Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Mac 2007 Newsletter MTUC

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Waikuku Beach

A pattern in the sand.
Thats what is left when the water recede.

An Afternoon at Waikuku Beach

A flock of egret resting.
This is the mouth of Ashley River.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Balancing on Dinosaur Dropping

Life is about balance. Our success depends on how well we stand up against the element. The waves that crashes every minute, and the cold wind from the south.
We drove home afterward.
North Otago and South Canterbury is verdant country. Oamaru is well known for the best most expensive potatoes in the country. Jersey Benne variety.

The View is superb

Quite a few houses on the beach. I guess, after all this is a million dollar view by the beach.
There is only one tourism enterprise here. A cafe, souvenir shop with the egg shape round top design.

Some are broken.

Some are broken... I didnt do it!
We played the waves for a couple of hours.

Dinosaur Poo?

Well it could be. Have you seen a goat's poo? Yes its round, black in colour.
This Moeraki boulders are black in colour, round and of mudstone.
The ones on the beach are exposed by the erosion and waves. There are a lot more, i have seen 2 more above the water line.
Amazingly only on this stretch of beach, less than a mile. Nowhere else.

Dinosaur Egg?

The ground surrounding the 'boulder' at Moeraki is made up of loess - those light dirt that flew in the high wind from across the plains before settling down on the hillside, but these boulders are made up of mudstone. Yes mudstone, comprise of high percentage of vegetative matter.
So its not an egg, itwould have fossil in it.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Deer by the Fence

Sunday 15th Apr.
We drove south to see the Moeraki Boulders. About 50kms south of Oamaru. These two does were sitting by the fence, occasionally push their nose through the fence looking for some handout.

Purau Bay and Port Levy

Purau Bay sits on a valley. There is a camping ground by a small stream. We stopped here to play on the beach. Then we drove on up the hill, and down to Port Levy. Amazingly, this place has an island blocking much of the bay. As seen on the picture.

Pine Trees on the Cliff

I like this picture.
We were walking on a track above the cliff on the forested part of Diamond Harbour. It overlooks the shipping lane approaching Lyttleton Port. Adam was busy collecting pine cones that he took home.

Diamond Harbour

opposite Lyttelton.
It was Thursday 12 Apr. Took the children up the hill and to the coast opposite Lyttleton.

Friday, April 13, 2007

In Malaysiakini

My letter is published today in Malaysiakini.
here is the link:'

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Another Minimum Wage comment in Malaysiakini

Minimum wage absence affecting marriages
Arbibi Ashoy
Apr 10, 07 1:50pm
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I refer to the letter Minimum wage not a cure-all.

It is important to note that minimum wage is a pertinent and important issue amongst the Malays in Malaysia as most Malays are fixed-income earners (known in Malay as ‘makan gaji’). The minimum wage of a civil servant in Malaysia is RM450 and in the private sector even lower.

Most fixed-income earners do not earn commission or allowances. They have no opportunity to earn extra income. Their employment contract even states that they are not allowed to moonlight for extra income because this will affect the performance of their full-time day job.

So what is the alternative? Go for a higher education? Not everyone has the brains. Become a salesman and earn commission? Not everyone has the flair. Anyway, if everyone wanted to work in the sales and marketing department, who is going to work in the accounts department, the warehouse, the guardhouse and so forth?

Which is why minimum wage is important to the Malays too. Also, there is a serious problem of drug addiction within the Malay community. Minimum wage would provide a stepping stone for ex-drug addicts to improve their situation.

In Malay society, marriage is very important. Thus by denying the Malays a minimum wage, the deputy prime minister is denying them the opportunity to get married as the requirements for marriage, the ‘wang hantaran’ (dowry) is ever increasing in size.

This causes social problems amongst the Malay population such as addiction to pornography as well as the abuse of massage parlours and brothels as a substitute for a wife. For the Malay woman, polygamy is always at the back of their mind and is a source of anxiety and sleepless nights if her husbands is fairly well-off financially.

I disagree with the writer that negative income tax is a better alternative solution. This encourages laziness. Why work harder when doing less may actually earn you more? Whereas minimum wage reduces voluntary unemployment as getting employed becomes worthwhile.

Minimum wage also encourages Malaysians to perform jobs such as waiting on tables and construction work which normally only migrant workers are willing to do.

Baiting Iran into War

Title: Baiting Iran into War

News media around the world gone into overdrive the day when those 15 British sailors were taken by Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

In short, 15 British sailors were in Shat al Arab waters, supposedly checking dhows for possible arms smuggling into Iraq. Then Iranian Revolutionary Guards surround them and detain them for being in Iranian waters. Then they were taken to Teheran, detained pending diplomatic solution between British and Iranian governments. Tony Blair insisted that they were in Iraqi waters, and demanded that they be released. Iranian government insisted that they were in Iranian waters, demanded apology before their release. Days later, still no apology, and Bush waded into the fray, saber rattling and demanded that they be released. Faye Turney, the only female sailor in the group was seen on Iranian TV giving press conference, saying that they were treated well, smoking and wearing head scarf. Still no apology from Tony Blair, but he said parading the detainees in TV is inhumane and contravenes Geneva Convention. Bush and Blair’s saber rattling continues.

On day 13, Mahmoud Ahmedinijad announced that the detainees will be released and sent home as a season gift to Britain. So its all over.

Some questions remains;

  1. What were those sailors doing? Reports from some news media from Iraq BEFORE they were detained indicate that the Navy was gathering intelligence in Iran over there. But the same news media conveniently don’t say anything, not a word soon as those sailors were detained.
  2. Tony Blair, instead of finding solution to the crisis and try to secure the release those sailors, was ratcheting up the crisis further, refusing to issue apology and saber rattling, issuing tough words and demanding that those sailors be released, pronto. Why didn’t he apologize, all he has to do is just saying that the sailors didn’t realize they were in Iranian waters? Iranian media said that their GPS equipment did indicate that they were in Iranian water. The crisis could have been solved in the first day!
  3. Bush joined the fray by saber rattling and demanding that they be release. Effectively threatening Iran. What Bush and USA has to do with this?

A colleague from the Gulf wrote that USA and Britain have a timetable for invasion of Iran. 6 April was the deadline for the invasion. Planeloads of arms equipment has been shipped to Iraq through Dubai. The ruler of UAE made a statement on prime time television saying that UAE will not allow its territory, airspace and waters to be used as a base for invasion of another country. What other country?

We all know that Iran is one of the axes of evil according to Bush and Blair. UN has problem lately with Iran, regarding nuclear facilities inspection. Or shall we say that Bush and Blair used UN to force Iran to allow inspections of nuclear facilities. Iran has never yielded to UN demands so far.

Bush and Blair are desperate to find an excuse, any excuse to invade Iran. To invade Iran without UN resolution is illegal. But being illegal has never stop Bush and Blair. Remember Afghanistan? Mullah Omar was asking for the proof if Osama really did organize that plane crash into the twin tower. “Bring me the proof, and we will hand over Osama to you.”

Didn’t Saddam acquiesce and let UN team search for the elusive WMD? If there is such thing as WMD, the US Army could have collected by the truckload already.

I am not saying that Saddam was an okay person, but there is a precedent here. ‘Damn with UN Security Council and international law, we will just invade and secure that oil supply one way or another.’

Are those sailors purposely strayed into Iranian waters?

To make an invasion look legitimate, and get the support of US allies, they need a reason. Those sailors being detained by the Iranians would be just what they are looking for. Soon as they are taken to Teheran, the news media goes into overdrive; everyone is reminded of American embassy occupation for 444day back in 1980. Blair start demanding their release, always insist that they were in Iraqi waters.

News reports start demonizing Iran, grooming American and British public opinion and conditioning them to approve war with Iran. Blair’s speech start to sound like saber rattling, then Bush join in, pouring petrol to Blair’s fire. If Mahmoud Ahmedinijad didn’t release the sailors and sent them home, opinion polls in Britain and USA would start to sway to Bush and Blair’s favour. Given time, a couple of week or so, then it would be ripe for rescue mission. Yeah just like in 1980. The public would have support it, who want their countrymen/woman rot in Iranian jail, of all places.

The rescue mission would be designed to fail, so that the public opinion would be whipped up, people would get angry and start baying for Iranian blood.

When the sailors appear on TV, Blair lambasted Iran, saying it’s wrong to parade the detainees, against the Geneva Convention. But the truth is it softened public perception of Iran, and told the truth what actually happened. That worked against Tony Blair’s script!

If Iran still keeps the detainees, the tanks and the B52 would get oiled and cranked up. I was dismayed that Iran kept the detainees that long. They could have simply told the sailors to go away, regardless whether they were gathering intelligence or not. Or Iran could have put the sailors on the first plane bound for London as soon as they arrive in Teheran.

Iran shouldn’t have taken the BAIT. But I am glad that they let them go.

Noor Yahaya Hamzah


Got the Money!

Remember the time when I volunteered to do Hepatitis drug test? Being guinea pig for Roche to get $2000?
Well today I got the money. Taxes takes 21%, so I got $1580 after tax.
Plus I also get $100 worth of MTA voucher. That voucher I can use to pay petrol or spend it to buy tyres or something.
Here we go. Thats the picture of the cheque!

Minimum Wage Act debate malaysiakini

an issue that is ongoing.

Workers suffer without Minimum Wage Act
S ArutchelvanApr 9, 07 4:11pm
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We refer to the letters Najib, you're wrong on minimum wage and Minimum wage not a cure-all.
When the Coalition of Factory workers and Unions (Jerit) and MTUC call for a Minimum Wage Act, they are, in fact, talking about a decent minimum wage which can guarantee a decent standard of living for the poor. One must understand that market forces do not determine that workers are taken care of. The capitalist will continue to go for cheap labour or bring in foreign workers – with documents or without. Capitalists do not have any loyalty to the country they are in - their loyalty is only to profit. State intervention would assist the workers and it is the role of the state to protect its people. In Malaysia, privatisation and neo-liberal policies ensure that people are made to pay for everything that at one time they were enjoying for free. The state has slowly and surely washed it hands of its social responsibilities. Without a Minimum Wage Act - whatever the economists say - workers would suffer and this in turn would mean that society would also suffer.
If we believe in equality, justice and fair play, then we would set a minimum wage and narrow down the income disparity between the rich and the poor in Malaysia, which is one of the highest in Asia.
The writer is pro tem secretary general of Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM).

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Minimum Wage issue

Title: Minimum wage is about providing decent income for the workers.

I refer to the letter Minimum wage not a cure-all.
In short, Rajan claims that by legislating minimum wage, unemployment would increase and the minimum wage law would hurt the very group it is designed to help. That would be true if we set minimum wage at a high rate.
Labour cost is only a portion of total cost of production of good and services. Capital cost, patent, licensing and transportation are some of the factors influencing total cost of production. We should concentrate of moving up the economic ladder, investing more in capital hence improving labour productivity. Instead of competing in terms of labour cost, the lowest unskilled labour cost I might add, we should compete to reduce capital, bureaucracy and transportation costs, the other factors of production.
For example, lowering the cost of capital (lower interest rate) and simplifying bureaucracy go a long way towards improving business profitability and our country’s competitiveness.
We, as citizens of a country, refrain from concentrating wealth to small select group of citizens, and try to reduce the gap between rich and poor. Minimum wage law is just a small step toward this. Its about providing decent income for our workers. Its about preserving self esteem, that everyone’s contribution is valued in our society. Its about projecting the message that no one is being disenfranchised in our society. Its about social justice.
Not so long ago I read a report in Malaysiakini about the bonded labourer (another term for slavery) at some palm oil estates in Pahang. Even though people are supposedly free to seek higher wages ‘elsewhere’, for some people, this is not possible because the barriers are too difficult to overcome. Problem with housing, language barrier and identity card etc. Should we just leave them making RM200 a month even though they work 10 hours a day 6 days a week and let their employer rake most of the profit?

Opponents to Minimum Wage are typically from elitist and bourgeois background, who may study at ‘elite’ and ‘prestigious’ SMU, their dinner spending may equivalent to a month’s wages of the lowest income group. Yet they scoff the idea of paying more to their fellow countrymen who work at the same establishment where they eat.

Last week Chinese Govt began cracking down on foreign firms who pay their employees below minimum hourly wage of USD0.73 equivalent. About RM2.52 per hour.

Milton Friedman proposed Negative Income Tax (NIT) during Nixon era, but he opposed it when Congress was going to implement it was packaged with other measures. Yes, Milton Friedman opposed NIT!
NIT requires considerable reporting and supervision, bureaucracy in another word. It provides Guaranteed Minimum Income (GMI), which provides money to survive on.
If survivable income in Seremban is RM500 per month (just enough to pay room rent, food, power and water) then GMI should be RM500. If Rajan is working 10 hours a week and get RM3 per hour, then he should get top up of RM365. Fair enough, but this doesn’t encourage Rajan to seek full time employment, since any amount he earn, as long as its below RM500, he will get RM500. So he might as well work less.
Technically employers could pay wage of RM0.50 per hour (remember, there is no minimum wage), and it still doesn’t encourage the workers to seek other employment. Workers would be happy getting their survivable income and stay in their jobs, companies raking huge profits but the government and taxpayers would be saddled with ever increasing wage subsidy. This would result in higher and higher tax rate for the taxpayers. Sure there would be no unemployment.
I don’t think this is the path we are after.
In Western countries, Minimum Wage is complemented with Guaranteed Minimum Income, in such a way that it encourage the unemployed to seek and gain employment. Even the fabled free market USA has Minimum Wage Law in place.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Minimum wage in Malaysiakini reply

Minimum wage not a cure-all
Rajan RishyakaranApr 5, 07 3:44pm
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I refer to the letter Najib, you're wrong on minimum wage.
Noor Yahaya did point out accurately the direct effect of minimum wage - companies that can't afford it go under (or less dramatically, lay off their workers) while others switch to more capital intensive production.
But rather than increased efficiency as Noor Yahaya claims, the direct cause of this is unemployment - not ‘freeing labour resources to be employed elsewhere’. If ‘elsewhere’ could exist after minimum wage, it already does now. And labourers can freely go to this ‘elsewhere’.
The minimum wage, according to Noor Yahaya, would encourage capital intensive production. He gave the example of retrenching road sweepers for one driving a truck. This highlights the problem with minimum wage - road sweepers would be unemployed. And production shifts to capital only because the price of labour (road sweepers) increased; not because the cost of capital (trucks) reduced. This increased cost would be passed on to the consumers (which may include those retrenched road sweepers).
Noor Yahaya brings in another ‘benefit’ of minimum wage - those refusing to work under the hypothetical minimum wage would enter the labour market. This exacerbates unemployment - more supply (labour), less demand (jobs). The writer also ignores the existence of jobs that pay more than RM5. Additionally, those retrenched road sweepers would be competing against those very people Noor Yahaya claims would enter the market.
This after Noor Yahaya claims the poor may not have the ‘gift or ability’ for education – how then are the retrenched road sweepers going to compete? Far from increasing efficiency, minimum wage causes even more problems in the end. And there are other ways to guarantee a minimum income – Juliet Rhys-Williams and Milton Friedman's Negative Income Tax, for example.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Kiwi flying High

The question is how fast does it go up? Look at the interest rate differential USD vs Kiwi.

How profitable compared to other currencies? Check economic growth potential and USA economy.

Asian countries have high savings rate, so their growth are largely self funded. NZ has negative 5% savings rate. That is for every dollar NZer earn, they borrow $1.05 on average. This borrowing is financed by Japanese, Asian, European savings et al.

So long as NZ economy keep growing, interest rate high, the Kiwi dollar would keep going up, ceteris paribus.

Want to lower the Kiwi? Just take measures to deflate the economy. ie drastic increase in interest rate, introduce statutory reserve requirement to banks, introduce capital gains tax, compulsory savings etc.

Anyone want to park their money in New Zealand? EARN high interest rate, PLUS appreciation!

Kiwi could hit US80c, warns Key

By NICK CHURCHOUSE - The Dominion Post Thursday, 5 April 2007
National Party leader John Key has warned that the exchange rate crisis for exporters will get worse before it gets better.

Speaking to investment traders and private investors at a breakfast hosted by Wellington broking firm OMF, Mr Key said the Kiwi dollar was likely to go as high as US80c in the near future.

Even the present level of about US72c has created major difficulties for exporters.

"It doesn't show any sign that it wants to go down," said Mr Key, a former head of foreign exchange trading for international broking giant Merrill Lynch.

Predictions of a drop in the exchange rate had lulled exporters into a false sense of security and many had not planned ahead.

"Exporters are now scrambling to cover themselves."

But something had to give, because the economy could not operate for long above a US70c exchange rate, he said.

The Reserve Bank needed to get the interest rate down to discourage the influx of foreign capital.

Mr Key said cash reserves in Asia were mounting by about a trillion dollars a year, which was money that could end up in New Zealand.

"It's a massive wall of capital that's got to go somewhere and, at the moment, we are looking pretty attractive."

The Government had geared the economy to provide opportunity for high earners, but the outlook for those on low incomes was bleak, and welfare packages such as Working for Families made it worse.

"If you put people on welfare, every extra dollar they earn you have to take off them."

People needed incentives that would encourage them to improve their situation, rather than discourage them, Mr Key said.

Small businesses were another victim, with a economic culture that made growth hard.

High-salary jobs were typically held by lawyers or bankers, but emphasis needed to be put into encouraging more "Sam Morgans" to build their own businesses.

"We need a culture where people feel they can take a bit of a risk and the system is not going to crush them."

Literacy problems at early school age, and New Zealanders taking off for better wages and prospects overseas, were problems that needed attention too, he said.

With less of a focus on debt and more focus on growth, New Zealand's capacity for success was huge.

"But I'd change the management," he laughed.

Global Warming

an acquiantance send me this link to youtube video.

On the BBC TV. the other week was a program on.
The Global Warming Hoax.
It has been recorded and is available on UTUBE Enjoy it takes 75.55 minutes