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

Saturday, March 31, 2007

When InCompetents are in Charge

We recently witnessed a hill-slope in PutraJaya fail and now we have a cute story that the land-slide occurred as "a rise in ground water level" created a surge in water pressure.

I am sure most Malaysians must be baffled by this new scientific phenomenon. If the ground water level can rise so dramatically one should expect that the area around the flats would have become soggy and perhaps under a few inches of water.

We should report this happening to world scientific journals so that it will make a useful contribution to science.

However the skeptics among us will probably think:

Our Works Minister announced on national TV that a leaking pipe/water tank had been reported to the local authority about a year ago.

The rain had been quite heavy the days before the landslide occurred and probably

No one had maintained the drains that were built years ago and local ponding areas had developed on that slope.

Of course the slope needs to be stabilised. Just don't cook up a cock and bull story. The manager in charge of that slope maintenance also needs to be fired or the next time someone could get killed on account of negligence.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

More Lame Excuses...

Just imagine that.

One hundred thousand people affected by a water supply failure and the weak excuse given was that "eight pumps at a water treatment plant in Pelubang, near here, broke down on Saturday."

I guess Malaysians are really forgiving and we accept such poor service with a shrug of "What to do, lah?"

Such a basic failure can only occur if we have incompetents in charge of vital utilities like water supply.

How can we have eight pumps are failing at the same time?
Given our poor attitude to maintenance and with weak supervision I would hazard the following:

*possibly 3 out of the 8 pumps were already out of service as awaiting spares, etc
*the suction pipes to the pumps were so clogged with debris the pumps were starved and therefore burned out the motors
*the supply tank water level was too low and the pumps were run anyway

I don't see how we can boast having first world infrastructure when we cannot operate a simple water treatment plant properly.

I suggest it is not the pumps that need fixing. The operators need to be fixed first.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Paying More to Ensure Integrity?

Many have written about the need to pay the police more so that members do not succumb to graft that is perceived by many to be a major problem.

Apart from graft there have also been serious allegations about misconduct and even crimes committed by members of the police force; rangeing from sudden deaths in police lock-ups to the famous nude squats of a woman that was widely circulated.

We also know that the political leaders have not had the courage to implement the IPCMC and all types of delaying tactics have been offered. More skeptical members of the public have probably come to the conclusion that the Attorney-General's office is busy translating the legal framework of the Commission into ancient Greek or Sanskrit or both.

But will paying more money to all civil servants eradicate graft?
In an era of consumerism, it is all too easy for anyone to get enticed into a lifestyle that cannot be sustained with one's income.

Even ministers with salaries of RM15000 plus a month can be seduced by the luxuries of the world and worse still if he or she has a spouse who enjoys luxury goods.

So we should not imagine for one second that simply paying more to civil servants is going to curb graft. The authorities must show that it is really serious about combatting corruption.

And so far the AG's office seems rather slow in pursuing the so-called 18 cases involving VIPs. Guess it is all Greek or Sanskrit to them.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Don't Blame the Computer...

The IRB can be considered one of the most efficient government bodies in that it collects more money in taxes each year from citizens very effectively but can take years when they have to refund overpaid taxes.

You usually get a letter stating your tax credit for years ago but the letter also states it does not take into account your existing situation with respect to taxes. So that is why you are not getting any monies back.

It is really unfair. If they can fine you 10% if you are late in paying your tax they should also in all fairness pay you interest at least equal to the current fixed deposit rates for the years they hold on to your monies.

With the computerisation of the IRD I am sure the system should be able to calculate all your past years records up to the current year.

And blaming the upgrade exercise for the recent glitch is really lame. Didn't they pay some expensive consultant to stress test the system before the launch?

photo: Thanks to http://www.lostcircuits.com/motherboard/asus_p5a/p5a.gif

Monday, March 26, 2007

This is How the IDR Can Succeed

This is one way to get IDR to succeed - it should be given up ala HongKong to any investor that wants to administer the place via local elections, election of a governor etc.

So perhaps the first step should be holding a referendum for the people of southern Johor perhaps from Kota Tinggi across to Pontian or some other appropriate town to see if they want to participate in the 99 year project.

It will be a autonomous zone within Malaysia that will still provide security under the control of locally elected officials.

So how would the central authorities gain? Perhaps they could get 20% of all profits earned by the IDR during the period.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Almost a Repeat of Highland Towers

It is simply not safe to live near hill slopes in Malaysia.

The Highland Towers tragedy some years ago was caused by water that had been allowed to seep and undercut the foundations of the building; thereby causing the building to topple. Unfortunately the courts ruled that the municipality was not liable even though they were negligent.

So history almost repeats itself.
According to this article the resident was quoted as saying “The residents reported the leakage to the authorities since a year ago but no action was taken,”

There should be an inquiry as to what action if any was taken after the report was made.

Building so close to a hill is also an invitation to problems. Ten meters is a very short distance to avoid damage when a landslide occurs. Is there not a code of practice to adjust clearance space to height of hill?

I mean if the hill is 100 meters tall and even if you have a 45 degree slope that 10 meter gap will not help much in a landslide.

The IGP May Be a Man of Action and Vision but ....

after 200 years and the accumulation of bad practices among the force that culminated in the Royal Inquiry, Malaysia really needs to implement the IPCMC that proposed changes in which the public would have an avenue to address problems related to the police.

Of course no one likes to be under investigation but if there is any doubt about the integrity of the force, only a body like the IPCMC would be able to address the problem.

For one thing, the IGP's appointment is only a temporary one for about 2 years and I am sure getting the Royal Police to become a world class force will take at least 5 years.

If the public do not change their perception of the police, the whole campaign to combat crime will not succeed.

Let's get the IPCMC going without further delay. It is already two years too late.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Our MPs Should Read This

As we approach our 50th year of independence (for Malaya) it is time we put more responsibility on our MPs to develop a more mature democracy where MPs can exercise some checks on excesses in government or the abuses of power.

Perhaps they should read this article about how US lawmakers are demanding that the FBI conducts itself in a more professional manner or its powers would be curbed.

Over there it is common for lawmakers to even sanction their own party leaders who are in government positions when abuse of powers occurs.

In Malaysia many have been detained under EO and the power of the minister is unfettered as the detention cannot be challenged in the courts.

As a progressive nation we should abolish such repressive laws as it is a basic violation against human rights. No one should have the power to detain another human being without a due process.

Trying to Attract Investors for Iskandar Development or Simply Making Profits?

There is an advert in today’s Star about a conference to be organised by the authorities and the Institute of Surveyors Malaysia(info under e-Broadcast section), seemingly to attract investors for the Iskandar Development Project that is a prominent feature of the 9MP.

However the pricing for the 2-day conference where the main speakers are mainly related to government agencies appears to be too expensive if the main purpose is to attract investors for this most important development program that will take place over many years.

It appears that the organisers are mainly interested in making profits from this seminar even before potential investors can be attracted to the region.

There is another conference being organised in a five-star hotel during April in Johor Bahru and the price for that conference is only RM468 which includes all meals for two full days. I am also sure the organisers will not lose money for that event.

Having to pay RM800 for a conference where most of the speakers are from government agencies seems to be more a money-making exercise. If the authorities are really serious about attracting investors, the government should underwrite the conference and then extend free invitations to at least 100 important persons and even arrange travel packages for them at special rates.

A more reasonable fee for the conference would be about RM500 per person and limited to two persons per company unless vacancies are still available two weeks before the event.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Spending Trainloads of Money on Obsolete Systems

Apart from the shady way in which the deal was awarded, it is shocking to discover that instead of getting a modern efficient railway system in the process we are merely spending trainloads of money to duplicate a system that could qualify as one of the most antiquated train systems in the world.

Even today train derailments occur with regular frequency for no apparent reason except that the trains have probably been going too fast for the narrow gauge track that was started shortly after trains were invented.

This is an interesting article about KTM’s recent developments.
You can read more about the history of KTM here.

I am sure that when the project was stopped soon after Bawadi became the PM many thought that the government had come to its senses and was going to curb mega-projects that did not make economic sense.

Now it seems we are going to spend billions more on a project that is really outdated even on the drawing board. At first the idea of a Trans- Asia track was mooted so Asia could boast the equivalent of the European network and trains were supposed to run from Singapore all the way to China.

Already rail is struggling with competition from private cars and budget airlines. How do you suppose a train is going to compete when fares are more expensive and you will need to change trains for China or India destinations?

Let’s face it. Most people prefer not to travel by train. So why waste money on such a dubious project? We are spending monies on a system that should be scrapped or just maintained without further capital inputs.

Even the description of “expediency of government expenditure” to restart the project smacks of gross mismanagement of taxpayers’ funds. It appears that the authorities have no idea on what projects will provide the most bang for our bucks.

But those involved with the project and the political sponsors will definitely receive some enjoyable bangs. Maybe they should convert some of those slow wagons into private sleeping quarters for a ride they will not forget. There will definitely be many empty carriages on the tracks then.

Has anyone seen the financials on how this project is going to provide a reasonable rate of return? How about the projected numbers from the passenger and freight markets?

Instead of building a double track for the whole country with the narrow gauge, the money would be better spent developing a completely new system starting with Rawang-KL-PJ-Klang and then developing other systems once the project proves viable.

It is really not necessary to have a double track system for the whole network but this should be planned as a future development.

Picture: Thanks to http://1stclass.mylargescale.com/hap/show%20display%20%20my%20train/my%20trains/circus%20train.jpg. A picture of things to come?

Monday, March 19, 2007

For Cat Lovers......

I was waiting in the Singapore CIQ for the 170 bus back to Johor Bahru when this cat was spotted.

It was pregnant and was carrying a clear pink plastic bag with a white moulded box of food; just like what humans get when they pack food to go.

Even the cut chillies in a smaller plastic could be seen and I guess it was chicken rice.

The cat knew exactly where it was going and headed through some bars into the immigration offices probably trying to find a spot where it could open the packaging and find out what was for lunch.

No one was in pursuit and I guess the person gave up after the cat entered the security area.

Unfortunately I did not have a camera with me. Some fellow passengers were also amused by the cat's ingenuity at getting a free meal.

I hope the guy or gal who skipped lunch does not feel too unkindly towards that cat.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

More Feel PM Not to Be Blamed for KLSE Collapse

That is the result of MALAYSIAWATCH POLL 24 that asked the question,

"Stock Market Woes. Is it fair to blame the PM for the market’s recent tumble?"

Here is the breakdown:

A total of 30 votes were cast as follows:

16 or 54% selected NO under the folowing choices -

11 picked "No but the PM must refrain from making remarks like predicting the next high levels."
5 picked "No. People should do some proper research before investing in good companies."

8 or 26% selected YES with the following choices -

7 picked "Yes it was the most horrible time to make such a remark just as the market was about to burst."
1 picked "Yes as the PM was encouraging people to put their money in."

6 or 20% chose "Perhaps as the PM’s remarks carries a lot of influence among the less informed"

So newbies to the KLSE are warned to do proper research before putting your money in the KLSE.
Never listen to rumours unless you know the following:

"How many other persons have heard this rumour?"

"What are their positions in the market?"

I used to tell friends who used to give me tips:
"Even if the Finance Minister were to give me a tip directly, I would want to know his position in the market before that tip is useful to me".

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Scoring the Wrong Points

I find these remarks unworthy of the Malaysian PM.

Why mention only the Malays who did well?

He would have shown himself to be the PM for all Malaysians if his speech had been written to include the non-Malays who had also done well.

It would have been a good opportunity to show that if anyone studies hard and is properly motivated, he or she can do well irrespective of race.

The other point that should have been emphasised is that the government encourages everyone to work hard so they can enjoy the fruits of their efforts and not depend on fossilised programs like the NEP.

Then there is the father who falsified scoring a record number of As as he claims he wanted to motivate his son. That's the kind of parent we don't need.

Sorry PM but you have failed those who gave you that huge mandate. As the saying goes, "Fool us once, shame on you; fool us twice.....Naah I don't think so."

Then there is the father who falsified exam results to "score" a record number of As and he said he did it to motivate his son. That is the type of parent we can do without.

Friday, March 16, 2007

The Wrong Approach to National Service

This article shows how some parents think that National Service can undo the damage caused by neglect of parents with respect to poor discipline and bad upbringing.

This writer thinks that allowing trainers to wield the cane on 18 year-olds for 12 months will do more harm than good.

We cannot expect the government to turn out model citizens if parents fail to bring up their children properly from young.

If anything we should start a NS for parents who appear to have no idea on how to discipline children.

One of the factors that contributes to delinquent children is the growing numbers of single parent families and families with too many children for each to receive enough love and attention.

Do you think a military style experience will change that?

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

What Do You Think of Vision 2057?

That is the subject of MalaysiaWatch Poll 25.

After 50 years of independence it is good to ponder where our nation is headed and also give feedback to our leaders.

BTW the KLSE has also had a major set-back today.

I Agree with the Education Minister

Students should definitely not be encouraged to attempt so many subjects at SPM level as we do not want youths who are only good at cramming for exams.

I agree with the Education Minister that families who pressure their children to create records should be prepared for disappointment when their children cannot cope or even worse succumb to the stress of exams.

I know of a tragic case where a Malaysian who was admitted to a Singapore university had to drop out as she could not cope with the system. She returned home and finally took her life.

It is also strange that the Education Ministry does not want to name the top SPM student this year as "it would be unfair to name one student as the best since all 105 had their strengths and weaknesses".

Last year there was no problem naming the student but this year there is a change of mindset? Unless this is a new policy not to officially name the best student this remark appears to have a racial bearing as the top student is a Chinese whereas last year the champion was a Malay.

It is like not wanting to name the top doubles badminton players of Malaysia solely because the champs are Chinese.

Here is one suggestion for the Ministry to curb the practice of students taking too many papers:

First 8 papers charge exam fees as present rate
next 6 papers charge exam fees double rates
next 6 papers triple rates

If special arrangements have to be made to adjust exam times a fee of RM100 per suject will be charged.

It also appears that some parents should plan for their children to take GCE "O" levels and then "A" levels so their children can fast-track to twinning colleges in Malaysia.

But I am not an expert on education so please check the importance of passing Bahasa Malaysia at SPM level if you want to consider this option.

Just imagine the time you will save on those trips to private lessons on the extra subjects.

Monday, March 12, 2007

National Service – Back to the Drawing Board?

This scheme to improve racial interaction and promote harmony among the youth has been riddled with many problems such as:

• Poor and unhygienic food in some camps

• Deaths of trainees

• Equipment in unusable condition

• Transport glitches

• Fights, rapes and other unacceptable behaviour of trainees and trainers

No one accepts perfection in a program that was hastily implemented but after a few years experience and a dozen intakes one expects that the NS program would have worked through all the problems.

My opinion is that the NS program is trying to undo problems that should have been tackled earlier; probably at the time when students enter secondary schools.

We should make it compulsory for every student to participate in one ECA that is a uniformed group like the Scouts/Guides, St John’s Ambulance Brigade, Cadets or Military Band and this ECA should not take up more than 2 hours each week.

The uniformed groups can organise interschool activities perhaps once every quarter and an annual camp during school holidays can be organised in each state lasting three or four days.

After four or five years activity in such a program we will see a more disciplined youth of 17 or 18 years ready for a one-month NS program that will require ALL youths to attend.

The budget for these programs should be with the Education Ministry and the Family Ministry.

It was reported that the Chairman of the NS Board mentioned that 45% of the NS program consists of military drills and this seems such a waste of time, effort and money.

How does marching two or three times a day in the hot sun improve racial interaction?

The other weakness in the strategy of the NS is that only 10 to 15% of the population is trained each year. This means that the majority of the population is not learning how to interact better with other communities.

Perhaps this provides a convenient loophole for some people not to get their children involved and this is a major flaw.

After my son was not drafted for NS my wife and I decided to send him for the 28-day Outward Bound School in Lumut as we wanted him to become more independent.

If we cut the NS program to 30 days, we can effectively increase the intake threefold.

Uniforms can also be reused if in good condition and we can allow trainees to take home one set of uniform as a souvenir.

Deaths of trainees is also a cause of concern. As most of the trainees are school leavers it indicates that some students have not been taking part in physical education activities at school.

As my children have all left school and as they studied in Singapore anyway I do not know what type of PE Malaysians do in school.

There is a private school in Melodies Garden and I have observed teachers watching in the shade while some students go through the motions of a PE lesson.

Do Malaysian schools conduct proper PE lessons for all students or is it just a case of “take the next 40 minutes and kick the ball if you are interested”?

I know that in Singapore schools every student is graded on their fitness level, the final stage of which is the 5km run two or three times a year and you are graded according to how long you take to complete.

If you are graded poor on account of obesity, they conduct more training for you and you must attend the special sessions.

If we had proper PE classes in schools, the student’s records should have indicated any health problems and this should have sounded warning bells when reporting for NS.

It appears that the health problem like the racial harmony problem should have been tackled earlier via the school system.

I suggest that the NS scheme should be shortened to 30 days and programs to improve racial harmony should start in secondary schools.

Graphics: Thanks to http://www.filatelic.com/FOLDER/D040522a.jpg

Sunday, March 11, 2007

SEMUA-NYA OK for Approved Parasites

This report shows how connected parties or cronies can get away with privileged deals.

It is quite surprising these people are not included in the list of Malaysia's richest citizens.

According to the report, the DPM mentions
“It was a legacy of old problems, a transition problem which needed to be resolved once and for all.

“There were cars that were already here because of some practices in respect to the importation of cars, whereby they (importers) just bring them in with the understanding that they would get APs,”

Very interesting indeed.
And such beautifully crafted language to cover a multitude of sins.

As taxpayers and voters we should ask what was the basis on which the importers simply brought in cars that they hoped to get APs later?

Seems they were just taking a business risk or were being plain greedy. Perhaps they did this once before and it worked well as some arrangements were made with the relevant parties.

We should not be taken to be fools with such eloquent terms but ask the DPM to shed more light on a matter of 3000 APs times market value of RM30k each or RM90000000.

Photo: Thanks to http://www.iran-daily.com/1384/2505/html/045225.jpg

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Malaysians! Wake-up or Tragedies will Abound

Malaysians need to wake up and demand changes in all aspects of society
including the way we live and are governed if we are not to be forever
condemned as a country with "first class infrastructure and third class

I would argue that it is not really possible to develop really first class
infrastructure with a third class mentality. The facade may be present but
one examines closely the structure, many things are not working well as it
has been so from the time the project was awarded to some incompetent crony
contractor. Think of the hundreds of school computer labs and the naval

Even the present outrage about the rapes of two young girls and the usual
knee-jerk reactions by the authorities is only a symptom of the deep cancer
that has taken hold in the fabric of our society. We have become a society
that responds like a coop of headless chickens running around whenever
something terrible happens be it the rape of young girls, incest, rogue
policemen, crony contracts that have gone terribly wrong.

The following list indicates the spectrum of our problems:

- The judiciary appears to be in a state of turmoil and many have written
about the perception that the courts have lost their independence. The Anwar
Ibrahim case is the on-going example of how it seems politics has clouded
the administration of justice.

- The police are perceived by the public to be avoided by normal folks as
they cannot be trusted and even have criminal elements in their midst. The
latest example of a chief inspector-turned- bank robber being shot dead
shows how rotten the apples in the barrel are. The high incidence of
questionable deaths in police lock-ups should be the subject of a public
inquiry as our system of justice is that one is "presumed innocent unless
proven guilty" by the courts and not the police.

- Security firms have been allowed to lease their licences and it appears
about 30 percent of them have done so. Another example of how a corrupting
system of patronage allows a few favoured ones to make money by leasing to
third parties. This also applies to taxi permits that are given to companies
instead of individual taxi drivers.

- The high rate of divorce and single parents who are not maintained by
ex-husbands creates a large pool of neglected juveniles who are easily
influenced by the thrash programmes on TV, the violence of computer games
and the availability of uncensored VCDs.

- The violence on the roads may not be just a consequence of poor planning,
overcrowded roads and poor driving methods. I would suggest it is a form of
frustration at how rotten the whole system is and the helplessness to change
that system creates demons behind the wheels.

- I had a discussion with a headmistress of a Chinese school and was
surprised that some classes had 50 pupils compared to 30 to 40 in
national-type schools. I guess overcrowding is one way to introduce a
disabled system to disadvantage our young Malaysians.

- The national service is a confirmation that the leaders realise that we
have serious problems in national unity. However, three months in a camp
after 12 years of discrimination in the school system is always going to be
a losing battle. The Jesuits have a belief that if you allow them to train
your child for the first six years, they will train him for life.

- The campaign to recruit ex-Malaysians will not work unless the whole
system changes. Why would an ex-Malaysian who has escaped a system where
he/she was subjected to so many difficulties and becomes successful in
another country want to return to the same system and subject his/her
children to the same predicament? This programme is like closing the stable
door after the horse has bolted.

- The award of multi-billion ringgit contracts such as the cancelled
double-tracking rail project and the infamous crooked bridge without public
tender and feedback is a clarion sign for all in the public service that
'Anything Goes' under the battle cry of 'Malaysia Boleh'.

- The disenfranchisement of ratepayers by abolishing local elections has
resulted in the failure of local councils to give good service. Johor Baru
is a good example where rutted roads with umpteen patches allow motorists to
test their suspensions while millions of ringgit are being spent in an area
of town that will become obsolete with the new CIQ (Customs, Immigration and
Quarantine complex).

- The churning out of thousands of graduates who cannot be employed in any
job without undergoing paid training.

Unless we really want to change Malaysia for the better, we should be
prepared to read of more rapes, incest, rogue policemen and corrupt
politicians. It is time we ask our would-be MPs how they can help to make
Malaysia a better place and not just give them another blank cheque.

As voters, we should exercise that right carefully or be prepared for more
tragedies. Even if there is a sea of change in the BN, we should be prepared
for things to get worse before they get better.

There is an universal law of nature that is against us and that is the law
of entropy where everything ultimately decays and this was proved by the
failure of the New Economic Policy that has resulted in a university system
that produces thousands of unemployable graduates and crony capitalists who
cannot survive without their diamond-studded crutches.

Unless we are brave enough to bring in new ideas, elect new leaders and
create a better system where all Malaysians can hope to share in the
economic benefits, we should expect to read more bad news.

This was a letter to malaysiakini dated Wed Jan 28th, 2004 I wrote before I started this blog

TENAGA can Afford to Be Generous

Or perhaps the Malacca government can get the federal authorities to acquire this island under laws to protect endangered species and to allow eco-tourism.

One wonders why the Malacca government sold this island to TNB for a measly RM3m and the company now hopes to get a good price.

I would suggest the government allocates a piece of land off the island and build equivalent facilities in exchange so that the island can become a turtle sanctuary.

I am sure the major shareholders of TNB would not object to such an exchange.
The training facilities can be used to house some conservation staff and also provide some basic facilities as a eco-tourism project where only day-trippers are allowed to come and observe the turtles.

Time to Bring Back Local Elections

If this is the calibre of people appointed to lead local councils it is time the people are given back their basic right of electing town council presidents.

We cannot allow this type of people to lead local councils and no wonder the whole state seems to be one of anarchy.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Wrong Behaviour All Round

It should have been a simple incident that happens all the time all over Malaysia.

Many motorists, including me, try to avoid paying parking charges when parking for a few minutes.

Most parking wardens are quite patient and will give a few minutes grace before printing out the summons as I believe most tend to be a little forgiving as they understand that many people are suffering from high petrol costs and toll charges.

In fact I just witnessed a parking attendant advising a motorist where she could park without him having to issue a summons. There were 3 cars double-parked near a bank and one car owner had been issued a summons as no one was in the car.

This case is a reflection of how Malaysian society shows its ugly face.

I would guess the following:

The car owner must have shouted rather rudely at the attendant for him to issue the ticket and perhaps this has been going on many times.

The car owner should not have become involved in the scuffle as the guy was only doing his job.

What happened later is truly scandalous as the tailor who was the brother of the car owner gets abducted by the enforcement officers to the police station and he is forced to post RM1000 bail to be released.

It seems that some action should be taken regarding the following incidents:

*the scuffle between the parking attendant and the car owner.
*the abduction of the witness to the police station
*the police officers for demanding bail for the witness to be released.

What should have been a simple matter now becomes an issue of criminal force and abuse of power.
This is what happens when we have bad governance.

Photo: Thanks to http://users.mtrx.net/funnypics/content/-rdm1-ABCD1234-rdm1-/2005/2005-08-23-0002/ZAFP238.JPG

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Believe This and You Can Get Yourself Killed

I find this claim rather incredulous.

Here is a senior official claiming the following:

*The Smart Tunnel will not collapse due to earthquakes as it is "underground and circular".
*As the tsunami did not affect it, it will also not be affected by earthquakes.

It also implies that the claim has been made via the following logic:
It was able to withstand the tsunami and so will be able to survive an earthquake.

You notice there is no specific information given as "We designed this tunnel to withstand an earthquake of magnitude 6.5 on the Richter scale with the epicenter 500km away.

The claim that only buildings on the surface can be affected by earthquakes amounts to deceiving the public and endangering their lives as many motorists will believe this statement.

Just ponder this question,
"How does the shock wave of an earthquake travel?"
You can learn more about earthquakes here
For me I will not drive into that tunnel unless I really have to. After all the problems with the MRR2 don't be surprised when flaws are detected in this RM1.6b showpiece.

photo: Thanks to https://www.fh.org/uploads/d1/ib/d1ibM4waeqZ1qMeR_8cihg/indonesia.jpg

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

KLSE Woes as MalaysiaWatch Poll 24

This is your chance to show how you feel about the PM's remarks about the KLSE rising to new record levels just before the market crashed.

I hope you were not too badly affected. My program asked me to sell about RM9000 worth of shares but I procrastinated before the Beijing trip and when I returned the program asked me to sell RM1000 worth. The program is about six years old.

I wrote this in LKS's blog.

"Anyone who just listens to another’s advice to invest in the share market without proper study and resources needs to lose his money so that he will learn the lesson for the next round.

People used to give me tips or rumours but I always used to say, “Even if the Finance Minister gave me a tip privately, I would have to know his position in the market before that advice becomes useful to me.”

I also never ask my broker for advice as I do not know their position and if they are that good, they would not have to earn your commission.

The same applies to most fund managers. I think most of them survive on the annual fees and most funds just track the market performance."

Clearing the Air or Creating More Suspicion?

This story about a factory operating without a proper licence should be investigated further as it appears to be an official "whitewash".

Just consider the following details given in the news article:

*The factory started operations in February 2004
*It applied for a licence in September 2006
*The fire department replied in February 2007
*Council approved licence the next day in February 2007

I think the following questions should be answered:

*Why did the factory not apply for a licence in February 2004?
*Why did the fire department take 4 months to approve a relatively small factory?
*Did the factory encounter "difficulties" in getting the Bomba approval?
*Did the factory have other proper approvals as from the Machinery Department during the period from Feb 2004 to Feb 2007?

It seems that the council has also been lacksadaisical in enforcing its own rules by allowing a factory to operate without Bomba approval for five months. If a fire had broken out, workers would have been in greater danger without the water sprinkler system. A plastic moulding factory deals with highly flammable materials and a sprinkler system will not put out the fire though it will provide workers a few precious seconds to get out before the factory usually burns down.

It should have been a requirement for Bomba approval at the planning stage; ie before the factory was built or the manufacturing licence approved before the factory was allowed to commence full production.

The other aspect that will be useful for investors is that local councils should be given say one month to approve all licencing matters. The fixed time limit should apply to all departments. If there is no feed-back, the approval is deemed automatic.

If factory inspectors later find the building lacking in the necessary requirements they have the authority to issue specific orders and this can be used to improve the department that failed to do its job properly in the first place.

photo: Thanks to http://www.hazmatmag.com/common_scripts/xtq_images/155436-109313.jpg

Monday, March 05, 2007

Another Hospital Disgrace

It looks like the standard operating procedure of those in charge to delay hospital projects.

First there was the new hospital in JB that could not commence operations for months as it had become infected with fungus and now this latest case in Alor Star.

It is interesting to note that both hospitals are named after the state royalty and to me it seems like a gross insult to the royal families when such prestigeous projects are delayed for such mundane excuses.

The latest story mentions the following extra works:

*A nursing college
*Additional wards
*A forensic laboratory

No doubt these will improve facilities for the public but to me these changes should have been added on only with the proviso that the rest of the project is not delayed.

If one considers that the original project was supposed to have been completed in December 2003, it is now three years past the due date.

One can only wonder what type of project management techniques have been practised by the Works Ministry.

It should also be interesting to study details of the extra costs incurred with such project variations and I would imagine that the final costs have escalated beyond anyone's imagination.

Perhaps Pareto's principle would be a useful guess like "20% of additional works will incur 80% of additional costs"?

A Cold Retreat from Beijing

I returned from Beijing yesterday just as a cold front was descending on Beijing and the flight had to be slightly delayed as they de-iced the plane.

There was a rush to the airport from Tianjin as we were warned they could close the highway if the visibility became poor. We arrived at the airport three hours before departure and I remarked to my wife that it was the earliest we have ever arrived at an airport.

China is truly a huge country and the capital is truly magnificent. Everything is of a gigantic scale; from the old Forbidden City to the soaring skyscrappers.

Public transport is cheap and easily accessible though crowded even during off-peak periods.

One can easily travel to a wide area of the city for a single fare one-way price of about RM1.30 or 3Yuan. Local food is also cheap but very oily and salty.

We visited the Great Wall, the Ming Tombs and the Forbidden City.
I will write more about the trip during the next few days but don't expect too much as this is not really a travel blog!