Monday, July 7, 2008

No one cares that oil and food crises are world issues

Sat with our branch members yesterday, discussing among other things food and oil price. Many argued with our chief that the government should be doing more to subsidize petrol. Granted that many may not agree with how our chief operates and that he should step down (which is a separate discussion), let's put the facts on the table:
  • Oil price is highly driven by hedge funds and futures market. The rise has been almost 50% in the market since early this year versus a mere 10% oil stock gain.
  • Endowment funds from Harvard, Yale and Princeton are also the culprits. However US congress has passed bills to restrict hedge funds from manipulating the price of commodities.
  • Yes, we cannot compare ourselves with Singapore but we need to compare ourselves with other oil producing nations. Firstly, our production is a minute 600,000 barrels per day and consumption eats 75% of that. Although Indonesia produces more, close to 1.1M barrels per day, they sell the cheap shit at the pumps, RON90. Of course, income per capita needs to be compared too, and that's a separate issue. That's all about the well being of economics and the purchasing power of the Ringgit.
  • Yes, because of the higher oil price, Petronas makes more profit. Profit is reinvested into acreage outside the country. Should we negate growth for the sake of distribution? That's a classic socialist stand and we're not going there I hope. Why should every walk of life enjoy the subsidy at the pumps? Surely there are better ways for redistributing wealth. The impact or efficiency of the current distribution method is a topic of a separate issue.
  • Yes, because Petronas is an efficient money making machine, Government makes more year in year out. Petronas is in no position to decide how royalty and tax money is spent. That's up to the Minister of Finance. Even the former Finance Minister was against the former PM on subsidies and now he is promising another false hope that he would give back the subsidy if he is crowned PM. Any populist could do that.
  • Government subsidizes not just petrol, but education (which is close to RM7B a year and that's just up to secondary edu), scholarships, funds for universities, natural gas for power consumption and cooking, palm oil for cooking, LRT, feeder buses for LRT. Funny how the people who benefit from scholarships and tertiary education are the same people criticizing the Government (let's generalize the term Government, we may argue about the difference in leadership present and past, etc). They should join the struggle and not just become arm chair critics.
  • Suddenly everyone is interested about how the Government spends our money. Has anyone checked the Budget every year? Has anyone read the 9th Malaysian Plan? Has anyone researched the mid term report by Finance Minister at Parliament? How much do you think we need to pay the salary and pension for more than 1 million civil servants? What's the cost of purchasing equipment and gear for our cops and soldiers to protect and serve? Without subsidies, how much do you think a medical checkup for flu would cost? I reckon no one cares.
  • We also talked about government efficiency. My take: we can't just blame the civil servants. We should stream line operations and make it efficient; need to discard irrelevant ministries and merge overlapping authorities. The US has 15 cabinet secretaries managing 250 million people, surely we don't need 31 to manage 26M. This requires balls made of steel and strong political will. Obviously it would not happen in a fortnight especially with the fact that although UMNO is the backbone of BN, they are not a big majority and still requires co-operation from component parties. That is the dilemma.
  • On NEP: if people are against the NEP, what is a better economic solution to stimulate growth? Should we invite capitalism to dinner? Should we let the strongest and fittest run over the mom and pop shops? It's the same argument with globalization.
Leaders need to decide how to balance between satisfying party members and coalition members, serving the Rakyat and making the right not popular decisions. These are monumental tasks and for people who are afraid of losing power, it will be near impossible. Many leaders wanting to make the right decisions may not get the right kind of support from within the party, therefore reluctant to. People outside the party refuse to dirt themselves by affiliating themselves to a party.

Branch level will commence their meetings on 19th July. Remember that who you choose at Branch level will impact those at division level, consequently national level. Make the right choice. I have yet to decide on my choice; it's all about the lesser of two evils.


bats said...

this is layman speaking la, so bear with me bro.

you make valid points here. especially about Petronas's role in all this unhappiness and how the food and oil crisis IS a worldwide issue.

we all know that subsidi is not the answer to it la, but surely there must be a way. being the gomen, should they not tell us what that way is? or give us a clue? lead us down the right path? oh no, it's that word again, "LEAD".

we see the mud being flung around, it's no wonder people take to the streets. there's no light at the end of this tunnel and frustration is mounting. C4 and belakang mari allegations only give us the sh*ts.

this morning, i bukak The Star and there's a statement from the chief. "people are fed up of all the political horsecrap. people wanna what the gomen is doing about price increases, etc..." or something along those lines. no shite, Sherlock.

how many increases under your watch already? and people are still in the dark about public trasnport improvements, etc. so what's the go there, chief? What happened with the RM4bill in savings as a result of the reduction of "subsidi" the first time around? our ringgit is so weak now. why? should you not tell the people why our ringgit slacked off all of a sudden?

thing is, and again, my personal opinion, the chief is playing us like flutes. seriously... while all the crap goes on, chief sings the same song, people eat the same crap and no one sees any means to any end, no matter what that end is.

and that's where we're left asking... apa mau jadik? it's the gomen's work to lay out plans that make sense and spread that information to the masses, via all the media that they already control. don't tell the people not to demonstrate. show us that you're getting somewhere. prove it.

we're malaysians. we're can be pleased quite easily. just don't treat us like idiots and run the country like some covert CIA operation with OSA, ISA, F-*-C-K and what have you not.

opcharlie said...

thanks for your comments. Perhaps when one of our friends is President of the party, we can influence him to open up the election to members, that way, the choice of the leader will be more democratic.

meanwhile, let's move forward. Let's work on the low hanging fruits. what can we do collectively and immediately without any political will? can we put our ideas on paper and submit to the relevant ministers? the mind can work wonders.

i'm helping out a friend to frame a few papers. maybe you could provide some brain power. i am not about to admit defeat here.

bats said...

count me in, mate. always up for a good scrap.. or a polite letter.

keep up the good work.