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

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Did Singapore’s Reclamation Works Cause Kota Tinggi’s Drowning?

Today’s article in the NST indicates that the project could be a possible reason for the massive floods in Kota Tinggi.

It would be difficult to determine if this reclamation project is indeed the cause of the river not being able to discharge the flood waters as quickly as before unless we have evidence to show that the river’s mean velocity has indeed been reduced by the project.

It is basic science that if something is obstructing the flow of water, the flow will be affected but the actual quantum should be based on proper measurements studies on the change in the characteristics of the river.

The project commenced in 2002 and Malaysia took the case to the ITLOS in 2003 who ruled in Singapore’s favour with the agreement that “the recommendations of the experts would be used as the basis of a "mutually acceptable and beneficial solution". “

Our case to make this claim will be weakened if we did not do the following as soon as the project started:

• Monitor the water flow average velocity
• Measure the rate of silting along river course and mouth
• Size of the reclaimed island
• Changes in the tide

And correlate all the results. Of course presupposing that there had been no illegal logging further upstream.

We had at least one year to get monthly readings on these and other(?) data but did we provide ITLOS any data to support our complaints?

Now with the Kota Tinggi floods we start to point fingers again but what happened to the experts and their recommendations?

Otherwise a river widening and deepening project should have been a priority for the 9MP. Speaking of land reclamation works, the bridge to Permas Jaya gives a very good view of a major land reclamation works on the JB side. The massive clearing of the mangrove and major construction works here may also may been the cause of some of the floods.

graphics: thanks to the NST

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Lease or Buy, It’s Always Only Our Money

We don’t expect the Prime Minister to travel by budget airlines but we do have many international airlines that can provide first-class service to all the corners of the world as KLIA is serviced by many airlines.

So why do we need another expensive and high maintenance item like another luxury airplane?

The article reads, “The Government is leasing an Airbus from Penerbangan Malaysia Bhd (PMB) for VIP use, as it is cheaper than buying one.”

I think it is cheaper if we do not lease or buy any!
It matters little whether we purchase outright or lease as PMB is an arm of Khazanah Malaysia and the monies belong to all Malaysians and not a kitty that should be used for ostentatious spending like another executive jet.

Suppose you draw a salary of RM3000 a month and you lease a car for RM1000 – is that not spending foolishly even though you have not purchased the car? The monthly expenses are still too high.

Just when the authorities were planning to make drastic increases in the price of fuel, water and tolls for ordinary folks last year, they were also thinking how they would enjoy the simple pleasures of flying in their own executive jet.

I understand even the British PM has to share the UK’s executive jet with the Queen and they pay for fuel costs when the plane is used.

Maybe it would be a good comparison to see how many countries provide exclusive private jets for their leaders and what planes are used. If you read up the specs of the Airbus A319 it is a huge plane and can be used to carry about 120 passengers.

It seems this purchase was made based on the frequent travels of the PM who is advised to concentrate more on domestic issues that appear to be unattended and uncompleted like the IPCMC?

It reminds me of Marie Antoinette before she was beheaded during the French revolution when the peasants were starving and she was quoted as saying,"let them eat cake!"

photo: thanks to http://wforum.zixia.net/elite.php?file=%2Fgroups%2FFactions%2FBUAA%2FM.1113053286.w0&ap=89211

Not the Way to Help Desperate People

The latest idea to charge those who borrow from loan sharks is surely not going to improve matters much as we should first of all understand why such people resort to such desperate measures.

These people are really desperate for help and they could be jobless, drug addicts or habitual gamblers and getting the police to start arresting them as the police seem unable to control the loan sharks seems more like a desperate measure by the authorities.

The welfare ministry should instead start programs to educate the public on how to spot potential problem cases especially those addicted to drugs, gambling and other social problems so that they can seek proper assistance to help family members.

Using authorised money-lenders is recommended but once one has no collateral no one will lend you any money.

We have an agency to provide loans to the hard-core poor but there is a ongoing CBT case involving one of the officers so it appears that even government endorsed agencies have their own problems on money matters.

Already our prisons are teeming with remand cases and the backlog is more than a year. Do you think a person who has to borrow from an “Ah Long” is going to raise bail or the fine?

graphics: http://www.instant-lender.com/loansharkslogo.gif

Friday, January 26, 2007

The INC in Malaysia INC Now Seems to Stand for Incest

When the term Malaysian Inc. was introduced in the 80s it signalled the awakening of the government authorities that working with business in a cooperative collaboration would speeden up the industrialisation process and for at least 15 years Malaysia grew at an impressive pace given the stable political climate and reasonable laws to safeguard investors.

Even the NEP policies did not dampen the foreign investors and manufacturing became an important leg to augment the primary industries.

Somewhere along the way,the separation of business and government became blurred and today it seems that the government has developed an incestous relationship with some business that even a non-strategic toll and water agreement can be placed away from public scrutiny under the protection of the OSA.

As we do not have a Whistleblower's Protection Act to safeguard civil servants who expose wrong-doings,the Works Minister is now planning action under the OSA for the leak.

It does not matter even if the toll agreement reveals that the company given the concession was awarded the equivalent of a blank cheque and road users now have to pay for that generosity.

In some other countries, the person responsible would have had to resign and the anti-corruption agencies would conduct their own inquiry.

It is time to hold the government accountable for such devious practices.


The question was
"What Do You Think of the Conference of Academicians that Blamed Civil Servants for the Failure of Government Policies?"

There were 28 replies as follows:

14 or 50% chose "It Seems the Leaders are Trying to Pass the Buck"

7 or 25% felt "Three Years is Too Long to Discover Such Problems that Should Have Taken Six to Nine Months. Rectification of “Bloopers” Should Have Started After One Year."

6 or 21% chose "This Conference Reminds Me of the Movie “TITANIC”. When the Ship is Sinking the Band Started Playing “Nearer My God to Thee”."

1 or 4% chose "The Government is Doing the Right Think to Expose Weakness in the System"

Surprisingly no one selected "The Government Should Work More Closely with Unions in the Civil Service"

Is Basic Common Sense So Rare these Days?

I wonder why the Education Minister himself has to invite parents who were outraged by schools demanding details of parents’ income and other personal details to “go to him”.

I remember in the mid 90s when my eldest daughter was studying in Malaysian schools we used to get a similar form but we always signed the form with the remark, “not applying for any financial assistance” and we were not bothered anymore until the following year when the same exercise was conducted.

It appears that school authorities in various states have been allowed to exercise their own creativity to extract information from parents for questionable reasons.

Information on income is sensitive and many parents prefer to keep it private even from their own children. Children being smart will always know which end of the wealth continuum their family belongs but some wealthy families practise a frugal lifestyle to inculcate good money values in their children.

There is also the security factor as some smaller children may boast about their wealth and invite extortion attempts from school bullies or even worse, kidnap attempts from criminals. No one can guarantee the privacy of your information as Malaysia does not practise within the scope of any data protection laws.

Just a few years ago, I used to get unsolicited mail from companies that had been given my details by the Board of Engineers. How did I know? The reference number on the address had my BoE registration number.

But back to the school info problem. I suggest the following to the Minister of Education.

At the beginning of the year all students will be given this form letter:

“Dear Parent
In order to qualify for financial assistance and other aid, we need personal details like family income in the attached form.

If you do not need any financial assistance, please return only this form for our school records.

Education Ministry

Name of Parent:

Name of Pupil:

School year:

This is to certify that I do not require any financial assistance:____________________
(signed by parent)"

If the MoE orders all state offices to use only an approved standard format I am sure there will be no more complaints from parents.

Maybe then the Education Ministry will be able to fully focus on the important tasks at hand to improve the quality of education in Malaysia.

graphics: thanks to http://www.thinkingmatters.com/profile_animated1.gif

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Let Department Heads Deal with Simple Problem

I agree with CUEPACS that there is no need for the government to publish names of workers who have gone AWOL as it is really a waste of taxpayers’ monies.

I would imagine that in some dusty and long unused file in the HR Department of government offices that there is a manual for dealing with habitual latecomers and those who disappear from work.

I am sure the guide-lines could have the following situations and remedies:

• Late for work thrice in a month (less than 15 minutes) - meet supervisor

• Late more than thrice a month - one demerit point

• Absent from work – two demerit points

• More than five demerit points in a year - no salary increase, liable for transfer, union informed to advise employee, warning letter issued.

• More than ten demerit points - dismissal

Many government departments have spent good money to obtain their ISO certification that signifies they have a good system of documentation and quality control.

One very ingrained practice in government departments that can be remedied with proper discipline is the “clock-in and go for breakfast” syndrome.

Just visit the stalls near any government department around 8:15am and you will never fail to find officers of all ranks having their cuppa and other food.

This is such a simple problem to remedy if the HoD issues a warning that no officer is allowed to leave his place of work until the official tea break that should be clearly stipulated. No one is saying one cannot eat or drink at the work station unless it is an area where food is prohibited.

So we should talk to the HoD. Let’s arrange to meet him or her tomorrow at 8:10am.
Now we are at the HoD’s office and it is 8:15am. What’s that?

He’s gone for breakfast?

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

One Reason Why the Authorities Failed in Flood Action Planning

Since the authorities are going to have an “inquiry” into the recent floods that have devastated Johor, here is one reason why the response by the authorities was inadequate and seemingly uncoordinated.

If you study the information available on this website, it would appear that the sensing equipment could not transmit any information as probably the electrical controls were too low or close to the danger level and were “drowned”. It is also possible that the whole station may have been destroyed by the powerful floods.

Some of these stations were built above ground example the one at Kota Tinggi but the floor appears to be only 4 feet above ground level. If we assume that the electrics are located about shoulder height maximum and standard non-watertight wiring, if the flood rises 8 feet above ground, that station is going to be knocked out and we have the useless -99.99 error message.

To prevent a such a situation from arising again, we need to erect these monitoring stations at least four feet higher than the maximum level of the latest floods.

One other important use of such a river monitoring system is that it can be used to check on the possible silting of the rivers.

For example if the rivers have been de-silted and we also record rainfall in the area, we can correlate rainfall and the river depths.

If the river becomes silted the depth will increase with the same amount of rain. Do we make such records and then propose a de-silting program say every 5 years?
The recent comment by the Johor MB indicates that we do no such thing as it was implied only flooding causes silting of rivers.

This flood disaster proves how important it is for the government to deliver basic services in an efficient manner so that people are properly taken care of rather than indulge in frivolous adventures like the “man in space” lark.

photo: thanks to http://infobanjir.water.gov.my/photos/jhr/jhr14.htm

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Flood Disaster Inquiry

The massive floods in Johor is a wake-up call to all Malaysians and the authorities that we have been taking things for granted for too long.

The tsunami of 2004 was a sign of how much damage could be caused by natural disasters but unfortunately no one bothered enough to predict the dire consequences of what could happen like the massive floods that have devastated the lives of more than 100,000 persons and caused damage of more than RM2.4billion.

Exceptional rainfall is a natural phenomenon but the response to the heavy rains and the systems of drainage and dam control needs careful study.

A public inquiry needs to be conducted if Malaysians are expected to have more confidence in the measures to be taken. An inquiry involving only government bodies may lead to cover-ups and finger-pointing with no resolution of the problems. After all we are still waiting for the IPCMC to be established.

Among the items I would suggest for such an inquiry are:

• Illegal logging in the state forests

• Development of land areas without proper drainage control like retention ponds

• Illegal squatter colonies without proper drainage

• Poor maintenance of river bunds and pumping equipment

• Silting of major rivers with no annual records of river depths

• Lack of master-plan to manage drainage capacities

• Lack of options to manage reservoir discharges

• Dumping of rubbish into drains and rivers

• Master-plan for disaster action and cooperation between different government bodies.

As many homes near Kota Tinggi, Batu Pahat and Muar were badly affected the government can provide food and shelter for the badly affected residents by housing them in the National Service camps nearby for the next one or two months it will take them to repair their homes.

Those in the NS camps can be dismissed early after they spend perhaps a week volunteering their services for the cleanup.

That way schools will be available earlier for students to get back to disrupted lessons.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

We MUST Protect Vital Installations....

It is disheartening to read that Kota Tinggi will take a long time to remove flood waters from the town centre as four huge pumps have been damaged by the floods and they have become useless.

Just consider the difference between:

one pump on loan with capacity of 10 cubic meters per second and the
four pumps with 1000 cubic meters per second.

The net effect is that this makeshift pump will be pumping continuously without making any progress to reduce the water level.

The difference in capacity is 3900 cubic meters per second.

It is timely to take measures to safeguard such an important by installing it in a watertight building or making sure that the electrical system and supply is able to operate under water. I think it is feasible to produce such a design though the cost may be higher.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

What’s the Big Deal About Electronic Toll Payments

May I suggest to the MHA that they should make a trip to Singapore to study the whole process of electronic tolls.

I notice that even the one used in Malaysia the SmartTag is quite slow and you have to slow down at the toll barrier that needs to respond by letting you pass through only if you have enough credit.

As someone who drives to Singapore regularly I would say they have a really efficient system that you are not even aware that your money has been taken from you. Apart from the soft “beep” your drive is smooth and there is no barrier to block you.

Of course if you have insufficient credit those cameras will activate and you will promptly receive a summons to pay a compound fine.

The other aspect of the cash card is that the top-up is also very convenient as you can do so at any ATM of the various banks.

Our systems for collecting tolls are messy and inefficient with motorists having to manage different payment such as Smart Tag, Touch N Go and cash which is the worst system as it definitely slows the traffic.

We should swallow our pride and ask our Singapore friends at the LTA how they created such an effective system that allows cars to travel at speed of 80kph.

This system would also be very effective to design a Central Business District in KL where cars are allowed in after paying a toll. This would work if we upgrade the public transport so that people can park vehicles outside the congested zones and take public transport that should be subsidised in the CBD or even free for some routes.

You can read an article on electronic road pricing systems here.
To give motorists a chance to avoid the compound fine, the system can be designed so that one can top up online within 24 hours of the offence.

Then we will show the world that we have a gentler approach towards a minor offence.

We really made a hash of electronic toll systems. I suggest we do not compromise on quality this time around.
Photo: thanks to http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/transportissues/photos/erp.jpg

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Before We Blame God....

It is quite usual for people to blame God for mishaps and the recent floods in Johor have already been attributed to unusual weather with heavy rain that has not been seen for the last 100 odd years.

Already the government has engaged a consultant to come up with reasons why the floods have been so severe.

We have a weather bureau so why do we need another consultant to state the obvious?

Mankind has been the most destructive of nature's animals, yeah some of us are real beasts and we have changed the whole scheme of things so that many species have already become extinct.

A few weeks ago it was reported that a massive ice island has broken off the Alaska coast signalling further the irreversible change of global warming. Earth of course is subject to the forces in the cosmos and we are just one speck in the universe so we cannot really be sure if man will really destroy planet earth or we will be wiped out by a blast from outer space.

But coming back to the floods - before we point a finger upwards to blame God we should examine the following:

• Was there illegal logging around the affected areas?

• Were the river beds properly maintained to remove silting so that capacity is not reduced?

• Was housing development built according to approved plans with adequate green areas?

• Were the drainage systems properly maintained?

• Were the river capacities adequate to channel water flows as more areas were developed?

• Is there a master plan for drainage management for the areas affected by the floods?

It is interesting to note that Singapore with also a flat terrain only had flooding in a few places and the flood subsided after hours although they too had to release water from MacRitchie Reservoir.

Perhaps the main reason why flooding was not so severe there is they made the strategic decision to collect the maximum rainwater for their reservoirs and to do this all public drians have been properly maintained.

To check how we compare just go out your home and do a survey of the main drain outside your home. Our modus operandi for drain cleaning is that the cleaner scoops up the rubbish and it is just left there until the next downpour washes it down again.

In a way we should be glad the rain has only affected Johor. If the Klang Valley had that kind of continuous rain the death toll would have been catastrophic as we can see that the authorities have really little clue on how to manage disasters.

Flood Pictures near Kota Tinggi

My brother is involved with an outreach program to help the Orang Asli by the human development arm of the Catholic Church POHD and they have distributed aid to flood victims in Johor.

Boats waiting to transport aid outside Kota Tinggi. Sightseers are charged but those with relief aid could get a free service from some boats.

The road to Desaru required a 10-minute boat ride. They saw a few logs floating by.

Looking back to the cut off section of road.

A major development scheme may need further thought on their designs. Perhaps houses build with a void deck below.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Why Has an Emergency Not Been Declared?

The news on the floods is most devastating - TV3 announced at midnight that more than 100000 people are being given shelter in relief centres.

I drove to KL on Saturday morning and it rained all the way to near Air Keroh and in some places we could see land and buildings that was covered with water.

I drove back on Sunday afternoon and the situation had become worse. Although there was little rain en route in one particular area just south of the Pagoh rest stop the bridge is under threat and this will mean the closure of the highway here if the raging waters continue.

There were some PLUS officials at the site at about 6pm but looking at what had been prepared against the torrents I do not place much hope on them being able to save this bridge.

There seems to be a cavalier air about how the national leaders have handled the flood crisis. Both the PM and DPM were out of the country and it appears there is a lack of positive direction.

The leadership shown has been disappointing to most of the flood victims.
There have already been reports of looting and rescuers asking money from the victims.

It is not necessary to declare a national emergency but surely an emergency is necessary for the most affected areas like Batu Pahat and Kota Tinggi.

An emergency will allow the authorities to control the situation better and all unauthorised persons will not be allowed to exploit the situation. Any resident who wants to return home may be allowed subject to stringent controls.

The other aspect that is worrying is that appeals of aid have been made and some firms and individuals have donated generously to the victims. What measures are being taken to ensure that the aid actually goes to the victims?

Friday, January 12, 2007

Salary Revision for Civil Servants Can be Good for Malaysia

It is a good time for the government to review the whole structure of the civil service especially since operating costs and also pension costs have been increasing as Malaysians now live longer.

Broadly speaking I would revise the entire structure based on the following guidelines:

• Pensions will be abolished for all new employees who will contribute to the EPF scheme.

• Remove all medical benefits for family after retirement but the government will provide a transferable medical insurance coverage for retirement years on a shared premium payment with the government paying 60% of the costs.

• A thorough review through work study and job analysis to remove all surplus government employees who have been made redundant with advances in ICT and simplified work practices.

• Remove the “job for life” concept by replacing 5% of the worst employees each year so that civil servants will know that performing well is necessary to remain in employment. This will also inject new blood annually.

Instead of the blanket salary demands by the unions of up to 40% for the lower grades, I would suggest we adjust salaries on the following basis:

• 20% is a basic adjustment for the lowest grades
• 10% is a special Cost of Living Allowance for expensive cities like KL and JB with other places getting 1% to 9% based on studies
• 5% is an extra given to the best 10% of all employees.

This other story seems to suggest that the civil service has become a mine-field for foreign investors and this could be a major cause for Malaysia’s loss of competitiveness.

On a political note the unions have timed their demands well. You will expect most of their demands will be met just before the next elections.

photo: Thanks to http://www.dw-world.de/image/0,,1669073_1,00.jpg

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Now if All the OCPDs Can Offer This Service...

Just as criminals are getting bolder and more agressive, we need police officers who can assure the public that the Police is a force for law and integrity.

Even if some have opposed the IPCMC, it is good to note that a few senior officers are prepared to entertain calls for help from the general public.

However the police is an organisation and I would offer the suggestion that if the public do have to call him personally, he should also check out why the system of reporting is not functioning adequately.

It is important for the OCPD to devise a good system so that he does not have to put out too many fires himself.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Getting Boys to Do the Jobs of Men

Perhaps this is one scenario that is holding up our nation’s progress, from selecting our top leaders to even simple tasks like rubbish collection and repairing roads.

I guess that the contractor who did this bum job is probably one who has some experience doing minor road repairs and decided his skills were adequate to do a resurfacing job for the airport.

Perhaps no one mentioned that the forces generated when a Jumbo jet takes off and land is many times more than when a container lorry brakes or accelerates. Besides no local authority bothers when defects are found in a resurfacing contract.

Doing a runway must have been a profitable venture as the airport must have budgeted more than for a similar road near your house.

The story didn’t mention how much rectification works was done but I suspect the entire runway would need repairs soon as we are not told if the contractor used the proper equipment under strict supervision.

Maybe all that also comes under the Official Secrets Act?

Teaching Men to Fish

It is important for any government not only to create jobs but also to ensure that those with jobs know how to sustain their livelihood unless all of us can depend on the authorities for cosy contracts like the few chosen ones.

This story about fishermen not wanting to follow regulations that were passed in 1985 shows how both parties were not smart to work out a proper schedule of how to meet those regulations with proper education, improved methods and a defined schedule.

Now we have a difficult schedule of enforcing the rules and making people change with drastic enforcement.

It shows how inept people in the government and the fishing industry have not been able to produce viable plans to achieve goals.

• Considering this law to change the mesh size from 20mm to 38.8mm is really quite drastic and the law should have included the following features:

• Studies to show how incomes are affected and how to create other sources of income.

• Increasing the mesh size by 5mm every two years or other reasonable time such as the life-span of the net whichever is earlier. Old nets can be used for fresh water ponds? If a properly agreed timetable had been set, the rules should have been achieved after 8 years.

• Educating the fishermen that leaving the shrimp to develop will actually increase income over the longer term and also over-fishing will destroy their future.

I watched a program on Discovery Channel about the fishing season for king crabs off Alaska. The boats are only licensed to catch crabs only for a few days and they strictly enforce the minimum size ruling. That program would be a good documentary for the local fishermen to watch.

photo: Thanks to The Star

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Amazing Grace for ALL Malaysians

This was a great song used by the blacks in the USA when protests were necessary to gain their equal rights.

I suggest we can use such a song as we strive to make Malaysia a better country for all citizens, irrespective of race or religion.

Of Toll Agreements and Stupid Cabinets

The former Prime Minister is now trying to make excuses for the unfair agreements the government has signed with toll operators that gives them such a lucrative business model but is usually reserved for favoured operators.

It all harkens back to the first major highway project, the North-South Highway that was given to UMNO-related parties. At the time the highway had been largely completed from Penang to near Air Keroh with a few stretches in Perak incomplete.

The main job was to link up to Johor Bahru, about another 200km south.

Looking at the latest toll agreements, it seems that some operators have honed the art of squeezing poor road users to a fine art.

Any commercial project like tolled roads must be based on:

Expected revenue
Acceptable risk
Public good
Reasonable cost

The Litrak project is a good example where road users have been given a poor deal as “the government did not read the fine print” when they signed the agreement.
What balderdash!!

The Cabinet may not be familiar with all the project details but they must design proper policies so that those implementing the projects must ensure that the basic principles are adhered to. Furthermore this is not the first toll project so one can only wonder what changes were made or what principles were ignored.

The buck must stop somewhere and it is definitely not at the office boy.

This is a very rational proposal from the DAP on how the government can extricate itself from the toll predicament.

The business magazine The Edge Daily has some very interesting articles on Litrak and other companies. If you use their search feature and enter “Litrak” many article are available for your research.

This particular article gives me a few interesting thoughts:

I have rounded the numbers to make reckoning simpler:

40% of company equals 200m shares
so 100% of company equals 500m shares

Market price is about RM3

The government can therefore takeover this company for RM1.5b with finance from the EPF and other funds. After all the EPF does have problems finding good companies to invest in.

After the takeover, the company’s profits at the previous toll rate can be channelled into a special fund that will be used to buy back the toll companies so that all these companies will charge reasonable or reduced rates in future.

One of the articles also shows why that 30% magical equity stake cannot be maintained.

The toll agreements are perceived to be contrived schemes to enrich the few cronies with unjust toll agreements that have been shrouded with great secrecy.

It is time for the government to come clean now and not just blame the civil servants who cannot reply to criticism by the public or the leaders.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Flood Relief Plans-Only 6% Think Plans Have Been Good

I am posting this from Singapore as somehow the Internet here seems to work much faster than the one in JB.

MALAYSIAWATCH POLL 20 asked the question, "What is Your Feeling about the Response to the Latest Floods?"

Here are the following results:
There were 50 replies, possibly on account of Christmas hangover, the floods in Johor or the slow Internet speeds.

94% or 47 voters felt the government did not do a good job as follows:

18 voters or 36% chose "Ordinary citizens have been let down badly and some have been killed through negligence"
17 voters or 34% picked "What Plans? The Authorities have been caught with their pants down as usual"
11 voters or 22% chose "The Minister or person in charge of National Disasters should be sacked"
1 voter or 2% chose "The Plans could have been better implemented"

The 3 voters or 6% who think the plans were good chose "The Government has been well prepared"

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Take the First MALAYSIAWATCH POLL of 2007

The recent news about the conference for academicians seems to suggest that the government is trying to allocate some blame for its failures on different or the breakdown in the process from policies to plans to implementation.

Take the poll to record what you think of such an exercise.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Justice Delayed is Justice Denied

Our justice system needs a major overhaul so that justice can be more speedily administered.

The latest case wherein the accused is to be held for at least one year before the trial means the following occurs:

• An innocent party may be jailed just because he or she is accused of a crime

• The government incurs the costs of holding and feeding detainees. If we take RM20 per day as total costs per detainee inclusive of food, shelter and admin costs, each detainee costs the government RM7300 per annum. If we remand 10,000 persons for one year on average that costs the nation RM73,000,000 per annum.

I suggest the following:

• Electronic tagging for remand prisoners unless that person is a serious danger to society such as armed robbers or serial rapists.

• Establishing night courts in all the major cities like KL, Ipoh, Penang, Malacca, JB, Kuching and Kota Kinabalu to speedily dispose of traffic and other minor cases.

• Establish a procedure whereby those pleading “guilty” can be heard by one court in quick succession so that valuable court can be optimised.

Malaysia’s Bloopers?

I just wonder how a newspaper like the NST can describe the failure of the civil service to execute the plans of the Prime Minister as “being held up by bloopers” which is a term used in newspapers and TV when a mistake is made.

We are already in the fourth year of his stewardship and the failure of plans are definitely not “bloopers” that are rectified post haste so that the program or article will function according to plan.

So can we also call the latest NS bus fiasco a “blooper”? Is the near fraud on or by the EPF with the dubious company another “blooper”?

If you are in charge of a country and have made plans that “are excellent and practical” you do not wait three years to organise a group of academicians to lay the blame on policy makers and the executers who may have not bought into those plans.

A captain of a ship cannot just set out the course and not check if the crew is following the plan until the ship hits an iceberg.

No doubt people find it difficult to change but a proper plan will incorporate steps to reduce opposition to change.

Just like the latest move by the Education Minister to “revolutionise” the education system, have the relevant parties like teachers, parents and MOE officers been part of the consultation process?

Any plan that does not address all the relevant issues is going to fail.

Civil servants who resist government policies should be asked to resign. In fact if they sabotage policies and plans they should be sacked.

This conference has been ill-conceived as it shows that the leadership really does not know the meaning of “leadership, authority, responsibility and accountability.”

Perhaps Malaysians committed the biggest blooper when they gave the BN victory in the last elections.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Muddled Thinking at the JPJ

The recent move by the JPJ to reduce road tax may seem thoughtful of the government given that they have already charged you an arm and a leg with higher fuel prices and never-ending tolls.

However if you study the mechanism by which motorists have to claim a refund you cannot help but think , "There should be a more efficient way to operate a refund scheme."

Maybe the JPJ is really overstaffed and the authorities need to record on the timesheet all the unnecessary work that this refund will create.

If we estimate that 80% of all cars are below 1200cc and these motorists will only receive a refund of RM10 to RM25 it looks that this exercise will only create big jams at JPJ offices.

I would suggest that the JPJ provide the option that a refund is optional for cars below 1200cc and the extra paid will be credited in next year's road tax automatically for all those who do not apply for the refund.

It is patently stupid to drive 10km to the JPJ office, pay RM3 tolls and queue up for 2 hours to claim RM10.

I wonder if JPJ stands for Just Playing Jokes

Graphics: thanks to New Straits Times

EPF for Easy Payments Front

If you have an account with the EPF this story
should make you worry about the future.

How could the EPF part with any monies, refundable or otherwise when all the important checks were not completed?

This important story is not complete as the following elements are missing:

• What action has been taken against the manager who approved payment for such a dubious company?

• Who is the MD who offered to sell the EPF a lemon?

• What action is being taken against the MD who should be sued for intent to cheat?

• How is the EPF organised such that this type of deals are encouraged?

The EPF does not hold any money of mine anymore so I leave it to account members to demand a proper accounting of their funds.

Graphics: thanks to http://www.freephoto1.com/photo/photo-money-5.jpg

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Malaysia Tak Boleh!

This is a rather pathetic state of affairs as far as our Super Corridor etc is concerned when the Internet service can be so severely disrupted.

I was in Singapore before the New Year and was able to access the Net with no problems from 31st December to 2nd January.

So what gives with our MCMC asking corporate clients to restrict usage of the Net. It would be more appopriate for them to explain how the tiny red dot south of JB has been able to respond more speedily.

No need to go to the USA for another study tour - just get to Singapore to learn how things should work.
It's too embarrasing to talk of our broadband speed - it says 100Mbps but I think the delivery rate is more like 2Mbps.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Maybe NS Stands for “National Slumber”

My regular readers will know that in principle I have been against the national service scheme as it is trying to solve the national integration problem years too late.

My opinion is that there should be a more concerted effort by all parties to get at least 80% of all Malaysian children studying together for at least 10 years from primary school right up to the SPM exams just like it used to be until the 70s.

We have had the current NS program for at least 2 years now and it seems the authorities cannot even get this program operating without major hitches.

One worries about the calibre of the people in charge of planning and logistics when even simple registration procedures and transport arrangements can go awry.

Parents cannot help but fear for their children’s welfare when buses without insurance are used to transport trainees. The MB can afford to settle the summons but what happens if these buses get involved in an accident? Who will compensate the loss of life and limb?

Why are such compromises on safety tolerated by the NS officials?
There is no need to jeopardise lives when they could have postponed the start of the camp especially if many officers were away on leave or affected by the recent floods.
Losing a few days in camp will not diminish any benefits the trainees will acquire during the 3-month long program.

After all the Outward Bound School operates a regular 25-day course that also develops teamwork and leadership skills.

Pardon my saying so but I have the feeling that in Malaysia NS actually means “National Slumber”

photo:Thanks to The Star