Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Thank You Raja Petra Kamarudin

I would like to say a very big Thank You to Raja Petra Kamarudin for publishing my article in his blog.
www.malaysia-today.net in the Guest Columnist section.
Honestly, I got a buzz out of it. Feel on top of the world!

Friday, April 14, 2006

US and Iran on the brink of war

The game is who blink first, he or she loses.
For the past few years, Iran has been researching into alternative energy, which is nuclear energy to quench its energy hungry populace. Nuclear energy is relatively simple, and relatively cheap to produce. Western Europe and former USSR have been using this technology for a few decades, and being cheaper than other energy sources, they enjoy faster economic growth and command comparative advantage in the sixties and the seventies.
In the past, this old technology produces a byproduct that can be made into nuclear bomb. As such Western countries are wary of any country that acquires capabilities to enrich plutonium to fuel nuclear reactor.
Iran has rights to develop nuclear energy, just as USA, Western Europe and Russia had. Iran may have a lot of oil to use as energy, but it also need alternatives. Nuclear energy could fit the bill in winter, while solar energy could be harnessed in summer. I see no reason why the Bush Administration being suspicious, that Iran should might develop nuclear weapon.
In economics, a country could stay ahead from other countries if it still has comparative advantage in whatever it is doing best. Having cheaper energy, skilled populace, and bountiful resources could contribute tremendously towards a country’s comparative advantage. In Iran’s case, it already has bountiful oil for export, educated populace and much to the consternation of the West, an Islamic country with anti West leadership.
From Western viewpoint, if Iran could be self sufficient in energy needs, (Iran could develop nuclear energy as an alternative to solar and oil) educated and resourceful populace who could develop its own indigenous technologies for its own needs, then Iran could be the new leader in the Islamic world, without any supportive crutch from the West, unlike Saudi Arabia, Turkey or Pakistan. Look at Saudi Arabia, even though it is self sufficient in energy, it import everything else, its populace are too dependable towards foreign worker even to do household chores. The same can be said of other Gulf States. Does Turkey or Pakistan have sufficient energy and resources to stand on its own? Nope. The key to self sufficiency is energy. With cheap energy, you could produce food and almost all your needs, provided that your country has skilled and educated populace.
Iran has already shown its capability in defense technology, Western media have an eyeful of that the other day during Iran’s military exercise in the Persian Gulf. So Bush Administration starts asking, what else is Iran capable of?
I believe Iran is guilty of goading the West into current situation. President Ahmedinijad had made statements denying the holocaust and that Israel should be wiped off from the face of the earth. Furthermore, Iran had military exercises since last month, showing off its guided missiles.
Is Iran ready for war? I believe so, otherwise why would they do such things? Iran wanted to do that to be relevant in the Islamic world.
Then, is Bush Administration ready for war? I think not, not until the Iraqi business is concluded, then it will need another war. War is a good business for USA. It keeps the economy humming, producing vehicles, weapons and keeps the population focused on the war, forgetting their dismal performance at home. Look how much defense goods that America produces since the war began, and the surplus food that they shipped to Iraq. War abroad keeps the economy growing and healthy. Since 2001 “war on terror” in Afghanistan, America has been at war, first with the Talibans on pick-up trucks, and now with the Iraqis strapped with grenades.
Why doesn’t Bush Administration pick North Korea, Liberia, Sudan or Sierra Leone where there have been massacres lately? Those countries are inconsequential, no resources, and no oil. Bush Administration has found a way to keep the economy growing and healthy, make war, and war with an oil producing country. Oil prices will stay high, Gulf States will make a lot of money, which will be invested in America and Europe, and American companies will continue producing defense goods and keep American economy humming and healthy.
The real axis of evil, America, Europe and rich Gulf States. Why do I say Gulf States guilty as well? As Bill Clinton said sometime ago, it could invest in their poorer neighbours and spread their wealth where it is needed most, those poorer Middle Eastern countries, Indian subcontinent and Africa. If money doesn’t flow back to America and Europe, they wouldn’t have enough clout to throw their weight about, and threaten war against Iran.

Noor Yahaya Hamzah

The Bridge is Off

It was a "get your cronies richer" scheme to start with, legacy of Mahathir's era. I could imagine the millions and billions that goes to some people pockets getting contracts and subcontracts.
Yes we have heard that before.

As for making JB a marina and pleasure boat haven, who benefit from that? The rich of course, once they get the contract, they will have more money to splash about, including pleasure boats.

This shows that Abdullah Badawi intent of undoing the legacies of Mahathir's era. He want to show that he is not shackled by Mahathir's legacies and his men in cabinet.

Or is it? Najib, What say you?

As for the new CIQ complex, I think its a waste of money as well. I think its pointless to do immigration check at JB in the first place, the same with customs. Why dont we just let everyone free entry? No need to check or stamp passport.

Then we could say to Singaporean that once upon a time Singapore is part of Malaysia, and may one day will be part of Malaysia again.
Send the chilling shiver up their backs!

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Spending the Public Transport Fund

Will the saving from petrol subsidy be channelled to right places? That is the RM4.4billion question. So far I have read that the savings from removing a portion of petrol subsidy will be used to build and improve public transport system. That is okay to certain extent, if it does not involve awarding more mega projects to well connected indivuduals.
What I dont want to hear is another electric train project to nowhere, and more cronies bagging the BOT contract.
The keyword for efficient and popular public transport system in Malaysia's urban areas is "cheap and effective".
Train system would cost a lot of money and demand higher fares, it uses a lot of land, which is scarce resources. I would suggest limiting the number of single occupant cars entering major cities to start with, to reduce congestion. Then create dedicated bus lanes on major bus routes. (Any car using this lane shall be fined) And if the city could afford it, subsidize free bus service within central city to encourage commuters to leave their vehicles at home. Existing train service should also be subsidized to keep fares low.
Instead of controlling the price of bus fare, we should subsidize the bus companies, by tendering the routes. Say, KL-Klang route, buses should depart every 3 minutes during peak times and every 6 minutes during off peak times. Bus companies would then tender their price for providing this service, taking into account the revenue collected from bus fares, staff wages, maintenance costs, capital costs and fair profit. Government could fix the bus fare, say at RM2.
Bus company then calculate the projected revenue less costs, and if the route is unprofitable, bus company then tender for subsidy to make the route profitable. This way the frequency of bus service is assured, and the bus driver wouldnt have to wait until the bus is full before starting, understandably they want to maximise revenue, hence their pay packet.
In this way, the government avoid capital cost of setting up the service (i.e. buying buses etc) and firms could invest in transport business knowing the certainty of future profits. Current government method of controlling prices (in this case bus fare) without handing out subsidies only hindersfirms investment in public transport system. No one would invest money in any undertaking or enterprise if there is no profit to be had. As such, existing bus companies run down their capital, (e.g. old buses not replaced) and in the future the public would lose the service.
Same method could be applied for train service - albeit at a higher price.
What I am suggesting here is cheaper more cost effective way of providing public transport system. Of course we could build a train system criss crossing the peninsula, but the cost is prohibitive. Unless the project has other benefits beside reducing congestion - like giving lifeline to construction sector.
I believe if we do it this way, there would still a lot of money left for other projects, like providing low cost housing for the poor and giving income top up for low income group.
The less government getting itself involved in business the better, so that it can concentrate more on governing, making the rules fair and distributing the incomes of its citizens as evenly as possible.