TNB to re-credit those overcharged


Unhappy lot: Some of the consumers making a report over their inaccurate electricity bill at the TNB counters. 

MELAKA: Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) has promised to re-credit the excess amount into the bills if consumers have been overcharged.

In a statement, the company said it viewed seriously the concerns of consumers over the drastic increase in their bills and was committed to resolving the issue.

It said it would ensure every complaint was investigated and follow-up action taken.

“This includes returning the excess amount if indeed they have been overcharged. It will be re-credited into the customers’ bills,” it said, adding that it would continue to cooperate with the Energy Commission.

TNB said a comprehensive effort was being carried out to thoroughly resolve the issue.

“This includes helping customers with high bills to personally address their grouses at the nearest TNB outlet or contact the TNB CareLine at 1-300-88-5454.

“We appreciate all the grouses, complaints and feedback and are focusing on finding ways to resolve these,” it said as it apologised to customers.

Meanwhile, yesterday, more than 300 people lodged complaints over their electricity bills in the first three hours of the TNB counters being opened at its headquarters in Jalan Banda Kaba here.

Some 30 counters were set up to take complaints from consumers, who lined up before the office opened.

On Tuesday, the counters, which were opened for 11 hours, took in 560 complaints.

The counters will remain open until tomorrow.

On Tuesday, Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin said negligence and technical fault as well as billing for electricity usage for over 30 days, instead of the standard 30 days, had caused electricity bills to spike for certain consumers.

She also said the complaints were from nationwide and not just in Melaka, where it is among the pioneer states to adopt TNB’s smart meter project.

In another statement, TNB denied a viral message on social media that its board of directors had received a government directive to increase electricity tariffs by 30%.

It said it did not have among its staff the name of the person who had purportedly written the message.

It said electricity tariffs were decided by the commission.Source link
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Malaysian mediocre education system and quota: The Endgame


 

IN my last article, I took us along memory lane through the 60s and 70s when our education was world class. As I said, we prepared our bumiputra students at foundational levels in secondary residential and semi-residential schools to be able to competently compete on merit with others, at primarily international universities overseas.

After the social engineering of the New Economic Policy (NEP) quotas of the late 80s, our education system today is wrought by an overabundance of religious indoctrination, overtly in the curriculum and covertly in our public schools’ teaching environment. This was accompanied by the forcing of unqualified bumiputra students into local public universities that had to be graduated into the workforce in spite of them being mostly non performing. Gradings and exams had to bent to ensure large drop out numbers do not inundate the population. Instead, we flood the workforce with mediocre graduates who today fill the ranks of the civil service and government-link-entities top to bottom.

These graduates, in fact, today also fill up the whole levels of our education administration, teaching workforce and universities. Not all, but to most of them out there – you know who you are. Case in point are all the so-called bumi-based NGOs heads, university administrators including vice-chancellors who are somehow twisting their arguments into pretzels to defend the hapless Education Minister who just put his black shoes into his mouth with respect to the issue of a 90% quota for bumis in matriculation.

By now, everyone and their grandmother have seen the video-clip of our supposedly esteemed minister justifying the existence of matriculation quota in favour of bumis because the non-bumis are rich. To add insult to the wounds, he proudly claimed that private universities are mostly filled with non-bumis because non-bumis are better off than the Malays.

Let me today reiterate that this assumption can no longer be left unchallenged. It is patently untrue that all or even the majority of non-bumis are rich and are therefore of no need of government assistance. That the Malays are indeed so poor, that they are the only ones who are overwhelmingly in need of help.

This is a slap on the face of poor non-Malays and an insult to the many hard-working Malay parents who do not rely on government handouts and in general compete on their own merit.

Let us look at the reality, shall we?

Figures provided by Parliament in 2015, showed that bumiputra households make up the majority of the country’s top 20% income earners (T20), but the community also sees the widest intra-group income disparity. According to data from a parliamentary written reply, the bumiputra make up 53.81% of the T20 category, followed by Chinese at 37.05%, Indians at 8.80% and others at 0.34%.

So which groups overall are the top 20% income earners in the country? Answer: bumiputras by a whopping 16.76% to the next group, the Chinese!

However, when the comparison is made within the bumiputra group itself, T20 earners only comprise 16.34%. The remaining comprises the middle 40% income earners (M40) at 38.96% and the bottom 40% income earners (B40) making up the majority at 44.7%.

This means that in spite of almost 40 years of affirmative action, handouts, subsidies and quotas, bumis as a group has a large disparity between its haves and the havenots. That raises the question if it means practically none of the government assistance has in fact gone to help the bumis that truly needed help but has gone to further enrich those who are already having it all!

To the Malays, I say, “You should look into this disparity instead of pointing fingers to other Malaysians who work hard to uplift themselves without any help from their own government”.

Maybe because of your adulation of your Bossku, feudal fealty or religious chieftains that they are the ones that are taking up what is essentially yours to uplift your own lives?

After all the YAPEIM (Yayasan Pembangunan Ekonomi Islam), yes, another institution in Malaysia using religion to sucker people, the Director himself takes home RM400,000.00 in bonus and his senior executive draws another RM250,000.00 all by themselves. Must be one hell of a “pembangunan ekonomi Islam”.

The problem is not between the Malays and the other races. The problem is clearly within the Malay community itself. The help is not reaching the supposed target group. Why? So do not punish others with quotas that penalise the excellence of others for your own dysfunctions.

Now, contrast with the Chinese and Indian communities, where the M40 group makes up the majority.

Within the Chinese community, the T20 group makes up 29.66%, followed by the M40 group at 42.32% and B40 at 28.02%. As for the Indian community, the T20 group stands at 19.98%, followed by the M40 income earners at 41.31% and the B40 at 38.71%.

It is so clearly not true that all non-bumis are rich and therefore the quotas must remain to enable the bumis to compete on an equal footing. The quotas are no longer justifiable if it was ever justifiable in the first place. It is very clear from these data that equal opportunity to university places must be provided irrespective of race purely on merit. The help on the other hand must be in the form of scholarships or loans to those deserving based on the financial capability of each successful university entrant, as simple as that.

If a candidate does not qualify, he or she does not, race be damned. That person must then take a different route – vocational or skilledbased profession or any other road to success. There is nothing wrong with not being a university graduate if one is not qualified. Find your vocation and passion in a field that you will excel in.

The Government has no business populating a university and later the workplace with a single race based on the criteria of fulfilling quota. It makes no sense and it is the root of ensuring the downfall of both the administrative branch of government or even the overall machinery of the nation’s economy.

Maszlee claims that foreign university branches in Malaysia are filled up by non-bumis, therefore Malays need more places in public universities via matriculation. As such the Government instituted matriculation in 1999. He cited Monash and Nottingham as examples. Unfortunately, Monash was opened in KL in 1998 and Nottingham in 2000. That lie blew up in his face pretty fast, didn’t it?

But really why would private universities be filled up with mostly non-bumis? Can’t Maszlee see that if the local public universities are providing only 10% quota to non-bumis to enter via matriculation, an even tougher entry through STPM and none via UEC, that middle and low income non-bumis will have no other choice but to opt for the less expensive private local and branch universities to sending their children for overseas education?

They even can’t gain entry to public universities due to the quotas despite having better results than Bumis. Where do you expect them to go then Maszlee? I know of many non-bumis who are scraping their barrels to ensure they send their kids to further their studies either local or overseas. Many of them have fewer children because they know they will have to pay for their kid’s education in the future. With most if not all of the scholarships given to bumis do they have another cheaper option?

How much more heartless is your assessment of our fellow non-bumis’ predicaments can you get, my dear Maszlee?

I think Maszlee need to learn facts and have some critical thinking before opening his mouth. Being the education minister is not like teaching religion, where people are not going to fact-check you because they think you are a gift from God. An education minister with such thinking cannot be allowed to stay in that position much longer. It is untenable.

Interestingly of late, a number of those from the Malay academia have come to the defense of the hapless minister defending matriculation quota because of workplace imbalance in the private sector. I have to ask is this proof that our universities are headed by Malays who have no business graduating and being employed and now heading such academic institutions and organisations? Do they even realize the tenuous relations between entry quota into learning institutions vs recruitment variables?

We truly need to clean up the education ministry from top to bottom including at our public universities. Too many people with no brains sucking up to powers that be and playing the race and religion card. It’s enough to make you weep.

Back to our conundrum that is the Malaysian education, what then is our endgame?

1. Stop quota – period. Any type of quota. It does not work and it will destroy the capability of our public and private sector to excel. Merit must reign.

2. Go back to basics. Primary and secondary education are the foundation that will allow any persons of any race to compete on equal footing in order to enter vocational institutions, colleges, and universities. The rest will take care of itself upon them graduating and joining the workforce. Trust in our youth. The bumis are not incapable of excelling given the right foundation.

3. Bring back a Science, Mathematics and English-heavy curriculum for primary and secondary years. Go back to basics. These are foundation years. Do not worry about having the latest technology. Children will absorb that in their own time. Tertiary education is where skill-based knowledge is acquired. Foundational knowledge and critical thinking is honed before you leave high school.

4. Please leave religion at home. Teach it if you want but do it outside of normal school hours. Let our children be among their peers as human beings without any differentiation of beliefs and faiths. Let them celebrate their differences without adults telling them who is better than others. Show them all the beauty they possess without judgment.

5. We are all Malaysians. We all bleed the same blood and we all weep the same tears when we are capable but are unable to fulfill our potential because we do not have the financial means to achieve those goals. Help us irrespective of race. All of us contribute to our taxes. No one group should benefit more than the other because they are of a different ethnicity.

We will see that Malaysia will prosper with each race helping each other as Malaysians once and for all.

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‘Money/cash is King’ comes back to bite Pakatan


Politicians using cash to buy power and votes has created a culture in  Malaysia in which people have started valuing money more than truth, hard work and honesty. 

THE enduring potency of the ringgit caused by former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s “Cash is King” regime came in for much ridicule in the last election campaign, much to the chagrin of the perpetrator of this philosophy.

In all his speeches and media interviews in the last two years before 2018’s 14th General Election, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad never failed to hammer home the point that Najib told him this when he asked why he was giving out cash hand-outs in so many forms to the people, and very freely too.

His intended message to the voters was that Najib used this tactic to “buy” votes, as Malaysians will eventually be beholden and grateful to the man who dishes out cash. Whether those receiving it deserved it or not did not matter, everyone wanted the money and many did not care where it came from.

For a long time, money and power worked like a firewall around Najib and his Cabinet, which made him believe cash was indeed king as they blithely went about plundering the nation.

It has been established or is being established at Najib’s on-going corruption trial involving the alleged siphoning of funds from SRC International Sdn Bhd, that money was freely dished out for political support, popularity and reverence, among others.

Mahathir’s campaign was direct and simple, that it was borrowed money and stolen funds from the people that was being given out, and this campaign strategy worked. It thus showed that anti-corruption is an easy sell and proved that most Malaysian voters did care about abstract ethical issues like corruption.

Unbelievably, even many of the beneficiaries of Najib’s largesse had obviously voted against Barisan Nasional while some others became turncoats shamelessly, leaving the flagging party.

But one year after dismantling the Cash is King mantra, it somehow appears to be coming back to bite Dr Mahathir and the Pakatan Harapan leadership. The new mantra among many Malaysians now is that they don’t seem to have enough money all the time.

True, the cost of living never came down substantially after the abolition of the GST (goods and services tax), but we cannot deny that it did lower shopping bills in places like hypermarkets as there was no SST (sales and services tax) levied at such outlets.

RON 95 petrol, which is currently used by most motorists, is capped at RM2.08 a litre which is about 40 sen lower than the actual price it would have been if the old managed float system based on global crude oil prices was in place

Not very tangible for the average Malaysian, right? Do they even care to understand the intangibles that they are benefiting from as a result of several new policies and taxes? No! Looks like Malaysians are not prepared to ask what they can do for the country, it is always what the country must do for them.

Nearly every person I meet seems to have just one thing to say: nothing has come down. All prices have remained the same while some have only gone up. And that Pakatan has not delivered or is slow in keeping its promises.

And strangely, I have been noticing a pattern where those providing certain home services like courier and telecommunication technicians actually volunteer to say that times were better under the Barisan government as they had more money to spend.

“It is very difficult now, we have less money to spend compared to last time when BN was in power. Pakatan Harapan is not keeping its promises,” a Pos Laju staff told a friend of mine without being asked.

I’m one who views surveys by certain groups and parties, especially the random ones, warily as the respondents do not necessarily reflect the actual feelings on the ground. So I make it a point to talk to strangers about this subject whether in public stations or while in a queue waiting to pay something.

What I notice is that while people may be a tad bit sympathetic when I tell them they have to give Pakatan more time because of certain extenuating circumstances, generally, they are unhappy.

The bottom line of their unhappiness now is all about cash. They are receiving less money from the government, never mind what they were enjoying in the past was stolen or borrowed money.

This group of people don’t seem to be outraged, which we all should naturally be, at past leaders who had virtually abused their power to rob the nation’s coffers, a fact which has emerged or is being exposed in many key institutions.

They claim that the BR1M (Bantuan Rakyat 1Malaysia) payments are now lower and many recipients have also been removed from the list as they do not qualify under the minimum household income requirement. So what is wrong with that? Why do you want money that does not belong to you or you don’t deserve?

Yes, it’s true that the Bantuan Sara Hidup (BSH, as BR1M is now called) has been reduced by RM200 to RM1,000 but Pakatan has made sure that only really needy Malaysians get such welfare aid, as it had been greatly abused in the past.

And to make sure those really in need receive more help, the government is giving out an additional RM100 for each child below 18 years of age whose guardians are BSH recipients, for a maximum of four children. And if the child is disabled, it is for a lifetime, no age limit. So if a BSH recipient has four children below 18, he or she gets a total of RM1,420. This is higher than before.

Malaysia has thrived because of a culture of opportunity that encourages hard work in the private sector. Of course, the social restructuring policy, which was aimed at giving a hand to the have-nots to give them a lift, played a role.

But this should not go on forever, the number must reduce eventually as those benefiting should finally be able to help their families to grow away from this dependency.

The growth of this form of welfare state funded by projected or borrowed income — or worse still, by funds siphoned from government coffers — is turning Malaysia into a land where many expect, and see no stigma attached, to receive regular financial support.

I find this a growing and dangerous trend, when undeserving Malaysians sit back idly and wait for these cash hand-outs as an entitlement instead of a privilege. And what’s more distressing is to see politicians feeding this cancer as a way of continuing to stay in power.

The actual meaning of the phrase “Cash is King”, as most of us know, is a term reflecting the belief that cash money is more valuable than any other form of investment tool for businesses. For individuals, it is meant to be a fund which is easily accessible for urgent expenditures or purchases.

It is not a phrase that politicians or others use to indicate that they can buy power and votes so that they are able to be in absolute control of the nation for as long as they want. Unfortunately, though, many have done this and it has created a culture in Malaysia in which the people have started valuing money more than truth, hard work and honesty.

Cash is not king when it is stolen from others or, worse still, from public funds placed under your trust or control. That is called cashing in. It is surely not king if it is obtained by unfair trade practices or it is beyond a fair deal.

In this context, something that Dr Mahathir said about two years before the last election shortly after he decided to re-enter politics stands out in my mind. He had said: “You see the collapse of moral values in Malaysia is terrible. In the future we are going to be like those countries where bribery is a part of daily life — you can’t do anything without bribery.”

This is what he is trying to dismantle after he came back into politics at the age of 93, so we should give our wholehearted support to him and Pakatan for a better and cleaner Malaysia for all.

Source link 

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Mediocre future? If selection at the matriculation level is not based on meritocracy, the quality of our tertiary institutions will be …

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Malaysia’s education policy must champion Meritocracy instead of Mediocrity system


Education system must champion meritocracy

THE country is facing yet another controversy of its own making – the matriculation programme for university entrance or matric, for short.

The matric programme was introduced 50 years ago to increase the enrolment of Malay students in the medical, dental, engineering and other science and technical studies at public universities. It was an interventionist policy to produce more Malay graduates for the professional occupations in government service as well as in the private sector, as part of the New Economic Policy to redress the racial educational and economic imbalances in the economy.

The programme was reserved exclusively for Malays but due to political pressure from other races , the government allowed a 5% quota and this was later increased to 10% for non-Malay students. Recently, with demands for more non-Malays to be given places in matric, the government increased the total number accepted into the programme from 25,000 to 40,000 while keeping the racial quota unchanged.

There are concerns that the large increase in the number of university intakes from the matric programme will reduce the places available for STPM students and affect the quality of education. There are already complaints from parents that even though their children who go through the two-year STPM are more educationally qualified than the one-year matric students, and have a stronger command of English, they cannot get a place in public universities because of the preference given to intakes from the shorter programme.

Fifty years on, this programme is still in place, despite the huge investments made by government through the Education Ministry to increase the access to STPM (Form VI) level education in both the arts and science streams in all parts of the country.

Malay students in rural areas today are no longer facing a disadvantage in  educational opportunities as there are many secondary schools with Form VI classes.

However, their parents prefer that they apply for the matriculation course as it is a faster and easier route to university.

As they are specially selected for the matriculation course, the students have a greater certainty that they will be given places in the medical , dental and engineering faculties. Another attraction is that there is very little competition with other races in the matriculation course.

There are suggestions that our universities should raise their entrance requirements so that they can get better qualified student intakes to facilitate higher quality teaching and learning and produce graduates with the right skills for the job market . This can be achieved by a policy decision that university entrance must be through the STPM stream only and that the matric programme will be scaled down to be eventually terminated as it is not a good alternative in preparing students for university education.

Matric has also become a source of continuing friction among the races as they feel that education is a human right and should not be subject to racial politics.

It is inevitable that there will be complaints from certain quarters against closing down the matric programme but the government must stand firm not to perpetuate a system that encourages mediocrity. If the country is to succeed in the digital  evolution, and make Malaysia a fully developed economy, the education system must shift direction towards competition and meritocracy. The abolition of the matriculation programme will show that Malaysia is serious in moving in that direction.

TAN SRI MOHD SHERIFF MOHD KASSIM

Another brick in the wall

https://youtu.be/YR5ApYxkU-U- a protest song against rigid schooling

 

Education is that realm where wrongs are set right and learning thrives, yet, right off the bat, the new matriculation intake has found itself in murky waters.

SOME leaders in our federal and state governments, now or then, seem to be guilty of this habit – announcing decisions before studying the implications of their policies.

So it was no surprise that after the Education Ministry announced the controversial changes to the matriculation programme, a row erupted, and soon, the Prime Minister had to weigh in on the debate.

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said he would address the quota system issue of the pre-university matriculation programme intake.

When asked for his comments on whether the quota system would be abolished, he said: “We will study the problem.”

Once again, it looks like the 93-year-old leader must step in to clean up another mess before things start to stink.

The controversy exploded when the Cabinet decided to increase the number of students entering the matriculation programme from 25,000 to 40,000 while maintaining the 90% quota for bumiputra students.

The matriculation programme was originally aimed at encouraging bumiputra students to pursue studies in science.

The highly sought-after programme – due to its cost-effectiveness – is equivalent to a one- or two-year pre-university course, and enables students to pursue a degree upon successfuly completing the programme. Enrollees only need to pay a registration fee and the rest is borne by the government.

However, the concern now is that by doubling the matriculation intake, it will affect the seats available to those vying for places in public universities via the Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM) route.

During my time, in the 1980s, when I was sitting for the then Higher School Certificate (HSC), the matriculation programme had already been launched. At present, STPM and matriculation students number about 43,000 and 25,000 respectively.

No rational or fair person will begrudge aid provided to students who need a helping hand, let’s be clear.

But I am not sure if the ministry has given thought to the fact that we may have a surplus of matriculation students – about 60% – at the expense of their STPM counterparts.

Let’s give the ministry the benefit of doubt that they surely would have, given the many experienced experts there, but no narratives have been forthcoming to explain anything to parents and students, especially those preparing for their STPM exams this year.

If the government plans to double university intake, have backup plans been installed to accommodate the sudden surge in science students into our financially-strapped universities?

While non-scholarship students in public universities must pay their own fees, matriculation students not only get free education, but are given allowances, too.

Public universities are already cutting down on contract academic staff as fundraising programmes are being carried out.

Unemploy-ment is underscored by the huge number of jobless graduates, whose changing fortunes have found them unemployed in a soft market. In some cases, their weak language and social skills put them at a disadvantage.

As the intake increases, other relevant infrastructure, like hostels, laboratories and teaching staff, won’t multiply overnight, as MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong rightly pointed out.

“How will the ministry ensure quality in matriculation education? And the suggestion of getting teachers from teachers’ training colleges to teach in matriculation is illogical because their syllabus is totally different,” he said.

The new matriculation policy has also taken the race-based programme to another level and goes against the aspiration of being an inclusive New Malaysia.

DAP leader Dr P. Ramasamy has rightly said the increased quota for bumiputra by the government was spurred by fears of a backlash from sections of the Malay-Muslim community. This is what happens when political expediency and interest come into play.

The former Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia political science lecturer said with the revised quota, the bumiputra allocation will increase the number of  students from 22,500 to 36,000.

He said, in comparison, the number of non-Malays will increase by only 1,500 students, beyond the current 2,500.

“I’m taken aback by the Cabinet’s decision. We have failed to move forward. It appears as though the Cabinet was not prepared to take a bold decision in increasing the intake of non-Malay students, particularly Indians.”

Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik, in defending the new policy, said all students deserve a “better opportunity” when they apply for matriculation placement, adding that “the bumiputras will still enjoy their 90% quota”.

Dr Maszlee reportedly said the increased intake for matriculation students was based on a Cabinet decision to get more students into tertiary education and to accord all races equal opportunity.

He also said the Cabinet had instructed his ministry to discuss with the Finance Ministry the government’s burden in bearing the cost of the increased number of matriculation places.

This looks like another case of putting the cart before the horse. Announce first and work out the maths later.

Instead of emphasising need-based programmes, the government has, instead, strengthened a race-based system.

As a student at university, I was often queried by my well-intentioned Malay varsity mates about which scholarship I had obtained. I jokingly told them it was FAMA – father and mother.

I’ve always been grateful for having secured a place in a local university, particularly since there were only five then – and certainly no private universities – and that gratitude has only grown since that degree helped change my life.

And that conveniently brings me to my point: Let’s not deny our children, regardless of their race, a place in our universities, which are funded by multi-ethnic tax payers.

If parents are financially sound, no prayers would be needed for students to earn slots in our public institutions of higher learning, it’s that simple.

Wong Chun WaiBy Wong Chun Wai

Wong Chun Wai began his career as a journalist in Penang, and has served The Star for over 27 years in various capacities and roles. He is now editorial and corporate affairs adviser to the group, after having served as group managing director/chief executive officer.

On The Beat made its debut on Feb 23 1997 and Chun Wai has penned the column weekly without a break, except for the occasional press holiday when the paper was not published. In May 2011, a compilation of selected articles of On The Beat was published as a book and launched in conjunction with his 50th birthday. Chun Wai also comments on current issues in The Star.
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Malaysia’s economy: Fine growth with minimal inflation


The economy continues to chug along just fine even as it recorded the first inflation of the year in March. The consumer price index (CPI) rose 0.2% in March 2019 from the previous year.

The recovery away from a deflation in the previous two months was driven by the transport and the food & non-alcoholic beverages components of the CPI.

MIDF Research said in its report that the country’s consumer inflation is likely to stay low following the lower capped prices of RON95 and Diesel at RM2.08 and RM2.18 per litre respectively.

Nevertheless, it said that the demand-push factor remains firm amid stable job market and steady wage growth.

Meanwhile, labour force growth has maintained at 2.1% year-on-year (yoy) in Feb 2019 while employment growth inched down to 2.1% yoy while jobs added in the economy was recorded at 34,000.

It noted that the number of unemployed people officially increased by 1.6% yoy.

But it noted also that growth in both the labour force and employment continued to outpace unemployment growth for the last 24 months since Mar 2017.

“The stable job market reflects healthy development of Malaysia’s economy and provides solid support to domestic demand,” the research house said.

Meanwhile, exports dropped 5.3% yoy in Feb 2019, the lowest in more than two years mainly due to a short calendar month on top of the long Chinese New Year (CNY) holidays.

Imports also fell and it declined more than exports at 9.4% yoy.

During the CNY holidays, all Chinese factories were shut down with most of them closed one or two weeks prior to the festive holidays. As the celebration put a halt to mass production, it disrupted the global supply chain resulting in a weak trade performance.

All sectors recorded a negative exports growth: agriculture (-13.7% yoy), manufacturing (-4.3% yoy) and mining (-5.5% yoy).

Despite the poor exports and imports figures, trade surplus maintained at above RM11bil in Feb 2019.

When compared with the previous month, both exports and imports contracted by 22% and 24.8%

respectively.
Read more …

Are fears of ringgit weakness exaggerated ?

 

 

Check on coming monsoon floods in Penang !


Wake-up call: The floods that hit Penang in 2017 exposed its lack of flood mitigation and disaster  preparedness.

GEORGE TOWN: The south-west monsoon season is expected to start sometime this month, prompting fears of flooding and falling trees here.

As dark clouds hang over Penang almost every morning now to herald the coming monsoon, talk of flooding in the state assembly sitting on Tuesday led to several lawmakers and the Speaker himself wanting to have a say.

“I am aware that some government agencies belittle the efforts of assemblymen who highlight flooding and other problems.

“As legislators who face the rakyat, they are carrying out their duties and I hope that the relevant agencies will take them seriously and not make fun of them,” said Speaker Datuk Law Choo Kiang during the day’s proceedings.

Lim Siew Khim (PH-Sungai Pinang) told the assembly how she and Ong Ah Teong (PH-Batu Lanchang) suffered verbal insults when visiting flood victims in Kampung Bukit Dumbar, where homes were flooded seven times, including a few days before the recent Chinese New Year.

This led to Dr Norlela Ariffin (PH-Penanti), Ong and Teh Lai Heng (PH-Komtar) to also stand up and voice their grouses.

Outside the hall, Ong said government officers handling flood problems tend to ignore the pleas of assemblymen.

“We are all in the same WhatsApp groups. When we highlight floods, they never respond,” he said.

Teh told the assembly that government officers don’t face the residents but the assemblymen bear all the insults from flood victims in their constituencies.

Dr Norlela said when she attended the monthly district meetings and called for strict enforcement to end the source of floodings such as deforestation, her pleas were often met with silence.

While the Sungai Pinang Flood Mitigation Plan – delayed for 20 years – has begun again with renewed federal funding, many are worried that the south-west monsoon will still bring back the floods this year.

Scientists Sheeba Nettukandy Chenoli and Chai Heng Lim, in a research paper published last November in the “Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics”, found that the onset of the mid-year monsoon will be on May 19 with a standard deviation of eight days.

State Environment Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh said this was the season when rain coinciding with extra high tides fuelled by the super full moon could lead to severe flooding.

“Between May and June, strong winds stir up huge tidal waves that are not safe for small boats,” he said.

A freak storm on Sunday caused several trees to fall on Penang island, one of them in Tanjung Bungah falling on a passing car.

To keep falling trees in check, State Works Committee chairman Zairil Khir Johari said a special committee was ironing out a method to pass the care of public trees from the Public Works Department (JKR) to Penang Island City Council (MBPP).

“JKR specialises in building and caring for roads and bridges but MBPP has a full landscaping team that includes arborists.

“This team has the know-how to care for public trees and recognise diseased trees that must be felled before they become a hazard.

“We are finalising a method for MBPP’s landscapers to have island-wide jurisdiction of roadside trees and be granted access to federal grants for their maintenance,” he said.

By Arnold Loh and R. Sekaran The Star
Read more ..

 

Expecting the unexpected

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Crime and cost of living are top concerns for Malaysians – Ipsos Global Research


Global market and opinion research spec

PETALING JAYA: Corruption is no longer the top concern for Malay­sians as crime and the cost of living have taken over as more pressing issues, says an independent market research firm.

Ipsos Sdn Bhd, in its What Worries The World survey, found that the top five concerns of Mal­aysians this year were crime and violence (39%), inflation and the cost of living (34%), corruption (32%), poverty and equality (31%) and unemployment and jobs (28%).

The survey noted that corruption, which was ranked as a top concern among those in the central region, non-bumiputras and those with a household income of more than RM5,000, had fallen to third place due to significant measures made by the government to address the issue.

Inflation is the “biggest concern” of urban Malay­sians, particularly youths and those in the low household income bracket.

“Corruption has dropped significantly by 15%. Now, only 32% feel that corruption is their main concern.“For crime and violence, it is only the positioning but it has remained the same between what it was now and before,” Ipsos managing director Arun Menon (pic) said during a press conference yesterday.

Founded in France, Ipsos is a global research group with offices in 89 countries delivering insights across various specialisations.

Among other studies Ipsos has conducted in Malaysia are the What Worries Malaysia: Post-GE 2018 survey in August 2018.

It had tracked the sentiments of Malaysians bef­ore and after GE14, as well as 100 days following the change of government.

The What Worries The World survey is Ipsos’ international monthly poll of 20,000 adults under the age of 65 in 28 countries, including Malaysia.

A total of 1,500 Malaysians were asked about their perception of what worried the nation the most.

The survey also found that Malaysians believed the country was headed in the wrong direction, with the figures increasing from 25% in June last year to 43% in March this year.

“Between March and last month, the people who are most upset about the country’s direction were the younger generation across different incomes, specifically people of the middle and upper education,” Menon said.

The survey also noted that the perception of the country heading in the wrong direction was gaining mom­entum and that Malaysia was getting closer to the global average.

The poll said the global average of people who thought their country is on the wrong track was at 58%.
What Worries the World – March 2019

New global poll finds four concerns top the world’s worry list: financial/political corruption, poverty/social inequality, unemployment, crime/violence. Meanwhile, in most countries surveyed (22 of 28) the majority think that their nation is on the wrong track.

The Ipsos What Worries the World study finds the majority of people across the participating 28 nations feel their country is on the wrong track (58% on average), with South Africa (77%), France (77%), Spain (76%), Turkey (74%) and Belgium (74%) recording the greatest levels of apprehension. There are, however, wide-ranging disparities in scores across the globe.

“What Worries the World” is a monthly online survey of adults aged under 65 in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, France, Britain, Germany, Hungary, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Poland, Peru, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United States.

Right Direction

    • China (94%) inspires the most confidence about its national direction. More than 9 in 10 Chinese citizens say that China is moving in the right direction.
    • Saudi Arabia (84%) is once more in second place followed by India (73%) and Malaysia (57%).
    • India and Sweden are the are nations with the greatest month on month increase in positive sentiment of all 28 countries, with both reporting an 8-point increase in those seeing the nations as heading in the right direction.
  •         Notable rises in citizens considering their country as headed in the right    direction are also seen in China (94%) and Hungary (28%) – both reporting a 6-point increase.


Wrong Track

    • At the other end of the spectrum, South African, French, Spanish, Turkish and Belgian nationals have the greatest apprehension about the direction taken by their country. Just 23% of South African and French citizens consider their nations to be heading in the right direction, followed by 24% in Spain and 26% in both Turkey and Belgium.
  •          Mexico (56%) has seen the biggest fall in optimism— with a reduction of 12% from a positive sentiment spike reported last month (68%).There are also 6-point falls in both Italy and Canada.

The four major worries for global citizens are:

  1. Financial/ Political corruption (34%). South Africa (69%) has the most citizens apprehensive about this issue, followed by on Peru 63% and Hungary on 60%. Canadians (30%) have the greatest month on month increase in this concern, with a rise of 11 percentage points. Germans (9%) are the least worried citizens along with Great Britain (14%) and Sweden (15%).
  2. Poverty/Social Inequality (34%). The greatest levels of anxiety are held in Russia (58%), Hungary (56%) and Serbia (54%). Sweden (19%) and Saudi Arabia (20%) are the least concerned nations in this area followed by the US (21%). In terms of trend, we observe a strong 8-point increase in concern in this area in Hungary.
  3. Unemployment (33%). The highest levels of worry are seen in Italy (69%), South Korea (66%) and Spain (61%). Turkish citizens (+7%) and Argentinians (+6%) are the nations which have recorded the greatest month on month increase in this issue. The US public and Germans (11%) are the least concerned, followed by citizens in Great Britain (14%) Sweden (15%) and Poland (15).
  4. Crime & Violence (31%), The highest levels of worry in this issue are seen in Mexico (64%) – closely followed by Peru (62%) and Chile (59%). China (22%) records the largest increase in anxiety with an increase of 11 percentage points from the previous month. There are other increases in Chile (+9), Malaysia (+9) and Turkey (+7). Concerns around crime are lowest in Russia and Hungary (8%), and Poland (11%). The greatest falls in this issue come from Poland (-10) and Serbia (-9).

Top five global issues

  1. Financial/ Political corruption (34%)
  2. Poverty/Social Inequality (34%)
  3. Unemployment (33%)
  4. Crime & Violence (31%)
  5. Healthcare (24%)

The survey was conducted in 28 countries around the world via the Ipsos Online Panel system. The 28 countries included are Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, France, Great Britain, Germany, Hungary, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United States of America. 20,019 interviews were conducted between February 22nd, 2019 – March 8th, 2019 among adults aged 18-64 in Canada, Israel and the US, and adults aged 16-64 in all other countries. Data are weighted to match the profile of the population.

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What Worries the World – March 2019

 

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