Thursday, June 19, 2008

BN: No action against SAPP for now - Malaysiakini

Barisan Nasional supreme council today resolved not to take action against Sabah Progressive Party (Sapp) until it gets an "official statement" from the party for its planned of no confidence vote against the prime minister.

BN secretary-general Tengku Adnan Mansor said this today on behalf of all 13 component party members, minus Sapp which was not invited to the emergency meeting.After the two-and-a-half-hour-long meeting at the Putra World Trade Centre, Tengku Adnan read out the BN supreme council's decision to the media."All the BN component parties condemn Yong Teck Lee's (Sapp president) statement. His statement is unprincipled, unethical and is against BN's beliefs and spirit of unity."All the component parties also want Sapp supreme council to confirm or reject Yong's statement yesterday," said Tengku Adnan

Action would only be decided against Sapp after it's "official statement" pertaining Yong's statement, said the BN secretary-general.Another decision reached at the meeting was for parliamentarians from all BN component parties to attend all parliamentary sessions."They must also follow BN's instructions and reject any no-confidence motions against the prime minister. All the component parties here also voiced their support Abdullah Ahmad Badawi as the prime minister of Malaysia," said Tengku Adnan.

When asked why Sapp was not invited to today's meeting, he said: "We did not invite them because we were going to discuss about them".He said that BN component parties have been warned before not to air their grievances through the media but to bring it up at its supreme council meetings.Representatives of all component parties were present at the meeting.

However, one notable absentee was Deputy Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, who could not return on time from his overseas trip.Also absent was PPP president M Kayveas and Upko chief Bernard Dompok, also believed to be overseas. However their representatives were at the meeting.

The mainstream media is slowly and surely getting less and less readership due to the preference of the Rakyat for a more balance and fast news which they can easily access from the alternative news online portal like Malaysiakini and Malaysia Today.Unlike Malaysia Today which is a free website, Malaysiakini need to be subscribe for a nominal fee.The former is manage by the controversial blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin who was earlier charged under the Sedition Act, while the latter by Steven Gan.Both have quite a substantial viewership which could easily outperform the mainstream media like The Star and NST.

Sensing the change in the trend of readership and with the control of 5 states by the Pakatan Rakyat government, The Star was quick to change their pro government reporting to a more balanced news coverage and are able to maintain their readership which easily outbeat NST. However Utusan Malaysia still keep to their old style of coverage and was subsequently blacklisted from the Pakatan Rakyat coalition for their bias reporting.

During the recent 12th General Election, Malaysiakini idea of giving free viewership for 2 weeks was a good strategic move.The website was rewarded with very heavy traffic viewership which could only be access by HTML mode.The latest election news update was fantastic fast and accurate.While RTM and TV3 were slowly flowing out their election results on Sabah,Sarawak and none on the states won by the Opposition,the alternative news were already announcing the forming of the new government by the Opposition in the 5 states. The mainstream media need to take corrective action to change or they will slowly dissappear from the viewer screen.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

The Second Tsunami ( Part 3 )

After the flip flop policy on banning foreign registered car from filling up their gas tank, the Pak Lah administration now want to introduce softener measures to ease the Rakyat burden from the steep hike in petrol price. One day after the fuel increase, the construction sector faced an immediate increased in ready mixed concrete with an sudden jump of RM37 per metre cube.The transporter immediately raised their transport charges by 40%.

After raising the petrol by 40%, the flip flop BN government are discussing ways to mitigate the hardship faced by the Rakyat. Very simple, just revert the oil price to normal Not need to crack their head and can then go back to sleep again...
Meanwhile, The Star reported today that the impact of the fuel price rise is starting to affect consumers, with transport and crane operators now increasing their rates by between 29% and 45%. Sabah Federation of Lorry Transportation Associations president Chua Pui Ming said its members had increased rates by 45% since June 5. Under the new rates, traders who used to fork out RM600 to send a shipment of goods overland from Kota Kinabalu to Sandakan now have to pay RM870.

Stating that the federation's 3,000 members had no choice but to increase rates, Chua said the fuel subsidies that some of them received through the fleet card system was minimal.In a statement issued yesterday, the Association of Tipper Lorry Owners of Selangor and Kuala Lumpur said they would increase their rates by 40% with immediate effect. President Lee Keen Seng said the increase was in the rate for transporting goods by tipper lorries.

In BUTTERWORTH, Mobile Crane Association North Malaya president Lee Tuck Woh said the association had decided to increase mobile crane charges in four states by RM100, effective Friday. “It is not just the price of diesel that has gone up. The cost of steel cable wires, tyres, batteries and spare parts have also increased in the past few months,” said Lee.The RM100 increase is for seven types of cranes, ranging from seven to 60-tonne and sky-lift equipment.
Lee said they used to charge RM350 per day for a seven-tonne crane. He added that rental for 20m to 24m sky-lift equipment would now cost RM500 per day compared to RM400 previously. Although the new charges would affect the construction and industrial sectors and haulage industry, he said they had no choice in the matter. The association represents 60 members from Perlis, Kedah, Penang and Perak, who operate about 600 mobile cranes.

Reuter reported today that,Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said the government's unpopular decision to raise fuel prices will hasten its fall, as more members from the ruling coalition break ranks.The hike in line with a global surge in oil prices has stoked public anger against Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who is already battling for his political life after the worst electoral performance in his coalition's 50-year rule in March.
Small and scattered protests have taken place against the 41 percent increase in petrol prices and 63 percent for diesel, which Anwar said was the result of the government's failure to manage its finances well despite being a new oil exporter.The government says fuel subsidies have become financially crippling. Pump prices in Malaysia are still one of the cheapest in Asia."Politically, the message was clear on 8th of March, economically it's now a disaster. That is why we are calling on them to resign," Anwar told a news conference ahead of a rally called in the capital to build support against the ruling coalition.

Anwar, a former deputy prime minister, has previously said that he had enough lawmakers to topple Abdullah's government following the election on March 8 and was waiting for the right moment.On Sunday, Anwar, sensing blood, said the plan for a change in government was on track as more members from Abdullah's ruling Barisan Nasional coalition were drawn to his group, angry over what he said was the "highest single increase" in fuel prices around the world."Our timetable (for party crossovers) is still on. It's on schedule and now it's more attractive after the price hikes."

Friday, June 6, 2008

The Second Tsunami! ( Part 2)

Malaysian experienced the first Tsunami on 8th March 2008 after the shocking 12th General Election results and is now feeling the effect of the second Tsunami from the drastic fuel hike.
In an immediate response to the sudden petrol hike from the government after the cabinet meeting on Wednesday, DAP have organised simultaneous protest against the price increase at Kuala Lumpur and Ipoh on the next morning. In Kuala Lumpur, among the DAP leaders who attended the protest were Teresa Kok, Fong Kui Lun, Tan Seng Giaw, Lim Lip Eng and Janice Lee which was lead by Cheras MP YB Tan Kok Wai.

"We want the Government to immediately announce that the increment will be stopped immediately because the public anger has reached to the maximum. We call on the Government to act wisely. Stop robbing the rakyat!" Tan pronounced.He warned that the Government's failure to do so would result in a nightmare.

His colleague, Teresa Kok, added that businesses would be seriously affected by the last-minute price increase and would thereby pass on the higher costs to the consumer."We can anticipate the prices going up. This is a serious inflation. We've been told the Lorry Association are going to increase their transportation costs."We're a petrol exporting country. All these years, the government earned so much from export (of oil). Instead of increasing petrol prices, they should be giving back to the people. They don't talk about this anymore," she noted.

This afternoon some 200 people held a peaceful assembly at Komtar in George Town, Penang.They held placards condemning the hike, chanted anti-government slogans and called on Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to step down immediately.

Kebun Bunga state assemblyperson Jason Ong Khan Lee, who was at the scene, cautioned that the fuel hike would elicit social unrest and spark off new wave of criminality as middle and lower wage earners would struggle to meet the ends.He warned that the surging cost would force several industries to close down or downsize, resulting in economy collapse."The federal government should review the fuel hike immediately to prevent such socio-economic tribulations," he said.

Change YOUR lifestyle BK Ong questioned whether the government leaders were prepared to change their lifestyle, a cliché used to the people, to adjust to the fuel hike."They should eat less, cook less, travel less, socialise less, tighten their belts, buy less cars, use less energy and perhaps live lifeless."Are they prepared to do so?" he shouted to the crowd, adding that politicians should not preach what they won't practice.

Meanwhile the reaction from the Sabah leaders were uncompromising.Sapp president Yong Teck Lee warned Abdullah Ahmad Badawi of a serious political fallout for the BN, the party's Youth wing went a step further by calling for the resignation of the prime minister and his cabinet."If the government losses the faith of the people, then it will find it even more difficult to govern," he said."For those who have just been earning enough to make ends meet every month, the fuel price increases will be a serious blow as they will have to now pay more at the petrol pump and when they buy groceries," Yong elaborated.

He said even middle-income earners would be reeling from the inflationary effect resulting from the fuel price hike.In this regard, Yong doubted the impact of the one-off RM625 rebate for vehicle owners and RM125 for motorcyclists as the there was a time lapse between when money was spent on fuel and when they could receive rebates.Yong further added that many people continue to question why Malaysia as a net petroleum exporting nation till 2014 was experiencing a negative impact from a spike in global oil prices."The man on the street is puzzled as to why Petronas is making so much money while the ordinary folks are losing out,"" he pointed out.Losing trust and confidence.

While Yong was merely sounding a warning bell, Sapp Youth chief was more straightforward in calling for leaders who "failed to safeguard people's interest" to step down.Au Kam Wah, in a statement issued from Kota Kinabalu, said these leaders should allow others who are more capable to take over.

Meanwhile The Malaysian Insider reported that during the Umno Supreme Council retreat, a few ministers disagreed with the decision to reduce subsidies and allow the pump price of petrol to increase to RM2.70 per litre. In this group were Muhyiddin and Rais. The Malaysian Insider understands that the Foreign Minister was also among a clutch of ministers who during the weekly Cabinet meeting on Wednesday felt that the government should hold off reducing the subsidies for a few months.

But the majority of ministers during the Cabinet meeting including Najib and Muhyiddin felt that the government could not afford to continue with high levels of subsidy for much longer. Since the 40 per cent petrol price hike was implemented on Thursday, there has been an adverse reaction on the ground, including from Umno members.Stinging SMSes have been sent from the grassroots to politicians in the capital, questioning the fitness of Abdullah and the Cabinet to continue running the country and pleading with the leadership to show empathy.

This strong reaction from the Umno ground may have prompted Muhyiddin to have second thoughts about the timing of the price increase. With the branch elections only weeks away and anger against the hike percolating across the country, Umno politicians seeking higher office in the party will have to distance themselves from this unpopular decision of reducing subsidies.There is a good chance of many more Umno ministers slamming the price hike before the branches start meeting in mid-July.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Second Tsunami! ( Part 1)

The sudden announcement of the petrol hike of 78 sen by the PM after the Cabinet meeting have caught many Malaysian by surprise.It contradicted with the earlier statement by the Domestic Trade and Consumer Minister, Datuk Shahrir that the actual implementation will only take place in August. The reaction from the ground was filled with anger and disappointment.Have earlier received the bad news from my buddy at 5.35pm and thought it was just another rumours but was confirmed later at 6pm by text messages.
Managed to have my tank fill up at one of the petrol station at Jalan Kuchai Lama.The terrible queue at all the petrol stations to meet the midnight deadline have caused unnecessary traffic congestion.

Now let's us compare the price of our petrol with other OIL PRODUCING countries
UAE– RM1.19/litre
Eygpt– RM1.03/litre
Bahrain– RM0.87/litre
Qatar– RM0.68/litre
Kuwait– RM0.67/litre
Saudi Arabia– RM0.38/litre
Iran– RM0.35/litre
Nigeria– RM0.32/litre
Turkmenistan– RM0.25/litre
Venezuela– RM0.16/litre
MALAYSIA– RM2.70/litre

The above statistics clearly show that we have the highest price among all the oil producing countries. Another Malaysian achievement! Malaysia Boleh!
Majority of Malaysian drive to work because we do not have an efficient public transport system like Singapore to rely on. This increase will definitely cut deep into the pockets of the ordinary Rakyat.
Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is taking a major political risk in removing subsidies on petrol. "It is not an attempt to be popular, we have to think in the best interests of the people,""God willing I hope Malaysians will not demonstrate over this," he said.

But his call may go unheeded as fresh protests over the price increases are likely, said PAS parliamentarian Mohd Hatta Ramli who led anti-inflation demonstrations earlier this year."This is a massive hike and will create big problems for all and sundry. It will have a knock-on effect of increasing prices of all kinds of goods," he said."We strongly feel that it is a severe misjudgement on the part of the government," he said. "In all probability, there will be a protest."
With the instability of the current BN government and the dependency of the East Malaysian party for support, the above political risk taken by the Pak Lah administration might have adverse repercussion.