Posts tagged ‘inflation’

August 31, 2011

Round Up: Hari Kemerdekaan and Hari Raya 2011


As Malaysia celebrates Hari Raya Aidil Fitri (30-31 Aug) and National Day (31 Aug) this year, the country is shrouded with numerous issues that have a significant impact on all Malaysians unlike previous years.

Political
There is a lot of rumbling inside Umno and speculation is rife about PM Najib if he is going to face an ouster by DPM Muhyiddin in the December Umno General Assembly.

For some unknown reason(s), news like the RM24m diamond ring case, the Scorpene saga, the Rosmah MIL supposed expose of alleged links to the Russian Mafia by Kompas, and now the successful subpoena of Najib and Rosmah to the Anwar trial have added salt to the PM’s wounds and distracts him from his PM duties. It appears that the leaks and such made it out because of Umno internal hidden hands staging Najib’s exit. And now with his popularity rating falling 6 points since May to 59%, being the lowest any PM has ever obtained, may also be presented to dethrone Najib.

All of a sudden, DPM Muhyiddin has risen to appear as the “good guy” although the general feeling of Malaysians about the DPM is highly suspicious of his ultra Malay stand and his possible leanings to sideline others to reach his goals. His “I’m Malay first and Malaysian second” going against the 1Malaysia sentiments already showed his true colors. However, it may appear inevitable that should Najib be ousted, it will be Muhyiddin and not Razaleigh who will take over.

Amidst this backdrop, the GE13 will not happen until after the Umno General Assembly in December. Unless Najib reads the writing on the wall and calls for GE13 as a preemptive strike. We shall soon see what happens after this week.

Bersih, a civil movement, has sparked the imagination and political consciousness of all Malaysians to spur greater participation into our electoral reform matters. Although Bersih is still considered an illegal entity (technically it is not an entity but grouping of legal NGOs) and has the recognition of the Agung, the young and old alike have woken up to the realities of a Government who can act oppressively against electoral reforms it seems. The handling of Bersih has seen Najib’s popularity plummeting and the EC Deputy Chairman and the EC Chairman openly with different of opinions about what and how electoral reforms as demanded by Bersih should be handled.

It appears that there are those who want to do what is right for the country and those who want to do what is right for those in power.

Our civil service appears to have been brainwashed that they work for the BN Government instead of for the people of Malaysia. 53 years is long enough. Let this 54th year be a start of civil changes of allegience to the people, by the people, and for the people.

Religious
The murtad (apostasy) issue that arose from the 30+ man swoop by JAIS and the police onto a DUMC premises of an NGO dinner has since been taken wildly out of context. Accussations grew from this incident to arousing discord sentiments by TV3 and Berita Harian spiraled out of control without the authorities stepping in and ensuring factual reporting. In fact, PAS has come out stating that this incident smells of Umno involvement which PAS claims to have proof that was a political twist to this religious ploy by Umno to possibly destabilise PAS and PKR in Selangor.

Asri stepped out to clear the air that it was the church that has unconditionally helped those Malays that were present at the dinner and that they couldn’t get any such help from the authorities.

However, the damage has been done in an apparent government inaction of not stepping in to nip this in the bud early on and allowed the fanning of religious intollerance by various groups. Smells of a political twist to this saga.

Religious harmony is definitely not a priority of the present Government as seen by their inaction to stem out lies and there is no definitely visible interest to actively promote greater understanding for religious tolerance. While telling the world that Malaysia is a world class example of racial and religious tolerance, we are a first class actor to the world where in reality, the Government can use race and religion as a political weapon.

Social
Then there is the rife migration of Malaysians of well over a million to other countries for a better job or a better life in reacting to frustrations over the present government. This brain drain is severely hurting Malaysia’s capability to compete with our neighboring countries. The reality is that Malaysians of all races are running away.

The blatant ignoring of the poverty situation in Sabah and Sarawak as well as the import of aliens to be citizens into those two states (more so in Sabah with Project M) have broken the resolve of the natives there and allowed Umno to stamp their authority in Sabah. In their attempt to muscle into Sarawak, that was stopped by Taib making an exceptional turnaround at the Sarawak polls and swift swearing-in that had Umno stumped.

The standard of living of Malaysians has dropped significantly due to a stagnation of salaries and a spiralling increase in consumer goods – including food and basic needs. This happened over the last 3+ years very quickly overtaking Malaysians by surprise.

We have a set of serious social problems that the Government has turned a blind eye to or is seen doing very little about. Again, the mishandling of Bersih is clear that civil society has to shutup in the name of “peace”.

Economics
The cost of living has risen steadily regardless of Najib’s rhetorics that it was inevitable due to global economic climates affecting Malaysia. Blaming the country’s problem on the world is no way our PM should act. There are things that the PM can do to soften the impact, to be seen to have done everything in his power for the people. But he hasn’t.

This all started getting out of control in 2008 after GE12 by the then PM Badawi to cause an increase at the pump prices which in turn started consumer inflation. Prices for food and services never looked back since they started to rise then.

PM Najib took over the cue to reduce further petrol subsidy and removing diesel and sugar subsidies. This pushed consumer goods and services even higher. Najib continued to paint a rosy picture that inflation remains under control at around 3.5% but in reality, Malaysians have been paying a lot more for the food they eat, the transport they take and no more savings from a stagnated income. The household disposable income started to push Upper Middle towards Middle and Lower Income groups. This is seriously alarming and the poverty line is kept low to show good statistics.

Najib was only trying to hide the reality that Malaysians are really suffering amidst budget extension requests that sounds very suspicious especially in defense spendings. The maintenance of our 2 submarines, the naval vessels and helicopter purchases at a much higher price than other countries all sounds seriously bad when the people is struggling to pay our daily bread while exhorbitant amounts of money is going into undisclosed defense spending details (and “commission agents”?) all in the name of national security.

Who are we trying to defend Malaysia from? Indonesians? Singaporeans? Thais? Or pirates? Or UFO? What we have is neither advance or adequate for any real defense of foreign threat. But the expenditure is outrageous. Why can’t we use this to help cushion the inflationary impacts on Malaysians? If Malaysians had a referendum on this, we will choose the obvious. Alas, our Government is oblivious to our plight.

Economics is not PR. It must be handled by a set of fiscal, social, legal, and macro economic solutions. There is no one silver bullet.

Which means a cutting away of subsidies must be counter-measured with removing unnecessary spendings and eradicating corruption and other factors. It seems our Government is taking a very simplistic stand of PR rhetorics to stem economic issues. They seem to think that making Malaysians tighten our belts will solve the country’s problems without plugging the leaks. If so, we are so doomed.

Where is Malaysia Heading?
The man on the street only knows that his life has gotten worse. Less disposable income caused by higher prices cannot be disregarded by rhetorics or brushed aside as nothing serious is happening.

We see the country’s Government living in denial of the people’s plight and all actions appear to cover up over expenditure, carelessness, corruption and a misuse of power to stay in power. The latest being the MRT project trying to “buy over” parts of China Town.

In these days of celebration, there appears little to celebrate about. The increasing sowing of disharmony amongst Malaysians while spewing the 1Malaysia slogan like a bad word is making life worse and worse. Listening to Najib’s Hari Raya and Merdeka addresses seem to give credence that he is still using PR rhetorics to make the people feel good and make the problems go away. Its like telling a person who is being burnt that all is OK and the pain is not so bad. Najib must realise his PR antics no longer works. The reality is affecting all Malaysians now.

We need to put Malaysia first and rise above our cultural differences. If we all fail to do this, our future will be very bleak indeed.

It is not about 1Malaysia. It is not a racial nor a religious issue.

It is a nationalistic matter. It affects all Malaysians. It affects the future of Malaysia and our children’s future. It is because Malaysia is now competing in a global marketplace and we cannot ignore this reality.

So when policies and plans are nationalistic in nature, it must impact all Malaysians positively. We must view each other as partners for a greater Malaysia.

Let us celebrate Hari Raya together with our Muslim friends and National Day with all Malaysians and put Malaysia first and above all issues. We are in this together. For united we shall stand, divided we shall fall, as a country. No race or religion will lose if Malaysia progresses towards a developed nation status. Society advances together.

Then our 2011 celebrations now will be more meaningful going into the future. GE13 will also be more interesting indeed.

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June 3, 2011

Hard Times Now in Malaysia


No one can deny that hard times are upon us in Malaysia.

The uncertainty of a General Election has caused reluctance of FDI into the country.

The removal of subsidies of diesel for commercial vehicles and boats of fishermen and the price increase of sugar and electricity recently have started a chain of inflationary events.

    UPDATED June 6: Lorry operators will be increasing their rates by 20% to 30%. Fishermen will either increase significantly the price of their catch while they contemplate a stop fishing action protest. (Read here)

The Government wants us to believe the negligible impact they feel the economy will have. That’s plain baloney propaganda.

Consumer inflation has started to rise again. The actual impact is still not known as the costs increase are passed down to the end consumer.

Food and drinks and other consumer goods will go up further. Our disposable income has just been shrunk yet again.

Brace ourselves for a Ron 95 petrol and LPG price increase to happen very soon. That will trigger an unbelievable effect to diminish the Malaysian’s income to the maximum.

This will happen after the GE13 for sure as it is a certainty given the rise in global crude oil prices. The BN Government is playing for time but it is better sooner than later to recoup from subsidy cut.

Right after this will be GST that will haunt all Malaysians. This is aimed to increase tax revenue and collect it faster so that the Government has disposable income as opposed to the current stream of future collections.

While we don’t know of any other Government actions to curb excesses, leaks, corruption, etc and recover the unneeded IPP subsidies first, we the Rakyat will bear the biggest brunt of inflation running beyond our spending means.

This is a very sad picture painted. We urge for a change in Government spending, cut all possible excesses, recover all unfair subsidies and payments NOW!

It is not needed to turn Malaysia into a welfare state but a strong competitive and intelligent challenge on the global scene.

Use the people’s money wisely for once and help us earn more!

May 10, 2011

Sugar Price Up 20 sen, Food and Drinks Will Also Go Up


UPDATED: Interesting reading…

“It was better when the sugar supply monopoly was held by the Kuok Group through the Perlis Plantations Bhd. There was no increase of sugar prices for 10 -15 years. But, the moment it came under the control of Felda Global, the price of sugar has gone up by RM0.85 cents per kilo in a short period of time,” he said (Roland Chia). Read here.

The Government is keeping their word in reducing subsidies for a number of essential items and today is SUGAR and a few days ago RON 97 petrol.

Read the news here from The Malaysian Insider.

As the Government continues on its path of reducing and eventually removing subsidies, why is it also playing PR saying Malaysia has no inflation? (Actually, if inflation is below 3%, technically there is no inflation.)

Income Shrink
Then, the poor man on the street feels the most pain as his disposable income continues to shrink by the day.

When there is no inflation, employers will use that gauge as a benchmark for increment. So he gets a 3% pay increase and that may help protect his lifestyle.

Wrong. With prices of goods going up, the real inflation is higher than 3%. If you don’t believe, watch how drinks will go up by 10% at the very least. Then food will go up by 20%.

Why is this so?

Street Economics
If a cup of coffee is RM1, it will surely go up to RM1.10 to RM1.30. That’s 10% to 30%. It surely will not be RM1.03 per inflationary rate but sugar rate of at least 10%.

A bowl of noodles being RM4 will become RM4.50 to RM5.00. That’s 10% to 25%.

The reason is simple. It’s the perceived tolerance of price hike that determines the new pricing level. It has nothing to do with the Govenment’s published information about inflation. It’s what sellers can convince buyers how their cost of raw materials have gone up so they have to increase a little bit (read a lot more than justifiable).

Moreover, price hike in sugar, flour, petrol, LPG and diesel will cause a rippling effect in price increases across food items. That’s the real inflation effects on Malaysians.

More to come
The Government has to wait to remove more subsidy to RON 95 until after the General Election. Just as the GST has to be KIV until the same time too. With GST, you who have not been paying taxes will start to pay when you buy foods and goods outside the protected list.

Now house ownership has become a real problem as the property market has gone so high such that the young Malaysian adults can no longer afford to buy them. They can barely afford to own a car, pay for food and rental. So, who says Malaysia has no inflation? Only Najib says we are OK.

Only if he asked us, we can tell him that it’s really the opposite. We are suffering because our money buys less things as time goes by, thanks to the Government efforts of removing subsidies but not removing corruption.

Call to action
It is time for the Government to step up to tell all of us middle and lower income group Malaysians how we are going to see improvements in the days ahead.

Auto-piloting and sugarcoating the economy just won’t do. Mr Prime Minister, please get new economic advisors or listen to the good ones who are in touch with reality.

No more PR please! Right now, Malaysians are bracing for another increase in foods and drinks prices because of the sugar price hike today to RM2.30, at almost 10%.

And this is a total of 58.6% increase since January 1, 2010, then at RM1.65 per kilo.

October 29, 2008

Malaysia Most Risky in Weathering Financial Crisis


UPDATED: Anil Netto wrote an excellent article entitled “Malaysia’s Ostrich Economics” much along the same lines of this posting (read here).  It was originally posted at Asia Times Online.

The Straits Times (Singapore) reported today (read here):

On a scale of zero for the least risky to 10 for the most, Singapore scored 2.76, followed by Australia (2.9) and Hong Kong (3.23). Most risky are India (6.87), Thailand (6.28) and Malaysia (6.07). They are vulnerable not so much to the financial fallout but due to internal developments, the report added.

Regardless of what Najib wants us to believe, come November 4 in Parliament, he will have to be candid and honest about the state of affairs in Malaysia.  If he is wanting to be the next PM, he has to be seen to know what he is talking about and do something affirmative and not skirt around the issue or remain in a state of denial.

read more »

October 18, 2008

State of Denial?


The US markets have been tumbling due to the crumbling of mega financial institutions.  Their government has taken swift action to shore up the impact.  The European markets are having the tremors.  The Asian markets are significantly impacted.  Even Singapore announced that they are in a technical recession.  But our Malaysian Government says we are still well protected and we will not be hit as bad as other countries.  What other countries?

Is this true or are we too busy with party elections?  Are we in a state of denial that our economy won’t be impacted much and is still very resilient?  Certainly, we want to believe that to be true.  But is it?

read more »

September 18, 2008

What will tomorrow be?


A peek into the future is what every Malaysian wants now. What are some of the things that can happen from hereon? What will our beloved country, Malaysia, become? Who will be taking our Malaysia forward? Will there be a storm brewing, or a hurricane for that matter? Is there going to be a silver lining? Can we see the sun coming up on Malaysia? Or the night is going to be long?

read more »

September 2, 2008

Budget 2009 – A Layman’s View


We are in tough times but does the 2009 Budget recently announced by Pak Lah last Friday attempt to help the economy and the people weather it?  There have been numerous analysis posted all over the Internet as well as in the Main Stream Media (MSM).  If you want to find a few good analysis worthy of your time, check out Tony Pua’s contribution here and another one here.

Now, if you were looking for something readable with the complexities made easy for dummies like me, consider the following points.  Additional easy reading material from public opinion also found here in MalaysiaKini and here by Reuters.

read more »

August 23, 2008

Playing with Fuel Prices can’t reverse adverse Inflation effects


Yesterday’s news (read here).  First, Shahrir says the ceiling price for petrol will remain at RM2.70 until the end of the year.  Then, Pak Lah says that the Government will announce the new fuel price on 31 August and will take effect 1 September.

Today’s news (read here and here).  Pak Lah announces the reduction of petrol price to RM2.55 and diesel price to RM2.50 with effect tomorrow, Saturday 23 August 2008.  He says:

“It is the government’s hope that the reduction in the petrol and diesel price will help ease the burden of consumers and reduce the inflationary pressure, especially on the low- and middle-income earners. The decision is also based on the current economic development,”

Also today’s news (read here).  Inflation rose from 3.8% in May to 7.7% in June to 8.5% in July.  This was caused by the fuel hike in June and the electricity hike in July.

Did the Government think that the adverse effects caused by the crazy fuel hike in June can reverse the inflation rate?

Bloomberg today says:

Crude oil may rise next week because of a weakening dollar, tension between the U.S. and Russia and falling gasoline stockpiles.

For the full report, read here.

So again what was the rationale to reduce petrol prices?

read more »

July 25, 2008

CPI 7.7% – Who is running this country???


I am still recovering from the shock of Shahrir’s announcement of the CPI rising to a 27-year high of 7.7% (read here) in yesterday’s papers.  Looks like Singapore also announced an increase of their inflation forecast to between 6% and 7% (read here).  The shock was that all this while, the government has been telling us that we are only experiencing a 2% to 3% inflation rate for the longest time when everybody doesn’t think so.

read more »