Monday, July 30, 2007

Really, I dont Understand Sir....

I have been residing in the West for these past 8 years.
The West value freedom of speech, writing and thinking.
Where speech is FREE, opinion is valued, no matter how stupid in our views.
There is FREEDOM of expression, swear words (those words that are not nice to our hearing) are part of everyday expression and communication, even on prime time TV.

If you go to some part of the city, the residents may communicate to you in language that you might not understand..
I mean not a foreign language, but EVERY four words there shall be a swear word.
Like, "Get the fuck outa here"
"She's a bitch."

6 O'clock news might air report from parliament of Opposition Leader lambasting a Govt Minister for his wrongdoing in firing a Govt Dept manager, which resulted in the Minister's resignation. Few months ago, videos of MPs sleeping on the bench and an MP showing a finger to his opposition was aired on the news.
Freedom of speech, freedom of expression. Its normal that newspapers lampooning and satirizing political leaders and Prime Minister.

So it is a shock to me that Malaysia is moving to curb bloggers, on what they write. This report in Malaysiakini says that Govt trying to muzzle bloggers. Raja Petra of Malaysia-today has been grilled at Dang Wangi police station for his writing on Malaysia's constitution.

One report even say that the unemployed son in law of Malaysia's Prime Minister is saying that "Dakwa penulis blog! Biar monyet lain takut".
Really, I dont understand, why is that an unemployed man, has become the mouth piece of the Govt?
Is that the Govt policy to communicate its policy statement through some unemployed person? So there is no need to employ Communications Manager and Head of Dept?
Really, I dont understand who is driving the Govt policy, is it the Cabinet, BN Caucus, or Khairy Jamaluddin?
Are we priming the country towards dictatorship? Like, ehem, Pakistan or previously, Iraq? Are we reducing the Parliament to be rubber stamper for the incoming dictator?
Notice that KJ made the call first, the UMNO politicians follow suit and formulate policies to be rubber stamped by the rest of BN coalition.

I dont understand HOW Govt is going to muzzle the blogs. A blog is like free speech. As long as people has mouth to speak, believe me they will. In recent history, dictators starts to move by controlling media, then free speech. We know that prime media in Malaysia are all controlled by the ruling parties, leaving the online media that is still free. Well, still relatively free.
Is this the precursor to a dictatorship?

My recent attempts to surf Raja Petra's website has been thwarted by 'site unavailable' and site too busy' lately. Proof that his website has become ever more popular as the premier source of news for Malaysia.
My congratulations to Raja Petra, his most recent writing here.
If what the Malaysian bloggers write are slander, all the Govt or the person should do is just deny it. And take the blogger involved to civil court, if you can find the identity of the person.
Rounding up the bloggers and send them to jail? Thats draconian, thats sound like what the late Saddam Husein did not that long ago.
Maybe someone learn something from him.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

When the Angel of Death is coming...

Bila Malaikat Izrail datang...
kucing yang ni tahu.

Thursday July 26, 09:37 AM
Nursing home cat can sense death
CHICAGO (Reuters) - When Oscar the Cat visits residents of the Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Providence, Rhode Island, the staff jump into action -- Oscar can sense within hours when someone is about to die.

In his two years living in Steere's end-stage dementia unit, Oscar has been at the bedside of more than 25 residents shortly before they died, according to Dr. David Dosa of Brown University in Providence.

He wrote about Oscar in the New England Journal of Medicine.

"It's not that the cat is consistently there first," Dr. Joan Teno, a professor of community health at Brown University, who sees patients in the unit. "But the cat always does manage to make an appearance, and it always seems to be in the last two hours."

Raised at the nursing home since he was a kitten, Oscar often checks in on residents, but when he curls up for a visit, physicians and nursing home staff know it's time to call the family.

"I don't think this is a psychic cat," said Teno. "I think there's probably a biochemical explanation," she said in a telephone interview.

While pets are often used to bring comfort to the elderly in nursing home settings, Oscar's talent is special, though not unexpected.

"That is such a cat thing to do," said Thomas Graves, a feline expert and chief of small animal medicine at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine.

Graves said there is no evidence to suggest cats can sense death, but he doesn't discount it for a minute.

"Those things are hard to study. I think probably dogs and cats can sense things we can't," he said.

On a particular day detailed by Dr. Dosa, Oscar settled onto the bed of a patient in room 313.

His presence sent staff off to make calls and set up vigil.

When a grandson asked why the cat was there, his mother explained: "He is here to help Grandma get to heaven," according to Dosa's account.

She died a half an hour later.

(Additional reporting by Gene Emery in Boston)

OCR Higher, Kiwidollar expected to rise further

my bet is Kiwidollar would go higher.

Reserve Bank raises NZ official cash rate

Reserve Bank Governor Alan Bollard has raised official interest rates by quarter of a percentage point to 8.25 percent.

Announcing his decision today, Dr Bollard gave a strong hint that the latest of four successive hikes in the Official Cash Rate (OCR) could be the last, and he said it came at a time of "very good news" for the New Zealand economy.

The New Zealand dollar fell on the announcement to US80.08c from US80.25c.

A lift in the OCR today had been seen as increasingly likely after stronger than expected inflation figures earlier this month, which were followed by a strong rise in the value of the New Zealand dollar.

Today Dr Bollard acknowledged the "very high levels" of the NZ dollar were hurting exports, and he also warned the market that the kiwi currency would not be able to stay at its present giddy heights.

He said the rise in the kiwi was being driven by US dollar weakness and New Zealanders' heavy demand for borrowing.

"The high New Zealand dollar is not sustainable medium term and investors should understand this," Dr Bollard said.

"The higher OCR now gives strong incentives to New Zealanders to save.

"New Zealanders have been showing early signs of moderating their borrowing. Provided they keep this up, and the pressure on resources continues to ease, we think the four successive OCR increases we have delivered will be sufficient to contain inflation," he said.

The sharp lift in the kiwi, particularly the steep ascent in the past week or so which saw it top US81c, had led to pleas from exporters, some economists and other commentators for Dr Bollard to stay his hand today.

But Dr Bollard said the New Zealand economy was running strong.

"We are recording continued big increases in international commodity prices, especially dairy, reflecting solid world demand for our products," he said.

"This is very good news for New Zealand. Given this positive situation, some of the negative commentary circulating about the economy is unwarranted.

"However, the continued tight labour market, high capacity use, and rising oil and food prices all point to sustained inflationary pressures. That is why we are increasing the OCR today."

Reserve Bank raises cash rate again
By Fairfax Media and NZPA
- | Thursday, 26 July 2007
Email a Friend | Printable View | Have Your Say

THE HEAT IS ON: All eyes will be on whether the red hot New Zealand dollar will keep rising after the Reserve Bank raised the official cash rate again.

LATEST: The official cash rate has been raised to 8.25 per cent by the Reserve Bank, but there are signs it may be the last increase for some time.
Bollard needs wings clipped say banks

What do you think of this move by the Reserve Bank? Will it hurt your financial situation personally?Click here to send us your feedback

Announcing his decision today, Dr Bollard gave a strong hint that the latest of four successive hikes in the Official Cash Rate (OCR) could be the last, and he said it came at a time of "very good news" for the New Zealand economy.

The New Zealand dollar fell on the announcement to US80.08c from US80.25c.

A lift in the OCR today had been seen as increasingly likely after stronger than expected inflation figures earlier this month, which were followed by a strong rise in the value of the New Zealand dollar.

Today Dr Bollard acknowledged the "very high levels" of the NZ dollar were hurting exports, and he also warned the market that the kiwi currency would not be able to stay at its present giddy heights.

He said the rise in the kiwi was being driven by US dollar weakness and New Zealanders' heavy demand for borrowing.

"The high New Zealand dollar is not sustainable medium term and investors should understand this," Dr Bollard said.

"The higher OCR now gives strong incentives to New Zealanders to save.

"New Zealanders have been showing early signs of moderating their borrowing. Provided they keep this up, and the pressure on resources continues to ease, we think the four successive OCR increases we have delivered will be sufficient to contain inflation," he said.

The sharp lift in the kiwi, particularly the steep recent ascent which saw it top US81c, had led to pleas from exporters, some economists and other commentators for Dr Bollard to stay his hand today.

But Dr Bollard said the New Zealand economy was running strong.

"We are recording continued big increases in international commodity prices, especially dairy, reflecting solid world demand for our products," he said.

"This is very good news for New Zealand. Given this positive situation, some of the negative commentary circulating about the economy is unwarranted.

"However, the continued tight labour market, high capacity use, and rising oil and food prices all point to sustained inflationary pressures. That is why we are increasing the OCR today."

The .25 of a percentage point increase will hurt homeowners on floating interest rates or those whose fixed rates are coming up for renewal - about a quarter of current mortgages are due to be renegotiated during the next 12 months at fixed rates around 9 per cent.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

MInimum Wage Issue

One of my previous writing on this issue was in letter section of Malaysiakini. Everyone entitled to his/her opinion, so one Azhar wrote this.

Ideally, in a free labour market, free capital market and free good market, everyone would be JUSTLY compensated, whether he is an entrepreneur, public/private servant or self employed.
Ideally, all who earns a living would chip in for the care and expenses of those who are unable to work, ie the incapacitated, the old and the young. In one for or another.
In a civilized society like Malaysia, we elect a Government to act on our behalf to do thing that we cannot do ourselves to attain a civilized society. ie defense, policing, taking care or the weak in society and fair distribution of national income.
Why taking care of the weak in society and fair distribution of National Income important?
Because that is related to peace and rate of crime. If the rich hogging a large portion of resources (read: wealth) and the poor hungry, very soon the poor would just take (read: steal, rob) from the rich.
'What you dont want to give, we will take.'
We have seen many unrest and revolution in history. No one the winner, neither the rich, nor the poor.

Now back to the main title of Minimum Wage.
Ideally, I would 100% support the legislation of Minimum Wage Law. That is the first choice. Everyone should be paid at least the minimum wage, on prorata basis. I would go further to suggest that it is set on hourly rate basis. Just like in the Western Europe.
There is nothing wrong to follow good example.
When I say everyone, it means just that, whether local or foreign worker. I do not condone discrimination, and I loath to see rampant discrimination in my homeland Malaysia.

If Govt is incapable or unwilling to do that, (what kind of Govt is that?)I would suggest setting a standard minimum living income/wage, at least for our Malaysian citizen. If the employer doesnt pay as much as the minimum living wage, then the Govt shall top up the said worker's income.
Our collective income as a nation, (your wage, my salary, employers' profits etc totals National Income) shall be divided more or less equitably and fair to make everyone happy. If employers unwilling to pay decent wages (because they want to trade profitably) then it would be fair that Govt tax their profits to be distributed back to the workers. This is not 'daylight robbery' as Azhar claimed, but merely redistribution of resources (read: income/money) that the employer unwilling to do.
That is the function of a decent Govt.

I merely write about income top up, not the full Negative Income Tax. If we implement the full NIT, the bill would be horrendously high, and taxes would have to be much higher.

The easiest most common method would be to implement Minimum Wage Law. If we care so much about our nation competitiveness, we simply have to lower our exchange rate and improve our efficiency.
Minimum wage is about fair distribution of income, it has nothing to do with competitiveness.

Would 'pendatang tanpa izin' flood the country?
You see, they (pendatang tanpa izin) come to work, because there are plentiful jobs. Jobs that pay a pittance to Malaysians (eg RM10 a day for 12 hour day), that Malaysians dont want to do. (Who want to work for that much money? You are practically subsidizing the employer). If there is minimum wage of RM900 a month for 48 hour week (or RM4.20 per hour, millions of unemployed and underemployed Malaysians would be clamouring for available jobs, and the plentiful jobs would soon vanish. Employers would take steps to improve efficiency (because of higher wages).

The side effect is that workers have more disposable income to spend in the country which would improve the economy, which will create more jobs.

As in the West, Govt must make a rule that employers must search for local worker/talent first before employing foreign worker. The wages paid to either local or foreign worker must be the same, no discrimination.

Gee, I am tired, I want to go to sleep.

this article is from Malaysiakini.

Syed Shahir: Treat all workers as human beings
Su Hui Hsing | Jul 25, 07 11:32am

FIGHTING for a cause is definitely a long and arduous process laden with discouraging unknowns and grim prospects, the scariest of which is that all the hard work will be in vain. The odyssey of a trade or labour union is also, aptly put, laborious.

When Syed Shahir Syed Mohamud was elected president of the Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC) in 2004, what the future held was unclear, but one thing was certain - that his task was to receive the baton from his predecessor and continue pursuing the unfinished business of the past.

The role of a trade union may be multi-faceted, but fundamentally, Syed Shahir fights for the rights of workers, who are prone to exploitation in a capitalist economy.

For MTUC, an umbrealla organisation that represents hundreds of trade unions and many times more workers nationwide, its role could be of an even higher order but the principle is still the same.

While the motivation for pursuing the rights could be political, social or economic, the one motivation that guides Syed Shahir is just to be human and sympathetic towards the helpless and hopeless.

"Human beings deserve to be treated like human beings. They should get what they deserve."

To him, it is as simple as that - upholding the dignity of his fellow human beings.

‘Most times are difficult’

While his 2004 victory was an encouraging milestone in his fight for his fellow workers, the journey has not been easy. His victory was not an easy one either. It has taken him persistence and five challenges for the presidency to be where he is today.

It seems like Syed Shahir will never be content with what he has achieved.

Asked when was the most difficult time during his work in the union, Syed Shahir said, "Most of the times have been difficult. To me, it is most difficult when you want to fulfill the wishes of your members. Other people might accept me and what I have done for them, but I cannot easily accept myself."

"For example, the dispute of the leadership of the National Union of Bank Employees was unresolved for many years. So when I took over in 2004, I promised that I would try to resolve the issue within three months. I failed within that period. It eventually took six to seven months. The moment you make the promise, until you resolve it, it is something that will tug at your heart."

In fact, Syed Shahir is now faced with a similar challenge.

Share of country’s rewards

He has been in the limelight a lot lately for MTUC's demand to the government to pass a legislation for a minimum wage of RM900 and a cost-of-living allowance of RM300 for workers in the private sector.

MTUC made it to the headlines lately for holding a nationwide picket for the cause. However, minimum wage is not a new endeavour that the congress has just undertaken. In fact, it started pushing for the policy eight years ago.

Two months ago, watching their counterparts in the civil service getting a rather hefty pay raise and anticipating the inflation that could possibly result, Syed Shahir and MTUC took up the challenge to step up MTUC's movement for the implementation of a minimum wage.

If anything, MTUC just wanted their workers to be able to enjoy a share of the rewards of the country's economic growth, which they have contributed towards, and have a form of social security in an increasingly expensive country to live in.

While he has been a unionist for more than 30 years, Syed Shahir's first encounter with unionism was rather indirect.

"I had several friends in KL then. I was helping them write up some articles and doing translation from English to Malay. So I got to know some friends who were in the trade union in 1972. The workers of an engineering company went on a strike so we helped them with translating some materials. There was a lot of industrial action at that time," said Syed Shahir, who hailed from Pahang, on his most remote but earliest involvement with union activities.

Syed Shahir was then working as a teacher on attachment. He then left the civil service to contest in the 1974 general election at the age of 21.

Now 55, Syed Shahir officially took on union activities when he became a member of the National Union of Transport Equipment Allied Industry Workers. He has been an active member of MTUC for about 15 years now.

‘Politics not interfering in my work’

Besides being a unionist, Syed Shahir is also a member of PKR, having been with PRM before it merged with PKR.

Syed Shahir dismissed arguments of his involvement in politics conflicting with his trade union movement.

He said, "Being in politics will not interfere in my work for MTUC. On the contrary, some causes pursued by certain politicians are in line with what MTUC is doing. We cannot impose our will on others. I believe in the free choice of a person. If I want to become a member of a political party, it's my choice."

On why unionists tend to be aligned to opposition parties, Syed Shahir said while the government protected the interests of investors and capitalists, unionists had to take a different position to support the workers. When he decided to support his members and oppose policies that are detrimental to the well being of the workers. He also stressed that there were members of the ruling party who were also involved in union activities.

In spite of the fact that the government has repeatedly expressed its disapproval towards the proposal, Syed Shahir and MTUC will relentlessly pursue the cause. Only three years after he took over the helm, Syed Shahir now faces the test of the burden that he was bequeathed with and hopefully, to bring it to completion.

Now, the time it will take for the government to give the nod to MTUC's minimum wage proposal, or whether it will give the much-desired nod at all, is still questionable. It may take months or years. It may not even happen during Syed Shahir's term as president. Nevertheless, he believes in laying the foundation for future generations to enjoy the fruits of the struggle.

The MTUC president added, "The struggle of any organisation will continue. Leaders come and go but the organisation remains. Only the speed and the phase will change."
SU HUI HSING is an intern with Malaysiakini.

Runaway Kiwidollar

got to say.. I told you so!

and if Alan Bollard made the expected decision to increase interest rate, expect the Kiwi flying higher.
If I were Alan Bollard, I would drop interest rate down by at least 3%. Drastic drop, to spook foreign investors and speculators parking their money to get high interest rate.
Yes that will put inflation target on the back burner, and risk higher inflation in the short term, but really, the inflation is driven by residential property anyway. If overseas funds move out, and less overseas investor buying NZ property, that would dampen down the prices.

Focus on NZRB as runaway NZ dollar tops US81c

The runaway New Zealand dollar continued smashing records today breaking through the US81c hurdle.

In hectic action, the kiwi raced up to US81.1c in mid-afternoon, its highest level in over quarter of century. It closed on US80.87c, over a cent higher that yesterday's US79.88c close.

Finance Minister Michael Cullen said the kiwi's gain was mainly the result of US dollar weakness but the kiwi made hefty gains across the board.

It hit a 20-year high against the Japanese yen, rising from around 96.20 yesterday to a high of 97.78.

It gained the best part of a cent against the Australian dollar as well, ending on A91.45c against yesterday's A90.65c and the trade-weighted index closing level of 76.95 was its highest close since the currency's float in 1985.

All eyes are now on whether the Reserve Bank will hike interest rates again on Thursday and whether that will thrust the kiwi to new highs.

Analysts said it was a 50:50 call with some saying another rate rise would see the economy hit the wall, thus ensuring a currency fall.

The wholesale interest rate market, which yesterday had priced in 17 basis points of the forecast 25 basis point rise, backed away a few pips today as the currency rose, suggesting a rate rise was less probable.

Deutsche Bank NZ's head of global markets, Sean Brown said the kiwi rose for the same old reasons, the currency's high yield.

US model accounts were doing much of the buying.

He said raising rates with the currency about US80c would be a hard call for central bank governor Alan Bollard.

"There will be plenty of people at the RB probably telling him that if you want to get the currency lower, you have to soften the economy and the quickest way to do that is to keep raising rates."

Mr Brown said there were also convincing arguments the other way -- that rates had been raised three times this year and time was needed to allow those actions to take effect.

"I wouldn't be surprised either way, but I'd slightly lean towards a rate hike to try and rebalance things."

Anthony Byett of fxmatters said it was one way traffic today.

He said the pattern after rate review tended to be for the NZ dollar to back off a little, with a US2c fall typical.

The key to a currency fall was less inflationary pressure, which would come when there was less demand in the economy, meaning lower growth rates.

"When we see that happen, we will see the NZ dollar quite likely plummet," Mr Byett said.

Meanwhile, the US dollar fell to a two-month low against the yen and hovered near a record low against the euro as worries about US subprime mortgage woes hurting the credit market and the economy still weighed.

Traders said market sentiment remained bearish for the US dollar, and players were awaiting US economic data later in the week for clues on whether the problems in the housing sector were spreading to broader economic activity.

Sterling extended gains to a 26-year high of $US2.0647 supported by expectations the Bank of England will lift rates to 6.0 percent by the year-end from 5.75 percent now.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Arbibi Ashoy; The Rich and the Poor

This writing in Malaysiakini letter
Rights of rich outweigh rights of poor
Arbibi Ashoy
Jul 23, 07 5:43pm Adjust font size:

I refer to the letter Taxing rich to pay poor is daylight robbery.

It is important to clarify that the MTUC is seeking a minimum wage legislation of RM900. The MTUC is not asking for better social welfare or cash handouts from the government. It is asking that people who do a job, deserve to be duly paid for their effort.

Social welfare is not the same as minimum wage as welfare is meant for certain categories of people such as the handicapped, the physically and mentally ill, the unemployable, the homeless, single mothers, the elderly and children. Thus minimum wage does not affect productivity and does not encourage laziness as some have accused. In fact, minimum wage makes hard work become more attractive as the benefits of remaining in employment actually increases.

The writer argues that salary should commensurate with qualifications and experience. So who gets to decide who deserves what? If companies are entitled to protectionism in the form of tariffs on foreign goods and curbs on the entry of foreign firms into Malaysia, shouldn't the employees of these companies be entitled to protection as well? Since the government protects the employer, why are the employees not deserving of protection as well?

The function of minimum wage is to prevent exploitation of workers by their employers. I find it disappointing that the Malaysian government has neglected the poor by denying them a minimum wage but is always willing to help the rich in the form of ‘bailouts’ and awarding them APs (approved permits).

The argument against the minimum wage is that it will deny some the luxury of having maids. Note that I have used the word ‘luxury’ because in my opinion, having maids is a ‘luxury’ but earning a decent living is a ‘basic necessity’.

So, Malaysia is a country where the rights of the rich outweigh the rights of the poor. Shocking still is the small minority of Malaysians who are willing to thwart the attempts of the MTUC to eradicate poverty simply because they have become too accustomed to their comfort zone.

I also disagree that taxing the rich is daylight robbery. Any facilities provided by the government for the poor also benefits the rich. These would include free healthcare (including major operations), free or subsidised education, free self-improvement courses, unemployment assistance, rent-controlled flats and houses, free library membership, legal aid, day care centres, an affordable and efficient transport system, free gyms, sports and recreational centres, free meals and textbooks for schools as well as government sponsored tuition and counselling for academically weak and problem students.

Tax is not ‘robbery’ if the money is put to good use and not splurged on wasteful mega-projects or if the money does not find its way into the pockets of politicians and their cronies.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Living on Minimum Wage in America

this story from AP.

Minimum wage increase to boost up some of poorest US workersWASHINGTON (AP): Fast-food waitress Fawn Townsend of Raleigh, North Carolina, knows exactly what she is going to do if her salary goes up with Tuesday's increase in the federal minimum wage: start saving for a car so she can find a second job to make ends meet.

"My goal personally is to get a vehicle so I can independently go back and forth to work and maybe pick up extra work so I can have that extra income, because minimum wage is not cutting it,'' said Townsend, who is 24 and single.

"Being a single person, you can't pay all your bills with one minimum wage job.''

Many lawmakers, along with advocates for low-wage workers, are celebrating the first increase in the federal minimum wage in a decade. Yet many acknowledge that raising it from $5.15 (euro3.73) an hour to $5.85 (euro4.24) will provide only meager help for some of the lowest paid workers.

About 1.7 million people made $5.15 (euro3.73) or less in 2006, according to the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics.

"The reality for a minimum wage worker is that every penny makes a difference because low-wage workers make the choice between putting food on the table and paying for electricity or buying clothes for their children,'' said Beth Shulman, former vice president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union.

"Saying that, it's clear going up to $5.85 is not enough to really make sure that people really can afford the things that all families need,'' said Shulman, author of "The Betrayal of Work: How Low-Wage Jobs Fail 30 Million Americans.''

Minimum wage workers will get an additional 70-cent boost each summer for the next two years, ending in 2009 at $7.25 (euro5.25) an hour. That comes to just above $15,000 (euro10,867) yearly before taxes for a 52-week work year.

Now, someone in such a job and earning $5.85 (euro4.24) an hour would bring home $12,168 (euro8,815) a year before taxes. The federal poverty level for singles is $10,210 (euro7,397), couples is $13,690 (euro9,918) and $17,170 (euro12,439) for families of three.

"In the wealthiest country in the history of the world, it is an outrage that anyone who works full time would still wind up in poverty,'' said Democratic Rep. George Miller of California, chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee. "Everyone who puts in an honest day's work should receive a fair day's pay.''

Poverty and the minimum wage are becoming a major issue in the Democratic presidential race. Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards and Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois are emphasizing raising the minimum wage during their tours of impoverished areas.

Edwards, who said he wants to eliminate poverty within a generation, favors raising the minimum wage to $9.50 (euro6.88). Obama is advocating a "living wage'' that would go up as inflation rises and he has promised to eliminate the phrase "working poor.''

More than two dozen U.S. states and the District of Columbia already have minimum wages higher than the federal one. Even in those states, an increase in the federal minimum wage probably will have a ripple effect, increasing the salaries of Townsend and others.

North Carolina raised its minimum wage from $5.15 (euro3.73) to $6.15 (euro4.46) in January.

"It's a long overdue first step,'' said Cindia Cameron, the national organizing director of 9to5, the National Association of Working Women. Minimum wage workers typically are young, single and female and are often black or Hispanic.

Even then when the full increase is enacted, minimum wage workers will be just scraping by. "It's not enough money to meet your basic needs, I'm talking about your rent, your gas, and gas to get back and forth to work,'' said Sonya Murphy, head organizer of the Mississippi Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN.

But at the same time, employers who pay many of these low-wage workers say increasing the minimum wage only means they have to raise the prices of the products, cut back on employees' hours or let some workers go.

"When you go into the grocery story now, you may be checking your own groceries, you may be bagging your own groceries,'' said Jill Jenkins, chief economist for the Employment Policies Institute. "All of these things are because of mandated wage hikes. When you have to pay more, employers begin to find other options to keep costs down.''

According to the National Restaurant Association, the last minimum wage increase cost the restaurant industry more than 146,000 jobs and restaurant owners put off plans to hire an additional 106,000 employees.

At $7.25 (euro5.25) an hour, the most likely response from restaurants will be "increases in menu prices, elimination of some positions and reduction of staff hours to try and offset some of the increased labor costs,'' said Brendan Flanagan, the association's vice president of federal relations.

Others say the effect on the economy will be negligible.

A PNC Economic Outlook survey done in April showed three out of four small- and middle-market business owners said raising the minimum wage would have little or no impact on their businesses. "In a tighter labor market, they already raised wages to be competitive,'' said Stuart Hoffman, chief economist for PNC Financial Services Group.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

someone answer me in Malaysiakini

check Malaysiakini just now and see this.
Taxing rich to pay poor is daylight robbery
Jul 20, 07 5:15pm Adjust font size:

I refer to the letter Tax rich more, give money to lower-end workers.

I am taken aback by Noor Yahaya Hamzah’s opinion. I am no economist, but what is being suggested by Noor Yahaya kills an economical basic. I am not from the rich either. Imagine if the government increases individual tax and distributes the additional income to make up the ‘shortage’ in the lower income group.

If that is the case, I do not have to study or work hard enough because I need not worry about a ‘shortage’ in my income. I just need to earn RM450 and wait for another RM450 ‘bonus’ from the government every month. At a time when we are talking about and striving for a competitive edge, here is someone who believes that sitting back is a good thing.

We cannot blame or punish somebody for earning RM3,000, RM10,000 or even RM100,000 a month. You have to earn your income, not just wait for it to fall from the sky. At the end of the day, it is about your ability and productivity. The idea of letting somebody work hard and earn high enough a salary to cover those who earn less sounds like a daylight robbery.

MTUC has its own agenda in fighting for the minimal income ruling. Are we ready to pay RM900 per month for a maid? I agree that something needs to be done to narrow the income gap, but I do not see the setting of a minimal income wage across the board as an ideal solution.

There should be a thorough study of the whole situation – the low income group, the industries affected, geographical distribution and costs of basic needs. I would rather set minimal pay against qualifications and experience. This is better than every Tom, Dick and Harry enjoying minimum pay regardless of their academic background and working experience.

Friday, July 20, 2007

NZ $ ride still valid.

I posted an article about rising NZ$, when NZD vs USD was 0.70, and now 0.79.
Well, its still valid.
Fonterra is paying out huge sums, so there would still pressure on inflation, only greater!
This article from NZPA.
Extra $250,000 tipped for dairy farmers
Enlarge image

Fonterra's 11,600 farmers look likely to get a payout boost averaging $250,000 each this season, double the rise forecast by Fonterra seven weeks ago, says a bank economist.

Westpac economist Doug Steel said international dairy prices had risen by a further 15 percent since Fonterra announced a record forecast payout of $5.53 per kg of milksolids in May. That forecast was a lift of 27 percent on last season and was due to give farmers an extra $1.5 billion in a milk payout of nearly $7 billion.

The latest indications are that international commodity prices have soared to levels that will enable a payout of around $6.60/kg of milksolids.

The avearge farm is expected to produce about 108,000kg, with some of the big farms producing four times as much.

Mr Shepherd said the extra surge of money into regional economies would make the Reserve Bank's job of trying to control inflation harder.

The Reserve Bank will review interest rates next week, with financial markets expecting another rise in the official cash rate. It is currently 8 percent after three increases to date this year.

Earlier this week, Westpac markets economist Sharon McCaw said the dairy sector was producing "white gold" for the New Zealand economy.

She said dairy prices increased by 2 percent per week over the past six weeks and doubled in a year.

Farmers will probably have to wait untill September to see if Westpac Bank's prediction of further increases in the 2007-08 payout is accurate.

New Zealand's milkflows hit a record high last season, passing 1.31 billion kilograms of milksolids for the first time.

Brash encourages Bollard to fire rate gun
| Friday, 20 July 2007

Reserve Bank Governor Alan Bollard must move quickly to squash strong domestic inflation, his predecessor Don Brash says.
Cullen admits trying to talk down dollar

A majority of economists are expecting Dr Bollard to hike interest rates when he reviews the official cash rate next week.

The dollar has hit 22-year highs on the back of the strong inflationary data which is underpinning those assumptions.

The high exchange rate is hurting exporters and prompted a new round of hand-wringing among politicians about what can be done to correct the overvalued dollar.

Finance Minister Michael Cullen has floated the idea of using powers available to him under section 12 of the Reserve Bank Act to suspend monetary policy, which would prevent further rate rises.

But Dr Brash today said Dr Bollard neeeded to ignore the static and get domestic inflation under control as quickly as possible.

Dr Bollard's only weapon for doing that is raising the official cash rate.

Dr Brash said Dr Bollard needed to send a clear signal to New Zealanders and the market that he intended to get on top of domestic inflation.

"Until those inflationary pressures are dealt with the exchange rate is going to remain quite firm," he said on Radio New Zealand.

"The reality is, the quickest way of getting the exchange rate down for the benefit of the exporters who are hurting very badly is to get on top of domestic inflation."

Dr Brash said economists who argued further rate hikes were unnecessary due to headline inflation running at 2 percent were ignoring the domestic inflation component of that which was running at well over 4 per cent.

The overall figure was brought down by dropping import prices from the soaring dollar.

But if the dollar dropped, which was inevitable at some stage, inflation in that area would rise rapidly and dramatically.

"He has to get on top of it quickly and the faster he gets on top of it the faster we'll see the exchange rate come down."

While hiking the rates pushed up bank interest rates the risk of not raising rates now would be longer-term more damaging interest rate rises.

He said it was "mischievous" of Dr Cullen to talk of using his powers under section 12 of the Reserve Bank Act when he had renewed the existing monetary policy targets agreement with Dr Bollard just a few weeks ago.

That agreement requires Dr Bollard to keep inflation within a 1 per cent to 3 per cent band in the medium term.

Dr Brash said Dr Cullen had to take a share of the blame for the strong domestic inflation as a result of strong growth in Government spending at a time when wages were already rising due to skill shortages and there was a booming housing market.

"That itself is fuelling domestic inflation."

He said the idea floated by some economists that cutting interest rates would lower the dollar by introducing an element of unpredictability to spook currency investors was "nuts".

"Cutting interest rates right now would undoubtedly stimulate domestic borrowing, stimulate domestic inflation and that's the last thing we need.

"If Dr Bollard was to cut rates and the perception was he had done it because of political influence, we may well get a drop in the exchange rate, but interest rates would go through the roof."

Dr Brash said the economy was not in crisis although it could feel that way for some exporters.


Thursday, July 19, 2007

Nathaniel Tan: Among the Stars of Blogoshere.

Since the day of his arrest, remanded in lockup, and much later his release, Nathaniel Tan is way up there among the stars of Malaysia blogosphere. Especially on Malaysiakini.
This guy is now more popular and well known than the PM! Well to some people.

Lets test our Nat vs PM knowledge;
Q. Who knows what PM did in the past 4 days?
Me. Blank.

Q. Who knows what Nat did in the past 4 days?
Me. He was taken to lockup, maybe grilled day and night etc.

See, he is more well known in popularity contest even with PM.

Disclaimer: This survey is obviously biased.

Read what he said about the cops here.

See some papers are hanging out for his every word. Nat now has more power 'pengaruh' than the PM!

Way to go Nat!

Psst! Does the cop want to arrest me? Come on, I could do with that kind of popularity.

In my opinion, I dont know why the cops arrest him in the first place. If his writing was slander, fitnah or whatever, since when that 'crime' is punishable under Crimes Act? Libel maybe, but taking Nat to court for libel would open a can of worms.

To my Muslim friend:
Let me remind myself and all Muslims, that to slander, 'fitnah' is is like eating the flesh of our fellow human being, our fellow Muslim. The Prophet SAW did said that.

Tax rich more, give money to lower-end workers

my writing on Malaysiakini today.

I think I wrote this last week.

Tax rich more, give money to lower-end workers
Noor Yahaya Hamzah

Jul 19, 07 6:00pm Adjust font size:
With regards to setting a minimum wage, I think it is imperative that we Malaysians write to our government expressing our concern about this issue.

If the government wants to keep our country competitive, we could keep our exchange rate low, invest more in education and infrastructure, reduce red tape, keep inflation low and free the capital market.

Leaving the labour market completely free and unshackled without minimum wage regulations and subject to unbridled competition from an influx of illegal immigrants will only widen the gap between the have and the have-nots. And leave the weak vulnerable to exploitation.

So what is the MTUC is going to do? Organising nationwide stoppages and pickets maybe okay for the short-term, but the workers are unprotected. Soon they will get the boot from their jobs and will be replaced by foreign workers. The ones who will profit from this would only be the recruitment agents and the ministry officials who approve the work permits for foreign workers. It’s a ‘lose-lose situation’ for lowly-paid Malaysian workers.

I would suggest to the MTUC to ask the government to top up the income of Malaysian workers. Sort of a negative income tax. Let’s say that we want our Malaysian workers to have at least a minimum income if RM900 per month.

If the factory he/she is working in is only paying him RM400 per month for a 40-hour week, the Ggovernment should pay our Malaysian worker the balance of RM500 for that month straight into his account.

Yes, it will bloat government expenditure by a huge amount and the government may have to increase income tax for those in the top brackets.

But the benefit of this is that unemployment will be very low - almost zero - because everyone would rather be working and getting some money rather than being unemployed and getting nothing.

No more graduate unemployment because they (the graduates) will be working doing anything, even menial jobs.

This can also be construed as indirect subsidy to employers. Western countries have this scheme for those working but with low incomes.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Kiwisaver EPF CPF 401K or whatever.

Last night we filled up Kiwisaver application form for the children. We would direct debit our account $10 a month to contribute to their retirement account. That is probably the maximum we could set aside for the children before they start working and continue their own contribution themselves.
I have been searching for a Kiwisaver scheme that has no minimum (well maybe $1) contribution for the past few week. Some companies like Fisher Funds has minimum acceptable of $100 per month, while Gareth Morgan $50 per month. ASB has minimum $12.50 per week. So what I did was check these companies websites and email them asking what is their minimum contribution. Tower reps replied saying no minimum contribution.
Thats it, send me 7 application forms. No I would not put mine in Tower, because the returns is average, but for the kids' its okay because I can only contribute minimum amount for them anyway.
I join Fisher Funds, because theirs are the top rating fund management company as rated by MorningStar. Last year their Australia Funds returns 29.8%. Thats phenomenal.
Well I must print out their disclaimer; "Past returns is not an indication of future performance."

At first, i have thought of contributing 8%, but when I think about it, I cannot afford that much. Because I have to contribute for the children's account as well.

Why did I open Kiwisaver account for the children?
Well, to give them a head start.
Govt would give $1000 kickstart for every Kiwisaver account. That means the kids would be $1000 richer soon as their account opened.
Then after 5 years, if the Kiwisaver account holder want to buy their first home, Govt will give $5000 towards the deposit. So lets say when the kids are 21, and they want to buy their first home (by that time they would have a few thousands in their Kiwisaver account) they can withdraw their contribution, and the Govt give $5000 for house deposit. Thats a good deal!
That is also the primary reason I join the scheme.
If you are over 18, Govt will match your contribution up to $20 per week.
Damn the kids not qualified for that!
The beauty of it, the scheme is portable, so if you move to another country, you take transfer to another retirement scheme provider.

Here is the link to NZ Govt Kiwisaver website.

Reading the latest report, it seems the joining rate amongst Kiwis is about 35%. To me its no brainer way to get a bit richer.
When someone give you, "Here is $1000."
Would you say, "Well maybe I will take it next year." ?
A lot of people do just that.

The missing link here is 'active door to door' promotion of the scheme. None of the scheme provider send their sales people to factories and companies handing out forms. Employer dont get as much information and help either.
I think Govt dont have enough money to pay for their $1000 kickstart and $20 match up promises. So you would understand that Govt dont want the Kiwisaver take up rate too high.
Dont discount people's apathy, Kiwis would find any excuses under the sun.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

You gotta buy this book/novel

Readers, read this book please.

Saripah Bakar is my sister in law, ie my brother's wife. I havent read this book. Its basically the story about their first born.
The link to my bother's blogpage is here.

"Pada semua yang berlaku dalam kehidupan kita, ada hikmat dan ujian dari Tuhan. Mungkin Tuhan mahu menguji iman dan kesabaran kita. Mungkin itulah jalan yang disediakan Tuhan untuk kita menuju ke syurga, tempat yang kita semua tujui dalam kehidupan di dunia ini."
Yes if we want to start the blame game, there are plenty of people would qualify for the guilty part in misconduct and miscarriage of duty. I live in Malaysia back when my brother had his first child. My older brother related that the doctors at Hospital Tanjong Karang at that time didnt do thing that they should do. Mt sister in law was in labour for an extended time and should have been thru caesarean to save the baby. But the doctor waited until too late. Because the birth passage was not big enough (which is common for first pregnancy and small size hip) the baby got stuck, deprived of oxygen which resulted in brain damage.
So I asked,"That is medical misconduct, the hospital/doctor should be hauled up to medical enquiry."
'You know what happen in this country, the doctors would be protecting each other and deny responsibility. In the end, as usual justice wont be done and you are wasting your time. Especially in Govt hospital, even private hospital like that too, except that chances are less because they have better system.'
Or words to that effect. I dont remember exactly, it has been about 13 years.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Why some Malaysian emigrate?

I read a couple of letters in Malaysiakini, I bade my son farewell today and Brain drain: Gov’t may not give a damn
concerning Malaysian leaving the country for better lives and greener pastures.
Let me tell my side.

When I applied for residence in this place at the end of the world, I had no intention to stay that long, just a couple of years at most, for the benefit of free education for the children. I had the intention of going back to Malaysia to work and live once I finished that piece of paper called qualification. But now opportunities is not that rosy I heard, and cost of living is rather steep. Everyone is working themselves to the ground just to live. I would need some cushion and capital to start afresh in business. So now I am working and trying my best to save money.
I do understand why people emigrate. Things are difficult to start with, then silly bureaucratic rules and barriers make it worse. I guess most of those who gave up Malaysian citizenship are people with foreign spouse.
Malaysian bureaucratic rules makes it difficult for foreigners to apply for residence in the country. PR status takes years to be approved, and applying for PR is a run around job.
Let me tell you a short story:
Back in 93, foreign spouse of Malaysian can apply for annual social pass at a bond cost of about airplane ticket to fly home (depending on the country), which is not cheap at RM1500 then. I was told by the Immigration officer then that after a few years then we can apply for PR.
After a few years? To gauge your commitment to the country I suppose.
This money is practically not refundable. You cant apply to get your bond money back.
We couldnt afford it, not on the wage that we live on. So we took the cheaper choice, just come back every 2 month to the office to renew the visa. In the intervening years, we sometimes think that maybe getting the yearly pass wouldnt be a bad idea. So we try to fill the application form and furnish the necessary documents, like marriage certificate.
For a Muslim, without marriage certificate from Jabatan Agama, we cant apply for yearly social visit pass. Our marriage certificate from overseas is as good as useless, 'tidak diiktiraf'.
But true to Malaysian merry go round, Jabatan Agama is as good as useless in doing work of stamping forms and signing things. After months of 'belum siap' and 'belum sain', we simply give up and move on.
A friend did another method, he got married in Malaysia. Oh it was so difficult and traumatising for them. First, the foreign would be spouse will have to declare that she is of age and free will in Shariah court, in Bahasa Malaysia no less. For that, if she doesnt speak Malay, you would have to hire an interpreter, even though the judge is fluent in English.
Once the Sharie judge has certify that, only then you can get married.

Things is worse if the foreign spouse is male, ie Malaysian woman marrying foreigner husband. There isnt much of a chance for the husband to get PR in Malaysia, so hubby usually renew social visit pass every 2 months or go out to Singapore or Thailand to automatically get a visa. Its there in the rule of immigration dept.

After 7 years of commuting to Pusat Bandar Damansara and later Jalan Dang Wangi, with the ocassional visit to Singapore, we simply gave up. So we enquire about getting New Zealand residency for me at NZ High Commission at Orchard Rd, filled up the forms and furnish them with the necessary documents then waited 2 months while they check with Malaysian police for security clearance. It was easy.
If you take into account of diffulty of earning a living in Malaysia, with low pay and long hours, expensive food, housing and transport, the degree of difficulty and unhappiness just magnify many folds.
I do not know why Malaysian Immigration continue to hold on to antiquated policies of 'fortress Malaysia' from the 70's, and heighten the barriers even higher in the recent years. Why are we afraid of being swamped by foreigners if they assimilate to local culture and marry locals? Isnt Malaysia about melting pot of culture 'Malaysia Truly Asia' in the first place?
Dont get me wrong, I am still a Malaysian, even though I have been residing at the edge of the world for these past few years.
I have tried my damnedest, but in the end I just got tired of trying my best.

A friend posted this article, I dont know where he got it from.

Di Luar Lingkaran: 79,199 Melayu lepaskan kerakyatan

DATUK Y seorang ahli perniagaan yang agak berjaya. Beliau kini berusia 54 tahun. Beliau membuat keputusan untuk menjual perniagaannya dan berhijrah ke United Kingdom (UK) dua tahun lalu. Beliau membuat keputusan itu kerana dua orang anaknya kini sudah bekerja, seorang di Sydney, Australia dan seorang lagi di Hong Kong. Dua yang lain masih menuntut, seorang di sebuah public school terkenal di London dan seorang di salah sebuah universiti di Wales.

DATIN M bercerai dengan suaminya lima tahun yang lalu apabila Datuk S mengahwini seorang gadis jelita. Datin M membuat keputusan untuk meninggalkan Malaysia bersama-sama tiga anaknya ke Melbourne, Australia. Beliau boleh hidup agak selesa kerana pembahagian harta sepencarian yang agak lumayan ekoran penceraian itu. Seorang anaknya sudah bekerja, dua yang lain masih menuntut di universiti, di Brisbane dan Melbourne.

LJ memilih untuk berhijrah ke Auckland, New Zealand enam tahun yang lalu. Dia seorang akauntan yang mendapat pendidikan di Auckland. Pada mulanya dia hanya mahu bekerja di Auckland selepas menamatkan pengajiannya, untuk mencari pengalaman. Selama tiga tahun beliau bekerja di Auckland kemudiannya pulang ke Malaysia. “Saya hilang punca di KL,” katanya. Dia kembali ke Auckland tiga tahun kemudian. Setelah mengahwini seorang wanita berkulit putih dia merasakan tidak ada keperluan lagi untuk pulang ke Malaysia. Dia kini menjadi warganegara New Zealand.

Tiga orang manusia di atas adalah sebahagian daripada 79,199 orang Melayu yang melepaskan kewarganegaraan Malaysia dari tahun 1996 hingga April tahun ini. Itulah angka memeranjatkan yang diberikan oleh Timbalan Menteri Dalam Negeri, Datuk Tan Chai Ho baru-baru ini. Orang Melayu melepaskan kewarganegaraan mereka? Satu ketika dahulu, hal ini pelik dan pasti menggemparkan.

Apa yang lebih memeranjatkan ialah berdasarkan statistik itu, orang Melayu adalah kaum paling ramai yang melepaskan kewarganegaraan mereka. Hanya 25,107 orang Cina dan 1,347 orang daripada kaum India yang berbuat demikian pada waktu yang sama. Orang Melayu adalah 70 peratus bilangan mereka yang berhijrah. Destinasi paling popular ialah Amerika Syarikat (AS) Australia dan New Zealand bagi orang Melayu.

Bagi Datuk Y, keputusan itu tidak mudah. “Saya sayangkan Malaysia, dan terhutang budi, keluarga dan saudara mara saya semuanya di Malaysia.” Kenapa berhijrah? Beliau memberikan alasan pendidikan untuk anak-anak dan peluang pekerjaan mereka sebagai alasannya. “Saya bekerja selama ini untuk mereka, saya mahukan yang terbaik untuk mereka."

Alasan Datin M untuk berhijrah mungkin lebih mudah diterima. Beliau memberitahu saya alasan utamanya kerana “membawa hati yang luka.” Katanya, “Saya mahu pergi jauh dari apapun yang mengingatkan saya pada masa lalu.” Mengapa tidak tinggal sebagai warganegara Malaysia tetapi bermaustatin di Australia? “Saya mengikut suara hati anak,” katanya. “Mereka fikirkan masa depan.”

Bagi LJ, terlalu banyak yang tidak kena mengenai Malaysia. Namun demikian, beliau menyedari potensi yang ada pada negara asalnya. Tapi beliau merasakan bakat dan kemampuannya tidak dihargai. Terlalu banyak yang menyebabkan dia kecewa - dari isu pilih kasih, etika profesionalisme, amalan perniagaan hinggalah situasi politik. Beliau hanya mahu “pergi jauh dan mencuba nasib di tempat orang.”

Ada sesuatu yang disebutkan oleh Datuk Y yang membuatkan saya berfikir panjang. “Di manapun saya berada, saya tetap orang Melayu dan Islam. Saya tidak kurang Melayu kerana saya tidak berada di dalam kelompok orang Melayu,” katanya.

Keselesaan hidup, soal pendidikan, masalah rumah tangga, perkahwinan, tarikan profesionalisme dan peluang masa depan adalah di antara sebab utama orang Melayu berhijrah ke tempat lain. Fenomena ini berlaku hanya dalam waktu beberapa dekad yang lalu. Sebahagiannya kerana kejayaan Dasar Ekonomi Baru (DEB) yang melahirkan golongan ahli perniagaan Melayu yang berjaya. Juga yang telah memungkinkan berlaku mobiliti sosial di kalangan orang Melayu. Paling penting ialah dasar pendidikan kebangsaan telah memberikan peluang pada anak-anak Melayu menjadi profesional dalam pelbagai bidang selain menambah dengan banyaknya golongan ini di dalam masyarakat Melayu. DEB juga memberikan keyakinan baru pada orang Melayu yang selama ini hidup dalam kokon keselesaan mereka.

Apa yang berlaku ialah orang Melayu mulai berani mencuba nasib di tempat lain. Mereka bukan saja berniaga dan bekerja tetapi sebahagian daripada mereka berani melepaskan kewarganegaraan Malaysia untuk tinggal terus di negara asing. Mereka boleh memberikan pelbagai alasan mengapa mereka berbuat demikian. Apa yang lebih penting ialah orang Melayu sudah menjadi sebahagian daripada arus migrasi global yang berlaku di dunia tanpa sempadan hari ini.

Pertubuhan Bangsa-Bangsa Bersatu (PBB) menganggarkan 190 juta penghijrah antarabangsa pada 2005 saja, atau tiga peratus penduduk dunia. Namun demikian 97 peratus penduduk dunia masih tinggal di tanah tempat mereka dilahirkan. Definisi “migrant” yang diguna pakai ialah mereka yang berpindah ke negara lain untuk jangka masa kekal atau panjang, bukan sebagai pelancong atau pengunjung atau pekerja (expatriates) . Sasaran penghijrah ini ialah negara maju di Eropah, AS serta Australia dan New Zealand.

Tidak seperti penghijrah dari negara miskin dan mundur yang mencari nafkah untuk memperbaiki kedudukan ekonomi mereka, orang Melayu yang berhijrah rata-rata merupakan golongan yang berjaya. Mereka terdiri daripada golongan berada atau profesional. Orang Melayu yang miskin tidak akan menggugurkan kerakyatan mereka semata-mata untuk bekerja di luar negara.

Soal ini patut kita fikirkan dengan serius. Kita bukan saja kehilangan orang Melayu yang berada tetapi juga kalangan profesional yang begitu sukar kita lahirkan. Apa yang lebih merunsingkan ialah berlaku ‘brain drain’ di kalangan orang Melayu pada masa ini. Memang kita mengakui banyak kalangan profesional dari kaum lain yang bekerja di luar dan yang menjadi warganegara di tempat baru. Tetapi mengapa hal ini berlaku pada orang Melayu? Apa yang rahsia sebenar di sebaliknya?

Saya percaya bukan isu gaji atau peluang saja yang menyebabkan perpindahan orang Melayu. Pastilah ada faktor lain yang menyebabkan mereka berbuat demikian. Selama ini kita bersusah payah melahirkan kelompok profesional sejak DEB bermula lagi. Tetapi malangnya apabila mereka berjaya, mereka berhijrah ke tempat lain.

Saya tidak begitu cemas jikalau Datuk Y atau Datin M membuat keputusan demikian. Mereka orang mampu dan mahu menikmati hidup selesa di penghujung hayat mereka. Tetapi LJ ialah sebahagian daripada masa depan kita. Kita memerlukan LJ untuk bangsa dan negara. Kita mengharapkan generasi baru ini menjadi penjana pada kemajuan masa depan. Kita mahukan mereka menjadi penggerak pada pertumbuhan pelbagai sektor ekonomi. Pendeknya kita memerlukan mereka untuk mempercepat proses menjadikan Malaysia sebuah negara maju.

Saya ingin mencadangkan satu kajian menyeluruh dilakukan untuk melihat fenomena merunsingkan ini. Bagi saya 79,199 orang bukan angka yang kecil. Kita tidak tahu berapa ramai lagi yang memilih untuk berbuat demikian pada masa akan datang. Memang penghijrahan berlaku pada semua kaum. Tetapi apakah orang Melayu sudah bersedia dengan jumlah yang sebesar itu meninggalkan negara ini pada masa akan datang?

Mengapakah kita harus kehilangan orang Melayu yang berada dan berjaya? Pada waktu yang sama apakah kita berpuas hati dengan masuknya 1.5 juta pekerja asing yang tidak punya kemahiran apalagi pendidikan sebagai ganti mereka?

Bagi saya, isunya bukan soal kesetiaan. Seperti kata Datuk Y, dia tidak kurang Melayunya kerana berhijrah ke UK. Tetapi apa yang kita rugikan ialah hilangnya lebih ramai orang Melayu yang sepatutnya memberikan sumbangan untuk memajukan bangsa mereka di negara yang pernah menatang mereka bagaikan menatang minyak yang penuh.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Syed Husin Ali on minimum wage

Dont let the issue buried under apathy and 'what can we do' attitude. Keep it up, for the welfare of millions of Malaysians are at stake.
Malaysiakini and sometimes Malaysia-today have articles and reports on this, but other paper...

13/07: Government rejection of minimum wage
[print] Category: General Posted by: Raja Petra
It is most disappointing that the Government (through the announcement of a Deputy Minister) has summarily rejected the suggestion by MTUC for minimum wage to be introduced in the private sector. But we should not be totally surprised, knowing the government policy and whose interests it normally protects.

Actually, MTUC has consistently requested for minimum wage to be introduced across the board, but the government rejection seems to be confined only to the private sector. Although the government has raised salaries and allowances for government employees, it has not committed itself to the idea of minimum wage for the pubic sector workers.

Be that as it may, the rejection announced by the deputy minister shows that the government really does not have the plight of the low income workers close to its heart. Surely the government knows that workers who would be affected by a minimum wage bill would be Malay.

About a third of the Malays employed are at the bottom of the occupational hierarchy. If the government is really serious about closing the inter-ethnic income gap, an effective way to do so would be to see that those at the bottom get better income – not screaming and shouting about shares in companies and ownership of commercial buildings.

One wonders why the government is so concerned about the views of big business, especially foreign investors, on the minimum wage issue and not, for example, on mandated shares in companies when it comes to it. Why is the government so solicitous over the privileges of the few, but not on the plight of the millions? In addition, what evidence is there that foreign investors come here because of wages? If low wages were a major concern, how come foreign investors are not rushing to Indonesia in droves?

The government must reveal to the public how many workers make less that RM900 per month, and how many make less than RM750 a month (the approximate poverty line income for a household). In other words, we need to know how many workers would actually be affected by minimum wage. Government policy and decision must be based on hard evidence.

The government argues that small enterprises cannot afford the minimum wage requested by MTUC (RM900 basic and RM300 cola). Three questions arise from this argument, namely: (a) does the government know how many there are and what proportion of the total employed are in them, (b) whether such low productivity and low wage enterprises contribute significantly to the country’s development and if it is more beneficial in the long run to allow them to continue, and (c) if it is necessary, what kind of mechanisms can be adopted to help them survive.

Actually, the argument that small enterprises will be adversely affected by minimum wage provides excuse and cover for the government to protect the interests of big and giant companies, both local and foreign-owned. What is stopping the government from ensuring that these companies accept minimum wage? It is public knowledge that these companies instead prefer migrant workers who can be paid lower than local workers.

Regarding foreign workers, the Deputy Minister has inadvertently let the cat out of the bag. The government has always claimed that foreign workers are only employed here on the same conditions as local workers, and that foreign workers are not being used to keep the wage rate down.

Now, the minister objects to a minimum wage rate as it would mean that foreign workers would have to be paid the same as locals. So, the government has all along been lying, and their lies have meant that the labour market in his country has been distorted by import of foreign workers to deliberately keep down the wage rate.

Over the past 25 years, the share of wages in value-added in the manufacturing sector has dropped from around 30% to around 20%. This means that workers have not gotten their share of the increase in productivity as measured by value-added per worker. This is one reason for the increase in inequality in the country. Do we wish this inequality to increase and threaten political stability and national unity?

The government as well many who share its view warn that minimum wage will jeopardise the country’s economy. This is unlikely to happen if it is combined with policies that encourage a shift to higher productivity sectors. This is what the government all this time has failed to consider and implement.

Dr Syed Husin Ali
Deputy President
People’s Justice Party

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Serangan cyber-trooper

Reading Raja Petra column in No Hold Barred about cyber-trooper attack reminds me of what comment been posted in my blog lately.
The language is certainly colourful, and they did a bit of homework, trawling the info that can be gleaned from the website and google.

The language is certainly rubbish, and you can be sure that this is written by Mat Rempit type, maybe young in the 20's.

Just dont take them seriously if they start posting this type of comment on your website.

Here is one:
Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Datuk Seri Najib Tun Abdul Razak in picture.":

pukimak lah kamu...kamu sondol mat salleh makan babi bleh? orang lain sondol lu kecoh..ceebai punya binatang...pi balaik malaysia lah..sembah allah konon...bini mat salleh pempuan kami tak pakai burkah apa cerita, anak anak lue pun mat salleh jugak..bukan arab pun..melayu konon..duduk new zeland banyak telur..balik malaysia jadi tikus..pukimak hang!!
sondol lah bini mat salleh kamu dan makan minyak babi bila kamu makan minyak babi dari cipap dia.

then this:
Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "my writing in Malaysiakini letter.":

AN eighth suspect connected to a plot to blow up car bombs in London and Scotland has reportedly been arrested in Brisbane.

British police have confirmed an eighth man has been detained but would not say where the man was arrested.

But the Seven Network this morning reported the man was arrested in Brisbane.

Queensland Police Minister Judy Spence and Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson were being briefed on the arrest, Seven has reported.

British police said in a statement the man was arrested at an undisclosed location in connection with the investigation into the incidents in London and Glasgow. You could be the nineth one for what i know. Fuck off muslims!!
You just breed more terrorist!!

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "my writing in Malaysiakini letter.":

MUSLIMS OUT!! you are not relevent to our proud society. take your traitor wife with you too. camel fucking kids too.
im running for mayor and ill make sure you muslims are not a treat to us and we will make sure your mousque goes down!!
kyle chapman.
027 257 9269

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "my writing in Malaysiakini letter.":

oi..ya allah ya tuhan ku *alhamdulillah* lah konek ku sambil dewa hindu diduk melancap kat tokong cina bukit sambil *alhamdulillah* isa mengigit tetek dewa cina dan mengulum tuhan yahudi!! muhamad homo-seksual...macam anuar ibrahim, sebab itu lah keling sembah dewa dewa kat thaipusam, sambil penganut kristian memukimakkan yahudi.. ya allah *alhamdulillah* isa, kolomkan lah batang batang anak anak muzik underground yang suka musik bawah tanah di malaysia dan hidupkan lah mat mat rap with *alhamdulillah* dan skin head punk yang sembah konek keling dan beli arak yang di jual oleh apek dan bengali yahudi. oi oi oi!! ya satan hidupkan lah undergroung malaysia, dan banyakkan lah bohsia seumpama baby rina dan kavita kour, dadahkan lah malaysia. SATAN I LOVE ! sembahyang lah kamu sebelum kau di sembayangkan!!sembah *alhamdulillah* di underground!! fuck you and your traitor white whore, fucking muslim cunt! you got pork oil all over your cock because you do your wife up her ass. fuck of to your country and do your muslim thing out of here. MUSLIMS OUT!!

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Ramah Mesra Makan Show Melayu":

oi..ya allah ya tuhan ku isap lah konek ku sambil dewa hindu diduk melancap kat tokong cina bukit sambil nabi isa mengigit tetek dewa cina dan mengulum tuhan yahudi!! muhamad homo-seksual...macam anuar ibrahim, sebab itu lah keling sembah dewa dewa kat thaipusam, sambil penganut kristian memukimakkan yahudi..
ya allah nabi isa, kolomkan lah batang batang anak anak muzik underground yang suka musik bawah tanah di malaysia dan hidupkan lah mat mat rap with bitches dan skin head punk yang sembah konek keling dan beli arak yang di jual oleh apek dan bengali yahudi.
oi oi oi!! ya satan hidupkan lah undergroung malaysia, dan banyakkan lah bohsia seumpama baby rina dan kavita kour, dadahkan lah malaysia.
SATAN I LOVE ! sembahyang lah kamu sebelum kau di sembayangkan!!sembah setan di underground!!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The definition of asset bubbles

this article from Raja Petra's Malaysia-today.

the definition of asset bubble:
Too much money in the system (M3). Interest rate is relatively low, credit is easy, for the purpose of continuing economic growth. Unemployment is low, hence economic confidence is high.
People have jobs and had savings in the bank for the past few years, enough for a property purchase deposit.
So everyone start thinking of buying properties for housing and investment.
What else is safer than house?
Its still roof over your head and your stake of claim on earth.
Problem is when supply of new housing doesnt keep up with demand. Then price starts to rise. The momentum will feed on itself. Year after year of value increase would become life on itself. Until suddenly, demand disappears.
Then we call it 'the bubble has burst'.
But as long as population growth is there, increase income is sustainable, there is always a need for new housing, then commercial properties.
12/07: Ex-RBA man warns of second Asian financial crisis
[print] Category: General
Posted by: Raja Petra
The Sydney Morning Herald

AN ASSET bubble in Asia could cause another financial crisis like the one a decade ago, a former deputy governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia said yesterday.

Stephen Grenville, a member of the central bank's board during the 1997 Asian financial crisis, said Asia's financial sector was still fragile and he predicted Asian nations would be reluctant to seek help from the International Monetary Fund if another crisis emerged.

Dr Grenville said a shortage of foreign currency reserves in Asian economies was still a problem. "There's the possibility when exchange rates come under par, they [investors] will change their behaviour in a way that's most inconvenient," he told the Lowy Institute think tank in Sydney.

Volatile capital flows, fragile financial markets and "less anchored" exchange rates added to the risk of another Asian financial meltdown, he warned.

"They [the Asian economies] are going to have current account deficits if they get capital flowing again," he said.

"They'll have to have higher exchange rates. When you have more investment, you have the possibility of an asset bubble."

However, Dr Grenville said another financial crisis in the near-term was unlikely. "There seems to be no chance of another crisis like that any time soon," he said.

In July 1997, the "tiger" economies of Indonesia, South Korea and Thailand were plunged into economic turmoil after capital investments were abruptly withdrawn as investors lost faith in corporate governance.

Malaysia, the Philippines, Hong Kong and Laos were also affected.

The battered Asian economies had previously kept interest rates high to attract foreign investors seeking high returns.

Dr Grenville said the International Monetary Fund had not made much progress with its governance in the decade since the Asian financial crisis and Asian economies would probably delay asking for help if another emergency arose.

"You do need an international lender of last resort but the countries have said 'never again'," he said, before advocating the creation of a regional Asian monetary fund.

After the 1997 financial crisis, Asian economies turned current account deficits into current account surpluses. As foreign debt levels fell, so did economic growth rates.

To grow again, Dr Grenville said Asian economies would have to run current account deficits as a price for attracting foreign investment.

He said the Indonesian and Thai economies should be growing much faster than they were. "If China can grow by more than 10 per cent, then the countries of South-East Asia should be growing by more than 5 per cent," Dr Grenville said.

He said Indonesia's gross domestic product would be a third higher than what it is now if the 1997 crisis had not curbed its previously higher economic growth rate of about 7 per cent.

Govt cannot meet minimum wage demand.

Here is the latest report on the minimum wage issue in Malaysiakini.

So thats it, no repite for low income workers. Your contribution to the nation worth nothing. You are just like 'slaves' in the old days when slavery is legal and rampant.
Profit and survival of your 'master', the factory or business owners is more paramount.

I wonder what if all workers leave your jobs, would your employer businesses thrive?

In my previous article about this, I wrote about Negative Income Tax.
If Govt does not want workers get minimum wage, and the minimum liveable wage is at RM900, Then Govt should distribute money from Treasury to those workers who earn below minimum wage, to make up for the shortfall.

Let say that a worker get RM500 a month, which is RM400 below livable wage of RM900. Then Govt should give that worker RM400 to make up for the shortfall. And for those worker who earn more than RM900, Govt dont pay anything, because he earns enough for a living. This would be a fair distribution of national income, and works the same way as legislating minimum wage law. The only difference is where the money come from.
By legislating minimum wage law, the income distribution starts from the workplace itself, companies make less profit, hence pay less taxes, less income for the Govt.
Whereas, if we use the Negative Income Tax method, companies pay less on wages, giving them more profit, paid more taxes to the Govt, hence more income to Govt, which would be distributed back to those who need most - low income workers.

Now, let me present another method.
Do nothing.
Let the difference between rich and poor widens. Let the poor eat grass for a while, that will toughen them up. As the say, when the going get tough... the tough get going. What they (the poor) cannot get, they will take.
Crime would be rampant. Robberies, corruption.
Yes its another form of income distribution, and some countries have been through this....Colombia, and many other in Latin America, cant remember the names, my Geography is a bit rusty. I donot know if I can lump Indonesia and Phillippines into this category, but kidnappings and corruption are well known fact in those countries.

Think about it.


this article was forwarded from Susan Loone blog.
REMEMBER Zulkifli Noordin (photo Malaysiakini) ? He was the lawyer who discharged himself from defending 1st accused in the Altantuya trials - chief inspector Azilah Hadri on June 4, alledging 3rd party inteference in the case. He said: “There were serious attempts by third parties to interfere with the defence that I proposed”.
In an exclusive interview with SUARA KEADILAN 3-17 JULY EDITION (PKR’s party organ) recently, Zulkifli said that “The Altantuya case will be like Anwar Ibrahim’s. Many “mysterious’ things that benefit the third parties will be happening”. He also spoke about Azilah’s character and why he (Zulkifli) had to dislodge himself from Malaysia’s trial of the century. In not so many words, he “revealed” who the 3rd party was.
Zulkifli became Azilah’s lawyer when the latter’s cousin, who was a chambering student, approached him to represent Azilah. The first time Zulkifli saw Azilah, he thought the man looked familiar. Later, he was told that Azilah was the officer who accompanied Anwar in court when the latter was released.
Zulkifli spoke about Azilah’s character. He described Azilah as “a man who found it difficult to trust others”. He looked “depressed and fearful”. Zulkifli had to meet him several times to ensure him that he (Zulkifli) was really a lawyer.
“He felt that he had been betrayed. This is a big case. A murder case. When a person is accused of being a murderer and feels that he has been betrayed, it would be difficult for the individual to trust anyone else because in his mind he feels that everyone wants to betray him,” said Zulkifli, who was educated in Wellington, New Zealand.
He admitted that Azilah had revealed a lot of things to him, though he was cautious in the beginning, but eventually, he opened up. On his background, he said Azilah joined the UTK (special action forces) in 1997, and worked in the security section for the DPM. He became the office-in-charge of bodyguards (OCBG) for the DPM. A day before (Oct 18) Altantuya was killed, Azilah was on duty (guarding the DPM) in Pekan, and the day she was killed, he was on duty in Kuala Lumpur.
Zulkifli said several UTK members supported him and offered to ‘protect’ him as they wanted him to expose the case, to salvage the good name of the UTK.
“Yes, because they know that the UTK will only act under orders. Azilah is a member of the UTK, he will not issue an order to his subordinate if he did not receive orders from the higher ups”.
“And for the public, if this case does not involve those who have political interest, UTK will not be used. The use of C4 also raised many questions among the public. Everyone knows that C4 are only used by the army and not the UTK. Only certain people can approve the usage of this bom”.
So, why did Zulkifli withdrew from defending Azilah?
He said he did so because he was against Azilah’s decision to alter his defense strategy at the eleventh hour. The latter’s strategy included ‘protecting’ the mysterious third party. However, he declined to reveal who the third party was.
“As his lawyer, I had to respect his wishes. Therefore, I made a decision to withdraw from the case as it was against my principle and conscience”.
The rest of the interview included his opinion on court procedures, where several changes were made to the prosecution team, the judge as well as location of the hearing. He attributed the discrepencies to the fact that the Attorney General had powers beyond the judge, as it is under the jurisdiction of the Prime Minister’s department.
“We should emulate other countries where the AG’s department directly reports to Parliament”.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Minimum wage, graduate unemployment by Ng Eng Kiat

Last Friday I met an old friend from back in the 80's at the Masjid AlNoor.
It happened like this;
That Friday I changed my mind at the last minute from going to musalla at Lincoln Rd for Friday prayer, simply because I got this feeling, the urge to go to Masjid AlNoor. I havent been there for Friday prayer 3 weeks. When I arrive there the palce was full, so I did the usual trick of walking straight to the front.
After prayer, I waited longer until almost everybody was gone before making my way out. At the front of the notice board Fendi showed me the advert about halal slaughterman, and he was also talking to a Malay guy in coat that I havent seen before. But hey how come that voice sound familiar. Then he recognised me, but still I cant placed him in my memory. After him mentioning about my usual friends here, Nadzri, Kamaruddin and Shah, then I remember, Rahmad Hamzah.
So that Friday I stayed a bit longer and filled him in whats happening here since he went back to Malaysia.
Among other things we were yakking was about the competitiveness of Malaysian kids in school and the heavy workload they have to endure.
e.g 4 year old kids are expected to be able to read and write.
when kids attend kindergarten they are taught to read write and count and expected to master them.
heavy bags and workload.
at SPM level, or what is it called now.. students shows off having scored 17A, 18A and even 19A.
because of the heavy workload, students style of learning are different than in the NZ. He said that in Malaysia, kids just rote learn and spoonfed. they dont actually be creative and learn the proper way.
I assured him that over in NZ, more time for kids to play, and no pressure cooker environment. I agree with him, pessure cooker education system doesnot do much good for the kids in later life. They cant think outside the box, and are not creative in solving problems.
As a successful developer, Rahmad come across graduate engineers product of local university who cannot solve problems on construction site.
That is the reason why there are thousands of unemployed graduates in Malaysia. They simply cant work, and not creative. Add to that, being graduate, thay expect graduate jobs with graduate salary, which doesnt exist anymore (well not that much anyway) in a country comparable to the West.
In the West, its normal for graduate to start work doing menial jobs, as waiters at restaurants and service workers even at supermarkets earning minimum wages. There is no price tag attached to a degree.
A degree simply carry no status. Everyone is equal. But everyone can expect to earn at least minimum wage.
Cant everyone see the connection between thousands of menial jobs go begging in factories and industries and thousands of highly 'educated' Malaysians unemployed?
Yes the mismatch in wages. Make minimum wage become law at a rate liveable, then people dont really care if they have high education or not.
This article is in Malaysiakini. I found it interesting.

Minimum wage my foot!
Ng Eng Kiat | Jul 7, 07 3:09pm
Market economy dictates our labour market, so says a government reluctant on implementing the not-so-new protectionist power tool we otherwise conceptualise as "minimum wage".

Tough luck, employees, it is totally up to your handlers to decide on what you deserve, and if it's peanuts you get, munch quick.

"Minimum wage my foot!"

How much lower can one go? Getting paid an earning which is lower than the official poverty line seems to be quite the norm within modern Malaysia's working class.

And yet, the government manages one notch lower, by politely asking her nation's workers to "refrain from demanding" and "start negotiating", whilst churning rhetoric after rhetoric that minimum wage hurts the economy, that minimum wage only benefits foreign workers, and that minimum wage deserves an in-your-face "not welcomed here".

Excruciating cost of living has pushed up the poverty line, but salaries remain quite the same as they were 15 years ago. Malaysia's workers are a poor lot, and a distressed lot, too, judging from the nationwide pickets organised by Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) to demand for a minimum wage of RM900 and Cost of Living Allowance of RM300.

With the average of RM700 many workers earn today, minus EPF savings, you have barely enough to pay your rent, bills, and put food on the table for your family, everyday. Saving RM50 each month is an achievement so profound you are tempted to spend it on repairing that leaking roof. Never mind if your house is painted with the words "Roboh" followed by a date not too distant in the future.

You won't be able to afford pay TV, fast-food meals, or a car. The value of your life significantly decreases if you ride a motorcycle, the cheapest, but most dangerous, mode of transport available. Public transport does not reach your workplace. You can take the factory bus, with a cut in wages, of course.

"Life is cheap!"

You work, and you rest. You are not encouraged to think a lot, and when you actually do, you are given patronisingly pacifying propaganda that confuse you. And you stop.

But thousands more, thousands who don't even qualify to be in your class suffer in silence still. As high as 70 percent of our university graduates cannot find employment, a huge number of them supposedly unemployable, and many who do find jobs find themselves exploited, in one way or another. You are not alone.

In fact, graduate level salaries here are only comparable with what workers are paid in "a tiny island without opportunities" called Singapore.

"Singapore is not a real country!"

So, of course, they find a way to pay their workers better, too.

Graduates who do not bother looking for employment here go there, and in due course, get paid unreal salaries.

I had the chance to talk to two very interesting friends of mine recently. Both are real Malaysians, both freshly completed the real Malaysian education (STPM and public university), one of which is earning a real Malaysian salary, the other has rejected numerous offers deemed too bad to be real.

Nicole* studied film in university and had a taste of things to come in her two month internship with one of Malaysia's many production houses. Most of the work she experienced there involved manual labour, required specific on-the-job skills, which were not related at all to her experience on campus, was dominated by males, and didn't need much language skills.

Granted, it could have been one of the lower grade houses, but the fact that her university approved of her internship there indicated the general quality of Malaysia's production scene, and gave Nicole second thoughts about pursuing a career in it.

Third job in a month

A year later, studies completed, she started her job hunt and quickly got an offer for the position of Management Trainee at a monthly salary of RM1200 in a company that claimed to do business with multinational F&B companies.

Her first, and last, day at work with this company was spent walking the streets of Kepala Batas, pushing some Korean oat biscuit to potential customers. Modus operandi was to walk up to anyone who looks interested enough to buy some crackers, and sell them the consumables, RM10 per box.

Nicole's second job was much more promising. Her position: Education Counselor. Job objective: Find students to enroll in part-time professional diplomas offered by two public universities in Malaysia. Employer: A middle-person company in partnership with the two public universities. Modus operandi, flip through Yellow Pages, locate companies who deal with work related to whatever courses those universities offer, call them up to enquire if their workers might be interested to study for a diploma.

"Hello, I am Nicole from Universiti Terbagus Malaysia*, can I speak to your wireman? You see, we are offering this part-time professional course for people like you, can I come meet you to discuss further?"

Nicole lasted five days as Education Counsellor. Zero sign-ups, not a single cent was paid to her.

Within a month, Nicole got her third job, one at an events management company she has stuck to with utmost inner strength, earning RM1200 a month. Job title: Operations Executive cum Accounts Executive. In other words, general clerk-in-chief. Skills required on the job: Literate in Microsoft Office applications, mathematically sound, and keen on company procedures.

Nicole plans to work up the ladder, she already has her budget worked out to RM250 for rent, RM200 for petrol, RM300 for meals (RM10 per day), RM50 for utilities, RM75 for phone calls. Minus EPF, she has an extra RM150 to either send home to mum, or splurge.

My other friend, Mandy*, is getting tired, just three months into her job search.

"Now, I just aim to get a job, any job, before my convocation in August as it would be terribly embarassing to have to state my employment status as jobless in the compulsory survey forms," she says.

Limited job opportunities

Similar to Nicole, Mandy studied Broadcasting in university and decided against joining the crazy, but very limited, world of Malaysian television upon completion of her final semester. She now aspires to join the service industry, hoping to build a career slowly.

It has not been easy for Mandy, she wants to stay in Penang, but finds job opportunities there too limited.

After having no luck looking through newspaper advertisements and online job sites, Mandy turned to a recruitment firm for help.

"No job match."

Mandy then started to go through even the newspaper classifieds. Not a great place for graduate level work adverts, but what the heck.

For the record, she has now gotten two interviews in two months, both ended up offering her a paltry RM900 per month.

"I will accept any job that pays what a graduate deserves," says Mandy.

And how much is that?

"At least RM1200, or I'll be following my friends to Singapore in January."

NG ENG KIAT is doing postgraduate studies, against strong advice from many, at the same local university he recently completed his first degree.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Of Minimum Wage and Foreign Workers

My letter to Malaysiakini appear at the top page of letter section. as below.
I think its imperative that we Malaysian should write to our Govt/Minister/MP expressing our concern about this issue.
If Govt want to keep our country competitive, we could keep our exchange rate low, invest more in education, infrastructure, reduce red tape, keep inflation low and free the capital market.
Leaving the labour market completely free and unshackled, without minimum wage regulations and subject to unbridled competition from infux of illegal immigrants would only widens the gap between the have and the have-nots. Leaving the weak vulnerable to exploitation.

So what MTUC is going to do?
Organizing nationwide stoppages and pickets maybe OK for sometime, but the workers are unprotected. Soon they will get the boots from their jobs and replaced by foreign workers. The ones who will profit from it would only be the recruitment agents and the Ministry officials who approve the work permits for foreign workers. Its a lose-lose situation for low paid Malaysian workers.

I would suggest MTUC ask Govt to top up income to Malaysian workers. Sort of negative income tax.
Let say that we want our Malaysian workers have at least a minimum income if RM900 per month. If the factory he/she is working is only paying him/her RM400 per month for 40 hour week, the the Govt should pay our Malaysian worker the balance of RM500 for that month straight into his/her account.
Yes it will bloat Govt expenditure by a huge amount and Govt may have to increase income tax for those on the top bracket.
The benefit of this is that unemployment will be very low, almost zero because everyone would rather be working and get some money than unemployed and get nothing. No more graduate unemployment, because they (the graduates) will be working doing anything, even menial jobs.
This can also be construed as indirect subsidy to employers.
Western countries have this scheme for those in-work but with low income.

Hello, even China has minimum wage
Noor Yahaya Hamzah
Jul 6, 07 5:12pm

I refer to the malaysiakini report that the government would not legislate for a minimum wage law.

That is disappointing. Even China has minimum wage law. For example, China’s Shenzhen has a minimum wage of US$106, equivalent to RM365 per month. Imagine that, some of us Malaysians got paid less than workers in China. Keep it up, and soon Chinese companies would relocate to Malaysia for want of cheap labour.

However, Human Resources Minister Fong Chan Onn said that "companies with strong union representation should be allowed to negotiate better wages". That is fair, but has our union busting law have been amended to allow for umbrella nationwide unions for workers? Not as far as I know. So that is a dry statement, meaningless in other words.

Fong also said, “They can get more than RM900 so why should we determine there should be that level?”

I think our minister misunderstood that minimum wage means just that, minimum allowable wage. Any employer can pay more, much more if they want to. Just that employer should not pay wages below the minimum wage rate. Who is stopping them paying more? Duh.

So the government is saying that the presence of 1.5 million foreign workers, legal or illegal, is stopping them from adopting minimum wage law? What economic model are we following here?

Model 1: Saudi Arabia has six million guest workers, yet the unemployment rate amongst its citizens is about 30 percent. Saudi citizens do almost nothing even in their own homes, they employ maids, drivers and workers to do menial jobs, and also professional jobs. Yes, they go for jobs like doctors, engineers and teachers but that leaves most of the population unemployed.

I can see it happening in Malaysia already. We employ foreign workers to do menial jobs and give them low pay, such that the well-off Malaysians don’t want those kind of jobs. In doing so, we forget that our less-well-off citizens are deprived of the chance of securing better wages to improve their lives and share the prosperity of the country.

There is one difference between Saudi Arabia and Malaysia, that is in Saudi Arabia they have a safety net, meaning social welfare payment for the unemployed and the poor. So what level of welfare payment are we planning to pay for the unemployed? I don’t believe that employing millions of foreign workers, letting thousands of Malaysians go unemployed and paying them dole is a good model.

Model 2: European countries has minimum wage law, and the same rules apply, whether you are guest worker or citizen. Most countries has laws against employing illegal immigrants. Employers are not allowed to discriminate on the basis of colour, gender, religion, etc. Everyone is treated equally, well at least in the eyes of the law.

So if we follow this model, and legislate minimum wage law, everyone, whether foreign worker or not should get at least minimum wage, no discrimination.

If we take this European countries model, employers would not have preference for foreign workers. Let’s admit the facts that some employers prefer foreign workers because they are cheaper to employ than Malaysian workers. You can hire and fire them at will, treat them badly, assault them and maybe cheat them off their due wages (we read this in the paper sometimes).

Isn’t it amazing that our government want this to go on? I am disappointed with our elected representatives.