Would You Believe It?


spoon-boy

(Still remember the “no spoon” scene in The Matrix? You understand the meaning of the scene? I had always thought of it as something not real and yet you see it with your own eyes. Image source: Matrix Fans)

I was reading this one morning last week:-

A consultant for a township in Kuala Nerus, Terengganu under fire for planting a RM180,000 tree has explained that the cost had also included its transportation from Brazil. Zaini Ibrahim, director of Perunding Irzi Sdn Bhd that is the lead consultant for the project, also said that the second Ceiba chodatii tree also known as silk floss tree, will be planted at another entry point to Bandar Baru Kuala Nerus.

“There is no mention of the tree in the contract. What was made known were two iconic landmarks,” Zaini was quoted saying by The Star daily in a report today.

The contractor thought the tree would be a great landmark and he went out of his way to choose the type of the tree.” Zaini said the rest of the 100-hectare land would be planted with local trees and plants.

(Source)

I think they spent almost half a million ringgit for the “iconic landmark”

The State Government said that they did not use the taxpayers money and so also the Public Works Department. Both had denied use of taxpayers money since the news went viral.

But if you think about it and ask yourself this question – does it make sense that a contractor who is doing a commercial business would spend half a million ringgit (mind you, not a small quantum) and bring trees all the way from Brazil and does not get paid anything for the expenses?

Perhaps they have factored that in the overall cost – which means the contract had been inflated to include the expensive trees. Perhaps they had managed to save enough in the contract and instead of returning the saving back to the taxpayers, they decided to spend it on expensive trees. Or maybe they had misinterpreted the requirements but had screwed the execution – then it is too bad, they should not be paid anything.

Anyway, if you ask me, the whole story does not add up – just the story of an elusive Arab prince giving away billions of ringgit to some politician as a donation. That’s bending the spoon a bit too far.

Then we have this “hey look, it is cheaper compared to XYZ country!” statement from one honorable Minister:-

The recent increase in petrol price should not be made an excuse for traders to increase prices of their goods, Minister of Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism (MDTCC) Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin said today.

He said that despite the increase, the fuel price in Malaysia is still the lowest in Southeast Asia, with the exception of Brunei.

Malaysia is among 15 countries with the cheapest fuel price among 180 countries in the world, he said in his speech at a Chinese New Year dinner organised by Giant Supermarket for the less affordable Chinese community here tonight

(Source)

Reduction of subsidies is good in the long run and there are other things that we need to focus on – read here for details

However to say that despite the increase in the petrol price, there should not be any increase of price of goods is ridiculous. Wasn’t the honorable Minister aware of the past incidents of goods price hike because the price of raw materials like petrol, sugar, flour, etc had gone up? Of course, it is now made worst with the introduction of GST and even the smallest of the small traders started to sell things at an insane price.

The comparing of “price” with other countries should stop – there are some who will simply compare the price as if it is an apple to apple comparison but easily ignores all other factors such as availability of raw material, location, currency foreign exchange, population demand, level of income & living standards, etc. And oh yes, how educated and informed politicians in managing the affairs of the country..

Rest assured that with the increase of petrol price, some of the traders either having no other choice (due to increase of transportation cost) or on purpose (using high petrol price as an excuse) will increase prices of their goods. There is no escape about this. And if the Government keep reducing the petrol subsidies, the petrol price will keep increasing and so does the price of goods (and even services).

So what the Government intends to do about it? Instead of just saying that the traders should not raise prices, can the Government be more proactive with increased actions and change of policies such as these?

1. Stricter enforcement against unscrupulous price increase?
2. Setting aside the key goods as controlled item?
3. Reduction of direct and indirect taxes (GST is one) to offset the increase in price?

But please never say because the price of petrol goes up, it will not have a cascading effect on other items that dependent on the price of petrol. The cost transportation is not going to remain the same with high petrol price. It is akin to sweeping the problem under the carpet – you don’t see it any more but the problem remains unresolved.

Expensive trees but no taxpayers involved?

Increase in petrol price but no increase in price of goods?

Sometimes don’t you feel like you are living a Matrix, right?