Wednesday, June 29, 2011

malaysiakini and the Latest Astounding Tales from Malaysia...

I am taking a break during July as I will be travelling to Canada; from Vancouver right across to St. John's in Newfoundland to visit my daughter.
Things are looking ugly in Malaysia; with the police declaring the BERSIH rally illegal and wearing the yellow T-shirts too can result in an arbitrary arrest; according to the Home Minister.

This is what I wrote in malaysiakini's comments:
What utter rubbish from the Home Minister! I propose the BERSIH organisers should promote eating durian or nasi beriyani as a means to get members to join the rally. How about that? Eat durians and nasi beriyani to support the BERSIH movement!

On the 50% overspending on the National Service:
They have exceeded their budget by more than 50%. How does the government overspend like this without approval? That is why subsidies for the ordinary folks have been feed the BN cronies! This is why Malaysia is going bankrupt soon.

This is the best article from m'kini on the enormous budgets to operate the PM and DPM residences. Looks like the era of emperors is not over!

RM160k a month for electricity bills? Wow! they definitely need to change their life-styles! The basic problem is the design of the buildings which is probably fully air-conditioned - those reception halls must be major electricity guzzlers....better if they designed open-air halls with proper ventilation and high roofs properly insulated to entertain their guests.....with nice shady trees, there is really no need for air-conds. I also suggest the PM and DPM should be granted maybe RM5000 and RM3000 electricity allowances pm. If they exceed the budget, they should pay their own way.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

malaysiakini on the BERSIH Crackdown

Malaysia must be the only nation in the world that considers the use of anti-terrorism laws like the ISA to clamp down on citizens who want to march in a peaceful assembly to demand free and fair elections.
According to the malaysiakini report Bersih crackdown: 59 PSM members arrested even sitting in a bus en route to KL, where the march will be held on 9th July, can result in a police arrest.
When ordinary citizens resort to street protests, it shows serious problems of credibility for any government but when the authorities clamp down hard on any peaceful assembly, it shows that the government cares little for the common man.

The basic problem with BN government is that their main agenda is POLITICS and not really providing a good and just government.
Everything is “politicised” and crony dealing is the main exercise plus trying to destabilise the opposition states.
No one is focussing on affairs of state but sex affairs.
That is why Malaysians NEED to change this government…it is not that PR does not have problems but anyone EXCEPT BN will be better for Malaysia.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Excellent Service from the Canadian High Commission in Singapore!

My wife and I are visiting our daughter Karen in Canada and so need a Visitor's Pass to enter the country.
According to their Singapore web-site, the normal time needed for the pass is 6 working days.
We went there early on a Monday and were told that the visas could be processed and the passports only returned on the following Monday and that created a problem for us as we had planned to travel to Phuket on Saturday.
If you have not applied for a Canadian visa before, it's best to apply earlier rather than later. The form is a smart form that generates a bar-code that is read by a special machine so I guess your form is processed quickly without human intervention unless there is a "red flag" in your answer.
This is our 4th trip to Canada and so I guess that together with our age places us in a low-risk category.
Our wife told the lady of our travel plans and after some hesitation, she told us she would return our passports on Friday, and we were supposed to return them on our return from our 5-day Phuket trip for further processing on Thursday.
When I collected the passports on Friday, the visas had been approved!
I guess the lady was used to seeing many faces with looks of surprise and joy.
What a pleasant way to start a holiday to Canada.
My only grouse about the Visitor's pass application is that the processing takes place each time you visit. I suggest the USA 10-year visa system is less of a hassle and Canada can cut a lot of admin costs if they too follow the 10-year plan. Having such a visa also does not guarantee entry but subject to approval when you enter.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

malaysiakini and Travel Problems on Both Sides of the Singapore Causeway.....

The Malaysian CIQ in Johor Baru has been in the news lately; all for the wrong reasons.....not only are foreign visitors subject to hours-long queues with the new biometric scan system but 2 women were even arrested.
You can read about their ordeal in malaysiakini's Immigration forced S'pore duo to do 'nude squats'".
Before the multi-billion ringgit CIQ was completed, such an incident would not have happened as the Immigration officer also collected the toll. Nowadays, we have an automatic gantry that is activated by your Touch n Go card.
I guess what happened to the 2 women was that the immigration booth was unmanned and the green light was on with no physical closure of the lane with the usual red plastic cone.
This incident would not have occurred if the toll gantry required an input from the immigration officer that the passports have been processed. It would not have cost more than RM50 for such a control mechanism to have been planned into the system. It would have consisted of a touch switch that activated the toll collection system.
This single incident plus the tens of thousands of man-hours in queues would have negated all the hard work done to attract tourists and investments into Johor.
This biometric scanning system seems to be poorly conceived and badly implemented; especially for the Johor-Singapore crossings.
The travel problems in Singapore pale in comparison but nonetheless needs some airing.
I took my wife's car to a car wash and took out the cash card as a precaution. Of course I forgot to put it back after the job was done. Bad mistake.....I drove past the ERP gantry and got a long beep that told me I had entered the CBD without paying the toll of $1.50. My wife told me the fine was $8.00 which is more than 5 times the actual fee. ERPs are supposed to manage traffic flow but the fine is really rather high. A more acceptable rate is to fine the driver two or three times the fee.
After all the system is computerised and not paying a $0.50 toll is different from failing to pay a $2.00 toll. So different penalties would be fairer.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

malaysiakini and latest on TNB tariff hikes.....

Electricity rates have been increased so this is a good time to study why we are in this situation.
For me, the government has become too big to benefit anyone except its employees. At the last count it seems we have maybe 40% surplus civil servants as we have already spent billions in ICT without the corresponding drop in manpower. Everyone knows the BN has been giving jobs to unemployable graduates who get a one year's paid internship for on the job training and also acquiring soft skills.
That is why the federal budget cannot be managed as salaries and other benefits eat up a major portion of revenue.
But this article is about the TNB rate hikes....
TNB used to be an efficient statutory board until it became public and had to dance with IPPs that now burden it, like a mill-stone around its neck. The way IPPs were introduced could be construed as a major conspiracy to defraud Malaysians as they were given a golden hand-shake when they started....maybe a golden hand-cuff is more appopriate as the government claims the IPP agreements are protected under the OSA.
Maybe the major power shortages that saw the birth of IPPs was planned on purpose by the EPU?

According to an interview given by the Chairman of TNB who "was put out to pasture", TNB had to agree to all EPU demands.

Since our gas is about 35% cheaper (RM13.70 to RM18.23) than Thailand's, the only reasons why TNB has to charge more are:

1.It cannot generate the units to optimum capacity and
2.It must pay the IPPs a price way above their operating costs.
This is a sure way to generate expensive units when the nation has 50% plus reserve; with TNB having to restrict production when it has the highest overheads.

TNB has been bleeding while the IPPs are laughing all the way to the banks!
Just imagine TNB can produce at 8sen per kWhr but has to purchase at 14sen per kWhr -that is a cost increase of 75%.
Also according to an earlier article, we have a reserve capacity of ~50% with TNB generating only 40% as it has to buy everything the IPPs supplies.
It would be interesting to discover what are the production costs of the individual IPPs and whether any have been able to become more efficient.
The EPU imposing the 14sen rate when an IPP could offer 12sen could be considered a serious anti-competition measure and deserves a proper investigation.

The entire IPP power-sharing should be renegotiated-with TNB declaring how much supply it will buy on the open market and IPPs making their bids. TNB can then purchase units at its own cost plus maybe a margin of 10% of 50% of IPP capacity. If IPPs want to offer more they can offer at TNB cost plus x% margin. This creates more competition among IPPs.

Since the government claims it cannot disclose the IPP agreements as it is not a party, for me the only resort is to VOTE out the BN and lift the veil of the OSA secrecy that it itself imposed on the agreements.
We should also have a public inquiry on the sacking of the TNB Chairman at the time IPPs were sponsored by the government.