Saturday, October 18, 2008

Father of Modernization

I have just received a comment for my blog entry Seminar Pembangunan Insan Melbourne 2008 (V). The following was written by an anonymous person :

I really laugh reading that mahathir is the father of modern transportation.All countries regardless led by dictator or not will naturally develop its pubic transport.Do you know that North Korea and even Iran have their own Metro system.

The LRTs and KTMs may have been built during Mahathir time but they are all inefficient and more oriented to distributing the dough between cronies.

KL initially had a KTM system, two LRT system and a monorail line all operated by different OPERATORS!!

This is followed by bankruptcy of the LRT operators and the monorail company became bankrupt last year,now all except KTM come under RapidKL.

The money spent to cover these cronies asses could have provided fleets of buses for Ipoh and severall Malaysian cities!!Mahathir would have to do more than that to be called father of modern transportation in Malaysia.

As an avid memeber of and even ktmrailwayfan, many agree that transportation became worse than pre-Mahathir years when Mahathir assumed power.This is all thanks to Proton.It's possible that Mahathir deliberately allowed public transportation to rot so that Proton could survive.


First of all, Dr Mahathir is not a dictator. He was democratically elected by UMNO to be President and effectively, the PM of Malaysia. Dr Mahathir won all elections except one only as MP.

When he was Prime Minister for 22 years, he led Barisan Nasional to election victories with 2/3 majorities at least in all of the editions.

How then can you link Tun Dr Mahathir to be a dictator? Well your statements saying that all the operators of LRT, KTM and Monorail have different operators only show that Malaysia promotes competition where competition ensures an efficient allocation of resources be it capital, materials or labor.

Assuming Dr Mahathir allowed only one developer to build the KTM system, the two LRT system and the monorail line, what will Tun be described as? Tun will be at the receiving end of cronyism, dictatorship etc.

The company and the board of directors that received the contract to develop transportation in Malaysia will be labeled as cronies of Tun or a proxy to enrich Tun’s wallet.

However, bear in mind. These did not happen. Tun spread out the wealth and the contract for there to be competition and also had in mind the concern for the income disparities of groups.

Malaysia is not a dictatorial state. If Dr M was a dictator, and comparing your ideas with North Korea and Iran’s development, I believe Tun would have turned Malaysia into a metropolitan state comparable to those like Singapore and Japan – at least in Kuala Lumpur.

Transportation became worst under Tun? I guess you have been under a cult that paints the wrong picture. Proton was subsidized by the Government.

Is that wrong? Look at United States of America, the country where everyone says is a country of freedom and free market. They always promote the idea of free market and whoever can’t compete, should let those who can. Look at the hypocrisy of the West. They are now bailing out the firms that total to about USD 1.4 trillion now.

And their Government’s public debt is at least USD 10 trillion. If you say we are wrong in subsidizing Proton, look at the European Union.

They subsidize the agricultural industry annually under the Common Agricultural Policy that sums up to 44% of the European Union budget.

What about Airbus and Boeing? Do I need to write an article about the handicaps that the Governments of US and EU put on their beloved “pet projects” against the rest of the world?

I need not, I am sure.

Tun did not deliberately make the transportation of Malaysia to be like this. Public transport is not as optimal as the developed countries.

But mind you, Malaysia is still listed as a developing/contender country. Look at Thailand and Vietnam. They are even worst.

Of course, under the new Budget, the Government has allocated a large sum to make Malaysia’s transportation system comparable to other overseas models.

In my opinion, the main reason for Malaysia’s dilemma in transportation system is not due to Proton as described by your primitive thinking.

It is largely due to the substitutability of the public transportation system where price of vehicle fuel is very low as a percentage of real disposable income as compared to the economies in other world. Please don’t come and tell me Saudi Arabia or Brunei because we are not as well endowed in oil as they are.

In places like United Kingdom and Australia, people do their grocery shopping weekly or fortnightly. However in Malaysia, we drive our cars out to the market daily to get stuff.

I have to admit, that at times, I drive my car out just to have a bowl of noodles, alone, or at times just to buy a few stuff like butter and oil. Is that efficient? We do not bother much about these because the price of petrol is not that significant.

The substitutability of public transport with personal transport as well as the lack of demand pressures on public transportation has contributed to Malaysia’s dilemma now.

Whatever it is, I respect your views. In fact, we should respect the diversity of views. And I thank you for placing a comment here and look forward to have further discussion or debates with you.


Letting the time pass me by said...

Love or hate him,Tun M is for me a great leader.. and of course I choose to respect him... even the west listen to him, so why don't the Malaysian people?

Nobody is perfect, and sometimes great leaders also make mistake along the way... but the more important issues is to learn from the mistake and not to repeat the same mistake...

With regards to the monetary system, I think the current system is adequate, only the economic system and dealings need to be re-engineered to ensure that the economic balance is always positive... I think the world economy is too much dependent on credit system that the whole economic is becoming too fragile.. I believe with a solid debit economy structure, the fundamentals are stronger and more resistant to recessions..

well, just my 2 cent opinions...

Wei Liang Goh said...

tats true ... the world economy is extremely dependent on credit systems.

just looking at the credit debts of private consumptions, we all would have expected the financial sector to head to a wall.

Anonymous said...

Funny mr.wei liang.I never stated Mahathir is a dictator.I was making comparison with North Korea and Iran because we do not necessarily need a incredibly visionary leader to develop public's natural!!! But I still stick to opinion that Mahatirism have stunted public transport in Malaysia for Proton.If we look at the likes of China,India,Gulf states,Turkey,Morocco and even former communist countries like Romania and Poland, Malaysia is way behind in terms of public transportation.Oh yeah,Romania will be having its 300km/h train service running by this year while KTM will only have its 140km/h trains service to Ipoh by 2010..sigh.

Anonymous said...

Yes nobody is perfect.But it is dangerous to have a leader that have too much imperfections that affect millions of citizen and future generations.Mahathir abdicated from power leaving a fractured Malaysian society and with an uncertain economic outlook.To me, he has too much imperfections.That's why even after he left the government, our beloved country is still in quagmire..sigh.Tell me, what kind of leader elect his successor and then condemn that successor..shows how far from perfect Mahathir is?

Jimmy Tham said...

dear ah hia,

blogs are for public consumption and at times, you'll see comments that are not favorable to you. It's just human nature to try and project their ideals on others.

The comment left,I say, forget it. There are rules when you visit other's house and there are rules to abide when you leave a comment on a blog. Debate with maturity.

I couldn't really tell where I got the sources from, but I'll try to provide the essence of the article here as briefly as possible. It simply says subsidies distort market efficiency but some distortions are necessary and public transportation is 1 of them. It means you only need 1 centralised company to run the transportation system in the metropolitan area not 3 or 4 companies competing for a limited pool of consumers. It's sheer waste of public resources.

I don't know bout Singapore's MRT and if I am correct, it is government owned too. When Sydney with a population of approximately 4 millions commissioned just a bus company (under the RTA) to ply the routes, what makes KL with a population of less than 2 mil so special.

I can see we are sort of heading to the right direction with the establishment of RapidKL. But this is not without its sensational scanda of its own. Talk about the wastage of bus lying idle in Rawang when you could donate or sell it below cost to those poor school bus operators or orphanage.

Democracy puts Hitler, Caesar, Suharto and to a certain extent Iran's Grand Ayatollah in power. Frankly, I regard Tun M as a great statesman who rules with an iron fist. That was necessary to get things done then. Could you imagine the pussy yong teck lee to go against the BN coalition if Tun M is still in power now? He would be ISA-ed with charges of trying to pull Sabah out of the federation. I say, let the democracy matures 1 step at a time, we do not need the iron fist anymore

Anonymous said...

public transport which was divided up to different companies is no longer public but private transport. instead of adopting a model close to the SMRT system in singapore - we now have a3 elevated rail systems in KL. What mahathir did to the LRT system really makes me cringe. That 8 years aafter its prvatisation the government through Syarikat Prasarana buys it all back again just proves how corrupt the country is.

I urge you to please not make broad statements which extol the virtues of malayisa without understanding why things are the way they are in the west. If the west to you is not a good model, look at Japan and Singapore for that matter.

The problems with the United States does not mean that the free market system is wrong. If properly regulated, it would have been okay. Its the leader of the day tat decided to deregulate leading to this problem. Weak leaders, in which ever country could potenitally cause crises.

proton again is mismanagement by both the government and its executives. Track the growth of other manufacturers startng out at the same imte... Hyundai for example is successful internationally - proton is not. Why is that?