Thursday, December 29, 2005

Story about MAS too

And here is another.
Air KL, Air KK and Air K
Marc Lim
Dec 28, 05 7:31pm

I agree with the sentiments of the writer who suggests MAS be wound up instead of the government bailing it out with taxpayers' money.

If the government wants MAS to carry on, then apart from selling MAS headquarters building, MAS should become an all wide-bodied fleet concentrating on international routes. Another airline - maybe known as Air KL for planes based at Kuala Lumpur International Airport and Air KK and Air K for planes based in Kota Kinabalu and Kuching respectively, could fly the narrow-bodied fleet.

This three-hub airline Air KL/Air KK/Air K should be operated as a all narrow-bodied jet fleet so all propeller aircraft currently in MAS' fleet would be sold and not transferred to this new airline. The new airline should not be expected to do 'national service' in flying propeller aircraft on unprofitable routes.

Fares on this proposed Air KL/Air KK/Air K could be priced at 10 percent to 25 percent above Air Asia's fares. But like Air Asia, this regional airline would only have economy class seats. There would be no first class nor business class for this new regional airline. Basically it should be operated much in the same way that Air Asia operates.

Air KL/Air K/Air K could also use Singapore Changi International Airport's new low-cost carrier terminal for flights arriving in Singapore.

There should be new routes, e.g. Kota Bahru-Singapore, Kota Bahru-Bangkok, Kuantan-Singapore, Sibu-Singapore, Miri-Singapore, Sandakan-Singapore, Labuan-Singapore and Singapore-Bandar Seri Begawan.

Importantly, Air KL/Air KK/Air K should not be a subsidiary of MAS. It should operate as a totally separate airline where pilots, cabin crew and ground staff of each airline would be on a separate payrolls and have different uniforms.

Air KL/Air KK/Air K should have separate check-in counters from MAS at all airports. Both airlines could have separate stock listings on the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange. Finally, the government should allow up to 49 percent foreign ownership of MAS and Air KL/Air KK/Air K.

Apart from carving out this new regional airline from MAS, an airport ground handling unit and an engineering unit should also be carved out from MAS and operated as separate non-subsidiary companies.

Story about MAS

Here is a response about my call for MAS to be wind up.

MAS should start afresh as new company
Teropong Negara
Dec 27, 05 5:14pm

I share the sentiments expressed by Noor Yahaya Hamzah and fully support his views that the present MAS be liquidated and a new company be set up to take over where it left. The new company should start afresh with a new business model that reflects current practices in the airline industry with a cost structure and quality of service that is competitive.

The issue of this new airline gathering a store house of irrelevant "corporate treasures", retaining expensive overheads and carrying on its shoulder a group of people that looks more like an emperor and his extravagant team of palace guards and advisers should not repeat. I wonder how we could ever rescue a company that is so remote and irrelevant from the present management practices of other airlines that are out to do their best to maximise shareholder value in such a challenging industry.

Yes in the past we have seen no less then Bank Negara being made a substantial shareholder of MAS with its governor being appointed to the board. It was clear to everybody that it was a disguised bailout of the past. Going forward we do not like to see the like of either Bank Negara or Petronas to have anything to do with the new national airline. It should be made to stand on its own as an efficient and competitive airline that is renowned for its management practices and customer service.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Major revamp needed at MAS

Title: Major revamp needed at MAS.
In response to my letter stating about winding up MAS and starting a new airline, a colleague wrote this;
Restructuring plans for MAS will be out in February next year, so I think we can wait for another month to see if the plans make business sense. MAS MD gave one presentation to the senators club yesterday simply to brief the senators on his plans. Personally, I thought giving presentation to senators was a waste of time as senators are not known to be experts in running the business; otherwise they would not become senators! But I think it was just a PR thing considering senators don’t have anything else to do these days.

In the mean time, this is what I will do immediately:
1. Suspend the current Chairman over the serious allegation of mismanagement and miss-spending. Appoint independent audit team to investigate this allegation, and if found to be true, lodge a police report.

2. Terminate all of the current board of directors. Appoint new independent directors and those who do not have any business dealing with MAS to replace these directors. Azman Yahaya was reported to have business dealing through his Symphone House. I will recommend the appointment of XXXXX as one of the new independent directors.

3. Review the current human capital requirements. Terminate those who are inefficient, those whose positions are not required or overlapping.

4. Review all current outsourcing contracts and existing contractual obligations.

5. Create competitive business. Split the operations of MAS into domestic and international. MAS proper should focus on international routes and domestic operations should be run by another subsidiary to be headed by another person who understands airlines business. Consider no-frills operations so that MAS can face Air Asia head on or possibly should consider shares swap with Air Asia.

MAS’ shares were traded around RM2.8 this morning. Tajuddin Ramli sold his shares for RM8 few years ago.

In my opinion his advice makes sense. Top managers were hired to steer the company toward profitability, makes decision in the best interest of the shareholders, customers and the staff as well as the country. The board of directors is there to make sure the managers do their job and prevent agency failure. Low cost carrier model for domestic operation makes sense. Air New Zealand, Qantas and Singapore Airlines also set up LCC in competition to budget airline in their market. Having LCC as subsidiary in domestic and immediate local market has the advantage of feeding MAS’s more lucrative long haul operation. Travelers wouldn’t mind going without meals and extra leg space for short distance travel. Cheap fares will tempt travelers who usually don’t travel by air. Current form of operation for international routes emphasizing on comfort and convenience would be a winning formula. I would also like to see MAS promoting more overseas holiday destinations to Malaysian market; perhaps team up with Malaysian owned hotels overseas, if possible.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

MAS, let's start afresh

Title: MAS, let’s start afresh.

Reading the latest media report on MAS, I feel sad, angry and not happy all at the same time. If all the losses incurred through circumstances that is beyond management control, I would still be able to accept it. What rile me up is that if the “poison pen letter” even has a shred of truth in it, then the top management has a lot to answer for. Although I am not a direct shareholder in MAS, I still feel the top management has failed their fiduciary duty to act the best interest of its shareholders, Malaysian Government, and the rakyat, beside those who hold MAS shares.
Strange thing that the “khabar angin” start to turn into reality.
The Prime Minister had said a week ago that the government would lend money to MAS, so that it can continue flying but I start to have my reservations. Would the RM3billions be worth spending/lending?
Why do I say that it might not worth pouring another RM3billions?
For a start, how much does it cost to start up an airline afresh? Did Air Asia started up with that much capital? It would probably pointless to compare, because of the different market they operate and the size of the airline.
If we let MAS go bankrupt;
• We could quickly hold license auction to operate a national airline, be it named Air Malaysia (or some other name) and the winner should be a locally domiciled company with the best management team and good sized capital base.
• We could save that RM3billions that we intend to lend to MAS and use it for some other worthy projects like housing for the poor or flood mitigation program in northern states.
• Reading the poison pen letter, it seems the consultants and top managers are drawing high salaries, they could simply be fired, with minimal cost.
• The creditor might get 10sen in a dollar and the shareholders get nothing, but the new airline would start afresh without the burden of past debts. The new airline might also be able to hire new staff and workers at lower salaries as well. Overall, the new airline would be more efficient.
Or, the government could let some other company takeover MAS. Sell Government shareholding in MAS to the highest bidder. Let the new management run the airline to make profit. Let them remove the unprofitable routes if they want to, maybe some other small airline could service those routes profitably with less subsidy. How much MAS shares at KLSE today?

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Loose monetary policy, stretched consumption

Goldman warns of fault lines in M'sian economy
Loose monetary policy, stretched consumption cited

By S JAYASANKARAN in italics
Business Times
My comment as below.

THE Malaysian economy appears robust but 'fault lines are beginning to appear', investment giant Goldman Sachs has warned. Among the cracks: stretched consumption, disappointing private investment and a loose monetary policy.
Stretched consumption: The economic growh has not tranlate into increased income for ordinary Malaysian lately. With prospect for more wages nil, Malaysian are holding back on committing themselves on big ticket consumer items. It is also true that economic growth has not benefit the lower income group. Their wage bargaining power diminished with the number of foreign labour in the country. Ask any factory worker, cleaner and general labourer, how much they are getting monthly, the answer would still be RM300-$500, or not far from that range. Even though we were as proud as a cockerel trumpeting high economic growth, the benefit of this growth has not “trickled down” (a phrase used by Rafidah Aziz a few years ago to support government action awarding lucrative contracts to well connected individuals and helping create a few rich Malaysians, she said this would have the trickle down effect).
Dissapointing private investment: After a few years of loose monetary policy, almost all profitable investment has already been made. Investor would not commit more money without being sure of making reasonable return on their investment. They would rather invest overseas in countries with higher prospect of growth.
Loose monetary policy: This policy is contributing to economic growth for the past few years, but now has started to contribute to higher inflation, undoing the gain of the past few years. This is also resulted in negative gain for fixed deposit investor. With intervention rate of 3%, and inflation rate of 3.5%, you are losing money parking your cash in the bank. This is also the reason why our foreign reserves starting go down for the past month. Hot money has started to flow out.

In a report issued on Friday last week, Goldman Sachs echoes many of the sentiments privately expressed by Malaysian businessmen, who say the economic numbers don't translate to real wage or employment growth.Companies are repatriating their cash overseas to earn higher return rather than investing in more capital in Malaysia. Some Malaysian companies have gone global, investing in low wage high growth countries, like China and India. In business sense, at current situation, the economy has reached its full potential. In the four quadrant of business cycle we have reach the cash cow section. Its time to milk the cow. If we don’t change and improve our infrastructure to increase our efficiency, the road ahead is difficult indeed; we are on the road to decline.

Indeed, the disinterest shrouding the Malaysian economy has spread to the markets, with the Kuala Lumpur stock exchange recording one of the worst performances in Asia this year.The stockmarket is like a crystal ball, where we can gaze into the future. If the stock market is declining, you would be sure that one year down the road the economy would be declining into recession.Current stock price is the total value of its future dividends discounted at current market return. Which imply that stock price would go down if either interest rate goes up and/or future dividend go down. How much does interest rate go up lately? Only 30 basis point.

The Goldman Sachs report notes that the multiplier effects of rising capital expenditure by companies in Malaysia appear to be absent. 'A lack of business expansion will constrain employment and wage growth which is needed to sustain the string consumption trends,' it says.

Indeed, the report questions whether the consumption boom that has fuelled the economy for five straight years will peter out. Malaysian household debt levels 'look dangerously high' relative to per capita income on an international basis, it notes.

Malaysia's ratio of debt to gross domestic product is close to 50 per cent - an increase of 20 percentage points over 10 years. On a per capita basis that's slightly ahead of Taiwan and equivalent to Japan and the UK.

His is basically saying that prices are expected to fall in the near future as the economy move into low growth mode. Currently supply of goods (housing, capital equipment consumer goods and big ticket items) has met demand. There are signs of oversupply in certain markets like housing and passenger car market. If you scour newspaper rental housing section and house for sale section, we would notice that both prices on offer have come down significantly fron a year ago. The same can be said of car prices. Second hand car prices are lower than a year ago.

The report also warns that the debt levels do not include lending by non-banks - hire purchase companies, pawnshops and money lenders.

Malaysia's household debt level is 'quite out of sync with its level of per capita income', according to Goldman Sachs.
We are all stretched financially. No prospect of increasing income, so we concentrate on paying off debt.

The report also says Malaysia's balance of payment surplus has turned into a deficit, which in October it estimated to be around RM17 billion (S$7.6 billion) on the capital account.

The reason: impatience with the ringgit's non-appreciation leading to hot money getting out of ringgit assets.

The report warns that outflows could increase as locals join the exodus with the lifting of capital controls for Malaysians. These considerations, it says, 'have been accentuated by a growing sense that the policy leadership lacks vision'.

Goldman Sachs says that, left to market forces, the ringgit would have depreciated to 3.84 to the greenback, compared with its current slight appreciation to 3,78.

It says that if the market tests the 3.80 barrier, 'the process is unlikely to be positive for asset prices'.

Goldman Sachs asserts that the central bank's monetary policy is too loose, noting that Malaysian inter-bank rates 'are even lower than Singapore now'. It predicts that the central bank will raise its overnight policy rate, but only by 30 basis points.
BNM has no choice, if they increase the interest rate higher than 30 basis point, quite a number of Malaysian companies will report higher losses (or lower profit) for the next quarter, due to higher provision of interest payment. This in turn will have a severe negative effect on the stockmarket and overall asset prices. Pushing the economy further and sooner into recession. The tactic of increasing interest rate by a little bit is similar to holding off recession at bay – at the cost of higher inflation. They are hoping that higher inflation will keep the economy revving in the short term.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

A Story for my Mother

A Story for my Mother.
About 10 or 8 years ago, I enjoyed stories written by a Red Crescent worker about her life experiences working for Red Crescent/Cross in countries like Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bosnia. The stories were published in The Star under the column called “Story for My Mother”.
Here is a story for my mother.
I went to an English Training Centre for immigrants to help Ahmad, A Somali, do a spreadsheet assignment on the computer. Ahmad didn’t have a computer at home, but he could use one at the English centre. While I was there, Ahmad introduced me to Jan van Houten who worked part time at the centre. She asked me if I came from Indonesia. No, from Malaysia I said, but all my grandparents were from Indonesia. At the time, both my late grandmothers were still alive.
“So is my late grandmother!” she said.
Jan is a Dutch, lived in Holland since she was a kid, but was born in Suriname. I wasn’t that surprised, her body frame tells me that she is a Malay stock, but her hair is dark and curly, and her eyes are wide open, not like Malay eyes. She told me that her late grandmother was from Western Java, grandfather a native Arawak of Suriname and her father a Dutchman. Coincidentally I read about Suriname in National Geographic the previous week.
She told me her grandmother sailed out of Batavia (Dutch colonial name for Jakarta, or Betawi) in 1925 when she was 17. By definition her grandmother was an indentured labourer, shipped to Suriname to work on sugar plantations of the Dutch colony. By all account, she was treated a little bit better than slaves.
When she boarded ship bound for South America, money was handed over to her parents and the recruitment agent in Batavia. From then on she was bonded to her Dutch employer for the next 10 years. She was marked with number on her hand with hot iron, much like cattle branding by cattle farmers in the Australian outback. The ship took 2 months to arrive in Suriname, with stopovers for provisions in Colombo and Cape Town. Her mother was born in dry season, with no water for washing.
After Suriname’s independence in 1970’s, the family migrated to Holland and settled there. Jan used to talk to her grandmother, and her grandmother told her stories about Java where she came from. In mid 1990’s Jan made a pilgrimage to Java to trace back her roots. She went to her grandmother’s village outside Jakarta.
She showed me the Javanese batik that she bought in Jakarta, which reminded her of her late grandmother. “You have to find out where you came from, and trace back your roots, otherwise you won’t be able to move forward,” she said.
Whenever I went to the English Centre, I made a point of visiting her, because I also have a few friends who was learning English at that time. She liked socialising and helping people of different nationalities. She understand very well the daily life of a Muslim, the halal requirement et al. She was learning to cook food Indonesian style years ago, the nasi goreng, bami goreng and krupuk. But when I saw those names on packets of Dutch food, I had no doubt where those foods get the influence, Indonesia.
Yes I grew up on tempeh, tahu, nasi goreng and sayur lodeh. It still is my favourite food.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

TNB huge debt

Title: TNB huge debt and the increase electricity tariff.
TNB’s huge debt is not accumulated over a short period of time. TNB is buying most of its electricity from IPP, which enjoyed favourable rates whether the power generated is needed or not. At the same time it has to invest more capital for new clients and replace its aging assets. Everyone knows that the current electricity tariff has not increased for years and below its generation cost.
I believe that TNB should be allowed to increase tariff progressively as the power generation cost increases, so that it can continue to invest in power transmission infrastructure and keep a reasonable profit. Electricity consumer would benefit in the long run if power supply were reliable. Incidents of power failures and shortages would have a high cost to the economy and power consumers. Let TNB increase electricity tariff, so that it can set aside some money for the sorely needed maintenance and capital expenditure. Postponing the increase of electricity price would only increase Tenaga’s debt, and we consumers would still have to pay it later – at even higher price. We cannot ask Tenaga to cut cost by slashing capital expenditure, that would leave Tenaga’s capital stock in a sorry state and more expensive to maintain in the long run.
Remember California’s statewide power failures a few years ago? At that time, California state legislators did not let power companies increase power prices to consumers for some time, so there was no investment in new generating capacity nor transmission infrastructure for some time. Simply the return on investment of California’s power companies were to low, so no new investment was made. Meanwhile power demand by consumers continues to surge until there is no excess capacity left. The power failure happened on a hot summer day when almost everyone turned on his or her air conditioner to keep cool.
Its open secret that as the country’s economy grow, demand for electricity and other basic services also expected to grow at a faster rate. This growth in demand means more investments needed in electricity generation and power transmission infrastructure.
With that amount of outstanding loan, RM30 billion, a small rise in interest rate would negatively affect Tenaga’s profitability. One percent of RM30 billion is RM300 millions. If Tenaga currently makes RM1.2 billion profit, a 4 percent increase in interest rate would reverse this profit to a loss, ceteris paribus. Imagine the effect of this on Tenaga’s share price. If most GLC and publicly listed companies have high gearing like this, small wonder that BNM is reluctant to increase interest rate to keep inflation low.
However, I expect that the amount of tariff increase would be severely limited, whereby the projected revenue increase just cover the electricity cost and a bit of profit for the shareholders. Tenaga’s RM30 billion debt would have to be repaid by refinancing – either by issuing new shares or by rolling the debt papers. TNB could also convert some of its customers to shareholders by giving them warrants that can be converted into shares on payment of share premiums. This way TNB could increase its shareholders base and use the proceeds to pay off its borrowings.

Noor Yahaya Hamzah

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Raising Interest Rate to Tame Inflation

Raising Interest Rate to Tame Inflation
The economy has been humming along at fast clip, which is good. As people have more money, income higher, they have more disposable income to splash about. Some essential production; food, housing etc couldn’t meet demand because lacking investment to increase production in the previous few years. The result is inflation as demand outstrips supply. Below is BNM statement saying that OCR is going to increase.

Bank Negara seen raising interest rates
By izwan idris
BANK Negara may raise interest rates at the end of the month to keep inflation in check if Malaysia's economic growth picks up in the third quarter.
“We will have a clearer picture after we have the third-quarter performance on what the underlying potential and outlook will be,'' governor Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz told reporters on the sidelines of an economic conference in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
“If the slower growth risk diminishes while the rate of inflation remains high, there would be a monetary policy response,'' she said.
Zeti's comments are seen as a hint that interest rates may be on the verge of rising for the first time in seven years and economists expect the increase in the overnight policy rate (OPR), which is now at 2.7%, to be around 25 basis points.
Bank Negara has kept its policy rate unchanged at 2.7% since it was introduced in April 2004.

Within the power of BNM, this is the right move. Hopefully this will be enough to reduce borrowing appetite of Malaysians to buy big ticket items on credit, to cool down the inflation.

Malaysia's consumer price index (CPI), which measures inflation, rose to a six-year high of 3.7% in August but eased to 3.3% in October.
Inflation: any figure higher than 2% is too high. Above 3% is intolerable. People are losing their purchasing power due to high inflation.
While economists say the current inflation rate is tolerable, they note that the figure has more than double since 18 months ago.
Apart from reining in inflation, higher interest rates are also seen by economists as slowing down the outflow of foreign reserves, as it would narrow the “negative carry” in Malaysian and global interest rates. Much of the outflow of foreign exchange reserves has been attributed to hot money leaving the country following the ringgit's timid appreciation against the US dollar following the removal of the peg in July.

Higher interest rates are also seen reducing the negative return on domestic interest rates.
Negative return on domestic rates is like robbing savers and giving the money to borrower. In Malaysian case, most savers are of low income group, workers, pensioners and people who are saving for the deposit of their first home. While the big borrowers are savvy higher income group buying their 2nd, 3rd or 4th homes for investment and corporations are increasing their portfolio of companies. This is akin to robbing the poor to give to the rich.

“The bond market is already pricing in a hike in interest rates and talk is rife around town that an announcement on higher rates could be made when the central releases the third-quarter GDP figures,'' said a fund manager.
Malaysia's gross domestic product (GDP) numbers, together with the quarterly monetary policy statement, are due for release on Nov 30.
One reason for the potential move on interest rates is that Malaysia's economy is expected to have grown faster in the third quarter compared with the 4.1% rise in the second quarter this year.
GDP expanded by 5.8% during the first three months of 2005.
Malaysia would arguably be the last country in the region to raise interest rates as China, Indonesia, South Korea, Thailand and Hong Kong have already done so. Most countries in the region have raised interest rates to keep in check inflation, which has risen dramatically over the past year as a result of skyrocketing crude oil prices.
The US Federal Reserve Board has raised borrowing rates seven times so far this year to curb inflation.

Hot money from overseas flowed to Malaysia expecting Malaysian ringgit to appreciate substantially, speculating to make profit. So far this hasn’t happened. By giving them negative return, this is like taking/robbing money off them. It’s no surprise that this hot money started to flow out. They are tired of waiting and being milked off.
We railed against them when they speculated on the ringgit back in 97/98 and make profit. Now we make profit off them. So it turn out that we are no different.

For Bank Negara statements click here

World Bank: Malaysia good place to invest
THE investment climate in Malaysia is good compared with other middle-income countries, a World Bank report says, but the shortage of skilled workers and regulatory issues need to be addressed quickly to ensure the country remains competitive.
Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, Datuk Mustapa Mohamed, said the World Bank's Investment Climate Assessment, the product of a survey of 1,151 Malaysian companies, offered valuable feedback to the Government on the effectiveness of its policies as well as areas that required refinement.
“The need to upgrade workforce quality and streamline regulatory framework deserves immediate response from the Government,'' Mustapa said in his keynote address at the regional conference on Investment Climate and Competitiveness in East Asia in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
Mustapa said the Government would continue to place strong emphasis on improving business environment and human capital development.

Here we are, having mismatch in skills base and skills requirement.
“We observed that countries are becoming increasingly aggressive and innovative in securing foreign direct investment (FDI) and in marketing their product and services,'' he said.
Worldwide FDI grew rapidly from the mid-1990s and peaked at US$1.4 trillion in 2000, fuelled by a strong global economy, technology boom and cross-border mergers and acquisitions.
Between 2001 and 2003, FDI eased sharply, but the trend reversed in 2004 when it increased marginally to US$612bil.

Mustapa said the outlook for this year was more optimistic.
“The emerging trends in FDI provide us with the guidance to realign our policies in order to ride this new wave and ensure that our nations remain attractive destinations for investments,'' he told participants at the two-day conference. “While we take measures to improve our respective investment climates, there is a lot we can do as a region.''
FDI in East Asia increased 46% last year, versus 2003, and accounted for 71% of total FDI in Asia.
China was the largest recipient, followed by Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, India and Malaysia.
“This conference is important because foreign direct investment will continue to remain as one of the factors determining future growth of income and employment in our respective countries,'' Mustapa said.
The other factor is savings and investment generated locally. Higher savings rate would make it possible for more investment.
The regional conference, jointly organised by the World Bank, Bank Negara and the Economic Planning Unit, provides a platform for discussion on how to design and implement policies aimed at addressing investment climate constraints. International experts, private sector representatives and policy makers from several Asian countries took part in the conference.

Title: Graduate unemployment; do they deserve better treatment than anyone else?

In the West, when countries publish its unemployment figure, they don’t break it down to qualification level. Everyone is treated equal, whatever skill or qualification he/she possesses. So I was rather perplexed when reading Malaysia media highlighting the sixty thousand odd unemployed graduates and the steps taken to upgrade their communication skills to get jobs. Wouldn’t other unemployed Malaysians deserve some help to get jobs as well? Western countries churned out millions of tertiary level graduates every year, and they compete for jobs like everyone else. It’s not uncommon if the waiter at a restaurant holds a degree, and gets just the average wage.
Western governments normally give out funding to education providers to set up and provide courses in communications, computing and basic skills like forklift driving and interview skills. These courses are open to all, whether graduate or not. Giving extra help to graduates while leaving the non-graduate on their own is smack of discrimination. Not only they tied up country’s resources in educating them at universities, now they demand to be given cushy jobs as well. Sound like cradle to grave preferential treatment to me.
Employers look for people who have to tenacity to work hard, good team worker as well as creative. They also look for people who are prepared to roll their sleeves and volunteer to do dirty jobs. When looking at a number of candidates, those who are currently working in menial jobs to get money for their upkeep instead of bludging off their parents will be the first priority.
So those of you graduates who are still unemployed, get out there and do whatever job is available (waiter, cleaner and labouring jobs) it will look good on your CV.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

The Girl fron the Coast

Title: The Girl from the Coast
Sorry Bapak Pramoedya Anantha Toer, this is just the title, as you wrote about your grandmother. I also want to write stories told by my late maternal grandmother Mariam, and yes I don’t even remember my great grandfather’s name.
She didn’t know how old she was, maybe about 6 year old, maybe older. She couldn’t tell me much about her family, only that she and my paternal grandmother, Rosni binti Mustapha are cousins. She told me that she came from town called Kalengan, by the coast of Jawa Tengah. (Later talking to Indonesian friends, they said its Pekalongan, a town on the northern coast of Jawa Tengah, I cross checked with her Ponorogo dialect, spoken by people in the vicinity).
Her village was about 7 miles from town, in her own words, “from here (Batu 7) to Parit Tiga (Batu 12)”. In those days, probably circa 1925, there was weekly market in town, so her parents used to bring village produce to town. She used to tag along her parents on foot to town, starting at 1am; her parents sold village produce like tapioca etc. to buy rice and other stuff. Poverty was rife in those times, parents married off their young daughters, simply because they couldn’t afford to feed them.
That year my paternal grandmother was about 16, she was married off to my paternal grandfather Kusni. (I do not know my great grandfather’s name). Another one of her cousins, Suci was married off as well. Mariam was given off to her cousin Rosni, to be taken care off by her two cousins who just got married. The bridegrooms and their young brides sailed to Port Klang on a kapal layar, sailing ship maybe about 20metres. During the voyage the two cousins, my grandmothers resign to the fact that they were leaving their homeland for good. Suci cried day and night, ruing the fact that she will never see her parents, family or her homeland ever again.
It took about a week to arrive in Singapore, where they stopped for a day or so for provisions before continuing to Port Klang. From Port Klang to Tanjong Karang might have taken 2 days on kereta lembu.
In those times, the government opened tracts of land in Tanjong Karang for padi and coconut.
When Mariam was old enough, about 13, she was married off to my maternal grandfather, Daud bin Marhakim.
Life couldn’t be better in Selangor, padi land to grow rice and coconut land for cash crop of coconut and bananas. The river also teemed with freshwater fish like sepat, keli, puyu, haruan and udang galah in those days, replenished with annual monsoon floods. According to Auntie Mariah, my grandfather used to grow tapioca and keladi on road reserve land near their house. There were a few fruit trees around their house, jambu, breadfruit and ciku among them, some of them survived until my childhood in the seventies.
My paternal grandfather Kusni died when my father was 2 years old, leaving grandmother Rosni with two young children to feed, my father and Auntie Mariah, relying on the goodwill of her fellow immigrant neighbours. Presumably they were just 5 years in Selangor back then.
If I could turn back time, I could have taken my grand mother Mariam on a tour back to her homeland.

Kholid says:
Satu masa dahulu embah pernah cerita padaku, kampungnya di tepi pantai. Ramai orang menyindai kain batik yang siap dicelup warna. kain-kain panjang tidak dipotong lagi dengan warna sumba...

Hj Basiron says:
i,m sorry. i don't know much. sure it is a great project. it seem you have more info then me.kholid kata ayah kusni bernama man was one day masa dulu dulu, kholid nak cari nama syarikat keluarga. so timbul nama tu.our mistake we don't get closer to our grand parent when they are thing came across to me one day. if we get gleanology soft ware will be usefull. we can trace back our close relative.there are so many second cousin of us around but unfortunately we do not know.
Hj. Basiron says:
i balik kg semalam kerana nak bagi duit kat orang tua dan kerana pakmin mantu anak nombor dua last. nombor sembilan.u tau ke sanak saudara kita yang ni semunya anak ramai. anak kesembilan namanya ariyani dan kahwin dengn orang johor. tktau sebelah mana.dia sebaya dengan fauziah.

maka dapat le i jumpa pak gendu.u tau nama sebenar pakgendu? i bet u taktau.

sambil tu i bawa satu buku besar konon nak tulis nama salsilah.keluarga. pak gendu yang bagi sikit sebanyak dan juga kakak dan mak /bapak.

kata mak, embah mariem di ambil adik angkat olih tiga beradik embah esti. embah suchi dan embah rosni. dia kecik lagi, telah ditinggal mati olih ibunya. bapaknya kawin lain. sebab itu dia merantau ikut embah esti tiga beradik. kata pakgendu bapaknya bernama joyowarso.

emak kata, embah mariem tak tau nama bapaknya sendiri sebab tu masa nak buat kad pengenalan di ambil nama mustafa sebagai nama bapanya.

kata pakmin embah daud bapanya matkarmin , ibunya taktau sebab neneknya mati dia masih kecil.
embah daud ada empat beradik. abangnya bernama samsi. duduk di batu 9. kahwin dengan mbah esti. embah mariem tolong jaga anak embah esti. lepas tu dijodohkan dengan embah daud.lepas tu emak dan bapak dijodohkan sebab embah rosni tu adik embah esti. embah daud adik embah samsi.

adik embah daud namanya embah sarmi. dulu duduk dekat rumah arbangi/ sidek/rahman.

sekarang baru jelas mengapa masa kecik kecik dulu pada hari raya mesti pergi rumah rumah tersebut. baru nampak kepentingan nya.tapi bila perasan dah dua tiga pupu ni dah renggang le. tak penting lagi.

lupa pula mana datang nama man musa. rasanga kholid yang dapat.bapak taktau mana datang nama tu. embah kusni yang dia tau dua beradik aja. nama nya misran. dia taktau bin nya.mungkin kena tanya wak mariah.

kakak ada bagi tahu kang jalal sebelah rumah tu bapa nya bernama juid. ada kaitan tapi taktau bagaimana. sebab tu wak supinah arwah dulu taksuka betul dengan kita.makan buah jambu dia pun dia maki hamun.tapi kita curi juga.

i rasa kita kena interview wak mariah sebab dia lebih tua dan tau lebih banyak salsilah bapak.tapi i taktau dia duduk kat mana. pucung. alamat takde.

Kholid says:
Nama betul Pak Gendu - Sukardi

Hj. Basiron says:
just two days, i aready forgot what are mbah daud's siblings name. tak tenguk buku masa sebelum kemari. daud bin matkarmin . emak di bela sementara olih mak saudaranya. kakak mbah daud pasal dia kembar. duduk dengan adik beradik mbok sirop.kata nya dulu dia selalu kena dera.olih adik beradik tu. yang paling anti usup ketuk yang duduk sebelah rumah embah. suka bela burung merbuk. empat beradik tu datang dari jawa.

bolih jadi kalau di korek siapa joyowarso tu bolih dapat info dari sana. juga matkarmin, mustafa . bolih jadi kampung dia orang berdekatan di pekalongan. kalau ada tugu kerana ternama di pekalongan , maka bolih di selidik. tapi kalau cuma rakyat biasa . susah le. dulu pernah terdengar cerita, embah daud yang pengkor kena gigit ular tu , dan abangnya, katanya lari ke tanah melayu setelah membunuh penyamun yangmenceroboh rumah mereka. penyamun tu cuba naik ikut lubang di lantai yang bila terjongol saja kepala , arwah embah tu cekik dengan menolak tampah pada batang leher penyamun tu. sampai mati. lepas tu dia orang takut ada orang balas dendam , dia orang cabut lari.

Hj Basiron says:
memang pun duk dengan kak patimah. patimah bt dolah kot.atau pun abdullah. sama dengan kak markonah.imam sukani bin nya redhuan. dengan suami pertama , amat, takde anak.dengan moktar pun takde anak. last pak zainudin yunan. baru ingat, kata mak isteri mat karmin bernama sarminah. kira ok le tu. banyak juga dapat.i ingat, semua orang tu tinggal di jawa. pekalongan agaknya. kemudian tadi terjumpa kain sarung made in pekalongan. kebetulan.

dgn gleanology page dia besar sikit. manakala yang satu lagi tu kecil. so i padam je.

Hj Basiron says:
anak embah daud. rukiah.rukimin. rukinem. kamsaton.kembarnya. lupa tanya.rukinah. saringah. supingat. abd razak. misilah.

pak sarbini kawin dengan rukiah dan rukinah . yang pertama dpt kasbiran dan asmuni. yg kedua dpt asraf dan rahimah. one day i nak cari kang kasbiran. duk kg pandan.. taktau alamat.i pun tak dapat imagine rupa dia.

kalau tak salah dgn genbox bolih extract dari computer jauh ye. i tak paham.

baru ni i terjumpa satu kedai bolih modify gambar . jadi super impose baru dengan lama. lepas tu i tersenyum sorang sambil jalan sampai kena tegur orng kat taman tun ni. awak sakit ke? . adalah yang saya fikirkan tu. nah . agaknya kalau dapat kita cari gambar gambar lama bolih jadi bahan buku. malangnya i tak de gambar simpanan. tah mana pergi.

lupa list anak mbah daud is like this. rukiah. rukimin. rukinem.kamsaton. kembar.rukinah. sukardi.saringah.supingat. abdul razak. misilah ok ye.

hj Basiron says:
wak nik tu rukinem le. i pun baru tau, takpernah tanya dia nama sebenar. masa kat rumah wak rukimin muka wak nik dekat sama dengan mbah yem. begitu juga rupa rahimah. gemuk sikit. dulu lain.
rukinah adalah adik mak. kembar mak taktau nama. kalau taksilap dia mati kena timpa buah kelapa masa umurnya 12 tahun . atau sembilan tahun. itu pun i tak tanya dengan wak min, lupa.rukinah mati kena langgar lori masa ambil jemuran pandan kat tepi jalan besar. i ingat lupa, dulu dulu i manja dengan lek nah sebab dia suka layan i. masa kecik le.

bab gambar, scanner ni lina pandai kut. tapi lina sebuk dengan bisness dia mana ada masa. i tak jumpa satu bijio album pun kat rumah. mana semua nya pergi , i pun tak tau. mungkin kak sal ada simpan. tapi macam gambar ramai nenek rosni dulu tu , macam pernah nampak. tapi entahle.

i tak sure pasal kang jalal. kata kakak sal, bapak kang jalal nama dia juid. emak dia supinah. adik dia bin lain. yang berkait mungkin pak juid. masaalah nya bapak denied pak jalal ada kaitan . imam damanhuri ikut tu juga. entahlah. dia kata pak kusni adik beradik dua orang saja. misran. kholid jumpa surat kerakyatan kusni bin mat musa.

even antara mbah esti dan mbah samsi ada kecelaruan . i ingat esti, suchi, rosni bukan nya samsi suchi rosni. kakak yg lupa kut. tapi kalau anak bungsu embah esti kawin dgn anak pak ghapur, tua le dia tak? i pun tak faham. masa i pergi rumah dia dulu kecik kecik macam dah tua. takkan anak dia baya kita. kawin dgn orng muda dari kita.

dulu pernah dengar mak mengata, suami wak supinah jualkan tanah bapak. masa dia kecik dulu. tapi macam namanya ibrahim. ke i yang nyanyuk. tak tau yang mana satu.

nooryahaya says:
tak tahu aku pulak pasal kembar emak mati kena timpa kelapa.

kalau emak kata macam tu, tanah bapak dijualkan oleh suami mbok supinah, memang ada possibility, emak pernah citer, masa mbah rosni baru janda kematian suami, tinggal anak kecik dua, sedara mara arwah mbah kusni semua minta tanah harta peninggalan dan dijualkan sebahagiannya. mak kata kesian mbah rosni, janda tak ada nak bagi makan anak2, jadi terpaksa jual tanah etc. salah satu tanah yg emak pernah tunjukkan pernah di punyai mbah kusni dekat rumah anip/hanif tu. sempadan belah barat rumah anip tu lah.
aku tak pelik bapak tak mengaku ada kaitan.. memang bapak anti dgn mbok supinah.dan suami mbok supinah. tapi dia ok pulak dgn imam damanhuri.

masa arwah mbah daud meniggal dulu dia pegi rumah kang jalal dan kak (sapa ke nama elor le kang jalal seberang jalan) pukul 3 pagi bagi tahu. sebab sedara.

nama ibrahim memang macam pernah dengar. tak tahu lah kalau satu hari kita jumpa kang jalal cuba tanya dia, mana tahu dia nak cakap.

maslina says:
gambar rasanya emak dah buang....tak dapat nak kutip le....kena makan dek anai-anai....
scanner ada ni.....boleh scan masuk...gambar tak de macamana nak cari?
Eh... setau i kembar emak yang ninggal accident tu....emak cite macam tu...

Saturday, November 05, 2005

The Malays and their lands

I called my parents on Malaysia’s hari raya day, Thursday 3rd Nov. 2005. Actually, where I live, Eid was celebrated on Friday. I hadn’t balik kampung for hari raya for the past eight years; I simply could not afford it. This time, as my parent implored to come home and work on the land, my father is too old to work on it, and I am the only son who is still hasn’t properly settle down, not owning any property or even have a proper career. My father has a total of almost 7 acres at two locations near Tanjong Karang. A four acre plot fully planted with palm oil and a three acre plot around their home that has almost revert back to secondary bush and become trudging ground for wild pigs.
My father’s problem is common among Malay smallholders. He is too old to work on the land and none of his children is keen to work the small plot. These problems are made worse with the Malay sensitivities among the children and the custom of dividing the land more or less equally among the children upon the demise of the patriarch. If the father only owns small three acre plot, to be divided among six children, what size of land does each child get? Probably just enough to build a house on, but not enough to run a commercial agribusiness to support a family. Multiply this with millions of smallholders all over the peninsula and you get millions of acres of rundown smallholding in rubber trees, palm oil and coconut. If we drive down the coast of peninsula and see rundown rubber or coconut smallholding that is turning into secondary bush, then we know we are approaching a Malay kampung.
Let me list the reasons:
The Malays value their relationship with their kith and kin as well as their neighbours more than anything else. They wouldn’t quarrel with their siblings over a piece of land, well, there may be exceptions here, but it’s few and far between. If the patriarch died and leaves behind some land to be divided among many, most of the time the land become idle because none of the children want to work on the land for fear of hurting the other siblings’ feeling.
Most of these Malay lands are in the Malay Reserve area, where the land value is lower and ownership of one plot may run into hundreds for the older villages. This in itself presents a significant barrier to development, even in the urban areas.
Use the land as collateral to the bank? That is an absolute no-no for fear of the bank selling their land if the business goes bust. Most Malay smallholders have no capital to start a meaningful agribusiness, even though they have some ideas.
So the land goes idle while the farmers’ sons and daughters go to the cities to work in factories and elsewhere. The country is losing out, these lands could have produced enough food for the country or even for export, and instead we have to import 80 percent of our food requirements.

What could be done? These are my ideas; someone else could have some other solution that is better.
We could set up cooperatives or companies for every village, whereby the villagers could combine their holdings into one. Whatever they choose to grow, be it palm oil, vegetables, rice or oranges they could achieve the necessary economies of scale. Every villager owns some shares in the holding company, according to their size of capital contribution, be they in the form of land use or money. Land use would mean that the company could lease the farmers’ land on an annual basis for a fixed sum. I am not even suggesting that the company buys the villagers’ land, which would create more problems. Profit could be divided among the shareholders/villagers annually or monthly according to their contribution. Some of the able bodied villagers could work for the company, while the old ones could sit back and enjoy annual/monthly profit from their shares in the company.
It’s a win-win situation; the country would get food and produce from the land, the old farmers can retire and still have money and the unemployed young can get jobs in the village.
I suppose these companies would need working capital to start with, it cost money to cut down those old coconut trees, plough the land and build the necessary infrastructure for a successful agribusiness. Asking poor villagers a few thousand ringgits for working capital is like getting blood out of stone. Forget about borrowing money from banks; without capital or collateral would the bank lend these companies money?
The government could set up fund to lend money to these companies as a start up working capital, to be paid back gradually.
If a project like this could get off the ground, I suppose we need a new position in the village, the CEO kampung beside the ketua kampung and his/her JKKK.
Given chance, I would love to do this.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Selamat Hari Raya

Ku Ucapkan Selamat Hari Raya.
Di Hari yang mulia ini, kupohon ampun maaf.
Kepada pelayar blog yang budiman.
Maaf Zahir dan Batin.

gambar Masjid Jamaat Mukmineen Boston Massachusett

A comment from shahrir-umno

Written by Encik Kamaruddin
I tend to disagree with Encik Noor Yahya\'s argument that the local content concept is outdated. I think Encik Yahya fails to realise that most of the local assemblers and Proton are outsourcing their components manufacturing through local vendors. So the development of local vendors is very critical for motor industry to thrive. If these vendors are contented with their sub-standard quality and are incapable of improving their capability of producing good quality products then our motor industry would never be able to compete internationally in terms of pricing and costs.

I would say absolutely true, I was just being polite (being a Malay), "kata orang cakap berlapik". What I am implying is, these vendors have to improve, Proton and other car manufacturer have to improve or die. That is competition. All have to improve significantly to in terms of technology, pricing and cost. All other parts of economy has to be efficient as well. Pricing is secondary, efficiency, speed and value of money is the edge over competition.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

A trip to see the sunset

I went to the mosque at 7pm, still daylight. A group of us went to the hill just above the city at Cashmere Hill to see the new moon for Shawal. We arrive at the site at 8pm, and waited for the sunset at 8.20pm. The view alone is breathtaking, worth the drive up hill. It wasnt that far from the city, less than half an hour drive. There was a viewing platform, circular made of concrete. You can see 270 degrees, from the surf of New Brighton to the Southern Alps. The sun sets slowly, when it becomes bigger at the setting point. Then we waited for the new moon to appear. No, we didnt see the new moon of Shawal.
I bear witness that we didnt see the new moon of Shawal...
I didnt bring any camera, nor binocular.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Govt should focus on controlling inflation

In the past week, I have been in contact with several of my close relatives in Malaysia. Apart from exchanging family news, wishing each other Selamat Hari Raya and enquiring the experiences of Ramadan, we also talk about each others’ lives.
This year, they all complained of one thing; grocery items are becoming more expensive, their incomes static or becoming less. Inflation is running rampant, and it’s affecting ordinary folk more than ever. Prices of goods are rising fast, which indicates demand for goods outstrip supply.
While its okay to blame the causes of inflation as largely imported, (rising fuel prices, and the emergence of China and India as consumer society) some of our policies also contribute to this problem.
For the past few years, government has been using monetary and fiscal policy to get us out of economic slowdown. Meaning we have been printing money, encourage spending and consumption as well as awarding large infrastructure projects in the name of national development and increasing income. (Keynesian)
There is nothing wrong with monetary expansion during recession. It lowers interest rate, encourage investment and subsequently create jobs – but continuing monetary policy after a few years of economic growth and in the environment of accelerating inflation will only stoke inflation further, thus undoing the prosperity gains of the previous years.
This year, the government budget is still in deficit, with stated policy of continuing with monetary policy (print more money). This simply means the government is postponing the increase in taxes for high and medium income earners, hoping that with expanding economy, next year there will be more income, which would be enough to cover the deficit, thus negating the need to increase taxes to plug the deficit.
This may avoid government from making unpopular move of increase taxes, but insidiously imposing inflation tax for general population. (Inflation is a form of tax – government get the revenue by printing money)
No doubt large numbers of Malaysians benefits from the economic growth of the pasr few years. We can see the evidence from expanding new suburbia outside Klang Valley, Johor Bahru and Sg. Petani as well as the choked roads and motorways full of cars. People who benefit most are the well-connected and the street smart. Low interest rate from expansionary monetary policy enables them to borrow money at cheap rates to buy assets and set up businesses that won the government and business contracts large and small.
Now that they earn more, have more money to splash about and consume more. These are the people that government should tax more – the high and medium income earners.
It has been reported in the news media that since Abdullah Badawi took over, government projects has dried up. In other words, government spends less. In economic terms, this is fiscal tightening with the benefit of lowering interest rate. More funds are now available for businesses for their expansion and investment.
I have no scruples with the government giving more incentives to businesses to invest more, as this would create more jobs and income, increasing supply of goods in the market. Supply side economics if started now, would contribute to reduce shortages in two to three years time.
More drastic action has to be taken now, by taking steps to curb demand. Inflation tends to feed on itself, a round of price increases will stoke more and more price increases in other sector of the economy.
The real losers are the people who are on fixed or low income – their money worth less. Ahh, don’t suggest that enforcement officers should check prices at vegetable markets, that will only exacerbates the scarcity, as traders will sell less of controlled and unprofitable goods. Those officers would be better off employed to grow vegetables and other foods at least that will increase supply.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Life is short.

Nothing jolt us from the torpor of daily life than death of someone close to us.
On Thursday, Datin Endon Mahmood wife of PM died of cancer. Then on the same morning, Hj Mat Mazlan Abu, a friend I knew from college days died in a road accident in KL. I havent met him close to 20 years, only the occasional email. In case of PM's wife, I have never met her at all, but inside me, my sorrow goes out for their close relatives. I remember what my friend like when we were young, the games we layed and how he loves playing soccer and cricket.
At times like these we take stock of our lives, not measuring what we have done, but realising that we havent done enough of of our obligations - to Allah, ourselves, family and people around us.
Allah sends us to this world to do a job - that is to worship Him. Act of worship is not just prayer, fast, hajj and zakat, but also to do good deeds towards our fellow residents of this world.
Everyone has their own way to do good deeds, and everyone should contribute for the benefit of mankind and the world.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Bird Flu Effect

Economists say a bird flu outbreak would create an instant and potentially prolonged recession. Bank of New Zealand chief economist Tony Alexander says the economic impact will depend on the virulence of the virus - if it emerges. He says it will also come down to how long it takes to get people around the world vaccinated. Tony Alexander says our biggest export earner, the tourism sector, would take a big hit and adds the general decline in consumer and business confidence would cause a significant downturn. He suggests businesses should prepare as best they can by making sure staff are aware of the risks and are practicing good hygiene. He says the hit would be so great it would shut everything down for a while.

If this bird flu materialise, and kills millions of us, world economy would be in tatters. Prices would fall, triggering deep recession. Suddenly we would be short of manpower to run everything and anything. Farms would turn back to forest in 10-20 years time, and we would lose all the gains in development for the past decade or more.

Thursday, October 20, 2005


Mat Mazlan Abu, ahli Exco Pemuda UMNO meninggal dunia dalam satu kemalangan jalanraya ketika dalam perjalanan ke Putrajaya untuk menziarahi arwah isteri Perdana Menteri.
Marilah kita sama sama menghadiahkan AlFatihah dan mendoakan semoga Allahyarham termasuk dalam golongan orang orang yang beriman.


Isteri Perdana Menteri Malaysia, Datin Endon Mahmood meninggal dunia pagi ini di rumahnya di Putrajaya.
Marilah kita menghadiahkan AlFatihah dan mendoakan semoga rohnya di terima Tuhan dan dimasukkan dalam golongan orang orang yang beriman.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

From New Zealand with love.

The Election Winner is…Winston Peters.
On the election night, Labour just holds 50 seats compared to National’s 49. Special votes counted 4 weeks later; the verdict is 50-48. Another few weeks of political courting to form a coalition government, Green does not have enough number to hold sway, so Labour has to court Winston Peters and Peter Dunne.
The result, Winston Peters got 3 ministries including Foreign Ministry; Peter Dunne gets the Revenue Ministry and the Green only get policy concessions on some issues. Winston Peters influence in Immigration issues will undoubtedly change future intake of new migrants into the country and his fiscal policy would cost estimated extra $300millions. I have no grumble against his stated policies; 1000 extra police, better care for senior citizens in the form of 1 percent increase from 65 to 66 percent of average wage living allowance and increase minimum wage to $12 per hour. Given the country’s high MPC (marginal propensity of consumption) rate, this will aggravate the inflationary pressure somewhat, although not as bad as National tax cut. Remember, Labour’s election bribe is not as inflationary as National by the virtue of lower income targeting. The outlook is still higher interest rate in the future, and further reduction in unemployment to record lows. Labour’s election bribe includes increases in family support, which will give better lifestyle to families and option of homemaking full time. People would be working less hours, more time for leisure. Interest free student loan will only encourage more youth and adult to tertiary studies, simultaneously reducing available low wage pool of labour and upskilling them. Not a bad path to a high wage economy.
The negative outlook in the future is the property sector. With the number of new migrant dried up, (what else do we expect when Winston is in charge of Immigration?) and interest rate inching higher and new dwellings coming on stream by the thousands, it is likely that house prices would consolidate and may even come down a bit.
Alan Bollard, the Reserve Bank Governor gave severe warning a few days ago that the exchange rate is at unsustainable levels and New Zealanders spend $112 for every $100 they earn. This is a clear indication that he will increase interest rate. High interest rate and high fuel prices will crimp the expanding economy.
Maybe New Zealanders will change their habit of investing in unproductive housing real estate into productive businesses – farming, manufacturing and services.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Globalizing our carmakers.

As the debate about the status of our national carmaker rages on, I believe that we missed the point that there are other carmakers beside Proton and Perodua in Malaysia. These companies have their manufacturing facilities with high content locally made components Volvo, Nissan, Honda and Hyundai have facilities in Malaysia, and they produce cars with high local contents. While Tun Mahathir question the merit of Naza as national car and Datuk Shahrir urged the reduction of minimum local content to 40% for national cars, I believe that we should free these carmakers from such constraints, be it 40% or 90%. We should let these carmakers make their own decision on where to buy their components, be it local or from other countries.
Restriction in local content will slow adoption of new technologies and render these carmakers uncompetitive in the long run. The last thing we want is that Proton or Perodua produce cars that is 2-3 years behind its competitors. Being able to outsource their component might give these carmakers its competitive advantage, reducing costs and able to pass on the savings to customers in the form of competitive pricing and good quality. Local components manufacturers have already produce high quality products, and by opening the market, they will have to market their capability to other global car manufacturers. More investment would be ploughed into component manufacturing to keep up with the competition.
These days most global car brands outsource their component from wherever the price and quality is advantageous. Some Honda brands are made in USA and Europe, while more Toyota components are made in Thailand. Recently Toyota made an agreement to buy electric motors for hybrid cars from Hitachi. These example shows that the concept of national car and local content is out of date. Let’s invest in Proton, Perodua, Volvo, Hyundai, Naza-Kia local manufacturers’ shares and let their management maximize the companies’ values. Who knows one of these days, our local car brand could become global brand.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Panduan Menghayati Puasa

Tulisan Mohd Fazel Mohd Salleh
Kita telah berpuasa sekian lama. Namun, tiap kali kita berpuasa apakah nilaian puasa kita di sisi Tuhan? Semakin baikkah akhlak dan peribadi kita? Atau sama sahaja seperti sebelum-sebelumnya. Tujuan ibadah bagi hamba-hamba Tuhan adalah agar hamba itu mengenali Tuhan seterusnya benar-benar merasakan kebesaran dan keagungan Tuhan. Selain ibadah itu dapat memberi kesan kepada seseorang agar orang itu benar-benar menghayati dirinya sebagai hamba Tuhan. Oleh itu, puasa yang tidak memberi kesan kepada peribadi seseorang adalah ibadah yang sia-sia. Kalaulah hendak diibaratkan ibadah itu sebatang pokok, maka ia adalah pokok yang kegersangan buahnya. Dalam erti kata lain, pokok yang tidak mendatangkan hasil. Orang yang berpuasa tetapi tidak menghayati puasa, adalah orang yang lahirnya berpuasa tetapi batinnya tidak berpuasa. Sedangkan ibadah puasa itu ia ada lahir dan ada batinnya. Tidak boleh berpuasa sekadar lahir sahaja. Sekadar lapar dan dahaga sahaja. Sekadar tak makan dan tak minum. Tidak boleh begitu. Sedangkan yang Tuhan hendak lihat, yang dalam itu. Apa yang ada dalam hati kita. Sejauhmana penghayatan hati kita di waktu berpuasa. Yang lahir ini kena buat juga kerana ia menentukan sah batal puasa. Perlu juga. Tetapi yang dalam itulah yang terpenting sebab ia menentukan soal hubungan kita dengan Tuhan. Ia menentukan nilaian ibadah kita di sisi Tuhan. Diterima atau tidak di sisi Tuhan, banyak bergantung kepada penghayatan seseorang dalam berpuasa. Tidak boleh tidak, kenalah berpuasa dengan penghayatan. Bukan sekadar biasa sahaja seperti mana yang kita lakukan sebelum ini. Kenalah menghayati puasa itu kerana ia adalah pakej menyucikan fitrah kita yang Tuhan datangkan 1 bulan dalam 12 bulan. Bagaimana nak hayati puasa? Intipati puasa adalah mujahadah. Bila bermujahadah bersungguh-sungguh melawan nafsu, maka di situlah nanti ada penghayatan. Di samping mujahadah menahan lapar dan dahaga dalam berpuasa, apa yang dituntut adalah bersungguh-sungguh melawan nafsu terhadap keinginan-keinginan yang bertentangan dengan kehendak Tuhan. Sudah menjadi watak nafsu itu sendiri sangat sukakan kepada kejahatan. Nafsu tidak suka kepada perintah Tuhan. Apa yang Tuhan suruh buat, itulah yang dibencinya. Sebaliknya, apa yang Tuhan larang, menjadi kesukaannya. Kalau kita turut sahaja kata nafsu, kita sebenarnya sudah melawan Tuhan. Kita bukan jadi hamba Tuhan tetapi jadi hamba nafsu. Mahu tidak mahu, kenalah bermujahadah dengan nafsu. Tambahan daripada itu, lakukanlah berbagai pengisian roh di dalam bulan ini. Banyakkan bertafakur tentang kejadian ciptaan Tuhan. Usahakan memperbaiki solat agar benar-benar khusyuk. Bacalah Al-Quran dan fahamilah maksud daripadanya. Rasakanlah di dalam hati apa yang telah diceritakan oleh Tuhan di dalam Al-Quran itu. Solat terawih kerjakanlah ia sebanyak 20 rakaat dengan penuh rasa cinta kepada Tuhan. Moga-moga dengan panduan ini, kita akan menjadi orang yang bersih suci fitrahnya. Hanya orang yang sudah bersih suci fitrahnya sahaja yang layak mendapat hadiah Tuhan berupa keredhaanNya, keampunan, rahmat dan lepas dari azab neraka.#

Sunday, October 09, 2005

A.P. Tariff and Wealth Transfer

A couple of month ago, a friend bought a used Mercedes at a dealer. The car was imported from Japan and he has applied AP through MITI and got the necessary approval. So by the end of the year, he will be packing his Merc into a shipping container and wait for his car at a Malaysian port, pay the necessary custom duties before being able to drive it again on Malaysian road. The car cost him NZD13000 (about RM32500) and he estimated to pay about RM35000 in customs duties at port, making total cost about RM75000 after shipping. The estimated value of the same model car in Malaysia is about RM250000.
So his net worth will increase by RM175000 just like that!
Wealth creation? I doubt it.
Value and worth may go high or low depending on the scarcity and perceived value of the commodity, er, in this case a car.
A Mercedes brings along its prestige, history of reliability and perceived beauty, enhanced by the company’s investment in branding. If public perception changed, it is no longer viewed as desirable or ugly, and no one wants it, then the value might be worthless.
If we can import any car from any country we like, without having to pay any form of duties, would the value or price of car be as high? As an example, New Zealand has no tariff regime for imported cars, anyone can log on to internet, order and pay for a car in Japan, L.A or Bangkok, arrange for shipping to the nearest port. But to be able to drive it on NZ roads, the car must pass certain rules. As a result, car prices in NZ are relatively cheap. I bought a Mitsubishi Chariot 98 at an auction for NZD4000, about RM10000.
Any form of trade barrier; tariff, licensing, permit etc will only benefit those lucky few who has license or permit to import, or local producers protected by the trade barrier. The rest of the population - the have not, will have to pay higher prices and derive less benefit. To put it bluntly, this is a transfer of wealth from the unprivileged masses to the privileged few.
Why do I say so?
Lets take example from high car prices, as a result of these trade barriers. For a start, because the prices are higher (irrespective of the make, locally or imported), less number of people can afford to buy car – less economic benefit to the country. A deadweight loss. If the car were used as a taxi, the taxi charge would have to be higher, because the taxi driver has to pay for expensive car, as well as expensive taxi licence. This will go on for the rest of the economy, big companies, traders, farmers and producers, the small portion of expensive car and transportation cost will be passed on to the consumers. In the end, you and I, the ordinary blokes are paying to enrich the privileged few.
Much benefit will be accrued to the economy by removing trade barriers. For a start, car prices and other protected goods prices would start to fall. Our purchasing power would increase.
An analogy; if yesterday RM1 buy one bungkus of nasi lemak, and today the price of nasi lemak falls to RM0.90, then our purchasing power just increased 11%.
With lower prices of commodity and consumer goods, labour cost would also be relatively lower (workers wouldn’t have to demand higher wages) and we would become more efficient to be able to compete globally. There will be more wealth to be shared in the country, and creating wealth in the future. When people feel wealthy, they consume more and invest more. Keynesian cross shifts upwards, higher income and higher employment.
What about Proton, Perodua and other related car manufacturer and their suppliers? They will have to work harder for their profits, or shall I say they will have to earn their profits. When Malaysians become wealthier, they will demand better higher valued cars as well as expanding the market for cars. Instead of their share of car market shrinking, more Malaysians would be able to afford more cars, and buy new instead of second hand, expanding the market for car manufacturers. In the long term, if Proton and Perodua able to be competitive and efficient, they might be able to take on other global manufacturers.
When we are pressured to perform, we will improvise and perform. Look at those kids sitting PMR and any other exams, how could they study all night and all day?

Thursday, October 06, 2005


I am disappointed with our government latest budget. Nothing is done about our rampant inflation. In the budget statement, it says that the government will continue with its current monetary policy. Meaning Bank Negara will continue to print money to finance the deficit, which will result in continuing high inflation in the medium term. Our money will definitely worth less in the coming years, and the hard working Malaysians toiling in factories and estates will bear the brunt of higher prices.
More money is being ploughed into unfinished, public and agricultural projects will benefit us in the future, which are okay. Supply side measures will bear result in 2-3 years time, when those projects are finished. Those are medium term measures, but we must also do something about inflation now. Talking about it in the media is good and well, threatening to prosecute poor trader is not okay. If thoase traders cannot make a living because of marginal or no profit, they might close shop altogether. If you go to the market, you might notice that most of these traders are Malays.
What do you think would happen when most traders, farmers and producers close business?
We would have shortages of basic food and prices would increase. So in the long term, it is not good. Did we notice that the price of chicken is high lately? That because after the last bird flu scare 18 month ago, a large number of chicken farmers gone bankrupt because of low prices. Most of these bankrupt chicken farmers were Malays too. Now we bear the brunt of higher chicken prices.
I believe the government is fighting inflation at the wrong end. Instead of targeting small traders and businesses, we should be targeting medium and high income consumers. That group of people who have a lot of discretionary spending money to splash about. Increase taxes for medium and higher income earner, so that we can balance the budget. Another thing we must do is remove petrol and diesel subsidy, but provides help directly to the low income and the poor in the form of financial help. It is well documented that blanket subsidy system on petrol and diesel that we have missed the target group and benefit the rich. How much motorcycle riding factory worker spend on petrol every month compared to Mercedes driven company executive?
Yet the lower income groups are the ones moaning the loudest. That because higher percentage of their income goes to petrol. If we provide financial help to them directly, straight to their bank account, we would solve the problem.
I support measures announced before the budget in September, that we will increase financial help for the poor, those unable to work, single mothers and the needy.
A year ago I renew acquaintance with a school friend who is now a single mother supporting a number of school age children without any financial help from her former husband. She only gets RM350 a month from Jabatan Kebajikan Masyarakat. Sounds good? But the JKM paid her quarterly in arrears. Meaning the payment for January, February and March is paid in mid April. Yes we might want to give a message that the government has no money, but these people might starve waiting.
Meanwhile we devise another tax cut for the higher income group simply because they are our main supporter who voted for BN and hopefully will return us again to the parliament.
Much has been said about our wealth as a nation. Yet when taking care of the poor, we are far behind the developed nations, far less the utopia of Islam Hadhari. See our balance of payment; we have been in surplus continuously since early 1998 if I am not mistaken. Our foreign reserve has reached USD75billions, some of our multinational corporations are on acquisition trail in the region and worldwide, turning low yielding cash reserve into profitable investment and future revenue. Lately the government even encourages GLCs to invest more in the region in an effort to reduce foreign reserve, i.e. transforming foreign reserve into foreign investment.
Drive to any kampung and we are presented with modern bungalows with 3-4 cars in their yard. Yes, some of us did well, but look deeper, there are people in our midst who have difficulty coping with higher costs and surviving on low wages. I had the opportunity of meeting with the poor, those people who are paid a meager RM350 a month for her 8 hour a day, 6 days a week cleaning job. Why would she work for that amount of money? Because she is in a weak position, in a country with no legislated minimum wage, the weak is in no position to bargain about her wage, much less to demand higher salaries, her skills is easily replaceable with cheap imported foreign labour.
What about people who are unable to work? Those people who are incapacitated, sick or just simply too old, we would say we feel sorry for them, donate a few ringgits to atone our guilt, then we forget about them. Do we have a better way to take care of our poor, unfortunate citizens? Yes, from time to time we round up our beggars and drug addicts and house them in rehab, called Serenti. That’s about it.
We have the tendency to solve our problems by sweeping them under the carpet or tikar, and we forget about it. As long as we don’t see it, all is well and dandy.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005


good stuff!
did anyone plan for the next election? setting up the funds, political machinery etc.

Monday, September 19, 2005

street Posted by Picasa

hagleyave1 Posted by Picasa

hagleyave Posted by Picasa

manchester Posted by Picasa

house Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The Future of Proton

The Future of Proton.

Much has been written about Proton in Letter to Editor lately. It seems that the car industry as a whole is at a crossroad. Falling sales, thin margin and increased competition from Korean carmakers are the problem of the year for Proton. A few big car companies are posting huge losses (DaimlerChrysler, General Motors, Ford and Mitsubishi) and some has closed its business in the past few years. The emergence of Korean carmaker as global leaders in price and profitability is anything but surprising.

The key to their success goes back to the time of economic slowdown in 1997, as well as the natural endowment the Korean people have; educated, high savings rate and good industrial facilities. During the economic slowdown in 1997, the Korean let their currency slide and bankrupt companies closed its doors. In economic jargon this is called cleaning the slate. Companies posted huge losses, but they moved on, with the benefit of huge tax losses carried forward. Financial restructuring, debt equity swap and discounted bond sales were common during those times. The remaining companies that survived the economic crisis have the benefit of more opportunities, acquired assets at fire-sale prices and with the enhanced benefit of Korea’s high savings rate, could borrow capital at low interest rate and invest in advanced production line. The result is lowest production cost overall - efficient production. Do remember that back in 1997, a lot of investment funds buy stocks in Korea with a view of higher than average returns. Even GM bought a stake in Daewoo.

Now back to Proton, The key to Proton’s future success is in its ability to adapt to changing business environment. With the oil price at its highest level in decades, sooner or later public opinion of car as a mean of transportation would change. Most car companies have already change their marketing strategies in the face of competition from Korea by giving deep discount, attractive financing and forming alliances and merging with another.
GM offered employee discount price to all its customers in North America. Some European and Korean carmakers offered interest free financing in some countries. While Daimler, BMW, Audi and Volkswagen found merger partners to increase market share and expand production facilities. All these efforts are just to retain or increase market share. Why is this so? Simple, consumer prefers global brand when buying products/goods that need technical back up, and they demand reliability. Automobile market is moving towards oligopoly. Take CPU market for example, would you buy any other brand beside Intel and AMD? What other brand you might ask.
I like the idea for Proton-Volkswagen tie-up. Basically Volkswagen found a new market in ASEAN with a sizeable market share in exchange for continuing profitability for Proton. Proton would gain access to Volkswagen marketing network worldwide. This would ensure Proton’s survival in the near future. The other choice is to continue with high tariff for foreign cars to protect Proton and other local carmakers. Anyone who visited India in the 80’s and early 90’s would tell you that Indian cars were from the 50’s.
But if that is not palatable to Proton board and shareholders; after all, any tie-up like that would have to be approved by majority of shareholders in an EGM, I can offer a marketing idea that might work for Proton.
If we visit Dell website, we could buy computer online and tailor it to our own specification; bigger monitor, smaller hard drive, more memory and add a few accessories. What if we can buy a car that way?
Proton could offer 3-4 models based on one platform, then offer these cars for sale online and let buyers choose their specifications; paint colour, sedan or station wagon, manual or power windows etc. Then buyers can add up the prices or they can buy the recommended bundle and choose to pay cash or arrange financing that suit them. Don’t forget to tell the buyers their expected delivery date, to be delivered to wherever the buyers want to, by Poslaju. (I think Proton could appoint logistics companies to do delivery)
Without doubt, the entire Proton supply chain management has to be managed online. Savings from low inventory and cutting out middlemen could be passed on to buyers in the form of lower prices.
Cars is fast becoming commodity like, one car is not much different than another. These days when people buy car, they expect to use it for a set number of years and then get rid of it.
How I wish I could buy my Mitsubishi brake light lenses just like I bought my computer component, off the internet.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Malaysia's Competitive Edge

Malaysia’s Competitive Edge: How to Get There.

Global business landscape is changing rapidly. Adam Smith predicted 200 years ago that businesses, in search of efficiency would relocate to wherever the lowest cost and most efficient location are. In this information age, location does not matter anymore, as long as there are the necessary infrastructures for Internet, no limits, no boundaries. American and European companies already relocate their back room operations to India; accounting, call centres, customer service/technical back ups etc and contracting their manufacturing to China.
What we as a nation should do to remain competitive – in the face of new competition from China and India?
Put our house in order first:
High quality education system – educated workforce are easily trainable. We must build the necessary infrastructure that produce educated workforce – not only educated but also creative. We do not want just yes-man – but people who are of critical mind and creative. Learn from Ireland – that country move from the poor man of Europe to one of the richest in just 3 decades. Chinese proverb says:
“ If you want to be prosperous for one year, grow grains.
If you want to be prosperous for 10 years, grow trees.
If you want to be prosperous for 100 years, grow people.”
From The Economist.
Remove barriers that were designed to protect and pamper local businesses and industries. Trade barriers only encourage monopoly pricing of goods with the consequence economic loss. Pampered businesses become uncompetitive in the global market – they would continue asking for protection until doomsday if we let them. The common people would suffer from high prices and loss of economic benefit.
Simplify our tax system. A low tax rate for businesses, e.g. 20% like in Ireland or Hong Kong encourage business investment. Higher investment rate would have positive flow on effect to the economy. In most Western countries, its citizens carry the burden of taxes, because their citizens enjoy the benefit of their taxes, in the form of government, defence and education. A high corporate tax is meaningless when multinationals (as most large companies are, even those domiciled in Malaysia) can evade taxes by inflating intercompany invoices. Ever wonders why multinational companies report most of their profits in the country of lowest tax rate?
Encourage R & D spending – I do not know the rule for R & D in Malaysia, but if companies were allowed to expense off its R & D spending in the year it occurred, instead of capitalising it and expense it over the life of the project, that would make a difference to their ability to compete in the marketplace.
Remove barrier to capital movement into and out of the country. Multinational companies that invest in a country would like to know that they can take their investment elsewhere if they need to. The existence of capital barriers is just like a big sign saying “Don’t Invest Here”. Therefore free floating the ringgit is desirable.
Transparency in governance and the way we run the government. For goodness sake, set the rules – but stick to it – no favouritism and bending the rules. In this regard we must treat everyone the same manner and equally.
Transparency and equality in our justice system. Make the law available to everybody with swift and fair justice system. Reduce backlog in civil and criminal cases. If swift and fair justice system easily available from village level up to the High Court, businesses and investors would be assured. We had a good background following the English legal system. But please get rid of repressive laws that were enacted to silence the communists. Laws that deny a group/person fair trial and justice do not give good image to the country. Look at Zimbabwe, is that a good example?

Once we have put our house in order, then we can move on, improve our competitiveness.

Increase our savings rate to optimum level. High savings rate would provide capital for business expansion.
Economist, Robert Solow calculates that optimal savings rate is about 50% of income. We may not be able to achieve that soon, but moving towards this target is desirable, given our current inflationary pressures.

Manage our resources carefully: water, air, land and forests. When pricing resources, due consideration must be given to the needs of future generations, other species (flora and fauna) and without detrimental effect or changes to the environment we live in. resources reflect our wealth, now and in the future. Our recent experience with drought and haze bring home the point that even the air we breathe and water for drinking are scarce resources.
Subsidizing and underpricing these resources only encourage wastage. A more effective way would be pricing these goods at market value, but subsidize those who cannot afford by giving them money to buy these goods. The same system could be used for petrol and diesel. Sell petrol and diesel at world market price, and give income top up directly to the poor – into their account.
When giving out licences to extract resources, be it water, fishery, land or minerals, we must not deplete our environment in the process.

Increase our talent pool.
As they say, however rich we are, if we do not know the value of our wealth, we would soon lose them. This is where a good education system that encourages creativity plays its part.
Western countries have realised lately that human capital – in the form of talented and hard working individuals is a form of wealth. That’s why USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand are encouraging immigration of people from around the world. These countries set up point system, whereby the most desirable and demanded skills are allowed in.
The immigrants that these Western countries seeking are different than the foreign workers we have in Malaysia. We also need to attract talented migrants into the country – and revamp our ‘state of siege, keep them out’ immigration policies. We should encourage diversity, because diversity brings different viewpoint and ideas.
These are where our future competitive edge lie.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Unpegging the Ringgit and playing chicken game with China

Title: Unpegging the Ringgit and playing ‘chicken game’ with China.

Its good news that the government finally unpeg the ringgit. Given the situation, Bank Negara had no choice but to unpeg, because to leave the peg after China’s move means leaving the ringgit open to speculation. Huge amount of speculative money would flow into the country to make quick profit. Never mind what Finance Minister, Governor and Prime Minister previously said about leaving the peg for the benefit of the country.
Its good to see that BNM prepared to swallow back its words for the benefit of the country. Lets be frank, Malaysia is just a small economy, a small fry in the league of big and powerful whales and sharks. We have to find our own niche, and improvise to prosper; we cannot dictate others to our own terms. (Unless we have an all important commodity that others are begging at our doorstep.)
A floating ringgit, even if a dirty float, is the first step toward finding our competitive edge. The next step is to improve our government, administration and improve the cost of doing business in our country. Efficiency is the key for our future success.
That’s means corrupt practices, unfair advantages to certain groups or anything that contribute to a slide to rot is not good for the country. Lets have a fair rule for all, and everyone be treated as equal. If you start giving special treatment to certain group of people in the country, then sooner or later some other group will claim they are more deserving-there is no end to it.
Looking at the fundamentals, we would expect that the US dollar to continue to strengthen in the short term. Alan Greenspan had just increased US interest rates a week ago, attracting foreign funds for the high yield and safety features of US dollar. The ringgit, being a petro dollar to some extent, and net exporter is expected to rise faster than the US dollar. (This is only true if BNM does not print money faster than the market can absorb)
Why do we say that the outlook for US dollar is good in the near terms? Well, where else you could invest in companies that is world class and relatively cheap? The market in the USA is the most transparent in the world, with good judicial system and everyone is treated equal. Over 200 years of stable government with history to prove it. Companies in the US are well run generally, although some mismanagement here and there, the culprits are quickly brought to justice. With the current security scare in the world, terrorism and all, naturally everyone bank on the US dollar.
Another thing to take into account, Asian government hasn’t been weaned of their dependence on export to solve their income and employment problems at home. They need US market more than ever, so they will keep on exporting to the US and spend their surplus USD on US Treasury Bills. Until someone can show them that there is a more profitable investment somewhere else, like investing in their citizens’ standard of living for instance.
With this unpegging, BNM can now concentrate on other worthwhile targets- e.g. inflation, income and employment. We believe that inflation is foremost in the BNM’s agenda at the moment, given the previous 7 years agenda of increasing income and employment. What can we expect? In our view, the interest rate would increase in the near term in tandem with US interest rate. This would reduce the inflationary expectation and curb spectacular moves by banks to increase market share by introducing juicy incentives. (Like CAHB’s recent incentive of 25 basis point below BLR for home lending.)

Monday, May 30, 2005

Let Them Establish Universiti UMNO with their Own Money.

Higher learning institutions are the last bastions to shape the minds of leaders of tomorrow. You can bet that almost every organisation or political party would want to instil and inculcate their ideas, beliefs and methodologies to those young intelligent minds. So its no surprise that UMNO wants to establish its own university, where competing political ideas is shut out.
University colleges are where aspiring future leaders develop their networking skills and contacts – their know-who as well as their know –how. By establishing Universiti UMNO, These politicians are taking steps of cloning themselves – creating a group of elite ruling Malays (after all, only Malays can join UMNO), a cut above the rest. The blue blood ruling class of Malay politicians want to perpetuate their legacy to the next millennium. This Universiti UMNO will be the Ivy League university, much like some Democrat or Republican affiliated universities in the United States. Good model to follow.
As far as I know, all government funded universities in Malaysia are already controlled by the government, albeit not directly. Lecturers at universities are not allowed to be involved with opposition parties, and they have to sign the AKU JANJI letters, pledging loyalty to the government. Student politics are dominated by pro-government council, those who are even slightly critical of the government risks their funding cut off.
This is the methodology that has been used by the government to stifle dissent and criticism at universities. That’s why our graduates are a sorry lot; don’t have their own opinion, incapable of expressing themselves and being ‘pak turut’.
I am of the opinion that if UMNO leadership want their own university, let them have it – using their own money of course. Let them raise fund, set the curriculum etc – the lot. The duty of higher education ministry is just setting the standard – that degrees awarded meet certain minimum educational attainment.
There is nothing wrong with investing money in higher education, because education broadens minds, improve skills and widens our marketability in the job market. Highly educated workforce tends to be more competitive and be able to handle new technology easily. They also have the potential to earn higher incomes. Just because there are a large number of unemployed graduates doesn’t mean that tertiary education is worthless. In the West, graduates doing menial jobs are common, especially those who originated in Eastern Europe. At least being tertiary educated they have a chance of moving upward in their careers. Ask anyone who doesn’t have a degree; not having a degree can impose a glass ceiling in one’s career.
However I would oppose to this idea of Universiti UMNO if the funding were from government coffers. We have heard enough of under funded universities already, without adding another one. That money could be better spent maximising the potential and enrolment of our current universities and funding the higher education loan company. Haven’t we heard enough about starving students on a diet of instant noodles and under funded universities? We would be better off allocating more funds to existing universities instead of building a new one.
If we think that providing more funds for Higher Education Loan Company is like throwing good money after bad, we are wrong. Government loans like that is like deferred taxation. The fact that the borrowers can hardly pay back their loans because of unemployment, low income or simply refuse to pay can be handled differently. I would suggest that JHDN be given the job to collect the loans as a percentage of declared income, just like income tax.
Lets not muddle up between the freedoms to set up a university, college, school, kindergarten or madrasah to educate our children the way we want and our disdain for another money grabbing venture by the elite ruling class. (Imagine the amount of contracts given out to UMNO affiliated contractors.)
Has Stopa explained yet how UMNO is going to finance this university? I hope not from the government’s or Petronas’ coffers.
Noor Yahaya Hamzah