Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Trust, deception and betrayal in Selangor

With all the issues in Selangor, Pakatan Rakyat strategists know that the numbers don't look good. Pakatan Rakyat will want to avoid State Elections now.

Lim Kit Siang is right when he said that the day PAS Central Committee members meet on Aug 17 to decide whether or not to support Khalid Ibrahim as MB Selangor, it is actually D-Day for Pakatan Rakyat's future.

If PAS supports Dr Wan Azizah, then Pakatan Rakyat will avoid State Elections but if PAS supports Khalid Ibrahim, State Elections can happen with the help of Barisan Nasional and DAP's Hannah Yeoh.

Yes, it is true. PAS, BN and Hannah Yeoh.

Recently, PKR's Saifuddin Nasution and DAP's Tony Pua said Khalid Ibrahim no longer had the support to continue as MB. They want Khalid Ibrahim to prove that he has the support of the majority of the assemblymen. Perhaps Saifuddin and Tony should ask themselves if they are sure that Khalid has lost the support of the majority of the assemblymen.

DAP has 15 seats, PKR 13, PAS 15, BN 12 and of course 1 independent (Khalid Ibrahim himself).

Do not forget, DAP's ADUN Hannah Yeoh is also the Speaker of the State Assembly. The Speaker of the House cannot vote unless there is a tie. Even if Saifuddin and Tony are both confident that their ADUNs like Teng Chang Khim will toe the line, there are only 27 votes against Khalid Ibrahim (14 from DAP and 13 from PKR).

Both Saifuddin and Tony know that PAS has yet to decide whether or not it would support Khalid as MB. PAS will only decide on August 17. What will PAS do? If PAS agrees to back Dr Wan Azizah, Khalid Ibrahim's career is over. This way, Pakatan Rakyat will remain in power and Selangorians will have to wait for GE14 in 2017/18 to punish Pakatan Rakyat.

But if PAS decides to go with Khalid Ibrahim, then BN must think carefully if they want to team up with PAS and Khalid Ibrahim. BN has nothing to gain and much to lose. Unless of course, BN wants to gamble and hope that Hannah Yeoh will resign to force Khalid Ibrahim to dissolve the State Assembly.

Let us assume that Khalid Ibrahim, BN and PAS do form an alliance.

PAS, BN and Khalid Ibrahim will have 28 votes out of a maximum possible 55 votes in the State Assembly (Speaker can't vote). That should be sufficient for Khalid to command the confidence of the majority of the State Assemblymen (28 vs 27, Speaker stays out).

But the drama doesn't end here.

The fate of Khalid Ibrahim and Pakatan Rakyat then lies in the hands of Speaker Hannah Yeoh.

If Hannah Yeoh resigns as Speaker of the House and return to the DAP bench, DAP - PKR will have 28 votes vs the 28 votes from the PAS - BN - Khalid Ibrahim alliance. This is a 'hung assembly'.

Not only that, Standing Order 3 states that "whenever there is vacancy in the office of Speaker whether as the result of a dissolution of Assembly or otherwise the Assembly shall, as soon as a quorum is present, proceed to elect a Speaker".

The State Assembly must choose a new speaker in the next State Assembly meeting.

Both sides are expected to nominate one candidate each to replace Hannah Yeoh but neither is likely to win. When that happens, the State Assembly's Standing Order 4 (6) (c) comes into the picture. The rule states that "Where at any ballot between two candidates the votes are equal, another ballot shall be held and if at such subsequent ballot the votes are equal, the determination shall be by lot which shall be drawn in such manner as the Clerk shall decide".

Whoever wins will not command support from the other side and we are back to square one.

There is no way Khalid Ibrahim will see his "legacy" go down to this political impasse especially in the State Assembly. The State Government is at risk of facing a shutdown especially when the State Budget is coming up in November. I doubt the Palace will allow this to happen.

Khalid Ibrahim will have no choice but to dissolve the State Assembly and his career is as good as over. Of course, he will also drag Pakatan Rakyat down with him.

Pakatan Rakyat will have to face the full wrath and fury of the Selangor voters for the political circus and issues that have been haunting us for years.

Now, do you think Hannah Yeoh will resign for these to happen? What will DAP tell her to do?

Interesting days ahead and one thing is for sure, politicians have the ability to display the finest art of trust, deception and betrayal.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Why spend RM1.3 bil on EDL, YB Wong Shu Qi?

The Eastern Dispersal Link (EDL) is an 8.1km expressway that connects the end of the North-South Expressway (NSE) at Pandan Interchange to the new Bangunan Sultan Iskandar, Custom, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) in the city centre. From Pandan Interchange to Bakar Batu Interchange, is a 4.1km dual three lanes at-grade, and from Bakar Batu Interchange to the CIQ, is the elevated 4km dual three lanes with wide shoulders.

The total construction cost of RM1.3 billion did not receive any public funds, except for a few reams of paper and printing ink that were incurred by the Works Ministry and the local authorities which shouldn't exceed RM1000.

This project had some challenges and high costs along the way. It wasn't so straight forward. A total of 146 lots covering about 59 hectares had to be acquired to make way for the project. The land acquisition cost incurred by the concessionaire, MRCB Prasarana Sdn Bhd, was approximately RM254 million.

To avoid any potential Excel error and further embarrassment to DAP, I must help Shu Qi to calculate this. The average land acquisition cost per hectare is RM4.3 mil. Break it down further, that is approximately RM40 per square foot.

But that's not all. There were villagers and squatters which MRCB had to manage. There were 424 families who were affected. MRCB allocated RM13,680 per family that was sufficient to cover some rent for a couple of years. On top of this, the families were also given a one-off RM2,000 in moving out expenses. That's another RM6.65 million added on to the project cost. I know that's not much to DAP. So, let’s laugh it off, shall we, Shu Qi?

From what I understand, the EDL project which costs RM1.3 billion has two liabilities – senior sukuk at RM845 mil and junior sukuk at RM199 mil. The monthly loan repayment should be approximately RM 10 mil per month. I stand corrected on this but let’s assume that it is true for argument’s sake.

Assuming that the annual toll-able traffic is 11 mil vehicles and they all pay an average of RM15 (both ways), the toll revenue collection should be approximately RM165 mil.

Less annual debt repayment of RM120 mil and O&M costs of RM10 mil (assume), EDL should be earning approximately RM35 mil per annum only.

I was told that the Service Concession Asset (SCA) of EDL is now valued at RM1.32 bil. If that’s true, with my limited accounting knowledge, the return on SCA is just 2.6%.

The ratio will drop if the toll-able traffic in EDL falls but of course, that’s not the Government’s problem since it is a private entity.

Should the Government buy EDL?

In 2012, the Government made an announcement that they are in the negotiations stage to take over EDL from the concessionaire, MRCB Prasarana Sdn Bhd. The Prime Minister said that there is a possibility that EDL will be a freeway.

They wanted to but clearly they have abandoned it. Question is, why?

If you are the Finance Minister, Shu Qi, will you approve RM1.3 billion to benefit 50,000 people who use the EDL to work in Singapore and earn Singapore dollars? That’s an average of RM26,000 per person.

If one can afford to drive a car all the way into Singapore, the incremental toll rate of RM13.60 (from RM2.90 to RM16.50) is less than the cost of a plate of chicken rice in Singapore. If you are taking the bus, the incremental cost is just RM11.00 per bus or RM0.42 per pax (both ways) in a 26 seater bus.
We are better off spending the money elsewhere and I am sure the users of EDL will understand this too

In his article - “Who is to blame for Selangor water woes?”, YB Khairy Jamaluddin said “Under the recent MoU, signed on Feb 26, the Federal Government agreed to provide a sum of RM9.65bil to acquire the water companies and release all water assets to the Selangor Government to operate.”

Don’t you think the RM1.3 billion is better spent in helping Pakatan Rakyat to resolve the water crisis in Selangor? Perhaps, that’s where the money really went to but you and I will never know, Shu Qi.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Pak Lah, Najib are better leaders than Anwar

When I read that YB Liew Chin Tong and Datuk Zaid Ibrahim said Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was a better PM than current Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, I felt that the comparison was a lame one. YB Liew Chin Tong and Datuk Zaid Ibrahim must not be shy to compare Pak Lah and Najib with Anwar Ibrahim whose record is like a blank sheet of paper.

Datuk Zaid Ibrahim said that Pak Lah’s administration was better than Najib purely because of the lack of racial religious rhetoric. This is wrong. Pak Lah and Najib are bankruptcies when it comes to racial religious rhetoric. Only one man was not part of this rally for a moderate Malaysia.

Let me begin with education.

In July, 2009, when PPSMI was scrapped, Najib said the Government was aware how important it was for Malaysians to be proficient in English. When asked if the PPSMI was dropped to uphold the use of Bahasa Malaysia as a national language, Pak Lah said the previous policy had not achieved the desired results and he hoped the people would also accept the alternative steps planned by the Government to strengthen students’ command of the English language.

Race was not a determinant in the BN Government’s education policy for school children.

In the run up to this policy decision, do you know what Anwar said? On Jan 15, 2009 in his blog post “Pakatan Rakyat Komited Mansuh PPSMI”, Anwar Ibrahim wrote “Acapkali saya tekankan betapa mereka yang bertindak meneruskan hatta menyokong PPSMI adalah kalangan yang khianat kepada perjuangan Melayu. Justeru bagaimana mereka yang tegar menyokong PPSMI diteruskan saban waktu mengaku pejuang melayu tulen?”

That was in 2009. Are you surprised?

When Anwar was Education Minister, what did he do? I was still learning how to walk at that time but according to former Information Minister Datuk Seri Zainuddin Maidin, the term Bahasa Malaysia was introduced by Tunku Abdul Rahman after the country's independence to inculcate a Malaysian identity and no one asked for a change until Anwar Ibrahim became the Education Minister. Bahasa Melayu became the official term for our national language.

In 2007, under Pak Lah, the Government decided that Bahasa Malaysia will replace Bahasa Melayu as the official term to be used to refer to the national language.

Clearly, Pak Lah and Najib are leaders of Malaysians first and politicians second.

If you remember, when Pak Lah was acting Prime Minister in 2003, he lifted the ban on the Bibles that were published in the indigenous Iban language. Back then, Pak Lah said "I was told that the word has been used by the community as a reference to God for a very long time. Since the word is found in the Iban Bible only, I don´t see the reason why it should be banned." Pak Lah was attentive and listened to the views of all religious leaders.

Under Najib, the Government is committed to the 10-point solution. Bibles in all languages can be imported into the country, including Bahasa Malaysia, and Bibles can also be printed locally in Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak.

When Pak Lah and Najib were needed as Malaysian leaders, they delivered.

Look at Selangor today. Issues remain on the table but solutions are nowhere to be seen. The Kajang Move and endorsing the missus as Selangor’s new Menteri Besar are not solutions. That is more of a romance story at the public’s expense.

As Prime Ministers, Pak Lah and Najib are poor when it comes to racial religious rhetoric but consistently rich in their vision and leadership for a moderate Malaysia.

To know that YB Liew Chin Tong has closed both eyes on Anwar Ibrahim’s record really breaks my heart.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

The end is near, Pakatan Rakyat

In the Barisan Alternative's manifesto in 1999, the Opposition pact included a call to end BN’s Oppression, Corruption, Cronyism and Nepotism. In this manifesto, Barisan Alternative said "From the 1980s, the NEP has been an excuse to practise cronyism and nepotism in business and politics. Corruption, cronyism and nepotism under the BN government has served to cripple our economic competitiveness and mortgaged our future".

This was despite the fact that when Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was in office, none of his children held any positions in the government or in the party. Dr M was strongly against his family members from pursuing a career in politics when he was the Prime Minister and Finance Minister.

In the recent 13th GE, there was no mention or use of the word "nepotism" in Manifesto Rakyat. Why? Is nepotism endorsed and accepted as a political culture in Pakatan Rakyat?

Say what you like but look at UMNO again. The party did not accept the combination of Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Khairy Jamaluddin in Government at the same time. Pak Lah faced a series of attacks and resigned to make way for Datuk Seri Najib Razak to be Prime Minister. Najib did not appoint Khairy to any Government positions until the recent 13th General Election. Today, KJ has risen from the ashes with a firm grip as MP of Rembau and he is popular in urban areas with youths.

Clearly, UMNO has demonstrated maturity in politics with no room for patronage and nepotism.

Nepotism is intolerable.

When Greek MP Byron Polydoras used his brief tenure as Parliament Speaker to make his daughter a permanent employee in the Speaker's Office, there was uproar in Parliament and the public.

In France, when former President Nicolas Sarkozy's son Jean Sarkozy was in line for a job in a GLC that manages a major financial district in Paris, the Opposition and public were outraged and cried nepotism.

Last year in Germany, when Bavaria's State legislature released a list of 79 lawmakers who employed siblings, spouses or children as staff at public expense, criticism was loud and clear. In fact, Georg Winter from the ruling Christian Social Union had to step down from his post as chairman of the budget committee because he employed his wife and her salary was paid by the State Parliament.

Historian Patrick French's book India: A Portrait has some interesting data on Indian politics. In India, more than 65% of the MPs below 40 are hereditary MPs. He classified 27 MPs as hyper hereditary including 19 from the Congress Party. Patrick French concluded that if this trend continues, there is a possibility that India will return to where it started, with rule by a hereditary monarch and assorted Indian princelings. In the recent elections, Narendra Modi’s BJP Party was voted into power to replace the Congress Party. After he was sworn in as Prime Minister, Modi was stern in his message to his BJP MPs – avoid nepotism.

Today, the Selangor MB tussle has exposed a series of criticisms on Pakatan Rakyat, the loudest of all is nepotism. In DAP, Lim Kit Siang and the late Karpal Singh’s families are firmly in power. In PKR, Anwar Ibrahim and family holds the top 3 posts in the party.

UMNO has seen a change of leadership 6 times (3 times since Anwar Ibrahim entered politics), MCA is currently with its 10th President (5 Presidents since Anwar Ibrahim entered politics). And today, we are still talking about democracy and principles with Anwar Ibrahim and family?

The voters are not blind. Direct nepotism that involves immediate family members is a subtle form of corruption and it must not be taken lightly.

The end is near, Pakatan Rakyat. Nepotism is intolerable and if UMCEDEL’s polls that support for Pakatan Rakyat Selangor is at 35% only, then Pakatan Rakyat’s mandate in Selangor will not go beyond two terms.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Punish PKR, not just Khalid

When I read the Open Letter by Stephen Ng - "Look at the bigger picture, Tan Sri Khalid" on 23 July, I felt that he was not presenting the whole picture to you on Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim and the politics in Selangor.

Here's one.

In a war of words with Nathaniel Tan recently, Rafizi Ramli tweeted "@rafiziramli: For everyone's record, @natasasi was employed by MB Office on vague contract re media/social media etc. Not surprising 4 all his defence".

Today, Nathaniel Tan is one of the loudest supporters of Khalid Ibrahim.

I don’t know what else is shady but as we all know, the deeper you dig, the darker it gets. YB Hannah Yeoh cannot afford to hide and be quiet anymore. SELCAT must act fast or lose credibility.

The other camp in Selangor PKR has its own share of issues also. Look at the facts.

  1. PKR's De Facto Leader is Anwar Ibrahim and his wife Dr Wan Azizah is the Party President. Their daughter is the Vice President of PKR.

  2. Former ADUN Kajang Lee Chin Cheh stepped down for greater good of Pakatan Rakyat but appeared in the candidates sheet in the ongoing PKR Party Elections

  3. PKR’s Election began in late April 2014 and till today we have not seen or heard who has won the race to be Deputy President, Vice Presidents and Supreme Council members. (FYI, Indonesia’s Presidential Election began on 9th July and on 22nd July, Joko Widodo was announced as the new President)

  4. PKR Supreme Council endorsed Dr Wan Azizah as the new Selangor MB, the wife of Selangor's Economic Advisor

This is no doubt a mockery of our democracy. By now, supporters of Pakatan Rakyat should all be asking this question - is this the party that we know and voted for?

It is still fresh in our memories during the Kajang Move when Rafizi wrote in his blog:

  1. We need radical approach to solving the traffic woes, the pace of affordable public housing has to pick up

  2. There is a need for more rigorous forward planning of water resources in Selangor

  3. We can do better especially with regards to cleanliness and livelihood of the people. We have the potential to be a model state with least potholes in densely populated areas.

Clearly, Pakatan Rakyat is giving Khalid Ibrahim an “F” for his performance as MB with recent issues like KIDEX, water and the BM Bible, just a year after the 13th General Election. His value was downgraded to “junk” when the Pakatan Rakyat leaders begin to blame it all on one individual – Khalid Ibrahim.

But is this the sole responsibility and failure of one man - Khalid Ibrahim? Are we talking about the Selangor State Government which Anwar has been a member of since 2009? And does anyone expect the State Government to perform better with Dr Wan Azizah?

It is just shameful for anyone to even allow PKR to be involved in politics anymore.

This is the time when we say enough is enough. Selangor must call for fresh State Elections. PKR must be punished for poor governance and the prostitution of democracy.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The "Najib Move"

While the world was busy preparing statements and meeting the press to slam Russia, it was the Prime Minister of a developing country with a population of 29 mil population

(1) established contact with Alexander Borodai, who is in command of the crash site

(2) secured the bodies and the black boxes

(3) received permission to access the crash site with safety guaranteed for the independent international investigators.

I wonder if the wife of the politician from Penang who used the words “scary and useless” to describe Malaysia (she apologized) has anything else to say now.

There were two comments in Twitter that caught my attention - YB Liew Chin Tong and Datuk Mazri Muhammad.

“@liewchintong: MH17 may be the beginning of a New Cold War. If Russia has to be told off, we have no choice but to do it. Our foreign policy needs clarity.”

“@mazri73: If we are vocal against Russia, will Russia stop support for Malaysian Su-30s, MiG-29s and other weapon systems in our military arsenal”

Their comments made me realized the complexity of our foreign relations policy especially in this tragedy.

Both countries have had diplomatic relations since the 1960s. About half of our air assault potential is Russian made. We have about 30 Sukhoi and MiG fighter jets. Trading between the two countries is valued at approximately US$ 2 billion. In education, we have over 5,000 students there.

This is not a case of being vocal, neutral or being quiet. It is about priorities and the timing must be right especially when there were reports of inaccessibility to the site and with news quoting the Ukrainian Prime Minister later that the rebels did not allow the train with bodies to leave.

The international media and international figures were quick to push the blame of the MH17 on Russia but there were some who threw in conspiracy theories against the Americans such as the Operation Northwoods that was rejected by President John F. Kennedy.

Whether it was the Americans, Ukrainians or Russians, no one is sure until the investigations have been concluded.

We are caught in a geopolitical crisis and Najib has played his cards right without jumping on the bandwagon to blame the rebels, the Russians or the Americans. The reality is that the bodies and crash site are in the region under the command of Alexander Borodai. Najib made the right move when he established contact and reached an agreement with Borodai for the bodies, the black boxes and the investigation to be carried out. No harsh statements or bullets would have worked but only diplomacy.

It is important that the Americans, Ukrainians and Russians know that the Malaysian Government and the families of the victims of geopolitics do not have interest in who controls Donetsk. In this moment of grieve and sadness, the only right thing to do is to allow the families to have their loved ones back for a proper burial first.

The next phase is for investigations to be carried out thoroughly and to deliver justice for those who lost their lives in MH17. The individuals who are directly responsible, the operations chief and the one who pulled the trigger, must be swiftly brought to justice. It is an unforgivable sin.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Let the numbers do the talking, Dr Dzul

I sent the following piece to The Malaysian Insider on 22 May 2014 and 23 May 2014. I think TMI Editorial team will not bother probably because they were comparing Dr Dzul vs "who is this Goh Wei Liang". But I hope TMI did not evolve into a 1Voice, 1Opinion, 1Direction site. Two party system must have three opinions lah - Government, Opposition, and the shy ones.


I refer to Dr Dzul's article "GTP and ETP 2013 Report: Looking beyond numbers". I must commend him for being one of the few MPs from the Opposition bench in Parliament who actually cares about our economy. All these while, I thought it was just YB MP Serdang who cares. I won’t go into the details of my “it’s complicated” relationship with YB MP Serdang.

Let's go straight into the comments by Dr Dzul.

Comment #1 – Dr Dzul: Poor scores of four NKEAs were noted. They have failed their KPIs as noted by RHB Research Institute
While it is true that some of the NKEAs did not hit their targets, should we not commend the Prime Minister and his Cabinet for being transparent on their KPIs and their actual achievement? If you flip through the Annual Report(s), the Government actually reported what they have done in the past 12 months in the following order:

1.  What went well
2.  What went wrong and why
3.  Moving forward (targets and plans for the following year)

When you think of Najib, regardless of whether you like him or not, at least the first thing that comes to mind is his Transformation Programmes. He releases annual reports for you to judge, regardless if he is achieving them or not.

When you think of the Economic Advisor of Selangor (I don’t know what has he advised Khalid Ibrahim on), the Chief Ministers, do you know what are their annual targets and achievements? Can you name any? I am not just talking about the Pakatan Rakyat-led States but also the Barisan Nasional States.

Comment #2 – Dr Dzul: Investments were down by 75% year-on-year to RM8 billion as compared to RM32.1 billion in 2012 and RM179.2 in 2011. Research houses are already alluding to concern of our attractiveness as an investment destination.
Investments are not down. Private investment have been increasing year on year. The growth rate of investments were higher post 2010 as compared to the years before. This, to me, is a sign of confidence in the Malaysian economy and our political stability.

In fact, the approved investments under MIDA and the other investment promotion agencies in 2011-2013 have exceeded the RMK10’s annual target of RM148 bil. This is a clear sign of a healthy pipeline of investments.

If there’s anything to be worried about, it is probably the water issue and the quality of the infrastructure in Selangor such as roads. Please don’t come and tell me that these are Federal Government’s responsibility because clearly not all roads are Federal Government roads. Already the Economic Advisor of Selangor was caught red handed on Twitter when a netizen highlighted to him that a stretch between Kulim to Bukit Mertajam is in a bad condition. Conveniently, YB Permatang Pauh said “Jln persekutuan-dah ruj Kem”. The Works Minister checked and sent a reply that says “Just finished cabinet meeting n just checked that this road is P7, it is a state road”.

Now we know why Penang’s budget is in a surplus position.

Comment #3: Dr Dzul - Are we on a sure trajectory, ceteris paribus, which will propel us into a high-income economy come 2020?
No one can be sure but it looks like we are closing the gap on high income threshold (we are catching up!)

Comment #4 - Dr Dzul: More specifically here, neither has the quality of life for the bottom 40% of the rakyat or citizenry improved, worse still, declined. Nor that the size of the middle class has become broader based and improving.

I am not going to talk about quality of life but standard of living measured by income. It is extremely important for us, regardless if you are Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Rakyat or still shy to take sides, to actually put bread and butter on the tables of those who are less fortunate.

Say what you like, but the Government did not sideline the bottom 40%. And when we talk about the bottom 40%, please don’t think of this as folks in Selangor, Penang or Johor only. Remember our brothers and sisters in Sabah and Sarawak.

Under the 10th Malaysia Plan, the mean income of the bottom 40% of households in 2009 was RM1,440 per month. This increased to RM1,847 in 2012. That’s a compounded annual growth rate of 8.7%.

  • 188,781 people were moved out from Poverty between 2009 and 2013. In 2013 alone, it was 79,731 people.
  • 18,249 1Azam participants' increased their income by RM300 in 2013. 
  • The Government has spent RM7.72 billion in technical and vocational education and training.
  • The Government in 2010 has approved RM1 bil for oil palm smallholders replanting and new planting for implementation in 2011-2014
  • The Government introduced the minimum wage in 2013. An estimated 3.2 million people in Malaysia will directly benefit from Minimum Wage and I was told that the compliance rate is at approximately 97%.

In the overall labour market context, according to a briefing by a Cabinet Minister to analysts and media:
  1. Income less than RM2,000 per month: 57% in 2009, it is 47% now.
  2. Income between RM2,000 – RM4,000 per month: 28% in 2009, it is 32% now.
  3. Income between RM4,000 – RM7,000 per month: 11% in 2009, it is 13% now.
The Government did not and will not stop here. The focus will always be to assist those that are less fortunate and the needy.

Of course, I must say that we must applaud some of the non-Government's efforts such as NRC 11's #KitchenForHomeless and DAP's Impian Sarawak projects. After seeing the pictures of YB MP Serdang carrying bags of fertilizer and delivering them to long houses in interior Sarawak, I think he deserves a pat on the back. This clearly shows that this is not just the responsibility of the Government, but us all.

This is our country and we must work together in this transformation journey.

I am always searching for thoughts or words when it comes to writing the conclusion. So, I will just re-use what Dr Dzul said and send it back to Dr. “As the saying goes, if you want to have what you never had, you have got to do what you have never done”.


The above is the personal opinion of Goh Wei Liang.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

YB Nga Kor Ming on toll roads

It is really none of my business on whether or not toll rates go up. Of course I would like to see it go down because the RM 12 per day that I pay takes up a large chunk of my salary.

But what I can't accept is people who try to be heroes or make a lot of noise without facts.

On Feb 7, YB Nga Kor Ming said "Demi kroni, BN gadaikan hak rakyat. Krn kontrak kangkung, dlm 3 thn Krjn bayar RM976 juta pampasan kpd konsensi TOL."

This MP who has been a politician probably since before I was born, clearly knows nuts about toll.

The compensation, I believe, is calculated by (New toll rate - current toll rate) x (Traffic volume in that year). The definition of "New toll rate" here is the figure in the concession agreement while current toll rate is what we pay. The difference ... is the required compensation to ensure that today, tomorrow and forever you pay what you have been paying yesterday.

Did you know that toll rates in Malaysia for most, if not all of the concessions, are based on a step up rate? This means that there is a schedule of toll increment every X years. In this case, the expected revenue stream, in simple terms without time value of money, is simply just = (Price x Traffic Volume x Concession Period).

Seriously, you expect Tan Sri Irwan Serigar the Treasurer General to just wake up one fine morning and say "hey! Let's increase toll rates" ???

To enable the project to be bankable (ie you can borrow money to finance the roads development), I believe the Government agreed on a step up rate every X years. For example, an increase of 5% every 3 years under PLUS and Government also agreed on the concession period. This is public knowledge, found on The Star's Archive HERE and on NST's Archive HERE so Special Branch shouldn't worry or bother investigating me.

What is not guaranteed by the Government is the traffic volume (well, maybe just 1 ... long long time ago).

If no one uses LEKAS for example OR if many cars use LDP's non tollable roads OR if we bypass Damansara Link toll plaza through the inner road, then that's okay. Government will still tell the operators "That's your problem, mate. But you must maintain that highway according to specific standards."

This is a fair deal to the Government.

Did you know that there are 1 million users on LDP's non toll areas (it is an open system) but only 440,000 vehicles pass through their four toll plazas only?

Yes, of course, you can't be bothered with these details. All you care about is HIGH TOLL RATES and we are benefiting cronies.

Is this true?

Let's look at Australia. According to Wikipedia HERE, EastLink Toll Road in Melbourne which is managed by ConnectEast, has a concession that's valid for 39 years. This means that Australians must pay until 2047 if I am not mistaken (they started operations in year 2008). PLUS' concession ends in 2038.

What about toll rates?

Did you know that EastLink's toll rates are adjusted EVERY YEAR based on inflation numbers? Read it HERE. TIAP TIAP TAHUN TOL NAIK!

Please tell me. Which UMNO crony owns the toll roads in Melbourne?

Let me show you some math. According to news report, PLUS toll rate in 2009 was at 13.60 sen per km. If we used Australia's annual CPI adjusted model, PLUS should have charged us 14.358 sen per km in 2012 and 14.596 sen per km in 2013.

But guess what? Today, you still pay 13.60 cents per km.

Of course, this is just one example and simple math. I might have missed out some things.

But if our Malaysian MPs like YB Nga Kor Ming cannot even do some brief research and analysis like this but instead spend time slamming the Government with no baseline data and facts, it is really bad.

Good for nothing ... memalukan saja, YB.

*The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not represent the views of any other individuals or organizations.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Cost of living

I am beginning to understand the curse of the social and digital media.

It is really interesting how one tweet or one article by influential journalists, politician, Government leaders or media house can create a 'tsunami' and put the whole country into a panic, frenzy mode.

Let's take a look at toll first.

On 15 Dec 2013, The Star - Minister: Toll rate hike unavoidable.

I am not really sure whether Wahid had plans to remove toll subsidies in 2014. I doubt it after reading quotes on what he said.

He said the toll rate should have been revised in 2011, as stated in the concession agreement. “However, as the rate was maintained, the government had to fork out RM400mil in compensation from taxpayers’ money, which could have been used for other purposes. And now, it’s time (again) to fulfill the condition,”

He said it is time to fulfill the condition lah.

On 2 Jan 2014, NST - Fadillah: No directive on toll hikes

The government has yet to issue directives to expressway concession holders on the toll rate hike, said Works Minister Datuk Fadillah Yusof. He said based on the concession agreements, some expressways were supposed to increase their toll rates this year, but the government had yet to issue directives to them. Instead, he said, the government was looking for ways to offset the impact on the people if toll rates were to increase, including setting up a special laboratory by the Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu) to study the implications of a toll rate hike in 2014, he said in a statement.

If we read carefully these two gentlemen's comments, THERE WON'T BE ANY TOLL HIKES IN 2014!

Let me guide you to Budget 2014 - an official document by the Government of Malaysia tabled in Parliament in Oct 2013.

Step 1: Go to
Step 2: In the menu bar, move your mouse cursor to Bajet
Step 3: Click on Maklumat Bajet Kerajaan
Step 4: Click on Anggaran Perbelanjaan Persekutuan 2014
Step 5: Scroll down to B/P.27 Kementerian Kerja Raya
Step 6: Right click and download the file b27.pdf

If you look at Kementerian Kerja Raya's Budget allocation, page 364 Butiran 080100 Bayaran Pampasan Tol, the allocation for year 2014 is not zero. It is clearly stated as RM460.86 mil.

You mean to say PM tabled Budget 2014 in October 2013 only for it to be "reviewed and removed" immediately in January 2014?

Siapa reka cerita macam ni la? 

This goes to show how many people actually bother to go through the Budget details every year and how many people actually bother to question how much they can trust the articles published in blogs, newspapers, or e-media.

Of course, I have to admit, my crystal ball did not show me information beyond 2014. Maybe I should check with Professor Dumbledore.

Should we panic if Government decides to take the drastic action of removing subsidies in 2015? Of course there will be grouses when subsidies are removed. I am unhappy too, I spend RM12 per day on toll roads, almost RM500 per month on fuel at current rate. I don't even want to talk about how much I spend on food and how much I save a month.

Is this a Barisan Nasional problem? Can it be avoided?

After PM tabled the Budget 2014 in late October 2013, Moody's released a statement in November - Moody's changes outlook for Malaysia's A3 rating to positive from stable

Moody's Investors Service has today affirmed Malaysia's government bond and issuer ratings at A3. The outlook has been changed to positive from stable. The change in the outlook was driven by:

1) Improved prospects for fiscal consolidation and reform; and

2) Continued macroeconomic stability in the face of external headwinds.

If Government did not remove subsidies, I wonder what will happen to our ratings. What will Moody's, Fitch etc say? Don't forget ratings will affect not just the Government but cost of doing business as a whole in Malaysia. Akhirnya siapa kena teruk? Rakyat lah!

I am sure there are methods to tackle cost of living if subsidies are removed - such as toll, electricity and fuel. We should wait and see. This is a Government by the people and for the people.

Remember when some if not all of you complained about leakages and cronies benefiting from subsidies or Government money? 

When subsidy rationalization was done on fuel any others, didn't PM increase BR1M quantum and to more households?

I think PM wasn't joking or trying to buy time when trains carried these ads below. He was serious. Hey, the man doesn't talk much like the Kajang guy but doesn't mean he's not working or he doesn't care... 

Allow me to share with you some articles I found online after using Google with the keywords 'melbourne toll rates increased'.

On 3 Dec 2008: Melbourne tolls up 64 per cent
  • Toll prices on Melbourne’s CityLink Tollway have risen by 64 per cent in the nine years since it opened
  • The road will remain tolled until 2034

On 6 June 2013: Drivers face toll increase on CityLink and EastLink

On 10 Oct 2013: Airportlink tolls rise 20 per cent despite moderate increase in traffic levels

On 31 Dec 2013: Up and up go costs for 2014
  • changes are a result of the congestion levy – a tax on specified long-stay city car parking spaces – being increased by the state government
  • Public transport fares will also increase from January 1, and for the first time motorcyclists will have to pay to use CityLink.
  • The Essential Services Commission said water bills in some Melbourne households will increases more than $220 a year. Increases for Yarra Valley Water and South East Water customers will range from $167 to $222 a year.
On 1 Jan 2014: Tolls to increase on four Sydney motorways

Despite all these, Australia is still ...well ... Australia. In fact, many Malaysians are in Melbourne, Sydney and Perth. Annually many Malaysians go there for holiday, education, migration or business.

So, macam mana? Should we ask Pakatan Rakyat to setup political parties in Australia too? Shouldn't be a problem. We can call it the Australian Move. Outback Move pun boleh lah.