chedet speaks

I am compelled to re-publish this very interesting article by YAB Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed in his blog chedet.cc recently as I see the relevance to the Malay Rights and racial articles which I have posted recently. Reading the article below has given me a new insight as to how racial politics started in Malaysia although one may always argue that it was just a matter of time. Similar to the term “biting more than one can chew” or “kacang lupakan kulit (a nut forgets its skin!… excuse the pun!). But even with time, if the premise was right and adhered to begin with then I think such demands would be less demanding and interrogating. This is the problem we face today… all from that stroke of a pen then…

Below is taken from http://www.chedet.cc written by YAB Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed, our beloved leader:


1. Mr Lee Kwan Yew, the Minister Mentor of Singapore is three years my senior. That means he and I practically grew up in the same period of time. That also means that I have been able to watch the progress of Mr Lee, and in fact to interact with him on various occasions.

2. His assertion in his interview with the New York Times that “Race relations (would be) better if Singapore (had) not (been) “turfed out” (of Malaysia) is worth studying. Is it true or is it fantasy?

3. Before Singapore joined the Peninsular, Sabah and Sarawak to form Malaysia, there was less racial politics in the Federation of Malaysia. In 1955 the Malays who made up 80 per cent of the citizens gave a large number of their constituencies to the few Chinese and Indian citizens and ensured they won with strong Malay support. As a result the Alliance won 51 of the 52 seats contested.

4. The Tunku then rewarded this willingness of the Chinese and Indian citizens to support the coalition concept by giving them ONE MILLION unconditional citizenship. This reduced Malay majority to 60 per cent.

5. In the 1959 elections the Alliance of UMNO, MCA and MIC won easily though Kelantan was lost. PAS with only Malays as members was rejected. Racialism even when implied failed.

6. In 1963 Singapore became a part of Malaysia. Despite having promised that the PAP will not participate in Peninsular, Sabah and Sarawak politics, Kwan Yew reneged and the PAP tried to displace the MCA in the Alliance by appealing to Chinese sentiments in the Peninsular. Of course the slogan was “Malaysian Malaysia” which implied that the Chinese were not having equal rights with the Malays. If this appeal to Chinese sentiments against the Malays was not racial, I do not know what is racial.

7. But the Peninsular Chinese favoured working with the Malays in UMNO. They totally rejected PAP in 1964.

8. Following the Malaysian Malaysia campaign a few UMNO leaders tried to rouse Singapore Malay sentiments. There were demonstrations in Singapore where before there were none. Kwan Yew accused Jaafar Albar for instigating the Singapore Malays. Although I never went to Singapore, nor met the Malays there, I was labelled a Malay-ultra by Kwan Yew himself.

9. By 1965 racism had taken hold and the Tunku was forced to end Singapore’s membership of Malaysia. But the seed of Chinese racialism had been sown, so that even after the PAP left, the “Malaysian Malaysia” war cry was picked up by the DAP, an offspring of the PAP.

10. With the background of Singapore’s activities in Malaysia in the short three years of its membership, can we really believe that if it had not been “turfed out” race relations would be better in Malaysia?

11. But proof of what would have happened was shown by the politics leading up to the 1969 Election. The MCA began to criticise the Sino/Malay cooperation especially on so-called special rights and demanded for a Chinese University. UMNO then began to clamour for a greater share of the economy of the country. The UMNO/MCA conflict resulted in the Alliance faring very badly in the 1969 Elections.

12. DAP and Gerakan, a new party largely made up of MCA dissidents made gains. The Alliance were shocked and rattled.

13. Then the Gerakan and DAP held their victory parade near the Malay settlement of Kampung Baru, hurling racist insults at the Malays. The result was the 13th May race riots.

14. Till today the racist slogan “Malaysian Malaysia” is the war-cry of the DAP. Racism in Malaysia is clearly the result of Singapore’s membership of the country for just three years. Can we really believe that if Singapore had not been “turfed out” Malaysia would have no racial problem.

15. While Kwan Yew talks about his belief that all ethnic communities should free themselves from the shackles of racial segregation in order to promote fairness and equality among the races, he also said that “once we are by ourselves (out of Malaysia) the Chinese become the majority”.

16. Singapore’s population is made up of 75 per cent Chinese and they own 95 per cent of the economy. It is therefore not a truly multi-racial country but a Chinese country with minority racial groups who are additionally much poorer.

17. In Singapore dissent is not allowed, People who contest against the PAP would be hauled up in court for libel and if they win elections would not be allowed to take their places in Parliament. Whereas in Malaysia opposition parties invariably win seats in Parliament and even set up State Governments (today five out of the 13 States are ruled by the opposition parties) the PAP in Singapore has to appoint PAP members to represent the opposition.

18. Whether the PAP admits it or not, the party has always been led and dominated by ethnic Chinese and have won elections principally because of Chinese votes. The others are not even icing on the cake.

19. If Singapore is a part of Malaysia the PAP can certainly reproduce the Singapore kind of non-racial politics because together with the Malaysian Chinese, the PAP will ethnically dominate and control Malaysian politics. No dissent would be allowed and certainly no one would dare say anything about who really runs the country.

20. Amnesia is permissible but trying to claim that it is because Singapore had been “turfed out” for the present racist politics in Malaysia is simply not supported by facts of history.

21. Lee Kwan Yew and I saw the same things and know the reasons why.

Dr Mahathir Mohamed

melayu mudah takut

I wish I could write more often and make my blog a worthwhile following for the early supporters but unfortunately my style of writing is such that I rant in one go. This means I have to complete a story in one seating and not do it bit by bit so if of late I have been “plagued” by transit issues in my life, this simply means I rarely have the mood nor the time to update the blog. This morning however I was inspired all of a sudden…

“Ketuanan Melayu” is a major part of the current political rhetoric.  Below is a rather refreshing thought from one Said Zahari, a journalist that spent 17 years in ISA in Singapore:

I don’t understand why Umno wants to play the role of “Tuan”. Why do you want to talk about “Ketuanan Melayu”? The symbol of that is the Agong — and nobody can touch him. Who worries about a Chinese [Malaysian] or Indian [Malaysian] becoming the Agong? As for economic matters, the constitution and the New Economic Policy guarantee a lot of rights for the Malays. There’s nothing at stake for “Ketuanan Melayu”.  Enough lah.  What Umno should be concerned for is “Kepimpinan Melayu” — orang Melayu jadi pemimpin bangsa Malaysia. In other words, you make sure that Malays can be leaders of Malaysia, for this whole nation, not just Umno. They make “Ketuanan Melayu” an issue because when they are in trouble, they think they can unite the Malays on this. But it won’t work now because of the new media. The different views are well known. People will understand where you try to bluff and cheat.

Journalist Said Zahari


1. I think Said Zahari makes a lot of sense here. When I wrote my infamous Malay Rights article part 1&2 before, those who did not understand or those who choose not to understand simply labeled me as a neo malay who has forgotten the Malay struggle. For the life of me I do not understand what makes these detractors think that I want us to “waive” our rights but instead I have always meant to say that we have to earn our rights. This also means that our so called “malay” rights will always be our rights!

2. What we should be concerned about is “Kepimpinan Melayu” because this is our Tanah Melayu. A country for all Malaysians lead by the Malays as clearly stated and embedded in our constitution. Our political leaders cannot be confused between these two concepts. To continue shouting for “Ketuanan Melayu” will create racial and unjust sentiments that unfortunately the younger and modern Malaysians refuse to accept but to maintain a “Kepimpinan Melayu” is something that very few will ever question.

3. We Malays need to realize that we have to adopt a sense of being merit driven first above everything else. This will be our personal glory that no one will ever question. What we see happening with the likes of Perkasa these days is merely an interpretation of insecurity which most “ultra” Malays seem to echo in fear of losing control. What control could we possibly lose? The Yang DiPertuan Agong? Perdana Menteri? Penyimpan Mohor Mohor Besar DiRaja? Ketua Hakim Negara? Ketua Polis Negara? Panglima Angkatan Tentera?

4. How can we be so insecure? Why do we even show this moment of weakness? I personally think that we must show our desire for a more just Malaysia and promote equal justice among races for the single objective of achieving sincere harmony. Such noble lead will lead to mutual respect and admiration. The non malays if my memory serves me right never questions the malay leadership role in Malaysia. It is the absolute rights abuse that hits a nerve with them. Can we blame them actually? This is why we have to change the way we lead the nation and this is what our PM’s One Malaysia is all about. It will not change the role and rights of the malays but instead it aims to create a concept of a more equitable nation for all Malaysians. Is it really wrong?

Let us all be more of a “Perkasa Malay” by being fair and just to all our brother and sister Malaysians. After all, as the FATHER of the nation we Malays are obligated to do so! point made loud and clear…

 

shaikrizal@gmail.com

 

fair subsidy and mentality

Cowboy is back!

It has been more than 7 months since I last updated my blog. The last article being the Budget 2010 review and proposal and since then I have not written anything.  It was a busy period for me and frankly, I did not find anything (non-political) that was interesting enough for me to write about.  But today I am motivated to say something about the national subsidy policy which according to Idris Jala, will make Malaysia bankrupt by 2019!

My take on this whole subsidy issue is simple – its not just about the subsidy figures or items subsidized, its how we manage our overall finances and balance income vs spending. I concur that we need to reduce the subsidy and change the mindsets of the people but is it just about removing it? How do we increase revenue instead? How do we cut down on silly expenses and leakages? How do we remove the subsidy yet provide value added services so consumers don’t complain?

Engage the Opposition in a full blown manner to jointly discuss and formulate the subsidy revision policy. Trust me this is the single most important thing the govt should do first so that it will be presented to the rakyat without much negativism, sarcasm and (no pun intended) opposition! Focus the reduction of subsidy more towards the commercial and industry players as opposed to consumers.

Please see below for some simple and layman type ideas:

1. The average TNB bill for those consuming less than 400kWh per month is approximately (at 200kWh) RM40 per month based on a simple observation and calculation. This works out to slightly more than RM1 per day based on existing tariff (0-200 & 200-400kWh) of  21.8sen and 33.4sen respectively. To those consuming above 400 kWh per month is already paying tariffs reflective of comparable world prices but perhaps a fair price review can also be implemented. Comparatively in today’s world this is considered and accepted as very low so perhaps the govt should increase the tariff and get more revenue directly and not necessarily via TNB. The point is if electricity supply in this country is consistent and of good service (which it is) then its only fair that consumers pay for what they get.

2. There are approximately 5.5m school going children in One Malaysia based on a casual net research done. I could be wrong but the point is will it be too much for parents to pay RM30-50 per student per month if the parent’s combined household income is above rm3000 per  month? and limit these fees to only a maximum of 2 going school children per household so that those who followed Dr M’s 5 children policy will not be burdened.  Now parents can subsidize the schools that provide education for their children. I have written a concept article of “semi-private school” in my earlier posts and similarly, when parents pay they would expect better education, teachers and facilities which are already budgeted for anyway. So perhaps the govt can set up a special unit to oversee and manage this “student fee income” business model as a corporatised business unit.

3. Review all existing charges for permits, licenses, fees etc which may be outdated today. I am sure in some instances the govt can easily justify up to 100 if not 500% increase in these charges imposed on 1960’s prices some of them. Create a more creative and fair method of collecting these taxes, licences etc and don’t just expect to do a Robin Hood all the time. The rich are very small in numbers and if they are expected to subsidize the poor this is not the solution to the subsidy problem. The mindset has to change and the lower income must expect to pay more for better products and services. Road tax need not be cheap for cheap cars and expensive for expensive cars? We can change this concept to a more creative revenue earning scheme based on consumption statistics taking into account consumer’s sensitivity to cashflow vs capital expenditure. What is the point of charging the rich cars so much when there are only a few of them on the road to even make an impact on the overall revenue? Work out something more spread out across the board with a few incentives thrown in so that is fair to all. Government hospital bills is still at unbelievable 5th world rate perhaps and desperately needs a review and with that please throw in nice public hospitals and good doctors too.

4. Abolish APs once and for all dear govt! It does no one any good. This latest attempt in the last budget of charging RM10,000 per AP issued has only resulted in the price of AP “sold” and traded at a higher price much to the dismay of auto consumers. Govt should charge a registration tax for a new car and pro-rate the charges based on year of car that is to be registered. I have written about this in my earlier posts so the details are all there. Why should a few people enjoy the “buta” money from AP as if it is a “birth right” for some kelantanese when the industry as a whole does not accept it? Do we consider them warlords so much so that we are so afraid of them? If you think dealers will complain why not try it? I bet they would welcome this so much (the genuine car dealers that is) that they would even be willing to pay auction prices for selling licences just to be in the business. Extra revenue! Wake up dear govt!

5. Please stop all patronizing govt related events which almost all the time results in new batik shirts, custom t-shirts & caps, never used key chains, shoddy tents, colorful decorations, fake flowers and wasteful entertainment that costs the rakyat their money. I bet there are at least 200 of these events daily across the country and if each event spends at least RM50,000 we are looking at a total spending of billions per annum. Can we give all this up in the name of national politics and civil service wastage so that we the rakyat can continue to keep some of our subsidy?

6. The malaysia govt bends backwards to invite foreign direct investments into the country sometimes even at the expense of home bred industries. I think we should re-look at this policy. Should the govt waive taxes for certain foreign manufacturing and services companies operating here (taraf perintis) for up to multiples of 10 years just because they invest in operations here (which these companies own as their own assets) and hire thousands of workers (btw these are not local workers!) but they repatriate their profits back to their home country once their money is made? Are we assuming that the govt should do all these trade charity practices because as a business these companies would not spend the same amount elsewhere to operate and make a profit just the same? This is the failure of the malaysian hospitality specifically and asian heritage generally. If we need them so much to set up shop here on our shores then at least tax them for the profits they take out of our soil for their home country to enjoy.

7. Review the current income tax system. Create multiple tiers reflective of every level of society’s income and consumption of national benefits.

To implement some of the above, the govt must also allow the rakyat to see where and how money is spent. It is a two way responsibility and just as much as the rakyat need to be educated on how subsidies can make the country bankrupt, the govt should also show to the rakyat that wrong spending and leakages to the nation’s budget will get us to bankruptcy even faster than subsidies. I suggest the following:

a. Publish annually all govt macro and micro expenses in a public info portal and mainstream media as a comparison to new budget to be tabled. I beleive the rakyat will support what ever increase in payments required if they can see clearly how and where the money is going to.

b. Publish all tender details, award and companies involved in a public info portal. Govt should rate this companies so we can sleep at night knowing that these companies are not out to cheat (in some cases so easily) the govt coffers. Rate them based on capabilities and delivery so hopefully the smaller ones will aspire to be rated and grow accordingly based on merit instead of political patronage. This single culture has created the biggest leakages in Malaysia today unfortunately.

c. Big parcel contracts should be broken up into manageable smaller pieces managed by a special govt “project management” vehicle and this process would ensure that more deserving companies can do business based on merit and deliver quality products and services based on the actual that they are paid. It is truly a win win situation for all. For example, instead of awarding a RM3b contract to politically aligned company X, this special unit and can look at worthwhile components of this RM3b contract and create various parcels of sub-contracts ranging from RM20m above which could be awarded directly to over 100 sub companies and these subs can still pay a main project royalty to the great company X as a turnkey contractor. Nothing wrong as long as everyone is happy and the country gets the best deal in terms of price and delivery. No more cracked highways and falling roofs.

d. Monitor consumer retail prices closely and do not allow any of these “mamak persatuans” to con us all by asking to increase prices of teh tarik and roti canai just because gas prices are up. I recently paid RM1.60 for a simple glass of teh “o” ais and was wondering what excuse will they give to increase this even further? I can almost guarantee that the per unit cost is less than 30sen so what rubbish is this about not being able to cope with higher costs?

I hope to post more ideas as to how we can tackle this impending national bankrupt issue soon and I hope what ever you read above you take it in good light and faith as the point is never in the facts but more the approach as far as I am concerned.

shaik rizal

a creative budget – letter to the PM (part 3)

I am looking forward to a new budget that is truly “rakyat” friendly with an honest to goodness “people first” approach. To do this, the government has to really think out of the box with drastic yet creative measures to achieve such a proposal. Move away from traditional planning of budgets to create a win-win strategy for the Malaysian people at large so that they can see where and how their money is benefiting the nation as a whole.

Below are some of my personal initial ideas for consideration:

1. National “Community Chest” Charity Fund –  to be created and collections specifically channeled towards community and charitable projects that will be professionally managed for all Malaysians

  • Impose 1% charity tax for companies on top of the annual corporate tax
  • Impose 5% surcharge charity tax for “sin” products such as liquor, cigarettes etc

2. Personal Income Tax Rebate – to give tax relief for certain expenses that is directly linked to the nation building development of Malaysia undertaken directly by the people

  • Rebate of up to 50% of the annual fees for private education (primary right up to university)
  • Rebate of up to 100% for the annual charges for broadband services at the main home
  • Rebate allocation (fixed) for support of Arts and Culture – to encourage the growth of local arts and culture
  • No income tax for “professional” sportsmen and sportswomen accredited by the Govt as someone who dedicate their life efforts to the development of sports in the country and has demonstrated recognized victory on their full time sports profession with their sole income derived from sports

3. Approved Permits, Car Import Duties & Road Tax – revamp the current system of very high import duties and tiered annual road tax and create only 3 categories of cars (budget, standard and luxury) and such measures will result in government earning more income while consumers will benefit from cheaper purchase of cars

  • Reduce import duties based on current format for new and imported used cars  (standard and luxury) by 50% but for budget cars, reduce import duties by 80%
  • Abolish the “AP Approved Permit” system and introduce a “registration tax” payable to the government upon the initial registration of cars and subsequently, a greatly reduced rate of this tax for the onward sale of the said vehicle to the next buyers. For example, if the current AP market price attached to every imported car is RM50,000 (govt gets zero income) then this proposed registration tax can be for example RM15,000 payable directly to the govt and subsequently if this same car is sold to another buyer (depending on the years after the first registration), a reduced rate of for example RM5000 (if less than 5 years) and RM2000 (if more than 5 years) can be imposed on the subsequent registration (2nd hand sale)
  • Impose a one off “special luxury tax” for luxury cars (it is proposed that any car above 3000cc and original selling price of at least “X dollars” based on an international rate card can be considered as luxury (Government can decide on a list)
  • To protect the national car industry, government can give direct incentives for people to buy a Proton or a Perodua such as to abolish road tax for national cars (and 100% rebate of one road tax for the non national car owned if the same household owns a national car as well), 50% insurance rate, preferred financing rates etc
  • Impose a one rate annual road tax for the 3 categories of cars ie RM150, RM500 and RM1000 respectively
  • Reduce basic insurance rates for cars

4. “One Malaysia” Education Loan Scheme – Govt to establish a new scholarship and education loan scheme for all Malaysians through a fund that is contributed by the private sector

  • Corporations that contribute more than rmX of annual tax to the government will be given a high tax rebate for an annual endowment contribution to this proposed education loan fund and hence, current own disbursement of scholarships by some of these companies can now be centralized and professionally administered.
  • If 100 qualified companies contribute an average of RM10m per annum, this fund will have RM1 billion per annum worth of education loan and scholarships for all Malaysians
  • This fund will be an extension of the existing PTPTN loan scheme for local IPTA/IPTS but managed independently and professionally with focus on special courses and quality internationally recognized and accredited education
  • Applicants will be selected purely based on merit (flexible age limit) and those with successful targeted university placements
  • Loan scheme to offer below market interest rates with interest, part principal or full principal waivers on offer depending on results with long term vs short term payment repayment incentives

5. Green Technology Incentives – Govt to strongly encourage the adoption of green technology by both the public and private sectors by giving financial incentives for the creation of “green” projects and activities

  • Establish an express grant fund for private initiatives embarking on unique “green” efforts
  • Free tax period for companies embarking on green technology related efforts as a core business
  • Special interest rebate offered by financial institutions (subsidized by govt) for borrowings on projects that incorporate accredited green technology inputs for direct green benefits

shaik rizal sulaiman

one malaysia

1. In recent days we were all saddened by the death of a towering Malaysian and a “glokal” talent called Yasmin Ahmad.  For years she has given us much joy and tears from her great Petronas advertisements and enjoyable “Made in Malaysia” movies. I personally am a big fan.  She started the whole One Malaysia spirit even before it became a thrust policy of the new administration. Her One Malaysia makes us laugh, cry and smile.

2. Yasmin has always pictured us all as One Malaysia and showed us the true meaning of One Malaysia which was already in existence a long time ago. Ask your parents and they will tell you how life was a better bed of roses among different ethnic groups and races but we forget along the way as we become more insecure with our own kind. Yasmin often reminded us of what it means to live with mutual respect, love and honor among the various races (Bangsa Malaysia) that this country is truly blessed with.  Funny how just 2 weeks ago I had coined the idea to someone for the PM to engage Yasmin Ahmad as an icon to drive the One Malaysia message because she would have gladly done it  not for the money but for the love of integrated racial and economic societies which she truly believes in and most important of all, for the love of her country.  Very few fill such great shoes.

3. I remember the days as far back as 30 years ago when we never saw the need to distinguish ourselves by our skin color or racial background and we played together, studied together and enjoyed together as one multi-racial group let it be in school or in the neighborhood. Maybe its more apparent to me growing up in the city but my friends who grew up in the outskirts tell me the same thing.Today we see much less of that even in urban areas and let’s not even begin to talk about clearly segregated rural areas.

4. So then, if we were all harmonious before why are we talking about integration only now? After 50 odd years we should be fully integrated and mindful of our individual and racial roles in our country. One Malaysia to me means one country but with many racial ethnicity and eccentricities that have equal rights to what Malaysia has to offer. Is this what it is meant to mean?

5. If we are still talking about rights and equality then we can never have One Malaysia. The contradiction ridicules it. Let’s change the concept a bit. Let’s strive for a mutually agreed concept of what Malaysia should mean predominantly to the Malays and the others. If the Malays can agree that things have to be more fair and perceived to be done right, then the non-malays would not question our divine right in our own country. For as long as we continue to abuse the privileges and distribution of controlled wealth then we would always be subjected to scrutiny and even to the point of ridicule.  We even have a “One Malay” issue now where we are not united anymore in pursuit of common goals and ideologies that should make our “M” race a responsible and respected force in our own country. Frankly, from my own findings the non-malays have no issue with the “Kesultanan Melayu” or even the “Ketuanan Melayu” but they have a big problem with blatant abuse of power and selective prosecution.  We can all live with some abuse but since March 2008 even the general Malays are sick and tired of it. Now that is telling something!

6. There is no substitute for merit and any affirmative action of economic assistance must be carried out for the good of the mass and in this case, the majority group of the Malays regardless of origin, place and political affiliations. Merit is to be emphasized and political charity can take place in the form of minority equity participation innately infused into the distribution system. In other words as silly as it may sound, all major projects can have the BN (or BR) party own a default 20-30% equity so the professionals and entrepreneurs can be left alone to execute and manage a business that is cost efficient and of high quality. It is cheaper and better for everyone!

7. Education is another pillar of One Malaysia. Integrate all schools into One Malaysia schools! Have extra classes for vernacular studies or whatever but let us not confuse the future (and present) generation on what One Malaysia should mean but yet we go to different schools. I can’t think of an arguable excuse as to why we should not have just a one system education for One Malaysia.  Please put politics aside for our children sake.

8. The Prime Minister MUST take responsibility of all individual actions that tarnishes One Malaysia’s divine efforts to unite all Malaysians and if this means that he has to remove the cowboy individuals or institutions or even mini governments he must do it swiftly. Its not the PMs fault so why must he take the heat for it? The MACC case is one in point. Much have been speculated about the death of Mr Teoh but I am sure it is not the general policy of MACC for such things to happen. The fact that it did, then some individuals directly involved should be removed instantly even if they did no wrong.  Show that you mean business because perception in trying times means everything. Its for the good of the bigger group. The few must have screwed up somehow and somewhere even to have led to such a disastrous tragedy.  Honesty is not the best policy… it is the only policy but manage the impact professionally. Heck, even spin it like a gasing if they must but be transparent on the core issues. People don’t care for the frills anymore. Malaysia lacks this ownership of responsibility and transparency.

9. One Malaysia should also mean no more selective prosecution and I don’t necessarily mean “just” justice. If someone can be caught with a rm2000 bribe, then leaders should also be hauled up for rm24m or rm2.4b accusations etc. Don’t let the public ridicule the system that should never “pick and choose” because this is exactly why future election results is anyone’s guess. The people are no longer blind and accommodating.

10. These are indeed trying times for Malaysia and by hook or by crook, One Malaysia has to save the day with a comprehensive, holistic and a honest sincere plan to integrate all Malaysians on a single agenda.  People first! It’s a tough call but if such noble efforts can withstand differing political, racial, social and economical mindsets… only then can this blessed country be truly blessed.

Malaysia will miss you Yasmin Ahmad. Al-fatihah.

shaik rizal sulaiman

first impressions

I imagine myself to be a first time European tourist to Malaysia arriving at the KLIA coming from Singapore.

1. I walk out of the plane and notice that the aero passage bridge is dirty and worn out despite knowing that the KLIA is a fairly new airport having won airport awards year after year (I wonder from which publication) but as I approach the gate exit, I am impressed to see the modern steel and glass structure around me – the sign on a modern country.

2. I continue walking to see all the duty free shops bustling with customers and in this satellite terminal C, it almost feels like an unorganized shopping mall with make do stalls set up just for the sake of it and f&b outlets that are all over the place from proper outlets to floor type cafes. The chaos seems bearable but I wonder how a modern design airport can fail in this area of shop layout design and proper flow of commercial activities. I see a shop selling local sweets right in front of Hermes!

3. I feel like going to the toilet so I look around for the toilet sign and found one. I quickly head on to the modern airport toilet and as I enter, I see a Bangladeshi worker holding a mop and talking loudly on a handphone (probably to his co-worker girlfriend) and the stench is unbearable (both the toilet and the Bangladeshi) and much to my disappointment, I had to queue to pee. As I see before me, various people of different ethnic nationalities all pee in various styles and ways and all but the same, leaving stains all over the place hence the stench. I tried not to breath for a few minutes as I stand on the firing line hoping not to cause a stain like the predecessors before me! I don’t remember such an experience when I peed at the Changi airport just 2 hours ago. And there wasn’t even a cleaner in their toilets. Why is this so?

4. I proceed to the aero train to get to the main terminal and as usual there is a rush to get inside the train. There is plenty of space for everyone but humans being humans we rush! The train ride was short and sweet and as I got off to head to immigration, I notice that there are so many visitors waiting to pass through but only a few counters are open. Is it the “post lunch pre tea break” break I wonder? The KLIA is one airport where everyone and everything ends up at the same place so agitation can be a problem.

5. As I approach the baggage carousel, I wonder why my bags are still not out! I had gone to pee, took a train ride, queued at immigration and all in a good 30 minutes perhaps and my bags are still not out? Aren’t there supposed to be rules that when you design modern airports you must also provide modern service, modern hygiene and modern efficiency? What kind of ancient baggage handling system does this modern airport have?

6. Finally the bags are out and I stroll pass the green lane (actually I have lots to declare but this Ipoh guy sitting next to me on the plane told me don’t bother to declare because the customs are not bothered) and true enough there were 3-4 of them all clad in uniforms chatting and flirting with one another while we just pass through.

7. I see this Limo counter sticking out like a sore thumb at the narrow exit point and has somewhat caused a little jam because everyone is with their bags and trolleys. Limo they say? Do they know the meaning of Limousine? Taxi is more like it. But this is not the point. There is a queue and only one counter open but I see 3 other ladies behind the counter chatting away and exchanging costume jewelry and Tupperware. When a few customers showed their anger, then only one lady quickly opened another counter but with much disgust nevertheless.  I notice that despite the modern airport facade, this counter had ink jet print outs pasted on by cellophane tape for info on services etc. Some fake flowers were also eminent in view and the whole counter just looked like a misfit in the overall modern airport (I later found out that the limo concession was given to a political crony who perhaps had various shortcomings)

8. I then walk out and see many drivers holding name cards calling out names of passengers. Some were shouting and screaming and again this does not fit in the modern 21st century airport. As I try to find the exit pushing my trolley, I had to say no to at least 8 offers from illegal taxi operators (more often than not they look like thugs and I wonder who would actually dare to risk their lives to go on their illegal taxi). Why are these people allowed to solicit here? It gives a really bad impression to tourist arrivals in that there isn’t a proper system at the airport. I don’t remember Singapore’s Changi airport being like this at all. Is it so difficult for the airport authorities to wipe these people out? Apparently this is a problem since day one of KLIA!

9. As I stand outside the arrival hall exit, I notice how dark the place is despite it being 4pm in the afternoon. I see many lights are not working and the design of the roof is such that no natural sunlight can come through. I have heard of snatch thefts and even bigger robberies taking place here and with such a chaos situation outside plus the darkness, one would not be surprised.  The taxi queue is a make shift queue and the taxis are as confused as we are. It was just one big mess and with the humidity instantly taking over, one cannot help but to feel agitated.  It was dark, hot and chaotic. Why build such a beautiful modern airport and yet have all this nonsense taking place? I guess top government officials and ministers must be taking a different exit for them not to realize these things. I would ask Prime Minister Najib to go through exactly the path I took and experience it for himself.

10. I get into the taxi and find that the driver has his window down with one hand outside holding a cigarette. The taxi smelled of cigarette smoke and it was unbearable. Luckily the taxis are fairly new because just a few years ago, the older taxis were 20 year old cars that were safety hazards with constant breakdowns, loose seats, handles falling out and ceiling carpets being stapled. So this new taxis were quite refreshing (dirty but refreshing).

Why can’t we learn to do things right and have the will power to enforce it, maintain it and make it worthy of the name “Malaysia” that the world is talking about.  These first impressions count…

why oh why? part 1

1. Why does the media publish stories that stir up sensational issues in ways to corrupt our minds? Don’t we all have better things to worry about than worrying or speculating as to what will happen to the government, ministers, cabinet, parliament, opposition, monarch, etc?  Business people are still weary about doing business despite a new cabinet in place because we Malaysians just love creating rumors thus creating instability to the current government and country.  Smart opposition members are taking advantage of this media ride and to build up a momentum, one has to create sensations… there will be a few more by-elections before 2012 because these little victories will show (or confuse) the rakyat as to what it means to be part of change (for good or for worse is secondary but change is what people are inspired to “want”).  It is sad that we read about the financial reforms initiated etc courtesy of only half a page day news while the Perak saga has been reported longer than the Olympics games!  What do we really care about at the end of the day? Why the ex (now back to official!) MB’s Camry can’t be sold yet or  a progressive discussion on the future of our national education system so that we have a half a chance to see a better future for Malaysia that is different from the circus that it is in now.

2. Why can’t our government change policies that are not cast in stone to better their governance for the good of the rakyat? For example take the Approved Permit (AP) issue that has been long debated (and cursed by the industry too) and deemed very sensationally sensitive but nothing is done to correct this problem. What is so difficult for the government to implement a new policy that will champion merit and grow the auto industry (and at the same time still please the people that the AP system has been pleasing in the last 30 years or so)? Imagine if all APs are abolished but every individual imported or franchise car sold will be subjected to a special “MITI” tax as part of an invoice. This special tax can be less than half the amount of the current APs that are “trading” in the market today that are obtained “free” by a select group of individuals (of a certain race) and sold to a select group of trading individuals/companies/dealers etc (of a certain race) so the savings can be passed on to the consumers and the government will earn so much income.  Consumers are so used to paying such a high price for cars in the country even a small reduction in AP portion alone will come as a great bonus to all although the ideal situation is for us consumers to buy cars at zero AP cost and minimal duties/tax. But let’s not talk about an ideal world here.  There are 2 types of APs (franchise and open) and the highly priced traded ones are the open APs which apparently trades for around RM50,000 a pop (and it is added to the cost of the car obviously) so if there are 66,979 APs issued in year 2005 (i only managed to get this factual data as declared by the then Minister in Parliament), the government is looking at an AP income of approximately RM3-4b which it does not EARN! Can you imagine how much better our public transport system can be if just a fraction of this “lost” income is put to a budget to improve public transport on an annual basis?  Open up the AP policy and impose an AP tax to every bona fide car dealer that is in a genuine business of selling cars and when they sell a car, they will pay this AP tax (can be 50% less than the trading price of APs so consumers save from cheaper car prices) to the government directly instead of paying it to a few individuals who clearly do not value add or innovate the auto industry.  The figures and facts may vary here but the point remains clear – revamp the policy and reward those who are deserving. The NAZA Motor Group is an example of a big AP recipient but they have clearly demonstrated that they are the champions of the auto world and can build up a local industry.  This what governments of the world must appreciate and reward.  To the rest of the Ali Baba’s, you all should be ashamed of yourselves!

3. Why is it when the whole world is serious of the new “swine” disease threat with intense checks at entry points etc, we the Malaysian government seem to be rather relaxed about it? Do we wait for a few cases before we over react and scare the hell out of people? I came back from Singapore on Thursday night via KLIA and on the plane I was asked to fill up a “Kementrian Kesihatan Health & Quarantine Form” so I thought to myself my government must be serious in combating this issue.  So as I unboarded the JetStar aircraft (which by the way sold me a ticket at just 30% of what our national airline sells for the same route) and headed out I did not see any health screening taking place. The time was only 8.30pm and none in sight were any medical stations or anyone at all that would at least take my health form and check it!  Eventually I left the airport building and jumped into a taxi with the form still in my pocket.

4. Why do we constantly take the easy way out without realizing the entire concept or substance behind it? We have the tallest and perhaps the most beautiful building KLCC in the world but we still see the need to place ugly plastic/rubber cones around it’s entrance areas to prevent people from parking!  This is a pathetic sight and such a monument does not deserve such horrible “make do” actions that are limited to those small working minds who does not share the same inspiration as the architect or the leader of the nation that wanted to put Malaysia on the world map!  We accept things the way they are just because they are like that. When we exit another national monument the KLIA airport departure, do you realize how many lights are not working inside and outside? Don’t you get irritated sometimes with the Limo counter girls who are rude and not bothered about customer service? Do you feel like as though you are in a Myanmar bus station with many odd looking characters approaching you asking if you need an (illegal) taxi? Outside at the (legal but questionable) taxi area, the situation is almost chaotic with make do partitions and cones (again!) in  a dark and hot surroundings (most of the lights are not working and funny enough the security cameras too are not working) and these are all the 1st impressions a visitor gets when they visit Malaysia.  Welcome to Malaysia.

5. Why do all the government aided Small Medium Industries (SMI) funding programs take more than 1 year in certain clear cut cases to disburse a small amount of growth or capital funding to SMI companies when it is only logical that such small companies need these funds urgently to survive even another year!  The Government talks about active assistance but the little napoleans kill those aspirations and in many cases, SMIs have been known to lose business or suffer greatly waiting for their approved disbursement.  The Government needs to create an independent agency to swiftly handle this growth sensitive process and it should not be the Credit Guarantee Corp.  Banks will always be banks and the SMI Bank is no different so why all the buzz about helping the SMIs? Why put traditional bankers in these agencies? Such programs are not for traditional lending where collateral, assets, track record etc are all required.  Even those who obtained government contracts take a long time to get approval! What a waste of money, patience and time.

shaik rizal sulaiman

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