot) has a valid point here – just how the Government is going to control the subsequent price increases on other consumer goods which is not under controlled items? The Government can ask the consumers to lodge complaint of the substantial increase but what the Government can really do against the business?

The fact that these items (roti canai, teh tarik, etc) are not controlled items (and it should not be) means the business is free to increase the price as they see fit (read in between the lines here). If consumers do not agree with price hike of these items, they have an option to look elsewhere. That is how the market works.

The problem starts when everyone else starts to increase their goods and services prices and the Government will not be able to do anything.

Not with the current disposable income. And here is where the Government can come in because it will be very difficult to get the private sectors (who is governed by net profit at end of the day) to simply increase their employees’ salary and when it comes to public sector, the Government is the employer and can determine how it can structure the salary scale for the public servants.

The Government can also curtail the leakages and ensure the money saved goes back to the public – by means of reduction of income tax (reduced tax due to Government’s expenses is now less), reduction of subsidies paid to IPPs and toll concessionaires (revise what the public need to pay these profit making entities), improve on the delivery system to reduce wastage of time and resources and make annual allowances to those earning below the minimum wages (those who do not earn enough to be taxed but still faced with the substantial price hike).

Certainly, the above list is not exhaustive because what we are seeing is nothing but works of economics in motion i.e. income = expenses. If you faced with a very high expenses (due to wastage, corruption and blatant profiteering) and very limited source of income (now that we have dwindling petrol reserves), there is very little choice but to relook at your spending – can you reduce the net expenses or can you increase the net income or both?

At the moment, the Government is looking at reducing the expenses by shredding off the subsidies paid on behalf of the people but is it really the right option? Shouldn’t reduction of wastages, arrest of corruption and blatant profiteering be top of the list for reduction of expenses?

The Government need not look far on this – they already worked this out in NEM but that model somehow went missing after some quarters made some noise. That is why reduction of subsidies (despite its merits) is dead wrong and highly questionable.

Largest Oil Spill


Photo caption: A May 17, 2010 satellite image provided by NASA shows a large patch of oil visible near the site of the Deepwater oil spill, and a long ribbon of oil stretched far to the southeast. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Wednesday that a small portion of the slick had entered the so-called loop current, a stream of fast moving water that circulates around the Gulf before bending around Florida and up the Atlantic coast. (AP Photo/NASA). (Image source and more photos here)

In case, you been busy with other matters

BP’s COO Doug Suttles has announced that operation Top Kill, a plan involving the pumping of heavy mud, concrete, and junk into its gushing oil well 5,000 feet deep in the Gulf of Mexico, has failed.

The next step, the New York Times reports, is a “lower marine riser package cap,” in which workers plan to saw off the riser and put a device on top to capture the oil. So far, the leak has resulted in the largest oil spill in U.S. history.

Experts say anywhere from 504,000 to 4.2 million gallons a day are escaping from the well that ruptured after Transocean’s Deepwater Horizon platform (leased by BP) exploded on April 20.

Recently, scientists have discovered that a massive amount of the oil has not risen to the surface and could be lurking 1,000 feet or more under the surface of the gulf. One plume is an estimated 22 miles long. PBS has a running estimate, based on several evaluations of the flow rate (BP has not acknowledged a definitive figure).

(Source: Fast Company)

504,000 to 4.2 million gallons a day or estimated 180 million gallon leaked todate or 681 million litres (1 gallon = 3.78541178 liters). That is enough to cover a full tank for 17 million cars (rough estimate).

Meanwhile, we are having same problem over here:-

The Department of Environment estimates that 16km of shoreline have been polluted by the oil spill from the collision of two vessels in the Singapore Strait.

DOE director-general Datuk Rosnani Ibarahim said clean-up efforts were in progress and over 18,911 litres of oil had been collected so far.

(Source: TheStar)

More oil spill means shortage of supply to end consumers and that is seriously affect the oil price.

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.

Honouring Agreements


A promise is a cloud, fulfilment is rain (an Arabian Proverb)

(Are we going to keep crossing fingers when making promises – image source: http://www.cipicchia.wordpress.com)

Are we into the habit of breaking agreements so openly now? Breaking promises that we once swear to keep and uphold?

If you have been reading the news or the blogsphere lately, you will notice that there has been some issue with the Federal Government not honouring past agreements. Never mind that it is not the first that this has been done in the open but considering the maturity of the nation and the people who is running the government, it is nothing but shameful.

Petroleum Development Act 1974

This of course relates to the Federal Government refusing to hand over the oil royalty (estimated to be RM1 billion) ever since the State Government came under the opposition. Calls for payment of the oil royalty by both the state government and other opposition leaders have fallen into deaf ears. Certainly with the millions in oil royalty, the State Government stands to gain a valuable source of money for the state development and other activities.

The Federal Government in the end agreed to give part of the royalty in form of goodwill payment (wang ehsan) but the problem was that the said money was channel through the Federal Government agents in the state instead of the State Government itself.

UMNO Statesman Tengku Razaleigh was reported to say:-

The Government has now responded to Kelantan’s claim to a portion of the profits derived from petroleum resources extracted offshore by PETRONAS.

Its response violates the letter and the intent of a solemn agreement signed between each State Government and PETRONAS under the Petroleum Development Act.

That agreement is made out in language simple enough for a schoolboy to understand, in both Bahasa Malaysia and English.

The Constitutional rights of the people of Kelantan are denied.

It is clear that what the Federal Government is trying to do is nothing but a political move to deny the oppositions a rich source of income and is hoping that with less development slated for the state the people will vote the BN government back.

The large disparity in oil royalty being paid to Kelantan and other BN controlled states like Sabah and Sarawak is too obvious to be ignored. Federal Government’s denial of rights to the Kelantan State does not look too good for the Malaysia as well.

If there is no positive reaction from the Federal Government, the State Government should take the matter to the court for the law to take its due course. This is because when there is breakdown of upholding commitments and promises in writing, the next avenue would be to the courts.

Haadyai Peace Agreement 1989

This has been another issue which has been bugging the Federal Government ever since the ex-CPM leader, Chin Peng expressed his intention to come back to Malaysia. There has been a lot of resistance from many quarters on this intention and thus far, the Government has denied any access to Chin Peng.

But here is a question for the Government – if Chin Peng is certainly evil and not worth the forgiveness of the people for all the things he did during the Emergency, then why in the hell the Government went and agreed to the Peace Agreement? Certainly the power of CPM has been dwindling since the 1960s and Malaysia could have easily wiped out the remnants of the active CPM members from causing much problems. Over time, CPM would have died a natural death and the Government need not fulfil any agreements.

The Sun asked the same question:-

The government had signed the Haadyai peace accord in 1989 allowing him and his people the right to return on laying down their arms. Is the government legally right to renege on its agreement signed 20 years ago?

If so doesn’t it stand to lose the trust of the international community on its readiness to honour all other forms of agreements?

The former inspector-general of police Abdul Rahim Noor was even reported to say:-

Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) leader Chin Peng, 85, has a right to return to Malaysia at least on a social visit

Lim Kit Siang questioned why Chin Peng has singled out when under the Peace Accord, it was reported that almost 330 ex-CPM members was allowed to return to Malaysia and was even paid RM8,000 for laying down their arms.

In the same sense, how will the international community react if Malaysia enters or negotiate other peace accords? Are we going to be known as the country that easily breaks and violates agreements due to political reasons?

Tengku Razaleigh cast the same question:-

This casts serious doubt on the Malaysian Government’s respect for the sanctity of contracts and the rule of law

The ball is in the Federal Government’s court now – it will be best if they abide by the norms of agreement and contracts

Read Also

Hatyai peace accord – a benchmark if only it is honoured

In violation of the Federation Agreement