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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Another Manic Reaction...

There seems to be another manic reaction to the issue that is petrol. Today word was out that tomorrow (25/06) all petrol stations were going to be on strike and won't be selling ANY petrol to the public. This of course caused such a crazy repurcussion. Every single petrol station (and roads leading to them) to be jam packed with cars. The lines were so insane that it spanned a couple of kilometres or more!!

My brother who was instructed to pump some petrol for my mum's car was stuck in all the insanity for 3 hours. I, on the other hand had grown fed up with the whole hulabaloo after realizing that I was only 1/4 of the line to the stations and made a U-turn to head for home. I don't care if there won't be any petrol transaction tomorrow but I figured it just wasn't worth wasting what little fuel I had left queueing up. The fact that I was driving alone and imagining it getting dark, and I'm who knows where, and I run out of fuel before I reach the station. How the heck am I suppose to push my car? And how far would I have to do so?

Even the political scene is getting really chaotic. I don't care whose fault it is, just fix the problem already. I don't think at this point in time we can afford to bicker about why this person or party is placing a no-confidence vote towards the Premier or to question certain quarters motives. Please just take some rectification action that makes sense and alleviates the burden and pain caused by the people. Shut up and get to work. All this power war is tiresome and honestly, useless. The people are getting restless. I feel it's useless telling the public not to cause a riot, to change their lifestyle, to be sensible, etc. Hel-lo!! With the limited time that we have, make a move that's unconventional, think out of the box and find a way to ease the rising concerns.

For example, the whole Yong Teck Lee issue. Isn't there anything better to do than to prove to the people that he's got skeletons hiding in his closet by exposing past wrong doings and portraying him as a greedy and power crazed? What about looking into the issues that he's brought up like the illegal immigrant problem that has since worsened? Or the Sabah oil royalty issue? Stop nit-picking on people's faults when there are bigger issues at hand. There are a heap of things to focus on that need immediate attention. Who cares about launching this and that? Who cares about officiating events? A government should be able to serve the people and not the other way around.

Does not saying "yes" to the government's decisions mean that we are supporting the opposition? I hope not. Because if that is the case, then what point is there to vote? What point is there to speak up? I don't believe in "blind support". Yes, we should support the good things, things that will fruit benefits. But there are times that we have to tell the government serving us that what they are doing is wrong. It makes no sense at all to simply be OK 100% with their decisions. The democratic power is held by the people and not the leaders. That is the basic fundamental of democracy. I'm not saying leaders should be slaves to the people's word but it's important that they listen and give it considerable thought. Stop pushing us away. The people will acknowledge and react accordingly if and when they feel cared for by the government governing them.

Lately it seems that the element of trust is slowly losing its grip. And believe me, trust is one of the most important elements that should be embodied by the people-government relationship. Or any relationship for that matter.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Are we being duped?!?!??! Another step towards inflation...

The rising prices of oil in the international market seems to really be having an adverse effect here in Malaysia (despite us having oil on our shores ourselves). The buzz was on yesterday afternoon with rumours circulating the price of petrol will be rising by more than 40% to RM2.70 per litre by midnight. As the working hours ended, the queue at all petrol kiosks began all the way through to midnight I presume.

What political and economical repurcussions are to follow by this sudden hike? One can only predict the dissatisfaction of the people on the government's move to such a drastic increase. According to the Domestic Trade Minister (Shahrir Samad), vehicle owners i.e. below 2000cc and motorcycle owners i.e. below 250cc will be compensated with rebates or RM625/year and RM150/year upon road tax renewal. Other alternatives have also been outlined for vehicles that don't fall into those categories. Is this 'cushion' sufficient to calm the impending uproar amongst the public? They're not even sure they'll be subsidizing for long either.

Tuesday's news (3/6/08) reported the new oil subsidy scheme to be implemented supposedly in August (supposedly yet to be decided). Now the press is reporting a somewhat different tune (just two days later). Not only is the price of petrol and diesel increased, it's also on a monthly review basis?

"Malaysian still pay lower than market price as far as
petrol is concerned."
- Pak Lah's comment reflecting the 30sen per
litre subsidy 'enjoyed' by Malaysians

Maybe Toyota should think about expanding it's Prius sales to this region. Maybe a hybrid car can help alleviate the pressure of this absurd price escalation (plus it's environmentally friendly too - talk about killing two birds with one stone). I don't quite get Pak Lah's comment though. It is to be expected that we're paying petrol prices lower than market price considering we mine petroluem.

Consequent to today's development, it seems that we should be bracing ourselves for the inevitable ripple effect. Consumer products (i.e. everything involving logistics) will also be experiencing an increase with many backing their price hike with the fuel price. With the government's intent to have prices reflect global ascend, it's not impossible that we'll be seeing petrol stations showcasing their price of the day as per done in many countries these days. I remember in the States (back in the days when I was holidaying there), the prices varied amongst petrol companies, as if saying 'may the best man win'. I wonder how long before we'll be witnessing that scenario here. Is it possible to pass subsidy duties from the government to the respective companies (i.e. Petronas, Shell, Esso-Mobil, Caltex, BHP, ProJet, etc.) and let them fight it out? How much are they willing to sacrifice for the consumers?

What are the government's plan to eradicate poverty in the country amidst the increasing cost of living? Is the anti-corruption efforts actually paying off? Without doubt, there are still a considerable number of irresponsible individuals out there in high places taking advantage of their position and ranks to aid their personal agenda and wealth. Where will the savings from the fuel subsidy be reallocated to? More unnecessary 'development' projects? Uncalled for 'leisure' benefits? Will the plans be shared with the public as per the government's vouch on transparency? Who prepares the year end report to gauge the government's performance and efficiency in distributing wealth to the nation and its people? How will we be able to review the heads we've dutifully elected to serve us? The current vibe is bad. A lot of people aren't happy with where the country's heading post-election. Buckle up people. The people's trust is not worth losing.

Would it hurt to at least have made public transportation more efficient, reliable and safe before having forced us to bear the weight of such a move? They're only addressing the matter now? Take KL for example. Bus services are unreliable and sparse. LRT stations are often jam-packed with people hoping to squeeze into already sardined trains. Don't even get me started on Komuter services. I've been amongst those unlucky enough to have to have waited for a Komuter which not only did not arrive as scheduled but was unacceptably an hour or so late. If I were to have to attend a meeting and the Komuter was the only mode of transportation I had the luxury of taking, rest assured my schedule would've been topsy turvy. While waiting for the Komuter just recently, I heard they'll be increasing the frequency to every 20 minutes. I'm not much of a sceptic but on this, I have my doubts. It doesn't help that most LRT/Komuter stations are oddly located. Some so isolated, I dare not jump off for fear of my safety. I'm not sure who does the transportation infrastructure but somebody had better fix it up. The best experience of public transportation that I've had the pleasure of experiencing so far is in Singapore. Can't we stop critisizing them and actually learn from what works for them?

Looks like like everyone else, I, a humble consumer and rakyat have to review my budget and see what other little luxuries I can still afford. *sigh*