A concerned Malaysian writes about current affairs in Malaysia. If you like this site, please tell your relatives and friends. WE have the POWER TO CHANGE MALAYSIA. If you want to read earlier posts, please remove the "2" from this URL

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Don't Keep the Travelling Public Dangling

What are the Preliminary Findings on the LRT?

It is good that the public will be informed of the problems affecting the LRT system as thousands use the transport system as need to be reassured of their safety and security.

All that talk about bringing in foreign experts is really unnecessary unless our local engineers cannot determine what the main problems with the system are.

Any inquiry should have a panel of technical experts and also a member from NIOSH who had to make the earlier appeal to make the findings public.

I think the Factories & Machineries Acts is quite inadequate to cover problems related to equipment and systems that can cause the deaths of hundreds and should be revised. We should also look into the public liability coverage that such companies provide.

Back to the LRT system it appears to be a failure caused by the following or a combination:

• The company has been reducing costs and vital equipment like sensors and warning systems have not been replaced according to recommended hours of operation.

• The company had changed components of the system with non-original spares to cut costs.

• The rail track in the end sections had been stolen the night before.

• The driver had ignored signals to slow down as he was running behind schedule.

• The driver had fallen asleep after leaving the last station and pressed the accelerator instead of braking. (This was the cause of a high speed crash in Europe shown in a documentary on Discovery Channel)

• The driver had been working in excess of allowed working hours as the company is understaffed.

• The control system had been modified and put into action without proper verification.

I am not a railway engineer but I think these items should cover 90% of what could have gone wrong. I hope people do not just cite “technical reasons” as most accidents are really caused by man.

Photo: courtesy of the Star

Sunday, October 29, 2006

98% Voters Feel the NEP has Failed

Results of MALAYSIAWATCH POLL15 on the question:

“What is the Main Cause of the Failure of NEP after 35 years?”

A total of 93 readers took part in the poll with the following answers

The majority of 62 voters or 67% picked “Top Leaders Abused the Policies”

The second group of 20 voters or 22% chose “Too Many Leakages and Loopholes in System”

The next group of 4 voters or 4% picked “Mana Ada System?”

The next group of 3 voters or 3% picked “There is a Lack of Check and Balance”

A small number of 2 voters or 2% picked “Failure of MPs and the Justice System”

No one picked “Some Citizens Don’t Know How to Use the System”

On the other side, 2 voters or 2% selected “I Love the NEP – Give Me More!”

So do you think we should continue with such a flawed policy?

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Leadership Transitions

The ongoing very public spat between the PM and TDM is not good for Malaysia and we need to study carefully where we have gone wrong in the method of selection of our national leaders.

After 3 years some of us are disappointed that some important changes have not been achieved notably the implementation of the IPCMC and the 18 important corruption cases that most ordinary citizens keep talking about.

A multi-racial multi-cultural nation like Malaysia is not easy to govern and the fragile fabric of racial harmony is difficult to repair once it is damaged.

We simply cannot have a Prime Minister who is beholden to his predecessor and I believe our PM has steered a careful course between not offending TDM and looking to the greater good for Malaysians.

At times he has appeared too cautious and this can be mistaken for timidity or indecisiveness.
Seeking consensus is important for national cohesiveness but after a period of discussion the top leader must make up his own mind.

Our previous PM has mentioned that AAB was not his first choice so it seems that he was chosen PM in spite of TDM’s own preference. This means that our PM was selected by the majority of the power brokers.

We do not know who these people are and therein could lie the problem of Malaysia’s power transitions. For example in Indonesia, the President is elected by the voters and he is beholden to no one except to the electorate.

I don’t think we will adopt the Indonesian model but at least all Malaysians should be advised who gets to pick the Prime Minister. At present it would be good if the PM is selected by the BN Supreme Council and not just UMNO.

Coming back to the current dispute and how it should be settled. I don’t see any need for a settlement. Taking the English soccer team as an example, Sven Goran Erickson resigned after the World Cup and he has not spoken one word on how the England team is performing.

That is how it should be. Nowhere in the world do we get ex-CEO’s commenting on how the previous company is doing. Once you are done with it, it is done with you.

It is time to move on surely. Malaysia is a nation of laws and man must abide by those laws.


Monday, October 23, 2006

Better Enforcement Needed Not Constant "Upgrading"

According to this report,

"The government needs to spend RM1 billion to repair road accident "black spots", but the government can't afford to do the job straight away.

The Star newspaper quoted Works Minister Samy Vellu as saying that the government has so far spent RM130 million repairing 230 high-risk stretches of state roads."

We cannot keep on changing the road design to make it safer whenever there is a fatal accident unless the design was not up to standard in the first place.

No matter how good the design, a bad motorist will get involved in an accident.

What we need is better warnings and stricter enforcement.
For example in New Zealand at sharp bends, there is a warning sign stating the maximum speed to negotiate the bend. If you exceed that speed you will find it difficult to control your vehicle in that bend unless you are a race car driver.

PS. I'm now in Manila and I feel the drivers here are better than Malaysian drivers.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Enjoy Your Holidays!

Dear Readers
If you are celebrating any of the festivals I would like to wish you

Happy Deepavali or
Selamat Hari Raya

If you are driving please be extra careful and realise that many on the roads may not be as experienced as you.

I'm taking a short break until 25th October and not sure if there is access to the Net. But there are many articles written in 2005 you can refer to if you are new here.

Let us all work together to make Malaysia a better place for all its citizens.


Moving Targets Make Little Sense

Since there is now a healthy debate on the success or lack thereof of the NEP even after more than 35 years with the same government it makes little sense with just presenting the balance sheet item like “30% equity target has not been achieved as at 31st December 2005”.

In any financial reporting system there is the profit and loss account for the period and also the all important cash flow which can tell if a company is healthy or not.

Since the government is preparing to disclose the EPU methodology of how the share equity is calculated, we should also be asking more details like the following to discover why after so many long years the moving target remains so elusive.

(please click on diagram to enlarge)
I am sure the government has the computing capability to account for all the goodies they have given out under the NEP.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Prompt Refunds Would Also Be Nice...

It is good to see the IRB developing systems to enable taxpayers to check their accounts online and also make payments via credit cards.

Perhaps one other area they should seriously look at is a prompt refund whenever payments are due back to the taxpayer.

Now the only thing a taxpayer gets is a statement recording how much is due back to the taxpayer with the proviso like:

“The following has not been taken into account after the date for which the statement period covers:

• Penalty for late payment

• Cancellation of penalty

• Taxation for the period

• Other taxes that have not been calculated “

We all know when the IRB makes a demand for payment they give you 30 days or there is a 10% penalty.

So I suggest to the IRB they should improve their system so that when a refund statement is made, all taxpayers will welcome the cheque that should accompany the letter.

Unless the IRB modifies their system so that so credit balances earn some interest like the lowest rate paid by banks for one month fixed deposits.


Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Never the Twain Shall Meet

If we study carefully the basis of the dispute between the government and ASLI’s methods of calculating, just a simple understanding will show how the target of 30% will be hard to achieve in the next 100 years.

I am not a researcher but would like to make the following observations based on the basis of what is reasonable and fair:

The NEP had a definite shelf life but that was extended by a government that steamrolled its policies instead of looking at the various weakness in the policies.

The number of companies in the government’s study is not really a fair measure and in fact can put a serious curb on people who want to do business – the so called private investors. These people take a lot of risk and create many jobs for all Malaysians. I think this method of calculating the 30% equity is unfair and in fact most businesses lose money and have to wind up.

So we simply take the par value of shares that is the hard earned capital obtained from blood sweat and tears and want to extract a 30% share it is a form of unfair taxation as even our ex-PM mentioned that the Chinese pay more than 80% of taxes.

Those companies that do extremely well and want to expand further usually undertake a public issue of shares that require the mandatory 30% “pass over” and we know that even Ministers have got involved in such “get rich quick” schemes by using proxies.

Some public listed companies even used their good offices to enrich third parties by playing “pass the property” gambit. This is such a simple way to enrich anyone in the loop as finally bodies like the EPF can be used to finance marked-up deals.

By not taking the market value, we are ignoring the growth and power of the giants in business. It also ignores the run down in value of companies that may have required much paid up capital but now almost worthless as the small company usually does not survive two generations.

Of course some people of all races have really benefited from NEP policies but these are far and few in between and usually have political connections.

As far as GLCs are concerned, if they are owned by the government then we should expect a fairer distribution of the directors’ posts to better reflect the nation’s composition. Taxpayers should be able to require a better performance from such companies since they usually control important sectors of the economy.

My basic belief is that government should only form the climate for business to flourish and not get so directly involved. Just see how a simple document like the AP can be so easily abused.

Let us bury the NEP as it has outlived its purpose and agreed expiry date.
So the question all Malaysians should ask is “Why did the NEP fail even after 35 years?”

graphics: malaysiakini

Sunday, October 15, 2006

98% Readers Want an Inquiry for the Judiciary Happenings of 1988

Do You Support an Inquiry of the 1988 Judiciary Happenings?
This was the question posed to readers in MALAYSIAWATCH POLL 14.
Here are the views of 48 readers.

98% of the readers supported the inquiry for the following reasons:

29 readers or 60% answered “YES I Want Justice Served on Those Who Abused the Judiciary”

10 readers or 21% chose “YES It Will Give Malaysians and MPs the Chance to Prevent Similar Injustices”

8 readers or 17% felt “YES It Will Help Restore the Good Name of Those Who Were Unjustly Dismissed”

1 reader or 2% believed “NO Nothing Good Can Come Out of an Official Inquiry”

There you have it.

This week’s poll is what do you think of the ASLI Debacle? Take the poll and give feedback to the government.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Who Moved My Caviar?

That seems to be the reaction of the ruling elite towards the ASLI Report that showed how the 30% equity share had already been achieved.

Instead of using their intelligence to ponder how to overcome the new challenges of aiding all the poor and unconnected citizens of whom there are millions, they chose to demonise the author of the research paper.

It seems to be a classic example described in the book, “Who Moved My Cheese?” of how we must always be prepared for change.

One of the interesting items of contention by the EPU is the use of par value for shares instead of the market rate.

This is a very simplistic way to calculate share value.

Is this how Khazanah and other bodies sell the shares to selected parties?

For example if a GLC wanted to sell shares in TNB do they use RM1 par value as the selling price?
The buyer could buy at RM1 and within a year sell at RM9 and then get on the queue for the next hand-out.

The other question that can be answered is, “Was the par value used for the whole period of the NEP or is this a new accounting feature?”

Photo: http://www.911caviar.com/miva/graphics/00000001/caviar-snail.jpg

Don’t Hurt My Feelings or That Would Be Sedition?

That seems to be the mantra nowadays when people are questioning the basic assumptions made by the EPU after the furore caused by the ASLI report that the 30% equity target had already been achieved.

Whenever national leaders cannot or do not want to explain anything they simply resort to this veiled threat
to anyone who dares to ask the basic questions like “How, What, When and Why.”

If this nation is to become great, all the studies made by the EPU or any public organization must be put to rigorous public scrutiny.

It seems that some people believe that the public can still be cowed with thinly veiled threats.

This is a more acceptable response and perhaps our MPs should wake up from their 49 years of slumber and save this nation from getting flushed down the drain.

It is timely that the reports on cloned APs are making news as this shows how the NEP has generated all kinds of nefarious activities. Even having 500APs a year or the equivalent of RM12.5m easy money is not sufficient for people who are greedy.

I would even suggest that the excesses of the NEP can cause corruption. Honest civil servants and police can see and feel the conspicuous consumption of the connected cronies who seem to have unlimited wealth.

Maybe it is difficult for the government or the EPU to explain the why and how the income gap has widened dramatically as the affirmative policies have been in place for more than 35 years.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Malaysian X-Files – The Case of the Cloned APs

So now we have another case of cloned APs involving another prominent VIP.
It seems as if cars are some invisible goods that cannot be counted and easily traced and some people have been able to abuse the system by cloning APs and bringing in more cars than were allowed thereby putting the local car industry in jeopardy.

Maybe it was a good thing as it provided a shock to local manufacturers to buck up as the price of the AP can cost RM20000 and even then the imported cars were giving the locals a good run for the money.

In the process some people controlling the system also ran with the money and it was reported that the process of getting the AP cloned was about RM15000 each.

Now if the Customs and Police are serious about tracing the masterminds they should question the source vigorously and clean up their backyards.

Today’s back-tracking does not repair the damage and people cannot make casual remarks in front of reporters. Besides the first off-hand comments probably reflect best a person’s state of mind rather than later after some calculated reflection.

For a start the ACA could be directed to check out all the Customs officers handling APs and determine if anyone is living beyond their means and declared assets.

It was also reported that a Minister had purchased a car with a cloned AP. If we follow the law to the letter, that car should be confiscated as evidence.

Naaaw – I don’t think that is going to happen in Bolehland. Hell will freeze over first.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Basic Flaws in the NEP

This is one example how the NEP has failed.
Greed is always present in all humans only the degree varies.

Therefore any government policy that encourages greed must be subject to thorough checks and proper balances imposed.

There is now an uproar over the ASLI study that showed the 30% equity target has been achieved but since our leaders themselves are not certain how the numbers have been conjured the research body has been forced to retract its findings. How sad for the future of Malaysia when prominent figures can threaten others for “playing with fire.”

Such is the state of racial affairs in Malaysia when ministers can speak only in terms of race more in tune with the Klu Klax Klan.

This story illustrates just one incidence of how our legislators have been induced to approve anything that is proposed by the government. I wonder what sweet deals other senators have been provided.

From the story, the company was given “more than 500 APs a year”.

If we take the value of an AP as RM25000 each it means the company enjoyed a gross profit of

RM25000 X 500 = RM12,500,000

Now if this concession had been given to some poor village cooperative society perhaps 100 adults could have had the chance to escape the poverty trap.

Don’t senators get paid an allowance that allows them to live above the poverty line?

photo: My daughter caught this striking Ferrari in London

Why Has the NEP Failed Even After 35 Years?

That is your question for MALAYSIAWATCH POLL 15 since so much has been stirred up in the past few weeks.

It is an important question to ponder as it seems the ruling party wants all the policies to continue until 2020 when we will transform dramatically like the ugly pupa into a beautiful butterfly.

Someone mentioned once that insanity is the condition where you expect different results by repeating the same mistakes.

35 years is a long sentence for many. I just wonder why some people can consider discussing the NEP as a sensitive subject. Who will be the person most aggrieved - the person who suffered the brunt of marginalisation or the person who removed all the cream?

This will be a good subject to engage all the top scholars and industrialists of the nation. Who knows? Some good research papers on the NEP may help improve our universities' rankings.

Monday, October 09, 2006

That Apology from LKY

Based on the MALAYSIAWATCH POLL 13 that drew a response of 112 votes, the following is the breakdown of readers’ opinions. Thanks for the feedback.

“LKY Has Spoken the Truth” was picked by 86 readers or 77%

“NEP Policies Help Mainly Cronies” was picked by 11 readers or 10%

“The Government Should Help ALL the POOR” was chosen by 10 readers or 9%

“Some NEP Policies Should Be Corrected” was chosen by 2 readers or 2%

Some readers still believe that

“We Have Complete Trust in our Government” and this was picked by 3 readers or 3%

It seems that the qualified apology from LKY will be considered a correct and appropriate measure for most of my readers.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Weaning a Nation of Addicts

Weaning is one of the most fundamental processes that is necessary for kids to develop properly into adults and anyone who has raised children knows that it can also be a period of trial and tribulation.

Without weaning the growing child will find it difficult to obtain all the nutrients necessary for proper growth. Have you ever seen a 30-year old adult still sucking at a milk bottle?

In nature animals are quite ruthless when a mother eagle will force their young off a cliff in order to get it to fly. If it does not fly it will never fly – period.

Looking at the various issues affecting Malaysia it seems that we did not implement a proper program of weaning the handicapped off government handouts and now we have grown-ups who still demand special benefits that were agreed for 30 years by the various races after the infamous May 13 incidents.

That the objectives of the NEP have not been achieved should hardly surprise anyone as all the policies have practices have not really been subject to a rigorous and righteous review and the ruling elites have simply bulldozed through whatever measures they deem suitable for their own self-preservation.

I am sure that ALL Malaysians can agree that eradicating poverty is indeed a noble intention though some of us will believe that this task can never be completed as poverty is somewhat like a disease. You can eradicate most of it but there will always be new cases turning up in other forms.

More so as globalization take hold many individuals will find themselves displaced such as older workers and those who did not update their skills with lifelong learning.

Malaysia’s economy cannot become more competitive and attractive to investors if the present policies continue as we already see the talents of thousand of Malaysians leaving the country. Ironically many of them received government scholarships and have now decided that they do not want to return to a country where who you know counts more than what you know.

The main question of 30% equity by whatever yardstick is fraught with many loopholes for abuse to occur.
For example if tomorrow we can transfer 30% of all our nation’s assets to whomsoever is deemed worthy recipients and within a year some of the recipients decided that they wanted to enjoy their wealth with an “eat, drink and be merry” philosophy are we then obliged to top up their wealth so that they can enjoy another round of carousing?

This is the fatal flaw that has beset our national planners or perhaps they have discovered that they are enjoying a really good thing with a cowered (some say coward) electorate.

There is no where else in the world where adults have still not been weaned and unfortunately after 30 years many still clamour for their hand-outs.

This year a Nobel prize was awarded in medicine for studies to turn genes on and off to control disease. Maybe we can ask them if they can study the Malaysian genes. After 30 years the gene to excel and be independent of the government may have become dormant or even extinct in some Malaysians.

Given that poverty is NEVER going to be 100% eliminated we should simply scrap the NEP completely.

I would replace the NEP with a Poverty Alleviation Program or PAP based only on the following criteria.

• All those considered the poor based on income and assets level only with no RACE agenda.

• Low and Medium cost housing discount given once in a lifetime to such individuals

• Each poor family is to be given one scholarship for the oldest qualifying child to a local university and then asked to serve in government for say 3 years.

The government will adopt MERITROCACY practices and achieve a higher level of performance and results in all ministries with a blanket crackdown on corruption.

With the surplus generated in all areas, the government will be able to allocate 10 to 15% of its budget for the PAP program.

With a determined thrust to alleviate poverty no one will be able to claim that they have suffered marginalization and Malaysia will be well on the way to achieve VISION 2020.

The first simple step that the government can take immediately to wean its citizens is to eliminate the 10 to 15% discount for housing.

This discount should only be given to the first time house buyer and if the house costs below RM200000. Otherwise it is a case whereby many poorer house buyers are being made to subsidise the few privileged and wealthy.

This is a case of parasitizing and over a long period all the blood will be drained from the hard-working citizens of all races to feed this addiction. Leeches have been found to be useful for medicinal treatment but human leeches should be eliminated as soon as possible and not allowed to multiply.

We now need the new NEP for Nationwide Eradication of Parasites. What say you?

Photo: http://www.canadianpond.ca/sangsue-surgery.jpg ( Leeches Can be Useful unlike Human Parasites)

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Great Idea for the Police…..

This is a very good move as it does not cost much and is easy to maintain. Also no clean up of mess created by horses!

The police have taken positive steps to combat crime in the cities and I was pleasantly surprised to pass two cops along Jalan Wong Ah Fook in JB when I was walking towards the main bus stop about a week ago.

They looked quite fresh in their smart uniforms and were on beat duty. That was a reassuring sight.

The use of bicycles is indeed a good move as it also gives our men and women in blue the added benefit of getting some exercise.

I would suggest the following:

• Give the guys and gals the chance to alternate between walking and cycling

• The uniform for cycling is not practical as it is going to be warm with the extra safety jacket. The shirt should be made of a lighter material or even a sports shirt would be more practical. Also the long pants need to be secured with a clip at the bottom or the hem could possibly get caught in moving parts. Sports shoes will improve running capability if a chase is necessary.

I guess this only shows that if top people can come up with good ideas, Malaysia will surely progress.

We should duplicate this scheme in all cities in Malaysia.

Getting Away with Murder Most Foul in Malaysia?

This is another case of getting our priorities wrong in this country.

We seem to be so taken up with sending the first ASEAN astronaut to space that we have not applied enough resources to ensure that the police are adequately trained in basic investigation procedures that only come to light when an inquest is held.

If one considers that this government servant was killed as he was about to reveal corrupt practices it is possible that his report would have implicated a few staff and they found a way to silence him.

Unfortunately corruption is an evil web that has no compartments and can spread beyond a department or a building.

How do the bosses of the Sub-Inspector evaluate his performance during this investigation? I wonder if they have a standard operating manual to investigate suspicion of foul play?

Friday, October 06, 2006

My Eldest Daughter Should be Pleased

Her university NUS is ranked the highest in the World Universities Ranking in my family’s education record.

Actually she wanted to study overseas like Australia but at that time we had decided that sending four children overseas for tertiary education would be too expensive and so when she was offered a place in the Arts Faculty we persuaded her to study in Singapore after her Junior College.

My second daughter studied under the Gifted Education Program in secondary school but was not certain what she wanted to study. My wife persuaded her to do accounting and so she attended NTU in Singapore.

I encouraged both of them to study in Singapore and promised them I would sponsor a Masters program overseas if any one obtained a First Class degree.

My third daughter wanted to do medicine from early secondary school with law as a second choice. She was offered law at NUS but decided to take up medicine at IMU with the option to do twinning with an overseas university. I remember at the orientation/open day for parents, the dean told us that if you wanted to do medicine for the money, you might as well forget about it.

My son discovered an interest for Law within one year when he took up the subject for A levels. He has just started his course in King’s College, London.

I studied in Portsmouth University but during my time it was a designated as a CAT (College of Advanced Technology) and was called Portsmouth Polytechnic.

Looking at the listing I guess my children have gone one up on me.

NUS Rank 146
NTU Rank 508
Dalhousie Rank 292
King’s College Rank 346
Portsmouth University Rank 545

But what is a degree anyway? Having it just means you have a chance of an interview and you still need to convince that person to hire you.

Once you start working you need to show what you can do and also work well with others.

So we should not be too discouraged if Malaysian universities may not have done too well in the recent listing. What is more important is what measures are being taken to raise standards.

I think Singapore has a head start on this and so perhaps we should aim to be about 100 places behind them and that would be a good target to start with.

Photo: http://www.archibus.com/success/graphics/portsmouth.jpg

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Dealing with Drunks, Drug Addicts and LKY

I remember when I first started work with a British plantation group in the 60s we used to have regular cocktails for overseas directors who used to visit a few times a year.

We used to joke that the directors were running away from the UK winters and often these cocktails used to be held at the le Coq d’Or a grand building in the 70s and considered the place where posh society had their fun.

Nowadays cocktails are not so popular as it is no fun drinking orange juice for two hours or more and having to make polite conversations.

My first cocktail party was memorable in that I almost did not make it home that night. Being an inexperienced drinker that I am, I decided to try as many different drinks as I could as there was a free flow of liquor.

I remember drinking the following but not the order of drinking:

Bacardi and coke (the drink not the drug)

Whisky on the rocks

Gin and tonic


In those days I lived in Section 17 Petaling Jaya and it was linked to Jalan Damansara that was an old winding road with single lane traffic only.

I remember driving that evening at great speed as my mind was feeling light and I don’t think I would have passed the alcohol test. I guess the saying that one loses inhibitions when drunk is quite accurate.

Have you ever observed the behaviour of a drunk or a drug addict or even wife beaters?
The first trait is that they usually are in a state of denial.

We have heard this so many times from someone who has had one too many and can barely articulate his words.

“Bbb—ut I’m not drunk! I-I-I had only two d-drinks.”

“NO! I did not hit her. She fell in the bathroom.”

Often the victim will also be in denial as she has got used to the abuse and will tolerate the hurt as she does not want the children to suffer.

What has LKY got to do with all this?

To me he is merely playing the role of a concerned neighbour who can see the abuse happening over the fence and made his views known.

Is he wrong to comment if there is something fundamentally wrong in our house?

Perhaps he is taking a longer term view as he knows that a Malaysia deprived of its best talents is not going to prosper and that too is not good for Singapore.

Already we have lost thousands of talented Malaysians overseas and some are even competing with our own products. One Malaysian persuaded Ford to start operations in Thailand and is now a major producer of autos.

The NEP may have been necessary after the May13 incident but we cannot have a government that does not provide fair opportunities for all citizens and the thrust of all government policies should always be to assist those who are marginalized and not those who have already been fed caviar and fine wines for many years.

Anyone who cannot see that NEP policies can cause more income distortions and marginalize many citizens who do not have crony connections is living in a state of denial.


Wednesday, October 04, 2006

A Fool and His Money Are Soon Parted

There is only one sure way anyone can retain their wealth and that is if they earned it by blood, sweat and tears unless the taxman decides he should redistribute your wealth.

That is the reason by some AP recipients have been suggesting that they will be unable to meet global competition come 2010 even though some of them have been enjoying AP benefits for the past 20 odd years or more than one generation.

It tells a lot about the type of entrepreneurs we have been developing. Didn’t anyone tell them that APs are not forever just like our oil reserves will be depleted within 25 years?

Some people have not been so fortunate as to receive APs – guess they did not have the right karma and so have resorted to other means to get rich.

If you know anything about investing, you should realize that if you can achieve 15% returns per annum you should be quite satisfied. But greed is always present in the human heart and schemers will always find a way to entice you.

Malaysian crooks are now more savvy and able to make use of the Internet to conduct their activities.
Guess they were encouraged by the government’s promoting of IT and decided they could also do other things with the latest technology.

According to this report,
"Those behind the scheme also claimed that investments of US$1,000 (RM3,700) or more could earn a profit of up to 300% after 15 months.”

Apart from the crooks who organized the scam, there is also some interesting information on some of the victims.

The report mentions
“Among the scheme’s purported victims are a lawyer, a consultant, a technician and the secretary-general of a government ministry. They claimed they had been cheated of nearly RM20mil.”

Somehow the reporter did not provide more accurate information. How did the figure of RM20mil arise?

Why did they not obtain or publish more concise details like, for example,

“Among the scheme’s purported victims are a lawyer (RM2m loss), a consultant (RM2.5m loss) and the secretary-general of a government ministry (RM1m loss).”

The taxman should check up the reporter to get more details on the losses.
It should be interesting to see how this case develops.


Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Surely This is Not a Bribe?

This case shows that the police are getting their battered house in order but I believe more can be achieved with the long delayed IPCMC.

The police recovered 3.6kg of heroin in the house plus cash amounting to RM700,000. I believe the amount of heroin would have made it a drug trafficking offence with a mandatory death sentence unless the police were bribed to report a smaller amount.

If the money was seized as part of the drug raid it becomes government evidence and stealing it is not a bribe but destroying/stealing evidence or obstructing justice which I believe is a more serious offence.

If the crooked cops could steal money it is possible they will also steal contraband and even push the material. When cops lack integrity, they are capable of anything as we have given them so much power.

But well done to the honest cops who reported in this case.
If an officer is corrupted it is difficult for new recruits not to become tainted over time.

Slower Speeds Can Also Kill

It is good that the police are looking at ways to reduce the accident rate during our seasons of driving madness that is the “balik kampong” festivals.

My family makes it a point never to travel outstation unless absolutely necessary during these festivals as the risk of accidents is much higher on account of the following:

• There are more novices driving long distance for the first time

• Many vehicles are overcrowded

• The traffic density is much higher

• Many vehicles in poor condition are subjected to long distance.

This means that the risk of an accident goes up by at least four factors.

As a driver with more than 35 years of driving practice I find it most comfortable driving on the NSH when there are few vehicles near me. The ideal condition I like is a vehicle ahead about 500meters or within sight so I can predict the road curvature ahead, no vehicles next to me and no vehicles behind me for at least 500 meters.

If I get into a situation with bunching of vehicles, I will accelerate or slow down to find a better space and one can do this within the speed constraints although I have gone up to 160kph on rare occasions.

I suggest the following will help reduce the road fatalities during festive periods:

• Make laws to designate the period considered “festive periods” for traffic purposes

• Do not allow “P” drivers to drive more than 30km away from their registered address

• Do not allow drivers convicted of driving offences to drive more than 30km away from their registered address within 3 months of a driving conviction.

• More police monitoring of offences such as road hogging, overtaking on the left, weaving in and out of traffic, changing lanes without signaling, overcrowding and unroadworthy vehicles.

Anyone who drives long distance knows that driving at a constant speed for long periods causes one to become sleepy and one should take a driving break after about two hours.

I would suggest the speed limits on the NSH be adjusted for the following:

Car capacity:
Below 1000cc 100kph
Below 1500cc 110kph
Above 2000cc 120kph

Driver’s skills adjustment:
“P” driver minus 10kph
Below 5 years (no convictions) no adjustment
5 to 10 years (no convictions) plus 10 kph
More than 10 years (no convictions) plus 20kph

For example this means the most skilled driver can drive the smallest category at 120kph whereas a “P” driver is allowed to drive the biggest car at 110kph.
Once you have an accident your status will start at zero again.

All the data is easily verified but it does involve a little more work.
I believe this method to reduce accidents will have more positive results than the “one size fits all" strategy.

Photo: http://www.nitrospeed.net/shows/40 (warning: may upset viewers)

Monday, October 02, 2006

Why Do We Have So Many Problems on Public Works?

Construction projects like repair of schools should be relatively easy to monitor and control and yet we seem to have problems.

In this case RM29000 was approved for the repairs and yet an initial probe indicates the actual cost was only RM3000.

What actions will be taken against the PWD officers and the contractor? It seems to be a clear case of fraud.

What is even more worrying is that it appears that contracts below RM200,000 can be prone to such cheating and if we multiply that by the thousands of such contracts the cumulative value of the fraud is humongous and could run into millions of ringgit.

There appears to be a control factor lacking in such projects and that is the signing off of the party for which the project is done.

In this case the school should have received details of the following:

• The scope of works
• The project value
• The number of days of work

When the project is completed the headmaster will make confirm whether the scope of works has been carried out and the actual work days completed.

This report is sent to the relevant ministry and if the officer there is satisfied with the confirmation, within two weeks they must advise the Works Ministry or payment will be approved.

This procedure is still not 100% guarantee but it will provide the relevant parties some means to check if the actual work has been carried out.

For example if the contract mentioned 30 days for work and the job takes only 10 days it should merit further checking.

I would also require the HM or his assistant to issue the daily work permit for the contractor so that the school will be able to properly warn students of dangerous vehicles etc and take the necessary precautions.

Do we have such a work permit control now? I doubt it.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Let’s Not Compare the IGP with the PM

I know some people are comparing the new IGP’s actions with those of the PM and predicting that soon the “new broom sweeps clean” actions will wane.

I mentioned a 3-month period to see what he does so far he has been doing the right things to my mind.

A 10-minute warning has enough shock value to get police chiefs instill more discipline and a good work ethic among the rank and file.

Once they know the IGP can come anytime officers will be required to follow all their work procedures and standing instructions and there should be little room for any “hanky panky.”

A question that arises is “what will the IGP do if he discovers wrong doing by his staff during the inspection?”
To me he should be prepared to relieve any ASP of his post and even subject him or her to charges if that is warranted. That will be the most powerful warning to all subordinates that he is serious in wanting to reform the police and make it a world class force.

With 85000 men and women the IGP alone cannot make all these changes and that is where the IPCMC can play a positive role.
He also needs to get his department chiefs to emulate his actions.

Already the IPCMC has stated that housing for the force is inadequate and many believe that salaries for the police should be increased.

The government has declared that it cannot afford to increase the pay of all the civil servants but perhaps the police are in a special category as they perform a critical role in security and protect our well-being.

This compensation could be in the form of the following for those in the front-line of crime busting ie those in active duties where they are subject to danger. Perhaps twenty to thirty percent of the force will be in this category.

The benefits to be offered can be:
• Improved life insurance
• Daily danger allowance
• Time off for good performance
• Fast track for promotion

Only those recommended by their OCPDs will be selected for this active category and those who do not perform well will be reassigned.

Not the Way to Protect a Child

It is really surprising that some adults have allowed a 4-year old to be exposed to danger.

How did it happen that this child was unattended from the time she left her kindergarten to the time she was found in the middle of a busy street?

I would blame the kindergarten for not making sure that all their charges are safely escorted home by their parents or known caretaker.

This incident shows that both the parent and the kindergarten teacher are guilty of child endangerment.

This child could have easily been abducted or even run over by a motorist as such a small child is not easy to spot.

I hope the parent and the kindergarten are both given a stern warning by the authorities.

SYABAS to the reporter who came to the rescue.