Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Cheaper Petrol or Adequate Wages?


Midnight, that old clock keeps ticking,
The kids are all asleep and I'm walking the floor.
Darlin' I can see that you're dreaming,
And I don't wanna wake you up when I close the door.

This old house of ours is built on dreams
And a businessman don't know what that means.
There's a garden outside she works in every day
And tomorrow morning a man from the bank's
Gonna come and take it all away.

-Crosby, Stills, Nash (and Young), "This Old House"

There is no doubt whatsoever in my mind, that DSAI can reduce the price of petrol, should he attain PMship.
I seriously wouldn't mind the increase should I have alternatives, or earn enough to weather the storm.
Somehow, it appears that nobody seems to be able to assure the people that they would earn more to keep up with the increasing cost of living ........
Despite the argument about reducing the price of fuel, wouldn't it help more if they increased the purchasing power of the average Malaysian, with better salaries, lower income taxes for those whose incomes are below RM60k/annum.
Other things that could help are things like abolishment indirect taxes like tolls, road taxes for those with small/fuel efficient cars, efficient public transport, anti-monopoly laws, transparency in Petronas and govt projects/ loans.
Of course, in future all the curi duit schemes (aka wasteful projects) like Proton, Angkasawan, KLCC, Putrajaya, "crystal mosque" etc should be scrapped or abandoned to cut losses.

Not being an economist, I could be having it all wrong - however, I'm somehow skeptical as to how shielding the public from real costs through fuel subsidies, would help them realize the true state of the economy.
I for one would rather have more cash in hand to live reality, than be living in a fools paradise where I eat into the pockets of the future generation, thinking that all is fine. Having more money would make people weather the rise in costs, as in Singapore or any other robust economy.
The reality today is the fact that people have to work harder and longer to lead a life that did not require as much 25yrs ago. The cost of living has increased 5 fold, while the income has increased marginally. No prizes for guessing who's doing most of the work.
To cushion the effect, freebies/ loans are dished out to people to sustain the unsustainable.

The only reason we are dependent on cheap foreign labor is becos the employers cannot afford to pay adequate wages for the M'sians, and not becos M'sians cannot do the same work.
Moreover, having a "labor underclass" that is scorned, does to a certain extent make a certain category of M'sians feel like "tuans".

People everywhere are fuming with the rise in petrol/diesel prices - I wonder if they should be angry the price of fish has gone up, or that they have to work longer and harder to get the same or less of the fish ....
Are we barking up the wrong tree?

The following was a comment on MT (Corridors of Power - Anwar: I will resign if I fail to reduce petrol price), which I thought gives a fairly good picture of the various "Curi Duit" projects that have actually been bleeding the people dry over the last 25yrs.

If not for anything else, I thought the comment was good reading ......

written by ez24get, June 10, 2008 | 13:22:14
Those who are sceptical how Anwar Ibrahim could reduce the petrol price, perhaps the few reasons below could change your mind. The list is not even barely exhaustive as these are the ones uncovered – the tip of the ice-berg – if you want to put it! What lies beneath could be much larger:-

1.The Bank Bumiputra twin scandals in the early 1980s saw US$1 billion (RM3.2 billion in 2008 ringgit)

2.The Maminco attempt to corner the world tin market in the 1980s is believed to have cost some US$500 million. (RM1.6 billion)

3.Betting in foreign exchange futures cost Bank Negara Malaysia RM30 billion in the 1990s.

4.Perwaja Steel resulted in losses of US$800 million (RM2.56 billion). Eric Chia, was charged with corruption for allegedly steering US$20 million (RM64 million) to a Hong Kong-based company

5.Use of RM10 billion public funds in the Valuecap Sdn. Bhd. operation to shore up the stock market

6.Banking scandal of RM700 million losses in Bank Islam

7.The sale of M.V. Agusta for one Euro

8.Wang Ehsan from oil royalty on Terengganu RM7.4 billion from 2004 – 2007

9.For the past 10 years since Philharmonic Orchestra was established, this orchestra has swallowed a total of RM500 million

10.In Advisors Fees, Mahathir was paid RM180,000, Shahrizat Abdul Jalil (women and social development affairs) RM404,726 and Abdul Hamid Othman (religious) RM549,675 per annum

11.The government has spent a total of RM3.2 billion in teaching Maths and Science in English over the past five years. Out of the amount, the government paid a whopping RM2.21 billion for the purchase of information and computer technology (ICT) equipments which it is unable to give a breakdown.

12.The commission paid for purchase of Jets and Submarines to two private companies amounted to RM910 million.

13.RM100 million bill to compensate Gerbang Perdana for the RM1.1 billion “Crooked Scenic Half-Bridge”

14.RM1.3 billion have been wasted building the white elephant Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) facilities on cancellation of the Malaysia-Singapore scenic bridge

15.RM 100 million on renovation of Parliament building and leaks

16.National Astronaut Programme - RM 40 million

17.National Service Training Programme - yearly an estimate of RM 500 million
18.Eye on Malaysia -RM 30 million and another RM5.7 million of free ticket

19.RM 4.63 billion, ’soft-loan’ to PKFZ

20.RM 2.4 million on indelible ink

21.Samy announced in September 2006 that the government paid compensation amounting to RM 38.5 billion to the highway companies. RM 380 million windfalls for 9 toll concessionaires earned solely from the toll hike in 2008 alone.

22.RM32 million timber export kickbacks involving companies connected to Sarawak Chief Minister, Tan Sri Taib Mahmud and his family

Bailouts -
23.Two bailouts of Malaysia Airline System RM7.9 billion
24.Putra transport system, which cost RM4.486 billion;
25.STAR-LRT bailout costing RM3.256 billion;
26.National Sewerage System costing RM192.54 million;
27.Seremban-Port Dickson Highway costing RM142 million;
28.Kuching Prison costing RM135 million; and
29.Kajian Makanan dan Gunaan Orang Islam costing RM8.3 million.
30.Le Tour de Langkawi costing RM 3.5 Million

31.Wholesale distribution of tens of millions of shares in Bursa Malaysia to cronies, children and relatives of BN leaders and Ministers worth billions of ringgits.

32.APs scandal had been going on year-after-year going back for more than three decades, involving a total mind-boggling sum of tens of billions of ringgits

33.Alienation of tens of thousands of hectares of commercial lands and forestry concessions to children and relatives of BN leaders and Ministers worth tens of billions of ringgits

34.Wastages and forward trading of Petronas in the 1990s based on the low price of oil then. Since the accounts of Petronas are for the eyes of Prime Minister only we have no idea of the amount. Whatever amount, you bet it is COLLOSSAL!

In Time Asia magazine issue on March 15 2004, South East Asian economist at Morgan Stanley in Singapore Daniel Lian, figures “that the country may have lost as much as U$$100 billion (RM320 billion) since the early 1980s to corruption.”